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Austrian GP F1 stewards rule Mercedes DAS legal, Red Bull protest rejected

The Austrian Grand Prix stewards have rejected Red Bull's protest against Mercedes' dual-axis steering (DAS) system ahead of this weekend's Formula 1 season opener, calling it "not founded"

Mercedes debuted the innovative steering solution, which allows drivers Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas to adjust the toe angle of their front wheel from within the cockpit using their steering wheel, during 2020 pre-season testing.

Many of Mercedes' rivals were known to be questioning the legality of the system, which has already been outlawed for the 2021 season.

Red Bull had planned to lodge a protest at the Australian Grand Prix prior to the race being cancelled, and hinted last week the controversy could emerge again when F1's coronavirus delayed season finally got going in Austria.

After Mercedes used DAS on both its cars in FP1 and FP2 at the Red Bull Ring on Friday, Red Bull formally lodged a protest with the stewards under two articles of the technical regulations.

At 12:31am on Saturday in Austria, the stewards issued a statement confirming they had rejected Red Bull's protest.

Red Bull technical officials Adrian Newey and Paul Monaghan had argued in the hearing that as DAS allows for driver movement it is a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the Mercedes W11, as well as arguing that it was part of car's suspension system.

Mercedes countered this by arguing DAS is not a suspension system, and that it is a conventional steering system that is also capable of adjusting the toe angle of cars via changing steering angle.

The stewards threw out the protest after deeming that DAS was part of the steering system - even while noting it was "not a conventional one" - and could not be seen as part of the suspension of the car.

"The stewards consider DAS to be a legitimate part of the steering system and hence to satisfy the relevant regulations regarding suspension or aerodynamic influence," the stewards' report concluded.

"In the opinion of the stewards, the DAS system is physically and functionally a part of the steering system.

"As such, it benefits of the implicit exceptions to certain suspension regulations applicable to steering."

The decisions means that Mercedes will be allowed to continue to use DAS on its cars through final practice and qualifying in Austria on Saturday.

Red Bull has the right to appeal the decision.

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