Hamilton: DAS innovation came from "breaking" engineers

Jonathan Noble

The world champion’s Brackley-based squad caused a stir in pre-season testing when its new W11 car was spotted running a Dual Axis Steering system.

The device cleverly adjusts the toe angle of the front wheels through the drivers pushing and pulling the steering wheel, and has been declared legal by the FIA.

The clever idea is one part of an ambitious overhaul of Mercedes for its car this year, which has undergone dramatic change to its sidepods and rear suspension too.

Reflecting on the way the team has kept driving forward with clever thinking despite its long run of success, Hamilton said that getting engineers in to a new mindset was key.

“I think I'm just genuinely proud of the guys,” said Hamilton. “I think our whole mentality continues to progress and improve.

“Over the years, we've got more and more open minded. You know, engineers often are quite close minded. They are used to doing the same thing they've done in the past in a safe and reliable way because it's worked before.

“So the last couple of years it’s about really pushing, more so on the track, but also pushing the guys into areas where they are not so comfortable.

“We discovered things that we would never have if we had never done that. It was awesome to break them open them up to new ideas.

“That is what has also enabled us to move on to do great things. It's really great to see them not doing the same things as everyone else, thinking out of the box, and it is really inspiring to see them innovate ahead of everyone else.”

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Mercedes technical director James Allison said during pre-season testing that DAS was just one of many clever ideas that his team had brought in to F1.

“Each of the new cars we bring to the track are just festooned with innovation,” he explained.

"It’s just they’re not as obvious to you as a discreet standalone system like this, where you can see it with your own eyes.

“One of the things that gave me massive pride is to be part of a team that doesn’t just turn the sausage handle each year, that is looking each year at how we can learn fast enough to bring all these innovations to the track and make them stick.

“This is fun, but it’s only the tip of an iceberg of similar stuff that’s across the car.”