Mercedes F1 team is under fire after a video was released of Lewis Hamilton at the wheel. Sounds innocent enough, right? Well, if you look closely, during this test run, Hamilton pulls back on the steering wheel as the car comes out of the last corner towards the chequered flag. At the same time, the toe of the front wheels can be seen changing at the same time.
It looks as though Mercedes has developed a system to change the toe angle of the front wheel on the fly. That would give the car several benefits, including less drag, less tyre wear, and better handling in the corners.
Increase the toe-in and it should start to neutralise oversteer while also making the car more planted in straight lines. Increase the toe-out, as any other F1 car would run generally, and you get less understeer with a slight tendency to oversteer, which frees up the car during a corner.
This is a small adjustment, but it could come under fire from FIA Formula 1 regulations. Article 10.2.3 says that “no adjustment may be made to any suspension system while the car is in motion.”
However, it could be argued that this change isn’t involving the suspension, but rather the steering setup.
Article 10.2 adds: “With the steering wheel fixed, the position of each wheel centre and the orientation of its rotation axis must be completely and uniquely defined by a function of its principally vertical suspension travel, save only for the effects of reasonable compliance which does not intentionally provide further degrees of freedom.
“Any powered device which is capable of altering the configuration or affecting the performance of any part of any suspension system is forbidden.”
We’re sure that rival teams will complain about this new development, but as it stands during testing, teams can test whatever they want on their cars. This type of innovation should be welcomed, but we bet it won’t make it past testing.