Mercedes’ innovative dual-axis steering system has been making waves in the Formula One paddock, but if you’re unfamiliar with aerodynamics it can be tough to actually understand how changing the angle of the tires can make a car faster. Thankfully, we’ve got a new video detailing the whole concept of toe angles to clear things up.
Chain Bear on YouTube is back with some helpful explanations of toe for those of us who may not be totally clear on the concept:
Toe, basically, is the angle of the wheels relative to the perfect straightforward direction of the car. Toe is changed for every race depending on what will provide the best performance. In a “toe in” situation, the tires are angled positively in toward each other. When it’s “toe out,” the tires are angled negatively away from each other.
So, on fast, straight-line speed circuits like Monza, you’d want more of a positive toe, with the tires angled in toward each other. It’ll make the car feel more stable when moving down long straights. On curve-heavy circuits, you want a toe out situation, which will help you get the nose of the car into the corner faster.
Toe angle has an impact on tons of stuff in racing: tire wear, straight line speed, straight line stability, cornering ability. But the biggest thing to consider is that last one: cornering. When an F1 car turns, the inside tires travel a shorter distance than the outside tires. You’d want the inside tire to be angled out so that both tires would more closely follow the curve of the turn, thus increasing grip. The more grip, the faster you go and the more stable you’ll feel. But if the tires are toed out on the straight, you get strange wear.
Chain Bear goes through a ton of different situations, so you should definitely check out the whole video to understand toe at its best—and worst. But the main point here is that Mercedes has developed a steering system that enables the driver to determine and change the toe angle depending on whether the driver is turning or careening down a straight.
It’s going to be pretty interesting to see this technology in effect this season, but you better watch closely and not miss a race if you want to see it as the FIA has banned DAS from 2021 on.