Sebastian Vettel believes Mercedes' new DAS steering system would be 'uncomfortable'


BARCELONA, Spain -- Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel believes Mercedes' new Dual-Axis Steering system (DAS) would make for an uncomfortable feeling in the cockpit.

Mercedes caught the attention of the paddock on the second day of preseason testing when it became apparent that its car featured a novel system operated by pushing and pulling the steering wheel.

On the straights the Mercedes drivers were spotted pulling the steering wheel towards them and then pushing it back to its original position before the corners. Closer analysis of onboard footage showed the alignment of the front wheels -- known as toe angle -- changing with the movement of the steering wheel.

In theory the ability to change the toe angle will allow Mercedes to run more extreme setups, improving cornering stability without the disadvantages of damaging the tyres on the straights.

Vettel said he was made aware of DAS by his Ferrari engineers over lunch and that he sees potential difficulties for the driver.

"I have seen it and we talked about it at lunch and it looks interesting," he said. "I guess the fact that they are running with it means that it is legal ... I don't know, it is called a steering wheel not a push or pull wheel.

"I don't know if it works, I guess there is quite a lot of work to bring it to the track it is probably not as easy as it looks for the driver to work with it. But we will see. For sure it was a novelty for us to see."

Asked why he felt the forward and backward movement of the steering wheel could create issues, he added: "If 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 if it gives you an advantage or edge then you can fulfil the task -- if you have the capacity to do it with enough practice.

"I don't know if they will run it, they will try to but it is too early to tell. 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."

That exact question was put to Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton earlier in the day, and unsurprisingly he said there was no problem.

"We're trying to get on top of it, understand it, but safety wise no problem today and the FIA are okay with the project," he said.

Innovations are often copied by rival teams in Formula One, but Vettel is not sure if it will be easy to retrofit DAS to an existing steering system.

"I just found out before lunch and then we had a look at some onboards. We are lucky that we have the onboards here otherwise maybe we wouldn't spot it but I don't know.

"I haven't had much of a chat yet as we are busy with our car and our stuff so I don't know if it is easy [to copy] or not. I guess not as these things are never easy.