Australian F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo has praised Mercedes for their groundbreaking steering system which turned heads at winter testing last month.
Mercedes caught the attention of the F1 paddock in February with an innovative steering-wheel concept. Named the Dual Axis Steering (DAS) system, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas were seen testing it at different points around the Circuit de Catalunya.
The device, which seemingly provides an additional steering mode, proved to be a hot topic of discussion in Barcelona.
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Speaking to The Age, Ricciardo lauded Mercedes for their technological advancement, respecting the team’s ongoing innovation.
“Hats off to them because they have been dominant this whole turbo era, yet they are still the ones pushing everyone else,” Ricciardo said.
“They’re not getting complacent, and I think that’s why they’ve been so dominant. They’re setting an example right now and as a competitor, I certainly respect that.”
Daniel Ricciardo finished ninth in the 2020 F1 championshipSource:Getty Images
Six-time world champion Hamilton also praised Mercedes for the new steering technology.
“We’re just trying to get on top of it and try to understand it. But safety wise, it was no problem,” Hamilton told reporters during testing.
“For me it’s really encouraging to see that my team continues to innovate, and stay ahead of the game. I think that’s down to the creative minds we have in the team.”
Mercedes are understandably keeping details of the system’s purpose, its potential usage and, crucially, it’s lap-time performance close to their chests, leaving rivals to try and work that out for themselves.
When asked about the device by Sky Sports News, Red Bull boss Christian Horner said: “Whether that’s just a test item and they’re testing different tracking, or whether it’s a raceable solution, I don’t really know.
“But there are always ingenious solutions like that that are tested. That’s what Formula 1 is all about.”
Mercedes technical director Allison described DAS as a “fun” solution — but significantly added that “it’s only the tip of the iceberg of similar stuff on the car”.
“We hope it’s an innovation that will bring us some advantage through the season,” Allison admitted.
Daniel Ricciardo driving the Renault Sport Formula One Team RS20 during day three of F1 Winter TestingSource:Getty Images
Ricciardo finished ninth on the 2019 F1 championship ladder, failing to achieve any podium finishes in a disappointing maiden season with Renault.
After quitting Red Bull at the end of 2018, it remains to be seen whether Ricciardo commits to an extension with Renault or holds out in the hope one of the big fish like Mercedes or Ferrari come calling.
Ahead of the final year of his Renault contract, the 30-year-old is trying not to think too much about his future, but remains hopeful of a resurgence in 2020.
“This year definitely carries more weight than most,” Ricciardo admitted to The Age.
“The chaos that surrounded my move from Red Bull to Renault, I don’t expect it to be anything like that. But there’s a lot happening. I’m 30, so whatever I do, it’s a case of how many more contracts will I sign?
“The easiest decision would be that if my year is going well, then I’d feel like we were only going to get better and I wouldn’t even think about the what-ifs or maybes elsewhere.
“Even though next year is going to be a new car, I think if we were able to make some big gains this year with Renault, that would give me enough confidence that whatever happens in the future would be good, but you never know how these things will play out.
“I certainly see myself in the sport for at least five more years, but every year I’m one step closer to when my career might end. You’re not thinking like a 20-year-old anymore.”
The 2020 F1 season gets underway this Sunday in Melbourne with the Australian Grand Prix.
Daniel Ricciardo in FebruarySource:Getty Images
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