Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Valencia, 2011

DRS: Separating the good from the bad

2011 F1 season previewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Valencia, 2011
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Valencia, 2011

Drag Reduction System, adjustable rear wing – whatever you call it, it’s a controversial new addition in 2011.

But we shouldn’t be too quick to write off a change that could add a lot to F1.

The wings will look fantastic in qualifying. And if the FIA make the right sort of changes to make them less of a gimmick, I think even their more vehement critics could be won over.

Update: For details on where drivers can use DRS on different circuits, see the circuit information pages:

Why DRS will be great in qualifying

The adjustable rear wings should make qualifying an even more spectacular sight.

As in practice, drivers will have free use of the wings during qualifying. That means we’re going to see drivers dropping the wings at every opportunity between corners.

We’re going to be able to see the difference in performance between cars and drivers like never before. The cars with the best traction will be able to deploy their wings early on the way out of corners.

If FOM are on the ball, side-by-side comparisons of different cars and drivers using their wings on bends will make for fascinating viewing.

Steps have been taken to ensure the systems are safe. Crucially, in the event of a failure the flow of air should force the wing back into position where the slot is closed, giving the driver maximum downforce.

See the DRS in action in this video from Red Bull:

DRS in the races: a gimmick

The FIA’s planned restrictions on using the wings during the races have rightly drawn criticism.

The plan is the wings will only be used to promote overtaking. Drivers can only use them when they are within a second of the car in front, and then they can only used it in a pre-determined area on the track.

It was these artificial restrictions, rather than the wings themselves, that was the focus of criticism from fans when it was announced last year.

Many fans are concerned – and not just that it might make overtaking too easy. But also that F1 has become so fixated with increasing overtaking that it will hand a chasing driver an advantage not available to the driver they are trying to overtake to achieve it.

The counter-argument is that the leading driver already as an ‘unfair advantage’ – the enormous, turbulent flow of air spilling off the back of their car, creating a huge and invisible buffer to anyone trying to pass.

As F1 aerodynamics have become more refined in the decades since wings were first introduced, drivers have found it harder to use this disturbed air to gain a beneficial ‘tow’, and catch up to a car on the straights. At the same time the performance penalty of following another car closely in the corners has become even greater.

DRS, the argument goes, simply redresses the balance. But the key question is, when we see a driver use DRS to make a pass, will we still feel like they’ve earned it? I’m not sure we will.

DRS in the races: other problems

A further concern is the potential for misuse, opening yet another way for drivers to be handed penalties.

Perhaps the strangest aspect of the rules is that drivers may use them any time they are within a second of another car, regardless of how far behind they are in the race.

If Sebastian Vettel laps Narain Karthikeyan in Melbourne, the HRT driver will get to use his DRS if he is within a second of the Red Bull driver at the line.

It’s strange the FIA have decided to implement the rule in this way and you have to wonder if it’s because their system is not sophisticated enough to distinguish between cars that have been lapped.

Give DRS a chance

Happily the FIA has admitted the system may need fine-tuning and an allowance for them to make adjustments is written into the regulations.

We shouldn’t be too hasty to judge them and, as noted earlier, I expect the wings will be fantastic to see in qualifying.

Having said that, I think the proximity restriction is unnecessarily complicated and too much of a gimmick. It looks another example of FIA rule-making at its worst, up there with aggregate qualifying and fuel credits.

Simply rationing how many times a driver may use DRS during the race would be much easier to enforce, free of the taint of ‘gimmickry’, and quite possibly just as effective in promoting overtaking.

Yes, it would allow drivers to use their wings defensively – but spotting in your mirrors when the driver behind you as dropped his rear wing wouldn’t be that easy.

We’ll get our first indication of how much of a difference DRS will make next week.

What’s your take on DRS? Do you think it will make overtaking too easy? Are you bothered that it might be a ‘gimmick’? Have your say in the comments.

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137 comments on “DRS: Separating the good from the bad”

  1. I agree 100% with the you can deploy the DRS x amounts of time approach. That way the Rear wing won’t be flapping around all the time and makes it’s use much more strategic.

    1. Edit: I’d also like to possibly see this in future seasons with KERS. Give the drivers a bucket load more power when they use it but, say they only get 3 uses per race.

      1. Sush Meerkat
        19th March 2011, 16:33

        Edit: I’d also like to possibly see this in future seasons with KERS. Give the drivers a bucket load more power when they use it but, say they only get 3 uses per race.

        I object, thats like the old Cart or IRL races, it wasn’t that good, also there’s a need for F1’s Engineers to come up with KERS solutions in stupidly quick time to address our need to ween ourselves from gas guzzling cars, which we wouldn’t get with a standardised boost to pass system.

    2. William Wilgus
      19th March 2011, 19:31

      Why not just add a helicopter rotor so you could fly over other cars? That wouldn’t be any more phony than the in race restrictions they have on the moveable wing now!

        1. that made me chuckle :)

        2. No, actually, it wouldn’t. Phony is phony, no matter how you dress it up.

          You’re deluding yourselves if you’re thinking, “Oh, it’s not so bad, let’s see how it goes…”. You don’t want to believe that DRS as implemented in the races is spitting in the face of racing, and essentially turns the sport into a laughingstock – but sorry, it has. It’s not racing anymore, not any more than figure skating is hockey.

  2. Completely agree with everything you said. It seems a little odd that they feel the need for all of these complex rules, but I’m willing to give it a chance. If it’s a disaster, then I’m sure the FIA will make some adjustments to it so it’s not so artificial. Personally, I think the drivers are smart enough to use it whenever they want. It’s just like the f-duct in my opinion. But again, I’m holding my judement until at least after Malaysia. If nothing can be done to make the DRS work, then and only then will I criticise it.

    Great article, by the way. One small typo, though;

    Steps have been taken to the systems are safe.

    1. Oops – thanks!

    2. I pretty much agree as well, although I am not completely sure about the x uses per race.

      In qualifying, it might really show who has the car and the guts to use it to the maximum (even more than F-duct in Spa).

      For the race, I am willing to see how it pans out. Although I suspect the FIA not discerning between car positions in the race is mostly about lack of options, somehow i feel it is right.
      It highlights, that the wing is a Drag/dirty air countermeasure more than an overtaking help. When I think of it that way, I actually feel better about the whole thing.

      1. For the race, I am willing to see how it pans out. Although I suspect the FIA not discerning between car positions in the race is mostly about lack of options, somehow i feel it is right.
        It highlights, that the wing is a Drag/dirty air countermeasure more than an overtaking help. When I think of it that way, I actually feel better about the whole thing.

        Agreed. I think its affect in the race will be much more subtle than most fans think it will be at this point. Tires and KERS are going to play a bigger role in overtaking.

        1. Exactly. I think we’ll be surprised at how little impact the DRS makes.

          1. Yep, I believe it was reported when the FIA announced 600m as the distance for the DRS’ use, that they picked that number because by their simulation models that probably wasn’t really enough distance to greatly aid the overtaking. Some of the teams including Ferrari said that by their models it wouldn’t be enough. I think the FIA has made a conscious decision to start on the conservative side of things and incrementally increase the zone if needs be. They’ve also said that they don’t want it to make overtaking a breeze for tailing drivers. What most fans seem to be forgetting also is that it’s going to take a fast car and skill to get into position one second behind the driver ahead to be eligible to use the DRS in the first place.

  3. Are we going to see drivers holding off their use of the KERS system, only using it when they feel that a following driver is about to use the DRS…?

    1. Good point that Steve.

      I think we most certainly will.

    2. Probably – but the other driver will be able to use KERS too (if they have it).

    3. We might, then again, the KERS will be most advanteous to get out of the conrner fast enough so the guy behind can never really get besides you in the first place.

      If you wait till they drag along with their DRS, then use KERS, only for them to use KERS as well to nail the overtake, you will look stupid a bit.

      1. or use the KERS on the lead up to the line at which the 1 sec gap is measured in an attempt to prevent the driver behind’s DRS being activated at all.

        1. That’s a plan…

          1. … that might backfire if you then miss the braking point or go off in the corner, making the use of the DRS pretty much obsolete.

  4. I think the notion that the rear wing is ‘dropped’ when activated is worth revising. The rear wing pivots about its trailing edge so the flap actually ‘raises’ when activated. This mechanism is what permits the return to maximum downforce upon failure.

    As for the system in relation the sport, I guess it’s a wait and see game. It’s a good addition to the rules imo, the wake of an F1 car is enormous so there has to be a means of compensating for that. Placing even more drastic aero restrictions to cut downforce is not the answer and only results in significant losses in lap time across the board.

    Movable aero is rightly here to stay.

  5. In my opinion its wrong. There is no fundamental problem with f1 to necessitate these gimmicks. If you go to a boring football match, you dont think ‘hmm that was boring, we need to improve the sport’ no, you just take it as a bad game. As should formula 1.

    1. Good point. But it’d be even weirder if you went to a thrilling football game and thought, ‘hmm, we need to improve the sport’. F1 has had a great run of seasons, so it’s a little unusual, but I am willing to give it a chance. I don’t think it’s going to make too much of a difference anyway, if I’m honest. This system may just eliminate some half-hearted moves, as the driver will be carrying the extra speed and confidence to stick to the pass.

    2. Good point. But it’d be even weirder if you went to a thrilling football game and thought, ‘hmm, we need to improve the sport’. F1 has had a great run of seasons, so it’s a little unusual, but I am willing to give it a chance. I don’t think it’s going to make too much of a difference anyway, if I’m honest.

      This system may just eliminate some half-hearted moves, as the driver will be carrying the extra speed and confidence to stick to the pass.

    3. Agree, shouldn’t be always ”ways to improve the show” Improve the borefest new tracks instead as they are the main problem. Was there ever complaints of lack of overtaking at say Brazil??

    4. That’s not a very good analogy. Football games aren’t dull because the players create a vortex around themselves preventing other players from getting near the ball.

      Also, for every boring football game there is usually a good one. The ratio is much less favourable in F1.

      1. It isnt though, we’ve just had a run of 6 thrilling seasons. And there only a few dull races last year, the rest were excelent.

  6. Like KERS, I don’t see why this system has been implemented with all of these restrictions in place. If moveable aerodynamics is the future, free rein should be given to the teams to develop them. Artificial restrictions can be imposed later, but F1 should be about teams pushing the envelope rather than standardising everything in sight.

    1. That’s a good point. They should have experimented with no restrictions, then we’d know where the restrictions need to be. Actually, that’s the best comment I’ve read on here today. ;)

  7. DeadManWoking
    19th March 2011, 15:52

    I still see this as a gimmick band-aid slapped on to mask a fundamental problem that the teams, all of whom are heavily invested in aero development, don’t want to deal with. There had been earlier mention of a possible standardized ground effects package and reduced wings for 2013 which I hope is something that will happen rather than a continuation of this line of thinking.

    1. NO! NO! NO! Standardized anything is wrong! i can just about cope with standardized electronics, but anything else, is simply not formula one.

      1. DeadManWoking
        19th March 2011, 16:06

        F1 currently is all about standardized for almost everything except the Almighty Aero God! See my comment about engines in another thread:

        http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2011/03/17/ecclestone-anti-anti-anti-anti-2013-engine-rules/comment-page-4/#comment-618246

  8. Agreed that it’s a gimmick as currently allowed. Agreed that lack of overtaking is a problem. It’s good that the FIA is keeping options open to make changes, and the idea of rationing how many times it can be used during a race by each driver is a good one, also the ability to use it defensively. Perhaps the driver should be able to use it anywhere, so the idea of only one place, and one second behind could be eliminated. That would be natural, normal racing.

  9. theRoswellite
    19th March 2011, 15:55

    ….again excellent take on this issue…

    Allowing the deployment of the rear wing at the drivers discretion both in location and in time reduces, as you say, the artificiality of the devices strategic use. Having the limiting factor be simply the number of times it is deployed makes it very simple to regulate and removes the dreaded “passing zone” and the need to measure the gap between the cars. The present method couldn’t be much more artificial, and importantly, it will appear so to everyone involved.

    The wing is a proper attempt to address THE-PROBLEM. The teams and the FIA need to seriously consider your
    proposal for implementation.

  10. 100% agree with you keith, but still i want to give some time to the FIA before passing any judgment. Also dont like the idea of using same rubber for quali and race for top 10 driver….. it seems they have been done something wrong by doing well in qualifying…….. FIA should think about this matters seriously… :-)

  11. Mouse_Nightshirt
    19th March 2011, 16:00

    Allowing the DRS to be used anytime at races completely negates the point of having it in the first place, other than to improve speeds. In that situation, you might as well remove it from the sport to save costs.

    Although I think the current system seems overly convoluted, I do think the FIA need to have some system to limit its use in practice.

    1. Allowing the DRS to be used anytime at races completely negates the point of having it in the first place

      How?

      1. Because everyone will use it at all times and no one will have an advantage.

        KERS in 2009 only helped overtaking, when the car infront did not have it.

        1. Mouse_Nightshirt
          19th March 2011, 23:27

          Because everyone will use it at all times and no one will have an advantage.

          Exactly my point.

        2. Because everyone will use it at all times and no one will have an advantage.

          But that’s not what I’m suggesting – I’m saying let them use it a limited number of times during the race. In 2009 with KERS they could often use it at least once per lap.

  12. I’m not conviced yet.

    I don’t think this will be that great in qualy. It’ll be like the F-duct. The only difference is that we won’t need the onboard camera to see it being deployed.

    And during races, I’m even less convinced. All that “being within X seconds behind” rule is too confusing.

    If movable wings are the future, then free use would be better.

  13. I don’t think DRS will prove to be as gimmicky as many are making out. If everyone is on level-footing I can’t see the racing dynamic changing that much.

    Undoubtedly there will be times this coming season where DRS has been used to (apparently) artificially over-take with serious question marks raised as to the validity of the over-take but ultimately it’s all circumstantial.

    For every driver who may complain, there will be another to praise it.

  14. Best idea i’ve seen with using the wing in the race, would be just like push to pass in Indycar.

    I would like to see the wing in use through the whole race unlimited like qualifying but that and Kers would be too much.

    A quick question to possibly resolving this would be making KERS semi Automatic although that would bring back driver aids.

  15. You can’t have free use of DRS during the races because you then take away any reason for having it at all. It is there to give the following car a better chance to overtake the car ahead if it is in a position to do so.

    1. The point of having it, as you put it, is also what makes it a gimmick which a lot of people consider intolerable. So there’s a tricky decision to be made.

      But as I said in the article, if drivers were allowed to use it when they choose (up to a limited number of times) I think we’d find that using it defensively is not as straightforward as you’d think.

      1. Agreed. Allow it to be used a number of times during the race. It puts it squarely in the drivers hands to use it as he sees fit, rather than getting permission from the FIA to use it. That way it could be used to catch another car as well as passing it. But you shouldn’t then be too surprised if you are immediately passed back again because you’ve just run out of DRS usage.

        I Would also like to see something similar done for KERS. Although, that’s not too bad in its current guise.

        1. I would support ‘x times per lap’ idea, probably once a lap, because at most circuits there is at least two long flat out sections, for example in Spa A driver could get past driver B in sector one, but then B driver (if had not used his DRS already) would have a chance in sector 3, or they could both fight in s1 or s3.

          But we would be naive to give drives chance to deploy it a number a times per race, and expect them to use them to do overtaking. They would use them to put in the lap times during pitstop phase to leapfrog cars, because running away is clearly more affective than scrambling for position.

          1. Good point. We wouldn’t want it to be used to leapfrog cars in the pit lane. We’ve been there before!

          2. that’s something I hadn’t thought of! I was starting to turn to the ‘x per race’ view; but as you say it could just remain processional and then drivers gun it when there’s open road. A certain number of seconds a lap of use could be another method? This way a driver could leave all his extra speed for an assured overtake on the pit straight or try two moves using the back straight as well, but with less time with the DRS activated.

  16. Sush Meerkat
    19th March 2011, 16:38

    The FIA’s planned restrictions on using the wings during the races have rightly drawn criticism.

    Everyones up in arms because its restricted, the Flippy Flappy Wing is essentially McLarens F Duct but standardised and restricted, the F duct was praised as innovation because it was some guys in a shed (a glass high tech shed I’ll admit) came up with the idea to circumvent drag.

    The big bad FIA makes what is essentially an F duct and levels the playing field while also restricting its use and we all get our knickers in a twist.

    I get the feeling its our rebellious natures and wanting to stick it to the man that makes us act this way.

    1. Sush Meerkat
      19th March 2011, 16:39

      damn it, I make one good comment with no rubbish jokes and it ends up on the second page where no one will read it.

      Woe is me

      :(

      1. I read it :)

        Completely agree with it too.

        On another site I read someone arguing that DRS was unfairly adjusting competition. He suggested that FIA should have adopted more regular adjustments like reversed grids and penalty weights instead. ROFL.

        1. That’s hilarious! How can “reversed grids” be more fair then a little DRS, what an idiot! :L

        2. Sush Meerkat
          19th March 2011, 17:09

          Reserve Grids?, what?.
          Short answer: No.
          Long Answer: Noooooooooooooooooo.

          Horner: “Right Adrian, Mateshift are giving us 200 million pounds to make the fastest cornering racing car ever produced, I and the Team at Red Bull Racing can’t wait to see your creation at the back of the grid”
          Newey: “wait.. what?”.

          Domenically: “Luca, we needa a 600 million dollars to get our beautiful Ferrari’s to the back of the grid”
          Montezemolo: “I’ll give you 800 million if you get me 3 cars at the back of the grid.

          I read it

          you’ve made me a very happy Meerkat, here want some worms I just dug up from the Kalahari to show my gratitude?

          1. Your first comment was spot on, and your second one has put me into a fit of giggles! :D

        3. WOW, now that is taking it and putting the concept of racing on its top. What can be more artificial than mixing the grids or weight penalties?

          At least this is fair, in the sense that everyone can have it, provided they manage to get close enough behind another car (where they would be struggling in the dirty air).

    2. the Flippy Flappy Wing

      Ah, the FFW. I think that’s going to stick.

    3. This is because McLaren bending the rules is somewhat more romantic than the FIA saying ‘this is how it is’.

      It’s an improvement on the F-Duct, it’s much safer (given the driver can have two hands on the wheel) and will probably present similar situations like we saw in 2010.

  17. how about the DRS connected to the accelerator and brake pedal. when a driver push the accelerator, DRS move up and when the driver push the brake, the DRS return back to its original position.

    1. You wouldn’t always want the flap to work at exactly the same time that you press the accelerator or brake pedal.

      As it is, the flap is returned to normal when the driver uses the brake pedal anyway.

      1. Agree, just think about all these drivers braking at the turn in, then getting on the throttle again during the turn.

        Not the time to miss the downforce from the rear wing at all. But steppign on the brakes does lower the rear flap again.

        1. I mean the angle of the flap co-responding with the percentage of acceleration and braking. e.g if the driver push the accelerator 70% then the flap will move 2° and so on. how about that?

          1. It’s a good idea, but what about corners like Turkey’s turn 8? where they drivers still have their foot a fair way down yet they need every ounce of down force?

    2. Because if it’s connected to the accelerator, it will deploy every time a driver puts his foot down out of a corner, hmm? he really needs his downforce at this point, not an oil slick!

  18. Excellent analysis of the situation Keith.

    I think it’s similar to how the F-duct worked for Hamilton before all the teams had it. His overtakes were greatly appreciated even if he had some help from his F-duct.

    It’s not like he was just blowing past. He still had to fight for it.

    Compare it also with Button who did a lot less overtaking with the car. Even though Button actually made up more positions.

    1. You never know, we might see Vettel overtaking someone correctly this season!

      At least now it is the same for everyone and not just for those that could afford it.

      TBH, I think that most drivers will have enough on their plates trying to look after the tyres, never mind finding time to operate gadgets.

      1. Yeah the tyres worry me too. If not the fact that they damage so quickly, then at the very least the amount of marbles they produce.

  19. I don’t see why it’s a good thing that the DRS will magnify the difference between cars with different traction levels. For one thing, it will favour the cars with the best aero, meaning that qualifying will actually be less close.

    But for the rest, I totally agree, especially with your suggestion of a limited amount of uses. It could be for however many laps there are in a race, but you can use them whenever. Doing the same with KERS would also be good, because it would reward the drivers who are good enough at overtaking that they don’t have to use them, meaning they can use them for extra speed in other situations.

    1. Sush Meerkat
      19th March 2011, 17:22

      Hey buddy Itchyes, we’re on page two, where all the cool cats hang out!. anyway! swiftly moving on.

      For one thing, it will favour the cars with the best aero, meaning that qualifying will actually be less close

      If your right, the 107% quali rule needs to be binned, because if there’s a flash of brilliance from one driver, like The Hulk at Brazil last year, coupled with the fact the drivers are saying that now Quali is going to be a lot harder with the new tyres, KERS and Flippy Flappy Wing we could see a Quali session with a lot of cars disqualified for the race.

  20. DRS is a great idea, only there should be no restricions on when it can be used.

    1. There should be, if only for safety. Constantly altering the wake of your vehicle will not only probably cause grief to any one behind you but prove more dangerous in a racing situation.

  21. “If Sebastian Vettel laps Narain Karthikeyan in Melbourne, the HRT driver will get to use his DRS if he is within a second of the Red Bull driver at the line.”

    I don’t think that will be much of a problem. If the driver has been lapped, I don’t think he’d be fast enough to overtake the leader even with the DRS.

    1. Not necessarily – although it certainly would be the case in the situation I described.

      Two scenarios where it could have an effect spring to mind.

      First, where a driver on fresh tyres has come out of the pits just behind the leader on worn tyres.

      Second, where the leader catches a driver who’s not much slower than them, and the blue flags force the driver to let the leader by.

      1. On both cases, if you’ve been blue flagged, you’re not allowed to overtake anyway, no?

        Also, on the first case, if you do try to overtake, then you’d be trying to unlap yourself. Is there a problem with this situation? Especially if the leader has worn tyres?

        1. if you’ve been blue flagged, you’re not allowed to overtake anyway, no?

          No, there’s nothing that says a driver can’t re-pass the leader after letting him by, even after being blue-flagged.

      2. With the Pirelli tyres the car just coming out the pits is probably somewhere between 3 to 5 seconds a lap faster anyway. He won’t need DRS.

        A blue flagged driver will just get blue flagged again.

  22. Bigbadderboom
    19th March 2011, 17:17

    I like the idea of KERS and DRS leading to variable breaking points for the overtaking drivers. Compound thatwith the new tyres and this will lead to some exciting overuns, I think the battle in retaining the move from the aggressor will be as exciting as the actual overtake itself, especially as the defending driver may have some KERS left to attempt to retake the position…..All good in my opinion.

  23. The “lapped cars” anomaly is a red herring. The lapped car may well be within a second of the leader when they pass the first line, but by the time they pass the overtaking line, they will likely be so far back that there is no chance of being anywhere near by the end of the straight.

    1. So in effect they just get a bit of a tow.

      1. You may find that some of the ‘lesser’ teams will run less downforce anyway, which could give them a handy assist on the straights should they find themselves catching someone who is having a spot of bother with their tyres.

    2. DeadManWoking
      19th March 2011, 17:35

      Yes but the reverse of this is true as well. If Vettel catches Karthikeyan, who has to move over for him anyway, at the timing loop he gets a free boost from his DRS on the straight.

      1. Well yes, but possibly not as interesting/exciting to watch.

        Karthikeyan may also decide that it’s more to his advantage to let Vettel passed on the corner before the timing loop, which he would be perfectly entitled to do. He then need only tuck in behind Vettel as they pass the timing marks.

  24. What happen to DRS at Monza? Usually the Monza’s rear wing always different from other circuits. The flap almost like a tea tray. Do team need DRS there?

    1. They will want it open for the majority of the lap in qualifying.

  25. I’m sure the DRS will bring some excitment along. But there’s one thing I’m wondering; how does a driver know when he’s within a second from then the car infront?

    1. He gets a light coming up on his steering wheel.

      The FIA will use GPS to accurately plot where the cars are on the track and any car that is within the required distance at the specific part of the track will get a light come up on his streeing wheel. There will also be lines marked on the track to aid spectators and TV viewers to judge for themselves if a driver is close enough.

  26. DRS is a great idea, even with the restrictions. Yes, it does give a slight disadvantage to the leading driver, but as soon as he’s been overtaken the advantage is back in his hands. Could make for some very entertaining racing.

    1. It takes a whole lap for the advantage to swap.

  27. Yes, it would allow drivers to use their wings defensively – but spotting in your mirrors when the driver behind you as dropped his rear wing wouldn’t be that easy.

    i like, i like… good point.

    1. But as someone has already pointed out on page 1. If you allow drivers to use it where they like, they may only use it to leapfrog other cars that are pitting. Not it’s intended purpose I think.

      1. And the other drivers won’t use it to prevent that from happening?

  28. Monza got me thinking..

    Are teams allowed to adjust the closed and open positions of the wing by themselves?

    1. Yes, they are. But only when the FIA allows them to do so. The drivers wouldn’t appreciate their car handling suddenly changing.

    2. Why would you want control in the hands of someone other than the driver?

      1. Not in the race, but for each race, depending on the track

        That is, in Monza, the open position would be more ‘open’ than in Monaco, for example.

        1. In other words, could they set it to move less than the maximum allowed by the regulations? I’m not sure about that.

        2. There is a maximum slot opening of 50mm. The regulations don’t say that the slot needs to open all the way.

          So yes, they could vary the slot opening gap.

          Personally I’ve always wondered if they could open the slot just a little when the car is in a fast corner and open it the full 50mm on the straight.

          1. The device is an ‘on/off’ switch, there is no possibility of gradual opening. The regulations permit maximum slot gaps for both states. The gap is only one aspect of the overall effectiveness of the device though as the flap itself – even in the open state – will still create drag.

            Not all teams or wing configurations will gain the same reductions in drag, it is a significant area of development.

  29. I’m amazed by people on here not least Keith, but (i’m not sure of your age Keith, so you may not remember)this may jog someone’s memory .
    I can’t be the only person to remember that back some years, could of been in the 90s, Bernie expressed a wish that all overtaking happen in front of the grandstand, so everyone who paid big bucks got the action there in front of them. This notion was dismissed as impractical, as back then powerful computers and systems weren’t available, and because it could make the racing artificial.
    Well, what do we have now. The systems in place for Bernie’s dream to come true, now we will see if it is artificial.
    Be afraid of what Bernie wishes for, be VERY afraid.

    1. I’d take it with a pinch of salt, although I understand what you’re getting at.

      F1 is a business to BE. F1 is a sport to us. We appreciate that we might not get all the over-taking we want as much as we might not get the result we want in football.

  30. rationing how many times a driver may use DRS during the race

    That would be so much better. It would actually add a strategy element to the sport, it should help overtaking, and it’s wouldn’t be seen as so much of a gimmick. A+

  31. “DRS, the argument goes, simply redresses the balance. But the key question is, when we see a driver use DRS to make a pass, will we still feel like they’ve earned it? I’m not sure we will”.

    Keith, great article overall, agree with many things in it, but the last paragraph I’m not so sure. I mean if you’ve questioned the deservedness of the passes made with DRS wing, why don’t you go even further and question the deservedness of all the passes that were made in F1, before the F1 cars became aerodynamic monsters, leaving a giant cloud of dirty air in their wake? It’s not a huge step to take IMO. Because undoubtedly, overtaking then was far easier than now when, vast majority of the time, you have to be over 2s/lap quicker than the car in front to even dream of overtaking. And those drivers of old, who had an easy life of it, would just line up behind the car in front, get a tow and whoops they’re past! Piece o’ cake, no?

    IMO there’s no question that the passes made with the help of DRS are legitimate and deserved. You shouldn’t have to be 2s/lap faster than the other guy to overtake. Of course I would like better to remove the dirty air but since that isn’t going to happen at least ’till they impose ground effect rules in 2013, I’m content with DRS. Just my opinion!

    1. why don’t you go even further and question the deservedness of all the passes that were made in F1, before the F1 cars became aerodynamic monsters, leaving a giant cloud of dirty air in their wake?

      Interesting question. Unfortunately I wasn’t around to see the slipstreaming-fests at Monza in the sixties so I can’t say.

      1. Me neither, apart from watching every video I could find, including all of the year reviews from 1970 to 1980. Monza is of course prime example, but on all the other tracks too, overtaking was much easier(apart from Monaco obviously). Generally, if you were faster you could overtake, from what I know. Of course the driver in front would defend vigorously but you had a good chance.In 1981, it took the level of Gilles Villeneuve’s genius, as well as tight and twisty tracks like Monaco and Jarama to keep faster cars behind for the whole race. I have watched Jarama 1981 in full, and GV hadn’t made a single mistake in the whole 80 laps. He hadn’t made any dirty tricks, chops and weaving, he just hits all of his braking and accelaration points perfectly, used the power of Ferrari engine to compensate for the “red cadillac”‘s awful handling to stay half a car’s length ahead of the opposition. If he made just a small error that whole train of cars would he kept behind him would be past in a heartbeat, as at the finish gap 1-5 was just 1.24 sec. A perfect race if there ever was one! But now, with overtaking being so difficult it also devalues a high quality defensive driving. For example many people complain about the Trulli train. Why? Shouldn’t Jarno be applauded for getting the car where it doesn’t belong in qualy and then his good defensive skills to keep faster opposition behind? In contrast, No one spoke about GV train in 1981 except with reverence.

      2. Just watch the slipstreamer Champcar races of the mid to late 90s with the Handford Wing :)

  32. still think its a gimmick and still absolutely hate it.

    i don’t care if it works or not, to me thats isnt the issue. the issue to me is that if it does work the racing will suffer.

    i dont want to see passes only happen on straghts because of kers or the drs. i want to see drivers have to work hard to make a pass happen.

    to me passes like raikkonen round the outside of fisichella at suzuka in 2005 was far more intresting/entertaining to watch than raikkonens kers assisted pass on fisichella at spa 2009.

    the kers and drs are more likely to produce more of the latter which to me makes the racing worse and not better.

    its funny how a much slower car holding up much faster one’s over a race is now considered artificial and wrong.

    it used to be that a driver in a slower car able to hold his place over a much faster one was applauded for driving a brilliant race.

    gilles villeneuve’s win at jarama in 1981 is still applauded as a brilliant drive despite the fact his ferrari was a couple seconds slower than the 4 cars he held back for much of the race.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvv-EuuXaCQ

    those 2 races at imola in 2005/2006 equally saw alonso in 05 and schumacher in 06 applauded for driving brilliantly under immense pressure in holding the faster driver back.

    a driver should have to fight hard to make a pass happen, having it made easier with boost buttons and the like just dumbs down the sport and for me takes away some of the excitement of watching a pure battle for position with no idea of what the eventual outcome will be.

    1. It depends ultimately how you look at the sport. I don’t think many drivers will tell us over the coming months that over-taking is now easy. It’s going to be difficult in it’s own right, operating DRS and KERS. It adds the pressure on to the driver who already has a mountain of things to consider even after his foot is on the throttle and hands on the wheel.

      It’s all relative and given that the whole field has DRS and KERS (minus HRT and Marussia Virgin, I think?) I really can’t see the dynamic shift that much.

      This kind of approach to the sport I think actually puts more responsibility on the driver to use the aids sensibly and effectively rather than just assuming they are a passenger in gimmick-heavy car.

      1. It’s all relative and given that the whole field has DRS and KERS (minus HRT and Marussia Virgin, I think?)

        Well they aren’t going to be passing anyone anyway… So what would be the point of them having KERS in the first place.

        1. They would battle with each other though, wouldn’t they?

          A bit futile admittedly ;)

          1. And the Best of the Back Award for 2011 goes to…

  33. ” then they can only used it in a pre-determined area on the track.”

    Now my question will that area will be about one straight or all the straights?They also talked about a distance of 600 m what about that?

    1. I heard it was meant to be the last 600m of the lap…but I don’t think we’ve clarification yet.

      I reckon the first few races will throw up a few different ‘designated areas’ until the FIA devise some solid criteria moving forward.

      1. Last 600 meters of the main straight.

        1. HounslowBusGarage
          20th March 2011, 8:47

          At Monaco?

          1. Similarly Istanbul Park…?

          2. The question was what that 600 meter stood for.

            Besides, in Monaco the slightly curved “straight” over the start/finish line is over 600 meters long. So yeah why not? It’s pretty much the only place where cars can pass each other anyway.

          3. @AndrewTanner

            How long is the main straight of Istanbul Park?

          4. According to this http://www.alintourism.com/istanbul-park-circuit.html it’s 655.5m, that’s pushing it!

            I would like to see it just after turn 10 on that long flat-out section, that would be better for over-taking, especially being able to out-break on that final chicane.

  34. What is the rule for using DRS in defence of being overlapped ?

    1. I presume by ‘overlapped’ you just mean ‘lapped’ – if so, there’s no specific rule.

  35. I now remember reading somewhere (A Pat Symonds article I think) that the reason they wouldn’t want the drivers to have full control of DRS is because it would be used to leapfrog cars in the pits rather than be used for overtaking out on the track. This was what they wanted to avoid at all costs.

    So any free use of DRS would need to avoid it being used like the drivers used to use the remaining grip on their soon to be changed tyres.

  36. somerandomguy
    20th March 2011, 11:34

    isnt this kind of like the ‘power boost’ from a1gp? except theyre not allowed to use it when they want

  37. I’ll repeat what i said in the other topic, i think it’s a daft idea. Allow the drivers to use it as they see fit or get rid of it. People seem to have suddenly decided F1 is boring because no-one can overtake, it’s been no different since the 70’s. Anyone remember Senna and Mansell going at it in Spain? Mansell earnt that overtake with skill and courage and that is how F1 has always been and should always stay.

    1. Not true. Overtaking has become massively more difficult in the last 10 to 20 years.

      1. Mainly becuase of lots of rubbish new track designs.

        The classic circuits like Spa, Interlagos and Silverstone still usually produce great races and overtaking.

    2. Bigbadderboom
      20th March 2011, 15:03

      It isn’t how F1 has always been and it isn’t how it should be. The last 2 decades have seen aero change dramtically and it’s influence on overtaking. The fact is something needs to be done, and this for me is as good a solution as any. Short of changing the majority of tracks, or changing design regulations so they are unrecognisable.
      The challenge is to make the racing more exciting without changing it’s identity whilst keeping within reasonable cost constraints, and this is the best solution, at least until 2013 when we will see reg changes that may make the difference.

  38. Picture the scene; two backmarkers running 2-3 seconds apart. Vettel comes up behind one and ducks under him into a hairpin. Said backmarker then uses his FFW which gives him extra speed, he’s also in Vettel’s tow, extra extra speed. Furthermore, the chap he was chasing is now obliged to let Vettel through, chances are he’ll lose the position, complaints ensue.

    1. First of all it doesn’t just work everywhere. For now it’s decided to only use it on the last 600 meters of the main straight.

      Second of all, there is no way that the DRS is going to close a 2-3 second gap.

      Picture the scene: F-duct last year, DRS now.

      1. It can’t close 2-3 seconds, sure, but it will give the lapped driver a speed advantage. And because it can only be used on a specific part of the track, chances are that only one of the two backmarkers will be able to use it, therefore giving one of the backmarkers what in my opinion will be an undeserved advantage.
        We might also risk seeing drivers who is getting lapped hold the lapped driver off just a few corners, so the lapped driver will be allowed to use the DRS on the straight.

  39. The problem with the DRS will be than the last teams (not all but some of them) will have problems in the use of it. Then the rear wing could be pulled out and then some accidents may happen.

  40. It was these artificial restrictions, rather than the wings themselves, that was the focus of criticism from fans when it was announced last year.

    Yes, precisely. DRS isn’t different from an F-Duct in terms of purpose, but the many rules will make overtaking not just more frequent but more artificial.

  41. At the heart of this matter is the constant problem; F1 is so technologically dependent that it invariably disregards the talent of the driver. Another way of putting it; talent is not important. In it’s bid to position F1 as the most technologically advanced sport, it is and has been in reality, a business disguised as a sport. If i were to attempt to define sport, it is about performance by the athlete. Sure there are some sports that are equipment dependent;yachting, racing, etc. But unlike other equipment-dependent sports, F1 specifically tends to lean so heavily on the technology around the equipment that it ends up becoming thoroughly predictable; confined to a few top teams!

  42. There is no doubt that KERS development is massively important to the future of F1 and motorsport in general. With regards to DRS, i believe it is not the most complete solution but it addresses the very real problem of air turbulence. Either we do away with the vast majority of aero wings or try something like this. It will be hopefully be iterative and improve so we should give it chance. Also, there is not much point in complaining about it 5 days before it’s first showing!

    My view for what it is worth is that DRS should be used and the one defensive move across the track rule should be scrapped. If you want to talk about artificial racing then you need look no further than this rule. And please don’t give me the safety argument. Quite frankly it’s boring.

  43. Did I get the last word in?? Amazing! (and slightly disappointing)

  44. My onjection to DRS is as Keith mentions, its artificial nature.

    However I really don’t see the need. I believe unrestricted KERS and unrestricted tyre choices would achieve far more than DRS anyway.

    KERS has a limiting factor of weight vs boost. Derestricting it means they could potentially save 2-3 laps worth of energy and use it all in one go over one lap. The guy in front wouldn’t know the guy behind was doing this, so would have no reply.

    The teams can’t build massive KERS installations because the weight would be too much, so actually it would introduce a variable but not an arms race of cost (plus most of the development has already been done).

    Removing the tyre restrictions would also help the racing. Artificially making rubbish tyres is one way, but letting drivers choose between one set of rock hard tyres for the whole race, ot 10 sets of ultra soft qualifiers will again introduce variables without too much cost (they might have to lift the 7 sets for Quali+Race though).

    DRS just seems like an exercise pointlessness to me

  45. I gave it a chance and its OK, but thats it. I appreciate more overtaking for a bit of excitment but there is something there very synthetic that I do not like!

  46. Whiskeymac
    9th May 2011, 15:45

    Well now, The Turkish Grand Prix showed us just how devastating the use of DRS can be, especially by Alonso, no matter how much he might like to say the tyre grip was his advantage.

    Interesting that I have yet to notice anyone get back a place by using DRS. I assume there is no rule to prohibit this, is there?

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