F1 warned not to ‘quash’ DAS-style innovations

Formula 1 must avoid stamping out technical creativity that leads to innovations such as Mercedes’ dual-axis steering system, according to Renault’s Alan Permane.

Mercedes debuted its new DAS system on the second day of pre-season testing in Barcelona, allowing drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to adjust the toe angle of their car while in the cockpit.

The novel device was widely hailed through the F1 paddock for its innovation, although some question marks remain regarding its sporting legality under the parc ferme regulations.

DAS has already been banned under the revised technical regulations for 2021, while a planned change in the governance structure will allow any major loopholes to be shut off quickly, according to F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn.

Asked by Motorsport.com about the innovation shown by the DAS system, Renault sporting director Permane said it was crucial to keep such a high level of creativity in F1 moving forwards.

“I think that’s what F1 is about, innovation, it’s about people differentiating, it’s about finding that edge on your competitors,” Permane said.

“Whilst we can be jealous or frustrated or whatever, obviously Mercedes have clearly found something they think is a benefit, and I think that’s one of the rather wonderful things about Formula 1.

“I don’t know how it will work in 2021, whether projects like that will ever get off the ground, if you go to F1 and say: ‘I’ve got this and it’s going to be worth two tenths per lap to me’, and they’ll shut it down in two races. You may never see that sort of thing.

“I think there’s a line and we need to be careful we don’t quash that kind of free-thinking and spirit, because that’s part of the DNA of Formula 1.”

Innovations such as DAS may be limited further by the budget cap that will come into force from 2021, restricting teams’ resources and how much money they can pour into such projects.

FIA race director Michael Masi felt it was important for F1 to strike a balance between allowing innovation to thrive while also ensuring the series is sustainable for teams.

“We’re talking about this and innovation because it’s probably the first time for a long time that something is actually quite visible, in everyone’s face,” Masi said.

“There’s probably elements that these guys have innovated for this year’s cars that have gone through a process, but because they’re not visible, it’s not a point of discussion.

“From an innovation side, I think we’ve seen what people have done in so many areas, like we have with the hybrid engines being probably the most efficient engines everywhere.

“These guys all have a financial regulations cap coming in next year, so they need to make the balance themselves of what are the returns of what we’re innovating versus how much are we going to spend on it, and then we go from there.

“Is it worth what we’re trying to achieve? That’s going to be the added balance they all need to make for the equation in 2021.”

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