Why are F1 steering wheels so small

Formula 1: Mercedes with steering wheel trick, legal?

Has Mercedes found the next philosopher's stone again? The fact is: At the test in Barcelona there is a lot of excitement about a new technical trick on the Silver Arrow.

Background: F1 TV is broadcasting the test live for the first time - and today showed a cockpit shot by Lewis Hamilton. It is easy to see how Hamilton pulls the steering wheel towards him on the straight - and thus adjusts the front wheels. Before entering the bends, he pushes the steering wheel back into its starting position.

Like a pilot when flying! Hamilton: "In terms of safety, it's not a problem. I'm thrilled that my team is always looking for technical innovations."

The assumption: Mercedes can obviously change the toe-in. The advantage: on the long straights, the tire cools down in the normal position. The further inward he stands, the more he warms up again. So Mercedes would have found a way to keep the tire temperature constant. That would be a real technology coup!

Technician Craig Scarborough explains the mechanism on Twitter as follows: The rack and steering wheel are connected to one another in such a way that the driver can adjust the track of the wheels when he pulls the steering wheel forward. In any case, the wheels are closer together on the straight.

Also noticeable: Hamilton only pulls on the steering wheel when the word "marker" appears on his display. It is quite possible that the instruction will come depending on the tire temperature.

Is that legal Articles 10.2.2 and 10.2.3 make it clear that any device that can change the configuration of the suspension is prohibited. Overall, it is not allowed to change the suspension while driving. The question remains: does Mercedes move the suspension or the steering? With the latter, the driver can change the position of the front wheels. How is not specified exactly. A gray area.

This fits: In the paddock it was already leaked that the FIA ​​had allowed the system.

The rear suspension of the Silver Arrow is also special.

When asked by Sky Sport, the team said that the technology was only being used for test purposes. Mercedes chief technology officer James Allison reveals: "It's a new system. We call it DAS (stands for Dual Axis Steering; d. Red.). It opens up additional possibilities and creates a new dimension in steering. It becomes the driver use throughout the season. "

You don't believe that at Red Bull, because they assume that the DAS system is illegal. "If you actively change the camber or track of the wheels while driving, the contact surface of the tires changes," says Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko to AUTO BILD MOTORSPORT. "And with it - albeit in a very, very small area - the ground clearance. But this is prohibited because the system then corresponds to the functionality of a prohibited active wheel suspension."

Allison counters: "The FIA ​​knows. In my opinion the rules are very clear when it comes to the steering wheel and I don't think we're breaking them."

But that's not all. The rear suspension of the Silver Arrow is also special. The wishbones are positioned so that the air has plenty of space to flow past the inside of the rear wheel. As a result, the flow seals the rear underbody - and increases the suction effect of the diffuser.

The test season is only two days old - and Mercedes is ahead again!

Photos: Picture Alliance; Mercedes