Red Bull launch official protest against Mercedes' DAS system
Red Bull has sparked an early Formula 1 battle with rival Mercedes after officially launching a protest against the DAS system.
Mercedes has confirmed it is using the dual-axis steering device, that via a push and pull on the steering wheel alters the toe of the front wheels, during the course of this weekend's Austrian Grand Prix.
Although DAS first caught the eye in pre-season testing, and Mercedes has stated it held lengthy discussions with the FIA about its legality, a rival team cannot launch a protest until scrutineering has been completed early in a race weekend.
Red Bull has now taken that option. Team principal Christian Horner said: "We’re keen just to get clarity on that system, just using the mechanisms that are available. We’re keen to get it addressed quickly and early in the weekend.
“I think we have a difference of opinion that its primary purpose isn’t to steer the car. Of course, there is a technical position that Mercedes will think one thing, our engineers think something else.
“In a situation like this, probably the best thing is to address it via a protest, which would then need the stewards to deal with it today.
“The reason we would do it today is it seems the fairest point in the weekend rather than waiting for qualifying, or indeed after the race.
“I think the most important thing is to achieve clarity on it, because it’s a very clever system, but quite complex.”
The protest relates to articles 3.8 and 10.2.3 of the FIA's technical regulations.
Article 3.8 refers to aerodynamic influence, and that 'any specific part of the car influencing its aerodynamic performance' that 'must be rigidly secured to the entirely sprung part of the car (rigidly secured means not having any degree of freedom)'.
In particular, the rules state that 'any car system, device or procedure which uses driver movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car is prohibited'.
Article 10.2.3 relates to suspension geometry, and specifically that 'no adjustment may be made to any suspension system while the car is in motion'.
Speaking earlier in the team principals' press conference at the Red Bull Ring, Wolff seemingly has no qualms with such a protest to ensure Sunday's race result is not left hanging in the air after the chequered flag has fallen.
“There was a lot of talking and exchange with the FIA," said Wolff. "That is the reason why we have it on the car. So we will both bring our arguments forward and then let’s see.
“I think, against what you would expect, all teams are pretty much aware that we are in a sensitive situation with going racing.
“It’s the first race. I think on one side, it’s fair enough to seek clarification, on the other side we are aware that we don’t want to end up with a big debate on Sunday night. So I think Red Bull, Christian is going to take the right actions.
“Controversy and different judgement on engineering innovation have always been part of Formula 1. This is what’s to be expected in a way. It’s part of the racing.”
"I think we have a difference of opinion that its primary purpose isn’t to steer the car."
And that's next years rule as Horner well knows, instead of protesting other teams innovations Horner ought to be encouraging his team to innovate. Isn't it time Red Bull had a new team principle, this one seems to have run out of steam, it's just hot air now.
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