For the first time, Lewis Hamilton has tried out a new Mercedes steering system that allows the driver to move the steering wheel forward and backward to affect the toe angle of the front wheels and adjust the suspension settings while driving.
During the morning part of the first day, the onboard shots showed that the steering wheel moves in depth (back and forth), depending on whether Hamilton is in a corner or in the straight, and that this affects the rotation of the wheel from above (toe in – toe out). .
Teams use negative toe angle on the front wheels (so, from above, the front parts of the front wheels point inwards) to increase front end grip in corner entry phase, but this causes more air resistance on the straights and more tyre wear.
But with the new system, Mercedes has found a way to influence the amount of toe angle of the front wheels when driving depending on the steering wheel’s depth, which is very likely controlled by the driver himself.
Mercedes has confirmed to Autosport that it is indeed a ‘steering mode’ they want to test, but did not provide any further details about the system itself or the benefit for using it.
The rules say that changes to the suspension settings should not be altered while the car is moving and that any system capable of altering the configuration or affecting the suspension performance is prohibited.
Watch how Hamilton’s steering wheel moves in depth after cornering, and how the front wheels move when that happens.
— Savlar (@SavlarSVK) February 20, 2020