Sebastian Vettel was left bemused by Mercedes’ DAS (dual-axis steering) system, which was uncovered on Thursday during the second day of Formula 1 testing.
The system allows the driver to change the toe of the front-wheels by pushing or pulling the steering wheel – whilst the exact benefit is unknown, it’s believed it could improve tyre life as well as increased straight-line speed and stability without impacting cornering speeds.
The FIA has reportedly given the system the okay according to Mercedes technical chief James Allison.
Vettel was left unsure as to whether it is comfortable to use for the driver, comparing it to running in flip flops when you’re used to running shoes.
“I have seen it and we talked about it at lunch and it looks interesting,” the Ferrari driver said. “I guess the fact that they are running with it means that it is legal.
“I don’t know if it works…it is called a steering wheel not a push or pull wheel.
“I guess there is quite a lot of work to bring it to the track and it is probably not as easy as it looks for the driver to work with it.
“These things are never easy but I also guess it is not easy to operate, I think it is quite weird to have the feeling of having the wheel in your hands.
“Imagine you are used to running with running shoes and then you are asked to run with your flip flops. You can do that but it feels very different. Obviously it is not that extreme but it is just that you add something that is completely new and it feels strange and weird at first.
“But we will see. For sure it was a novelty for us to see.”
Usually such developments would be hard to spot during testing as onboard camera shots aren’t usually broadcast, but a new deal between FOM and Sky Sports means, for the first time, that testing is being broadcast live, which is “lucky” for Mercedes’ rivals according to Vettel.
“We are lucky that we have the onboards here otherwise maybe we wouldn’t spot it,” he added.
If the system is cleared after the first race in Australia, it’s likely rival teams will try and copy the system. Vettel is confident with enough practice it will be straightforward to use.
“If it gives you an advantage or edge then you can fulfil the task and you have the capacity to do it with enough practice.
“From a driving point of view it looks easy to push and pull the steering wheel but it is probably not as straightforward but we can get used to it.”