Updated: May 14, 2021
Many of you might have seen the fuss around Lewis Hamilton's novel ‘active suspension’ technology at the 2020 F1 practice sessions. But what is it trying to accomplish?
With a pull of his steering wheel as he enters a straight, the wheels can be seen to toe in and remain toe’d in, only to move back into toe out for the incoming corner as he pushes the wheel forwards again.
What is toe?
For a recap; here's toe and camber explained.
Toe is a parameter associated with vehicle dynamics that acts to rotate the wheels of a car towards, or away from its longitudinal centreline..
In racing applications, toe out is used to ensure the tyres are placed in optimal slip angles to generate maximum cornering force.
When on straight sections, it increases rolling resistance and reduces tyre life.
Best of Both.
The Mercedes DAS system provides the ability to neutralise toe (0˚) when its detrimental, and maintain toe-out when its useful.
Neutral Toe = Less tyre wear (= temperature) & rolling resistance on straight sections.
Toe-out = Lovely steering response, best slip angles during cornering --> Max G
The immediate benefits of a system like this sit with tyre management - The aggressive toe required to provide optimum slip angles during the cornering process do absolutely nothing for the progress of the car on straights.
Running the tyres at a slip angle at straight sections constantly works the rubber, generating temperature, reducing tyre life and introducing more rolling resistance, a triple negative.
Reducing tyre wear and managing temperatures more efficiently could prove very advantageous in later stages of a race, so Mercedes obviously felt there was enough benefit in creating neutral toe angles during straight sections of track to implement this system.
How much? Hard to say.. Perhaps they’re just trying to confuse competition. We’ll find out as the season starts!
Kinda interesting that they got around regulations prohibiting active suspension systems with this active suspension system but it is what it is :-)