Nothing gets past the peeps on social media, with Mercedes’ new W11 and its intriguing steering quirk the scrutiny of a few eagle-eyed F1 followers.
A post on Twitter showing an onboard of Lewis Hamilton heading on to the pit straight at the Circuit de Catalunya reveals a for and aft movement of the W11’s steering wheel.
The wheel moves towards the driver as Hamilton accelerates on to the straight and then away again as the Briton enters the braking zone. But a closer look also reveals a slight front-wheel movement simultaneously with the for and aft change.
— Savlar (@SavlarSVK) February 20, 2020
While many believed the quirk was perhaps the troubling result of a loose steering rack, former McLaren mechanic Marc Priestly responded to the post with the following explanation.
“So…it could be that the actual steering rack and therefore the track rods move, reducing toe-out to close to zero on the straight, which would reduce drag and improve tyre life…”
F1 techie Craig Scarborough also chimed in on the fascinating trick.
“Lots of videos now emerging of the Merc steering wheel being moved backward when joining the straight, with some apparent effect at the front wheels, then bring moved forward before braking,” wrote Scarbs.
“It could be just play in the assembly. Perhaps the column also moves the steering rack. Which could alter toe angle and thus perhaps ride height, for speed on the straight? Pure conjecture at this stage.
“Wholly expect rival teams to be hopping up and down right now. The rules as published do not account for this sort of solution.”
Watch this space as Mercedes’ rivals will likely be all over this today, perhaps questioning the innovative system’s legality.