Anthony Davidson reckons the Drag Reduction System introduced this year could make cars up to 15kph quicker.
The former F1 driver turned BBC commentator described the adjustable rear wing as a “far more powerful tool” than the moveable front wings used in 2009 and 2010.
Speaking to F1 Fanatic he said: “The cars are going to be travelling anything up to 15kph faster down the straight.”
He expects the wings to make the biggest difference as “circuits where you run the highest downforce.
“Circuits like Spa, Suzuka and Silverstone where you run quite a draggy car, in terms of downforce, for the speed of the circuit. Where you’re running a relatively high amount of downforce for the track that you’re on.
“It will probably allow teams to run slightly higher downforce than they normally would have.”
According to Davidson, whether the wings increased the amount of overtaking will be influenced by where the FIA allow them to be used during races:
“It’s all down to where the FIA decide to put the timing beams. That’s really going to dictate and govern the amount of overtaking.
“If they’re at the beginning of a straight you will see a hell of a lot more overtaking than we had last year.
“But if they put them, say, 300 metres the 100-metre board into a braking zone at a tight hairpin then that’s going to be pretty late. The effect will come a bit too late, only just put you alongside the car, and then you’re talking about proper, wheel-to-wheel racing.”
Although drivers will have free use of the wing during practice and qualifying, in the race its use will be limited to specific places on the track.
This could make for challenges of its own at circuits such as Monaco, if the drivers are able to deploy their wing going through the tunnel, as Davidson explains:
“I should think the start of the tunnel would be good – but then you’ll be going through the tunnel with a lot less downforce on the car through the right-hander.
“And it’s touch-and-go sometimes whether that’s flat-out or not. It’ll have to be well thought-out and I’m sure they’ll do a good job.”
Asked if he thought the DRS rules were complicated, he agreed: “That’s F1, isn’t it? It’s always going to be horrendously complicated.
“I fear for the drivers slightly because, from my experience, it’s very hard work. I’ve got quite a lot of capacity as a driver, I’m still young enough to understand the PlayStation generation.”
Having experienced the new 2011 systems on the Mercedes simulator, Davidson said he thinks drivers will be able to handle the extra demands being made of them:
“Sometimes, for different drivers up and down the grid, that’s all they can think of, driving 100 percent for the lap time.
“[Michael] Schumacher is a driver that has a lot of capacity, he’s got a lot of space to think about other commitments inside the car than just driving flat-out.
“In the era of traction control, over-run control on the engine braking, electronic differentials, all those things, Schumacher was the master of all that in his day. And he still plays around with the brake bias a hell of a lot, more compared to other drivers out there.
“So I think he’s going to adapt to it quite well, it’s not just a question of how old you are meaning you’re going to struggle with new technology, I think it’s just driver-specific.”
Davidson is commenting for BBC Radio 5 Live again this year and he said the new system will make his job more challenging as well:
“I think for us, in the [commentary] box we’ll have to keep an eagle eye on the split difference between all the cars out there.
“Because if a car is within a second of the car in front we’re going to have to be sure we’ve spotted that and mention that before they get to the timing beacon where they can apply the rear wing adjustment.”
He added: “A second is actually quite a difficult achievement to get to of the car in front. To get to nine-tenths behind the car in front of you is a very difficult task.
“So we might not see the trains of cars overtaking each other like has been mentioned. It might be a lot more difficult than that.”
And he’s not going to give much sympathy to drivers complaining about the new Pirelli tyres:
“The thing is as long as it’s the same for everybody, why complain? You’re all in the same boat. It’s not like one person has a slightly better tyre than you, you’ve all got the same situation.
“It’s a big part of road driving, it’s a big part of driving at Le Mans and it should be a big part of F1 as well.”
Some drivers such as Jarno Trulli have already voiced concerns about the durability of the tyres. Davidson said:
“I would say so if there’s another driver out there that’s been able to look after the tyres and not be a hooligan and destroy them on lap two. Every driver knows how to look after tyres and every engineer out there knows how to look after tyres.
“So it’s up to them and as soon as a driver starts complaining about the tyre, I’m not going to give them much sympathy at all.”
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