Davidson: rear wings will make cars 15kph quicker

Interview

Anthony Davidson, 2011

Anthony Davidson, 2011

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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78 comments on Davidson: rear wings will make cars 15kph quicker

  1. Oliver said on 27th February 2011, 7:43

    15km an hour is a bit too small considering you can only turn it on when you are within a second from the car ahead and also within a 600 meter zone. So you may end up getting the green – or whatever colour – light, just when you reach the braking zone. And do you really want to be watching a light show at that point.

    • There won’t be a need to watch for the light too much. I believe that you can switch it early and when you hit the zone, it will automatically come on and switch off within the set time limit or zone. As for where this zone is, it is not definitively set. In fact it may change from race to race, depending on the circuit.

      • Oliver said on 27th February 2011, 8:33

        Wouldn’t that be dangerous if you find yourself in a situation where you suddenly have to take an avoiding action – groundhogs, debris, protesting priest dressed like Jackie Stewart – I mean, a driver needs to know at all times what exactly he has underneath him, not to be caught off guard by a suddenly light rear end.

        Although if its driver induced then automatic I suppose it would just be left in automatic mode it will take the stress off the driver so long he remembers to deactivate it. But I never heard of such and will it not be a driver aid?

    • Palle said on 27th February 2011, 9:15

      If car in front is doing 292 km/h = 81 m/s and the overtaking car uses DRS and thus increases its speed by 15 km/h = 4,2 m/s, this gives the overtaker 85,2 m/s. If he is only just within 1 sec, then the distance is less than 80 meters. He needs to pass also and get in front, i.e. he needs to gain 90 meters on the car in front. With only 4,2 m/s gain it takes 21,4 seconds. In 21,4 seconds he travels 1823 meters (@85,2 m/s).
      This simple calculation doesn’t take the acceleration and braking zone into consideration. But I guess he needs to be much much closer than 1 sec to be able to do the overtaking, alone by the advantage given by DRS.
      If he only has 600 meters to do the job, he needs to do the overtaking in 7,04 sec., and thus he gains only 29,6 meters on the lead car. He thus needs to be within 25 meters to be able to outbrake the car in front in the braking zone.
      Off course any speed advantage he might have before using DRS will help a lot also.

      • ElChiva said on 27th February 2011, 22:40

        I did my own calculations but from a different point of view but reached the same conclusion. The driver behind gains on average .34 of a second. It will take 4 laps of using the DRS to see an attempted overtake… 4 laps in dirty air … I dont think it will work but if it does it won’t be noticeable

  2. Oliver said on 27th February 2011, 8:19

    I tend to disagree a little with Davidson on the tyres. Not every engineer knows how to conserve tyres at least not the ones employed by Mclaren. Last year when the Mclaren drivers complained that their tyres were off, it wasn’t necessarily that they were shot but just that no more performance could be extracted from them relative to the other runners.

    Come this season if the Mclaren continues to mince the tyres like they normally do, the will quickly fall behind by as much as 5 seconds a lap unlike the 0.6 – 1 sec a lap from last years Bridgestones.

    Ferrari and the Redbulls seem to make cars that are gentle on the tyres. Williams and to some extent Sauber also. But the Mclarens always seem to run an odd camber relative to the other cars.
    As for the new teams, its anybodys guess.

    • Reason for Red Bull’s and Ferrari’s being gentler on their tyres was because they had more downforce. The car moves around (slides) much less on its tyres.

      If you have less downforce you sometimes have to compromise your set up in other ways.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th February 2011, 9:06

      Not every engineer knows how to conserve tyres at least not the ones employed by Mclaren.

      But everyone has the same opportunity to. If one team or driver are mincing (good word!) their tyres it’s their fault, not Pirelli’s.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th February 2011, 11:09

        That is exactly why I was disappoined with what Trulli said. You would thing an experienced guy like him would know how to do it.

      • I disagree with that. 2009 and 2010 showed that any car following behind the car infront will mince their tyres.

        Just you wait when the race starts and the car behind has to slow down and then the drivers and spectators complaining the tyres don’t last long enough for a big skirmish.

        Doesn’t matter if you have Kers or this flap jack wing, you simply cannot get rid of that massive wake behind the car regardless if DDD has gone.

        They should just go back to 2007 of cars and rules allow drivers to choose tire compounds groved tyres = less grip 2007 cars 30% less downforce then these and strategies that can go anywhere on high or low fuel loads.

        2011 will be the biggest let down in formula one history, and you Keith will be writing how the tyres aren’t lasting long enough. and Pirelli saying how they’re making stronger tyres due to the lack of duels.

        I hope I’m wrong but very much doubt it based on observations and driver feedbacks on the tyre compounds at present.

  3. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 27th February 2011, 10:42

    Another fantastic insight into DRS and it’s potential effects.

  4. BasCB (@bascb) said on 27th February 2011, 11:10

    By the way, great you got Davidson for a pretty in depth conversation on the DRS Keith.

    Nice interview.

  5. Eggry (@eggry) said on 27th February 2011, 15:50

    “far more powerful tool” than the moveable front wings used in 2009 and 2011.

    I think it should be 2010 not 2010, Keith.

  6. omer.ishaq (@omer-ishaq) said on 28th February 2011, 17:13

    But Alonso said it would hardly help in top cars overtaking cause on track both cars will have the same advantage, no

  7. F1_Dave said on 1st March 2011, 10:27

    can we just ditch this stupid gimmick already?

    get rid of kers, get rid of this stupid rear wing, design some proper tyres instead of the joke tyres we have this year.

    lets just get back to proper racing, pure racing like we had prior to refueling.

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