Racing Point team boss Otmar Szafnauer expects rivals will explore the option of copying Mercedes dual-axis steering (DAS) if the benefits of running the system are proven to outweigh the cost/effort.
The benefits of the system aren’t clear, with sources suggesting it could provide a variety of advantages including reduced tyre wear, better heat management, fuel saving, increased stability and reduced straight-line drag.
It’s also not known how easy the system would be to copy, but Szafnauer says it’s something his team will be investigating and expects rivals will be doing the same in an effort to copy it as quickly as possible.
“It looks like a clever bit of ingenuity,” he told reporters including MotorsportWeek.com. “I’m sure that everyone will now see how quickly they can get it on [their cars].
“Do you remember the McLaren F-duct? Same thing. They came out with it, and everyone else tried to copy it. By the end of the year I think we all had it. Similar to the double diffuser.”
Asked if it’s still worth copying given the major 2021 rules overhaul, which have outlawed the system, Szafnauer added: “Even in a year like this, if it makes a big difference we should do it. Depending on the effort and the benefit. If it is a huge effort for little benefit probably not because of limited resource, but it is a small effort for a big benefit, then probably yes.”
Some have suggested the benefit could be small and therefore a ruse by Mercedes to trick its rivals into wasting time on exploring and developing their own versions at a crucial development time when teams are already struggling to split resources between 2020 and 2021.
“I remember the McLaren F-duct days, it was a bit of a ruse to get everyone else… because McLaren spent so much time and effort developing it they thought it was not an easy thing to copy and rivals spent all their time and effort during the season trying to do their own, meaning they weren’t developing something else.
“So there is that question too. It comes back to benefit versus effort. If the effort is too big for a benefit that is in there, then you should not be spending your limited resources on it.”