Mercedes’ dual-axis steering (DAS) system was declared legal in the early hours of Saturday after stewards at the Austrian Grand Prix rejected a protest by Red Bull.
Just hours after seeing the Mercedes duo of six-time champion Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas top the times in practice with a resounding one-two in their newly-painted ‘black arrows’ cars, it was confirmed that Red Bull had made a formal protest against them.
However, race officials said the world champions had not breached regulations.
“The stewards consider that the DAS is a regular part of the steering system and therefore complies with the rules concerning suspensions or aerodynamic influence,” said a statement released after midnight.
Red Bull team chief Christian Horner had said earlier Friday that he intended to ask for guidance from the race officials about the legality of the system.
However, he had been warned by Mercedes boss Toto Wolff that taking it further would endanger the success of the sport’s first weekend back after its lengthy coronavirus suspension.
Mercedes had introduced the system, which allows the drivers to adjust the toe angle of the car from their cockpit positions, in pre-season testing when it sparked an intrigued debate in the paddock.
The protest follows an International Motoring Federation (FIA) decision to ban DAS for the 2021 season.
Mercedes believe the system is legal and have said they discussed it in detail with the FIA before the season and pre-season testing.
Speaking earlier Friday, Horner said: “Obviously, we’re keen to get clarity on that system using the mechanisms that are available and getting it addressed quickly early in the weekend.
“We have a difference of opinion on it. Its primary performance isn’t to steer the car, obviously, so, yes, of course there is a technical position—Mercedes will think one thing, our engineers will think something else.
“In situations like this, the best thing is to address it via a protest.”
He added that if the system was allowed, his Red Bull team would consider adding the idea to their cars.
“It’s a clever system, an ingenious system, but these rules are complex. It’s just about understanding what part of the regulations it fits.”
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