Mercedes "DAS" system ban is more interesting than you think
We should have seen it coming
Well, that didn't take long. As you've probably heard by now the DAS or Dual Axis Steering system developed by the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team is officially banned for the 2021 season. But wait. 2021? Does this mean they can use it in the upcoming season? Yes. And there's nothing you or anyone else can do about it. Let me explain.
Article 10.5.2 in the official 2021 F1 regulations states the following:
"The re-alignment of the steered wheels, as defined by the position of the inboard attachment of the relevant suspensions members that remain a fixed distance from each other, must be uniquely defined by a monotonic function of the rotational position of a single steering wheel."
2021 technical regulations
It's pretty much a fancy way of telling the wheels can only be moved by turning the steering wheel to the left or to the right. This rules out the DAS system as it allows the wheels to be moved by pushing or pulling on the steering wheel.
That specific rule is nowhere to be found in the 2020 technical regulations.
2020 technical regulations
The FIA can't just quickly make up a new rule on the go. They need the permission of all 10 teams to do so. However, the FIA recently changed this. From the 2021 season and onwards they can in fact change the rules in between races. So if one team finds a loophole, the FIA has the right to fix it. This was in direct response to Mercedes and their DAS system.
What this means is that Article 10.5.2 in the 2021 regulations wasn't added today or yesterday following the massive media attention that came after the DAS discovery. It was added 4 months ago when the 2021 regulations were revealed.
That's right, DAS was banned before the fans and the other F1 teams even knew it existed. The FIA wasn't caught of guard or surprised by yesterdays events. They knew it existed all along. As soon as they found out a few months ago out they changed the regulations for 2021. It was the only thing they could do.
The only way for the DAS system to be banned this season is if qualifies as moveable/active aerodynamics or if it qualifies as a driver aid, and it doesn't look like either of those things apply. Another option is for all 10 teams, including Mercedes themselves, to agree on changing the current rules to outlaw it. That's even less likely to happen.
I've already seen people get unrightfully mad at the FIA for allowing this system. In reality, the FIA has done everything they could to prevent this. If you really want to get mad at someone then be mad at the other teams for not coming up with this themselves. Or be mad at literally everyone in the world for not raising any suspicion. The clue was right there under our noses for a whole 4 months!