The Mercedes Team during a pit stop practice before the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg, Austria, July 2, 2020. (Photo: VCG)
Formula One stewards rejected Red Bull's protest against a new steering system used by Mercedes on Friday.
Not only did Mercedes take the lead in the season-opening Austrian Grand Prix with world champion Lewis Hamilton being fastest in both practice sessions at the Red Bull Ring, they also achieved a victory when the stewards decided their Dual Axis Steering System (DAS) is legal.
DAS allows a driver to change the "toe angle" of the front wheels by pushing and pulling on the steering wheel, rather than just moving it sideways. It was banned by a change of rules for 2021, but the governing body FIA had already said that DAS was legal under the current rules.
Red Bull claimed that DAS broke the rules in that it was an aerodynamic and suspension-related device.
However, after a hearing attended by members of both teams, the stewards decided that DAS constituted a steering device alone, and hence could not be in breach of any suspension-related regulations.
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said it was a "grey area" of the rules and asked why it should remain legal this season.
"The Stewards believe DAS is part of the steering system, albeit not a conventional one," they ruled. "The key challenges to the legality of DAS rely on it not being part of the steering system."
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff had earlier welcomed a clarification.
"We think we are on the right side. There was a lot of talking and exchange with the FIA, that is the reason why we have it on the car," he added before the verdict.
Red Bull has the right to appeal within time limits.
Mercedes are chasing a seventh successive title double this season. Red Bull were third overall last year but could be the German manufacturer's biggest challengers in 2020.