The Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team had a solid second day of pre-season testing, even though the afternoon session was cut short by an electrical problem. The team caught the attention of the whole paddock as they unvieled an innovative new steering wheel system.
Lewis Hamilton clocked an impressive 106 laps in the morning session at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain. Valtteri Bottas added another 77 laps in the afternoon session which ended prematurely because of an electrical problem.
Both drivers concentrated on long runs in both the sessions. The team made the whole paddock sit up and take notice as onboard shots of Hamilton driving the W11 showed a new Dual-Axis Steering wheel system (DAS).
This launched a lot of discussions on the legality of the system and its potential benefits among rival teams. Hamilton was seen pulling and pushing the steering wheel and altering the angle of the front wheels.
The Mercedes team was understandably tight-lipped about the new system, only saying that it was legal under FIA rules. James Allison, Chief Technical Director, was satisfied with the second day of testing even though it was curtailed.
Allison said: “We are all a little disappointed to have taken an early bath today, but we console ourselves with the fact that the problem we encountered will quickly be resolved and we managed a healthy 183 laps before encountering it. That is, after all, why we go testing. It’s encouraging to see that, for the second day running, the car felt honest, good and reasonably speedy.
“Lewis’ race simulation in the morning was tidy and Valtteri’s, until it was interrupted, was on a good trajectory. We also had an interesting day activating the DAS system for the first time and we are on a voyage of discovery with the drivers to learn about the system and see what it can bring us for the season ahead. We’re now looking forward to the final day of the first test tomorrow and continuing to work through the tasks we have to clear before Melbourne.”
Hamilton and Bottas were only ninth and thirteenth on the time charts as the Silver Arrows concentrated on long runs.