Official testing for the 2020 Formula One World Championship is currently underway at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain, and Mercedes-AMG surprised the field on Thursday by implementing a new technology that allows its drivers to adjust the toe-in angle of the new W11 EQ Performance mid-race.
Mercedes calls the feature Dual Axis Steering, or DAS for short, and it's activated by the driver pulling or pushing on the steering wheel. Generally, increasing the toe-in angle of the front wheels will provide better stability on the straights, while reducing it will provide better cornering ability.
In the short clip below, we see reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton test the system. As he exits the corner and heads down the straight, you'll notice him pulling back the steering wheel which should increase the toe-in angle of the front wheels. And then when he approaches a corner, you see him pushing in the steering wheel, reducing the toe-in angle.
The actual benefit of the system on lap times still isn't clear, though the team's technical director, James Allison, has said the feature isn't for testing purposes only, meaning Hamilton and teammate Valtteri Bottas are likely to have it once the first race gets underway in Melbourne, Australia, on March 15.
There's the argument that adjusting the toe-angle changes the front suspension, which isn't allowed in the rules. However, Motorsport.com reported Friday that the FIA will allow the system to be used during the 2020 season but that rules for 2021 announced last year already ban such a system from being used.
It's basically due to Article 10.5.2 of the 2021 season's technical regulations, which states, “The re-alignment of the steered wheels, as defined by the position of the inboard attachment of the relevant suspensions members that remain a fixed distance from each other, must be uniquely defined by a monotonic function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel.”