Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Shanghai, 2011

Drag Reduction Systems: Your verdict

Debates and pollsPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Shanghai, 2011
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Shanghai, 2011

Three races into F1’s experiment with the controversial “Drag Reduction Systems”, is it a success or a failure?

It may have increased overtaking, but has it done so in a way that’s to the detriment of the sport?

Or is any pass a good pass, as far as you’re concerned? Have your say on how DRS has changed Formula 1.


In races, drivers are allowed to activate their Drag Reduction Systems when they’re within one second of another car (including lapped cars). This helps them catch up to make an overtaking move.

In the first three races of the year we’ve seen several examples of the DRS working, such as Nick Heidfeld’s pass on Lewis Hamilton in Sepang and Mark Webber’s on Jenson Button in Shanghai.

The rule aims to address the problem drivers have experienced trying to overtake in recent years.

Nico Rosberg is a big fan of the way the adjustable rear wings are used in races, describing them as “best idea ever probably” earlier this week.


The chief complaint about DRS is that it gives one driver an advantage which the other driver does not have. It’s been likened to the FIA limiting the top speed of a leading car so that the car behind it can try to overtake.

F1 should be able to have exciting races without resorting to gimmicks which are fundamentally unsporting.

The system has also proved unreliable, with worrying implications. Fernando Alonso’s DRS opened incorrectly during the Chinese Grand Prix. Failures such as this could cause a driver to lose control and crash, or improperly gain an advantage.

I say

I enjoy watching the technology of moveable rear wings in practice and qualifying, when all the drivers are free to use it when they choose. It gives us another way to appreciate what the driver is doing behind the wheel.

But the way the technology is used in races is clearly unfair – something F1 fans picked up on when the rule was first announced last year.

We have seen more overtaking this year thanks to the new Pirelli tyres and the return of KERS. But DRS crosses a line.

It is an artificial device used to create unimpressive, ‘slam-dunk’ passes. It diminishes the spectacle instead of enhancing it.

The best wheel-to-wheel racing we’ve seen this year happened without DRS – such as Alonso’s battle with Hamilton in Sepang and Hamilton’s passes on Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel in Shanghai.

These moves were enjoyable because they were genuine racing rather than an artificially engineered show.

You say

What do you think of how DRS is used in races?

Tick ALL the statements you agree with below to show your opinion – and have your say in the comments.

Which of these statements about DRS do you AGREE with?

  • DRS has made F1 races more exciting this year (51%)
  • DRS is the only thing that has made F1 races more exciting this year (1%)
  • F1 should try running some DRS-free races (41%)
  • F1 should try running some races with more than one DRS zone (38%)
  • DRS makes F1 races too artificial (28%)
  • The rules on using DRS in races are unfair (32%)
  • I do not agree with any of the statements above (3%)

Total Voters: 573

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211 comments on “Drag Reduction Systems: Your verdict”

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  1. We all know the modern aerodynamics make the cars faster and harder to follow. We want to keep it fast but make it easier to follow. The 2009 rule changes showed its hard to make them easier to follow, so we need to find another way. If the aerodynamics mean a car has to follow 1 second further behind than without aerodynamics then the DRS should be tuned so that the car can close up 1 second heading towards an overtaking place. This then gives neither driver the advantage it just negates the negative effect of the aero’s turbulence on the car behind. Allowing drivers to race as much as they could before aero took over.

    1. I don’t mind seeing lap times 5 seconds slower if the racing is better. I know F1 wants to be green but more power/less downforce is the only way to make the racing better and still keep similar lap times. So in my opinion, reduce downforce and accept slower lap times, and the racing will improve.

      1. Actually getting rid of downforce will help begin green a lot by getting rid of drag. And that means going faster in a straight line with less effort.

        Just look at cars like the Toyota prius and the Volt. They have low drag to help them be fuel efficient.

        1. Neither are exactly known for their straight line speed or acceleration. In reality, they are both a bit doggish. Also, a large part of their fuel efficiency is their relatively low weight, as that is a critical factor. In general, you need a bit of down force to counter lift at high speeds (the main reason for governors on alot of cars is to keep the car at a safe speed due to lift issues). In addition, more power with less down force means that braking zones are going to increase dramatically and the run off areas will have to increase dramatically as a result. In addition, accidents will be MUCH worse if they involve a brake failure, a slow car (Mark Webber/Heikki Kovalainen @ Valencia, 2010), or a misjudgement/failure involving a wall (Kubica @ Canada, 2007). Last I heard, people care more about safe cars than green cars, if you don’t believe me, look up the Prius fiasco Toyota had in the US.

          1. While all that you write there is probalby true (not too sure about low weight, with all the batteries), it does not really relate to what I wrote, i.e. that less drag makes for better fuel efficiency.

            In no way was it an attempt to promote nor discuss the actuall driving advantages and disadvantages of such cars.

        2. We shouldn’t be advocating to get rid of downforce, merely for the rules to allow teams to generate downforce in different ways like with ground effect.

          I like the DRS, it doesn’t create a slam dunk, but it made China one of the most exciting races in years. I will watch F1 regardless of what they do, but I like the DRS, though I see it as more of a temporary fix until regulations that promote for passing come to the fore in 2013.

      2. but the thing is those solutions have been tried every which way they can for the last 20+ years…. and they have never worked… because teams always find ways to maximise performance… In fact there is a strong argument that actually attempts to do this have just made the matter worse… time after time after time… Reducing downforce by regulation just makes the downforce that they can get even more important… and even more fragile.

        Personally I still have questions about DRS, but I do feel that with each race we are seeing improvements in how its implemented and the effects it is having on the race are ‘better’.

        In KL it was a bit to ‘push to pass’ but we still had some great racing around it, in China it was less push to pass and it also had an effect elsewhere on the track…

        How many of the passes down into turn one happened because of the position that the following driver was able to take after using the DRS earlier in the lap?

        How much were the drivers racing and fighting in order to take advantage of or defend against the usage of DRS later in the lap?

        How many overtaking opportunities were created elsewhere on the lap because of this?

        The thing is drivers don’t just make a move into a single corner, they often setup moves corners and laps in advance… if you want to hear about this listen to Lewis talking to Jake, Martin and DC on the Forum after the race… he describes how he made a number of the overtakes he made and talks about the planning and preparation that went into some of them.

        1. I completely agree with this, DRS wasn’t a slam dunk in the last race between equal or nearly equal cars (Lewis and Jenson) many of the passes elsewhere on the track were helped by DRS but the drivers needed to fight for them.

          1 more thing, at one point when Webber was trying to take… Petrov I think it was, Petrov had been fighting him for a couple of laps and Mark was getting very close, Petrov obviously yielded to him just before the DRS detection zone, he then however locked up into the braking zone and fell too far back.

          I’m wondering if he had though he might let Webber through and then use the fact that he was right up under his wing to actually catch DRS and drag back past him down the straight (the Renault was blatantly a faster car on the straight). This shows another way in which this is still under the control of the driver and therefore ‘real’ racing.

          He did make a shambles of it though…

          1. So you’re saying drivers lifting off to let cars past is ‘real’ racing? Come on, that is about as artificial as you can get on a race track. I’m sorry, I cannot take you serious when you call that ‘real’ racing. Nico did it in Malaysia and its so artificial its untrue. Drivers should be fighting to be ahead into every corner, not using these technicalities to get ahead.

          2. No Baz… what he is saying that drivers using their brains as well as their talents is what real racing is about.

            As for drivers fighting to be ahead at every corner… sorry but have you ever watched drivers racing through a series of corners… its not just about being in front its about position on the track, its about using the racing line and forcing other drivers onto unfavourable parts of the track….

            Did you watch any of the races in the turbo ear when drivers used to turn the boost up so they could pass and then turning it back down to race…. It was even more artificial than DRS and was something that was completely at the drivers control as to when they used it… the defending driver had no clue as to when they would be passed by a turbo boost.

            I understand and agree with your concerns Baz, I just happen to think you are taking them to the point you are throwing the baby out with the bath water. This season has gotten off to a great start when you compare it to recent seasons (going right the way back to the 90s) and in part that has to do with DRS… Yes it was a bit too easy to pass with it in Malaysia, but I think in China it was pretty much spot on…. and the result was a fantastic race…

          3. Andy, isn’t the boost equivalent to what KERS is now? A different argument I know, but another topic of interest. I agree entirely about track position and racing through a series of corners, my choice of wording wasn’t great to illustrate the point I was trying to make. It kind of goes along with ‘the drivers should be allowed to race flat out’ which would make the races even more boring in my opinion as the fast cars would be at the front, and the slowest would get left behind. Different argument again, but, it raises a question; to have real, entertaining races, do we HAVE to remove out-and-out racing?

          4. KERS is somewhat similar to boost in certain areas, both deliver more power to the driver but how they do it is very different, I am no expert so don’t quote me on this but boost allowed the driver to effectively turn the wick up on the engine allowing a 1.5l engine to produce anything up to 1500bhp (yes 1500) more than doubling the power of the engine for short periods of time… with the risk being the engines would occasionally explode.

            Also this was done entirely within the engine, they didn’t need any other equipment or do anything that would otherwise affect the handling, braking, weight distribution or anything.

            Turbos were banned due to the growing expense of running them, teams would use 2-4 engines per pace per car and the top teams used to run specialised qualifier engines that could only do a handful of laps before having to be scraped or rebuilt. There were also a number of turbo engines that exploded (not just in F1, but other motorsport categories as well).

            It will be interesting to see them if they get brought back, and to see what the regs say about boost…

        2. Andy W – well said.

          It’s easy to say “take off the downforce” and harder to do in practice.

          One thing I’m not sure of is why allowing more under body ground effect, as was done to good effect in GP2 cars, can’t be explored more in F1. Ground effect is less dependent on clean air and I always wondered why this path was off limits in F1. But you’re right, you still need to reduce topside aero efficiency for it to work and you will still have the teams clawing it back in a way which makes the cars more dependent than ever on clean air. Short of banning all wings and coming up with a silhouette that looks something like a mid 60s F1 car, I could never think of a high confidence way to reverse the turbulence deficit and the racing stale mate.

          I’m generally as much a purist as anyone but I realized years ago that divergent tyre compounds and high wear was probably the least egregious of the available options for preventing processional races and the “track position is everything” style of racing we had. Then I was highly skeptical of DRS because of the arbitrary way it assigns performance, but in practice I have warmed to it. Someone got his sums right about how long a DRS zone should be and how much drag to remove, and the key point is that it can now be fine-tuned by circuit to avoid slam dunk passing. Cr@ppy tyres and DRS are both artificial solutions, of course, but we already have a formula where engine performance is somewhat standardized, and tweaked from time to time by the FIA for particular motors, everyone is fine with one team getting a disproportionate share of the FOM money (not results related), and the rules are so massively prescribed and restrictive, that I would argue the whole thing is artificial in that sense, and has been for some time. It crept up on us, didn’t it?

          The other problem (apart from turbulent air) is that the purpose of engineering is to systematically remove sources of performance variability – that’s what performance optimization is and does. So tyre companies can make much more consistent, fast and durable rubber than they did in the 80s, teams have the simulation and other capabilities to approach the performance asymptote more consistently, and the whole field tends towards a performance optimum, which automatically means cars will tend to line up two by two and then slowly spread out. In short, more widespread engineering excellence and control will lead to more processional races anyway and you can’t turn back the clock. So, I accept these somewhat artificial innovations in the knowledge that we’re not returning to 1986 whether we want to or not. There was a period when it looked like the safety car was being used, NASCAR style, to scramble the form book at key moments in a race, could effectively DNF certain drivers in certain races, and the best argument anyone could make for it was (worst argument ever): “it’s the same for everyone”. I can only reflect that what we have now is far better than that.

          1. Just saw that there is a plan to use more ground effect in F1, so no need to answer that question, I guess.

    2. That’s why the FIA intends to bring back ground-effect in 2013.

      That way cars are less dependent on the air flow and can follow in the slipstream through corners and use the slipstream on the straight, where DRS is used now.

      1. BasCB – very good point, and another to add to why reducing downforce would be a step in the right direction.

        Sasquatsch – I actually wasn’t aware of that but that is great news – hopefully that will make a big, big difference.

        1. but they have been trying to reduce downforce for years…. we have had new set of regulations after new set of regulations all with the basic principle of reducing downforce at the heart of the regulations…

          and things have gotten worse and worse…. now we actually have something different and its working…. no its not perfect yet, but hey its only been used fro 3 races… lets keep thinking outside the box and keep on working at making it work better….

          1. but at the end of the day it is fake. I don’t care how effective it is, its simply not genuine. These are some of the brightest minds in the world, surely they can think of something more genuine?

          2. well they have tried for years… decades Baz and they have repeatedly failed….

            as for it being ‘fake’… motor sport is ‘fake’ because the cars are artificial creations that are created to exist within a set of rules and regulations… those regulations and rules are the same for all teams so as far as i am concerned its fair…

            I must admit I do think that DRS is artificial but its an artificial solution to an artificial problem created by car designers determination to push every set of rules and regulations to the maximum. I also wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of this season that teams and drivers hadn’t figured out ways to use DRS that completely break the intention of the moveable rear wing flap.

          3. I’ve gotta admit I’m kinda lost reading that! You’re bringing philosophy into motorsport, kudos to you :P

    3. We all know the modern aerodynamics make the cars faster and harder to follow.

      Yeah – in the CORNERS. Not on the straights.
      That’s the crucial distinction here. If the cars could follow each other closely in the corners, then you wouldn’t need the silly DRS to help the second car on the straight, because it would be in his rival’s slipstream entering the straight already.

      1. but how do you get cars that can follow each other closely in the corners?

        1. ground effect!

          1. and what are the risks and dangers of ground effect…. its not a new solution, and it did get banned for a reason… because it became incredibly dangerous.

          2. then simply kerb the regulations – they reduced downforce by 33% yet the designers ended up with more than previously. So take awake another 50% of what they’re allowed. Eventually the downforce will be reduced. Put simply, for the racing to improve, downforce HAS to be reduced.

          3. Seriously Baz they have been trying to do that for decades…. The more they try and take away the more different areas that designers will find to get it back….

            The idea behind DRS is that its a simple system that reduces downforce/drag, but does so only at certain parts of the race which can then be dictated and controlled by the race stewards setting the usage rules. The idea behind it is that by doing it this way teams struggle to optimise their cars for it (hence the concerns about 7th gear) and by doing so it gives drivers a greater chance to race…. which is what happened in China…

            My advice is to watch and see how this season unfolds… lets see what happens at circuits like Monte Carlo, Hungry and Brazil where DRS is going to be less effective simply because of the lack of places to use it… Lets have a look and see what happens if there are 2 shorter activation zones that allow for close following rather than overtaking….

          4. I’m totally with you on your outlook as to improving racing, I just would love there to be something fundamentally changed in the rules concerning downforce so the DRS would not be needed at all, while still allowing for great racing. It’s a good point that no matter what is done, the engineers will find ways around them. I agree also tracks like Hungary and Monaco will mean it is less effective, but say on these tracks a train of 4 or 5 cars are within 1 second of each other, particularly at Monaco where it could be most of the grid between laps 3-8, the whole race will be crazy!

          5. Taking downforce away doesn’t help. The problem is the dependency of downforce on free air.

            After a while the downforce on the car is so advanced that every bit of airflow is used. If that gets a bit disrupted then a big chunk of downforce goes away and the car can’t follow.

            The answer is SIMPLER downforce. Don’t allow too much elements on the wings and they won’t be able to direct every tiny bit of airflow.

          6. that is actually a very good point patrick – they removed elements and fins from the body but not from the wing. Perhaps making the wings simple will have a much greater impact, while being relatively simple to alter. Great point that one.

      2. Which begs the question: where are they going to put the DRS zone at Monaco?

        My suggestion: the whole circuit. That should make things interesting.

        1. Monaco won’t have a DRS zone.

          1. Do you know that for sure, or just speculating?

  2. I’m not a fan of the DRS at all.

    I’m in full agreement with the previous article on the Pirelli tyres.

    I don’t know the stats (maybe you could help with this Keith) but I think there may have been more overtaking outside the DRS zone in China.

    Watching those overtaking maneuvers were much more exciting then in an ‘overtaking’ zone.

  3. Not a fan at all. 1000bhp+ cars with little downforce is what it should be about. Even keeping the 750bhp engines they have now but reduce aero enough to make throttle control much more delicate than it is with the huge downforce the cars have nowadays. The great drivers can really surface then, even in sub-standard cars. Would really, really love to see this happen.

    1. and how many drivers do you think would end up being killed :-/ There is a reason why F1 moved away from that idea… fast cars that are pushing the very edges of being drivable are incredibly dangerous… I remember the deaths of more than a few truly great drivers who ran out of ‘grip’ rather than talent.

      1. not many, look at Kubica 2007, the cars aren’t tin cans any more.

        1. No, but a lot more speed with a lot less grip isn’t going to help is it?

          The high HP low downforce… is a foolish idea, and would set F1 safety back 20 years.

      2. to add to this, if you bring in ground effect AND reduce downforce, will that not keep similar speeds (equally as safe) yet allow the racing to be closer and more genuine?

        1. According to Jackie Stewart ground effects are dangerous becuase once the car bounces mid corner, large amounts of grip evaporate immediately. Ground effects need a controlled airflow between the tarmac and floor of the car, with a bump, that distrubs the “ground effect” and could send a driver wide in an instant. Scary if you are going through Eau Rouge or the 190r

      3. Kubica was incredibly lucky to walk out of that accident… yes modern cars are far safer than the cars of yesteryear… but when a drivers feet are hanging out the front of cockpit as Kubica’s then all it takes is a little bad luck and…

        The thing is the more accidents we have of that nature the more likely it is that a driver will be ‘unlucky’… Over the last few seasons we have seen a number of accidents in which drivers were incredibly lucky to walk away uninjured or with as ‘small’ injuries as they have sustained… and much as I love F1 and I love to see a big smash I always have my heart in my mouth because I can still see Senna’s accident when I watched that race live… I can remember seeing other drivers going up in flames and being carried off hugely injured or dead from a number of different motor sports not just F1… and its something I hope to never see again in these sports that I love.

        Ground effect is great, until something happens to break it… such as a damaged skirt or the car hitting a high curb/debris or whatever and then the the effect is lost and the car becomes a skipping stone. The other thing is ground effect allows for cars to carry far greater speed through corners which is where it becomes even more dangerous if the effect is broken.

        I still struggle to see what you consider genuine… the sport is fundamentally not ‘genuine’ its full of factors that unfair to drivers and teams… How is it fair that Vettle has a far better car that Di Resta, how is it fair he has had a better car 3 races in a row than his team mate? How is it fair that Renault have a better launch control system than the rest of the field? Or that McLaren probably spend as much on designing their overalls as HRT spends on designing its front wing?

        The thing is that none of that is fair… the only thing that is fair is that the rules and regulations are the same for all teams and drivers… All drivers have access to DRS, they all know where it can be used and in what circumstances it can be used…. to my way of thinking it’s then up to them to make the most of the tools at their finger tips… If thats the resources that McLaren can put into developing their car, Red Bull using the sheer genius of Adrian Newey, Renault using their fast starting cars and systems, driver A following driver B by less than a second over the DRS line…. then that is racing.

        1. Andy – I like you. You have a passion to debate on here which I’m really enjoying.

          The points on ground effect are true, and I most certainly don’t enjoy seeing accidents like Kubica’s, but I think the sport would benefit from a re-introduction of ground effect. Maybe brought in, but to less of an effect s in the past (a bit like the downforce regulations now compared to 2008, for instance). I know the teams will claw some of that deficit back but it can surely be made light enough so that even when pushed massively it can be made safe.

          As defining fair, thats a tough one I know. The way I look at it is when it comes to over taking, it should be about the drivers and the car in one set state (if thats worded easily to understand). So the drivers do their practice, do their qualy, choose a setup they believe is correct (e.g. some choose more wing, some choose less), and then when it comes to racing on track it is about the drivers racing in the cars in these set states, based on decisions they’ve made throughout the grand prix weekend. Thats a very basic view on it but its hard to try and describe in a few words. I hope thats easy(ish) to understand!

          1. Yeah I am enjoying the debate as well :-)

            They are planning to re-introduce ground effect in 2013, so we will have to see how they do it, however I doubt that the teams will be able to use some of the tricks around skirts that they have in the past… my understanding is that teams will be given more freedom to sculpt the undersides of the cars and get them lower to the ground, beyond that I don’t really know much (but I am sure some other people here might….)

            I understand the points you have made and will say that DRS is actually an attempt to get away from that, because that was producing increasingly staid races – still thrilling in their own way to watch as a purist, but generally less exciting. The thing is the teams and designers are too good at what they do… they develop cars that will maximise the amount of use they can get out of the air going over the car, the more the regs striped away the ability to do that more important it became to do it… because the advantages of doing it in terms of performance outweigh the penalties of not doing it… and those penalties are that following other cars becomes more difficult.

            I tend to think of F1 as trying to balance a pea on top of a balloon on top of a spinning pole, there are different competing elements and they all have to be constantly judged and changed to keep the pea in place, and really the only control over that process the FIA has is by changing the regs… they need to meet different requirements. DRS is an attempt to do that and i think its working… and I assume the clever people who do the sums and work out the implementation for it at each race are working as hard as they can to balance the needs of it giving close racing without it becoming a joke.

        2. to add to this too – say in qualy, the teams can use DRS all the time, so they set the cars up to have more downforce than usual, as they can use this in the corners while not suffering on the straights. There will be a balance issue there but say for all intents and purposes the teams will run more downforce with DRS being there, as it will gain them lap time. This will then further increase the turbulent air behind the cars as they will be set up to run with more downforce that if DRS wasn’t used (or used to heavily in qualifying perhaps). Things could be improved with respect to qualifying with the DRS that would aid racing, and they could be simple small changes, like not using it in qualy.

          1. I wish they would change the regs on using DRS in quali… have it free on friday to give the boffins the chance to study its effect over free practice (maybe require teams to do a series of laps with free usage and no usage).

            Then set the distances check them in P3, and then set ‘race’ conditions for quali except allow drivers to use the wing in its given spot on their flying laps.

        3. What is genuine is everyone having the same rules to work within [i]at all times[/i].

  4. Not a fan of DRS
    I think pirelli tyres have provided use with more exciting overtaking than DRS

    1. Totally agree ron.

  5. I think that the DRS worked fine in Australia. It enabled cars to follow close behind to get into a position to overtake elsewhere in the lap. And it enabled cars clearly faster to get past, avoiding trains following drivers over a second off the pace.
    But I agree with the argument, that F1 should not have artificial things to make that happen, its not as if it is that hard. As Head said a few years ago, take away the rear wing and they will be closer on track!

    With the tyres making it interesting and giving multiple strategies that push drivers to overtake to make it work I really think they should try a race without any use of DRS in the race to see weather it is really needed.

    1. “As Head said a few years ago, take away the rear wing and they will be closer on track!”

      haha that would be interesting! But it is a very valid point – to improve the racing, the aerodynamics need to be reduced – I know F1 is about aero a lot these days but racing would be better with reduced aero surely?

      1. Remove the rear wing and it’s not F1 anymore – remove the rear wing! Oh hell remove all the aero!

        Put the wheels inside the body work! Let contact happen! Do it on a dirt track! Call it Banger racing!

        1. I think you’re taking Head’s point a bit too literally – he is stating that if you reduce the aero, the cars can follow closer. It’s simple, reduce the aero and these gimmicks don’t need to be brought into the sport. And just to ask, why without a rear wing would it not be F1? Pretty sure the cars didn’t used to have rear wings and some point in history.

          1. Actually he meant it very literally. His next sentence was, that it would not come about as the rear wing offers so good an advertising area!

          2. Haha! The sport will miss Head and Williams when they depart – two of the old school. In whatever context he meant it though, the fact is that downforce is the problem – it seems to me that if you simply reduce it the problem will be solved. Yes, they reduced it before, but the downforce levels themselves were not reduced as the teams soon made up the deficit, which is why we’re in the situation we are now.

          3. Baz, The problem, being turbulent air created behind the cars, is no longer a problem.

            The DRS compensates of that by allowing drivers to gain a speed advantage during the race.

            With this we have seen exciting racing.

            I do not understand your problem. If it is, as I think it is, with only the driver behind being allowed to use it, thus being given an advantage. Consider for one moment, that all the drivers are allowed to get the same advantage, provided they are behind.

            Your argument, is like saying a driver gaining advantage with a quicker pit stop is unfair. In that all drivers are able to get a quicker pit stop, but not all of them actually will.

            How I see it, the DRS has helped to provide some very, very exciting racing. I can’t help but feel this is a good thing.

            I think in the past years the difficulty in making a pass has been rising, I think the DRS counters this, and that for me, is a good thing.

        2. There weren’t wings until the 70s in F1. Lots of things in F1 have been developed and then been outlawed, active suspension for instance. Why would banning wings make it any less F1 than banning other things?

    2. You’re right. The DRS worked perfectly in Australia, where its advantage was at a minimum. In Malaysia and China it seemed like the driver in front was defenseless. The most exciting part of the Malaysian GP was Alonso chasing Hamilton without a functional DRS sytem, and had his rear wing malfunctioned we wouldn’t have caught that exciting battle.

      I’m not completely against the DRS system, but I feel they need to find a balance with the advantage it possesses at different tracks. Plus I think using DRS and KERS at the same time gives the driver behind an unfair advantage, perhaps limiting the use of both of them together might help in finding a better balance. The DRS system is still at a very nascent and experimental stage, and hopefully fine tuning it will appease the critics.

      I think DRS should be dropped from qualifying though.. that whole concept makes absolutely no sense to me.

      1. Great point about DRS in qualifying – the times being set are ridiculous, and there is no consistency with the race. Coulthard meantioned last GP I think it was that the lap times were 7 or 8 seconds slower than qualy? The times in the race would be a lot more comparable if DRS was simply disabled in qualifying, and they would be more genuine.

        1. But qualifying is a seperate spectacle and should be treated as so, in fact it adds to the mix in terms of the race. As we have seen some cars are great in quali and have much slower comparative race pace. I can understand the purist view but for me overtaking is a must be, but not by sacrificing safety, I’m no aerodynamicist (see can’t even spell it) but I do know through F1 history that most regard ground-effects as a dangerous way to control flow. Granted it’s the elimination of dirty air thats key but for the moment does DRS not just simulate that? This whole debate is about desires, needs and can haves. At the moment we all agree F1 NEEDS overtaking, most of us DESIRE it to be in a purist fashion and not synthetic, but there is no other safe solution available at the moment so NEEDS outweigh DESIRE and DRS is the best compromise.

  6. I like the DRS, however I think 1 second, however I think they pose too much of an advantage. I’d rather cars overtake each other under braking in the corner at the end of the straight rather than a vanilla pass on the straight. So, i’d like to see the activation zone shortened with respect to that corner – I think the FIA did this in the end in Shanghai?

    1. 1 second was just a guess at how far extra behind they have to be because of the aerodynamics on the car. If it is just used so that the DRS removes this buffer so overtaking was just as hard is it was before aero and not a “slam dunk” pass then it is certainly a good thing

      1. Very true; I meant to delete that clause (seems like I didnt get around to it though!), my post’ll read better if you ignore the “however I think 1 second”

  7. The chief complaint about DRS is that it gives one driver an advantage which the other driver does not have.

    I disagree with this. The drivers are very smart about how they race. Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that Barrichello and Heidfeld are racing one another (I deliberately chose two drivers in the midfield). If Barrichello comes under threat from Heidfeld, he can conserve his KERS device to try and offset Heidfeld’s advantage when they get into the DRS zone. Likewise, Heidfeld can use his KERS to try and keep in touch with Barrichello, then activate his DRS.

    The DRS would only be unfair if that was the only driver aid they had. But the KERS device gives 80bhp for six seconds per lap, which is more than enough to defend when used appropriately. And, as we’ve seen, a simple defensive move across the track can put paid to a KERS- and DRS-assisted passing attempt.

    1. Dragging KERS into this only confuses the matter. The attacking driver can use KERS as well, so it’s entirely irrelevant to the subject of DRS.

      1. That’s not entirely true Keith. As PM pointed out, the defender can use KERS to counter DRS, or use it to break the 1sec prior to DRS activation. The attacker can use KERS to counter KERS as you say, but unlike DRS the attacker does not know where the defender will use KERS, advantage defender.

        Tyres, KERS and DRS are all relevant in each of the “tools” discussion. KERS use affects tyres, Tyres can help achieve the 1sec DRS activation gap, as can KERS, KERS+DRS+Tyres (Tyres = grip and acceleration out of the corner) all impact the overtake on the “DRS straight”.

        1. the attacker does not know where the defender will use KERS.

          But the opposite is also true.

          So, again, KERS is irrelevant in the context of a discussion on the merits of DRS.

          1. Agreed – Dougie, for your first paragraph, swap the words attacker and defender, and it is still valid.

          2. I think PM has a point though, In Shangai, moving across the line did allow some fairly effectiv defence (I clearly remember Heidfield hampering someone by shifting to the right). I was quite surprised Petrov (was it Petrov?) didn’t use the move to defend againts Hamilton.

          3. Mr.Zing Zang
            22nd April 2011, 16:57

            Kieth the main point of the DRS flew over your head like a B52 bomber..you didn’t even meantion it in the article. IT KEEPS THE RACES CLOSE! The driver following gets a mini boost to catch up with the one in front, so an OPPORTUNITY for a pass is created whether the DRS is used to make the pass or not. Can you confirm?

          4. Paragraph five.

    2. Most drivers attacking will save KERS to use when using the DRS, and both together are clearly an unfair advantage to the defending car. Plus, its made things happen like Rosberg lifting in Malaysia just so he could use the DRS on the straight and ensure position gain. Things like that are clearly artificial and ruin the racing for me. They have increased overtaking without improving racing, its improving the racing which is important.

    3. I disagree with you.

      It still gives that one driver an unfair advantage, specially with cars that doesn’t have KERS, or they both use KERS at the same time.

      Your argument about defending with KERS an also apply to the car behind, which can use KERS to come within that one second in the last corner and use KERS as well on the straight as an extra boost, used in conjunction with DRS.

      It is only fair if both drivers can use it.

      1. It is only fair if both drivers can use it.

        Formula 1 is, by nature, unfair. How is it fair that Sebastian Vettel gets to drive an RB7 whilst Narain Karthikeyan is putting around in a Hispania F111, but it is unfair that only one driver in a battle for position can use the DRS?

        1. That’s a specious argument. There’s nothing in the regulations which forces Hispania to make a slower car. Some teams do a better job than others – hence the constructors’ championship – but there’s no inbuilt bias.

        2. Formula 1 is, by nature, unfair.

          How is that an excuse for making it even more unfair?!?

          That’s like seeing a small kid getting beaten up by a bully twice his size, and then giving the bully a baseball bat saying “That fight was unfair from the beginning”.
          What kind of logic is that?

          1. You’re twisting my words.

            And I do the metaphors around here.

        3. F1 is a team sport. It is fair because both teams got to develop cars under the same rules.

    4. Your argument does not add up. As both drivers can use the KERS it still gives the advantage to the chasing driver.

      1. Only if the chasing driver conserves his KERS. A defending driver would use KERS to stay out of reach before the DRS zone, meaning that the chasing driver would need to use KERS to stay in touch with him. It all comes down to who can manage their KERS more effectively and who can produce the better lap – because as we’ve seen, the DRS only gets a driver into a position where he can make a pass happen, but he still has to do a lot of work to make it stick. In the cases where drivers have just driven clean around te one in front with the DRS, the difference in speed between them was already so great that the DRS didn’t make any difference.

    5. I also disagree with the comment PM highlighted.

      For me an unfair advantage is where one driver is doing something that the other driver is not aware of. They all know the rules and where the DRS zone is, so I don’t consider it unfair, and therefore they are able to defend against it as PM says, or by attempting to be at least over a second ahead at the detection point.

      I selected the last option Keith put in the poll. I feel the races are more exciting due to a combination of things, possibly including DRS. I’ve no objections to the FIA trying different things with DRS but I don’t feel strongly about it. It may be a little bit artificial but not “too”, and as I say an “unfair advantage” is where one competitor is doing something the other is not aware of.

      Hope this makes sense.

      1. The DRS would only be unfair if that was the only driver aid they had. But the KERS device gives 80bhp for six seconds per lap, which is more than enough to defend

        Wow, how wrong is that comment. Seriously, PM, what’s wrong with you, mate?

        That’s like there were two people fighting and you gave each of them a knife, then you gave only one of them a sword and said “The sword would only be unfair if that was the only weapon they had. A knife is more than enough to defend”.

        KERS+DRS is more than KERS.
        That math couldn’t be more easy, come on.

    6. @Prisoner Monkeys: Like you, I also disagree with this complaint. I understand it, but would like to add a nuance.

      From my perspective, the advantage doesn’t extend for the whole race. At the particular point that the trailing driver gets to use DRS, yes, one driver has an advantage, but that advantage is reversed now that the other driver is behind them if, and only if, the overtaken driver can maintain the < 1 sec gap.

      If it really is an unfair advantage and they are evenly matched racers & cars, the passed driver would be able to repass, and be repassed etc… all race long! whooo! And this would continue until someone figured out how to maintain and grow the gap. Maybe I'm a simpleton… but that would NOT suck.

      To me that is crucial, because it stops the scenario where a slower car with nothing but the usual aerodynamic wake around the corners, holds up a considerably faster car because they can't get close enough coming out of the corners, and or, the faster driver burning up his tires on these "irrelevant" battles, and then not having enough for the big dogs ahead.

      IMHO, it is way too early to be making judgments yet, but what DRS has done, so far, I think, is allow the evenly matched cars to fight each other, and that makes the battles more interesting for me.

  8. truechictruef1 I’m from the UK. If all the drivers are up speed on the know how on how to use the DRS then it’s a fantastic idea I liked it in the AustrialianGP it worked far better for that race then the other 2 races,Some driver’s accidentially enable it at the wrong time And that’s when accidents occur.If You keep on changing the rules regarding the use of D>R>S then I don’t see the need for it.

  9. I think we should see some DRS free races to see how much of a difference it really makes. The Pirelli tyres are main culprit for the great racing. I don’t mind DRS, but I do question whether we really need it.

  10. One of the main problems I see (besides the gimmicky feel of it) is that it’s too easy to get wrong.

    Allow it to be on for too long and you get slipstream battles. Too short and it’s ineffective.

    And of course, each circuit is going to be different, and as the cars develop the effects that can be obtained from it will be different. How can you predict that – one error too far may render an entire race void. It’s too easy for the FIA to get wrong.

    I’m even loathe to see it in qualifying, even if it is kept in the race.

  11. It’s a touch one to pick? To me by decreasing the DRS zone in China by the FIA was a good move. Don’t like the idea that only the attacker will have all the advantage & the defender will have none.I guess the tyre as pointed out played a good part of racing but I do doubt that without DRS people like Webber may have had some trouble getting 3rd in the Chinese GP.

    I think the main effect of DRS may be seen in races where we don’t have too many overtaking at all like Spain, Valencia, Hungary.

    1. The defender has the advantage of dirty air all around the lap

  12. I would have liked to have seen the statement “It hasn’t made a massive difference to F1” – in the races we’ve seen so far, anyway. Melbourne was (uncharacteristically) fairly boring, even with a couple of DRS-assisted passes (mostly at turn 3 not turn 1), but faster cars were still stuck behind slower cars and there was still some overtaking at other points on the track.

    The longer straights of Sepang and Shanghai allowed for a bit of overtaking, but not much was purely down to DRS. (It’s true that Hamilton’s pass on Button was strongly helped by DRS even though it took place about 1km after the end of the DRS zone. On the other hand, Lewis was going to pass him anyway).

    As I’ve seen pointed out elsewhere, if DRS was too artifical and unfair, you would see slower cars passing or re-passing faster cars all the time, or the field stringing out over the race as every car instantly passed every slower car and then pulled away. Neither of those things is happening. I think they’ve got the balance about right.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if they run two DRS zones at Turkey (which normally sees some overtaking anyway; so that might be a bit OTT), and I can’t see them having one at all in Monaco.

  13. F1 rules obviously need to be adapted to the reality. There are a lot of things, which have made races less exciting than they were in, let’s say, 1980s. One tyre supplier, less technical failures, modern circuits and more aerodynamics mean that the rule makers need to be a bit creative if they don’t want to see races turning into boring processions. This is why I believe that introducing less durable tyres is an acceptable way to make F1 more attractive for the fans.

    But I believe that DRS is one step too far. I am not gonna stop watching F1 because of that but this gimmick is just unnecessary and brings a couple of negative consequences. It gives an unnatural advantage for the chasing driver. It lessens the probability of midfield or backmarker teams making it to the top sometimes, which, in my opinion, is important for F1. Slower cars have sometimes been able to keep faster ones behind just because it was too hard to overtake. Now it’s harder to do. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see Vettel being desperately stuck behind Maldonado every second race but now and then it’s not too bad. DRS works in favour of the best cars.

    What is more, the best thing about passes (at least for me) is the unpredictability – will he make it or not? If I can predict a pass many laps in advance, then it gets boring. And DRS makes passes more predictable, too.

    1. There are a lot of things, which have made races less exciting than they were in, let’s say, 1980s

      Rose tinted glasses alert!!!!

      I do not believe 80’s or beginning of 90’s racing was more interesting! (maybe Rosberg’s championship year…). Seriously, those cars could overtake left and right, but most years, a car or two would be 2 to 3 seconds a lap faster than anyone else! So overtaking wouldn’t be a real problem. And all the classic overtakes were made by cars being or becoming massively faster than others. How many times would Senna / Mansell, Piquet do a superb overtake and disappear in the horizon in no time? Sure, it would change from one race to another, and there was the possibility of brake down, but having recently reviewed few “classic” races footage of these, I can honestly say that most don’t compare to the tight high intensity racing we’ve had in the whole tightly closed up, DRS assisted, field we seen in Shangai this year.

  14. I’m probably in the minority here – but it’s my opinion that the DRS has worked best in Australia.

    In China we had overtaking mainly because of the tyres. DRS and KERS were somewhat incidental – they sped the overtaking procedure up, but most of those moves would have happened eventually.

    In Malaysia we have a track that has already seen a large amount of overtaking in previous years. Its simply a track that allows the drivers to overtake because of its two huge straights. What the DRS did was to localise overtaking to the main straight rather than the back straight – but largely, overtaking there was similar to the previous years overall.

    In Australia however, we had an example of a race where few overtakes usually happen. The race is normally exciting for other reasons – there is often a safety car, sometimes rain and its usually the first race of the season so there is unreliability. Its not normally an overtaking circuit so to speak. This year, the DRS worked well by making the main straight into an overtaking zone. It worked perfectly – and provided us with an exciting ‘normal’ Australian race, which otherwise wouldn’t have been so.

    The DRS is a great new system – and definitely is a positive step for F1. It’s clearly not as important as the tyres though and we haven’t seen it come into its own yet except for the opportunities it delivered on Australia’s straight. But it will do. And this season will be great because of it.

  15. I don’t mind DRS helping drivers get closer behind someone (basically, reduce the problems of losing touch in corners and thus not getting close enough at the end of a straight), like it did in Melbourne, and in that respect I was happy they reduced the length of the zone for the China race, as in Sepang it really meant it was too easy to overtake if you were at al close enough.

    I also liked how Hamilton mentioned that he aimed to not overtake Vettel within the DRS zone, because he would be expecting him; as I commented on another article today, that shows that in a lot of cases, the DRS only changes the way good drivers (both Hamilton and Vettel, in this case) approach defense and overtaking, but not really is a game changer.

    Webber on Button, I am not sure that wouldn’t have happened even without the DRS as Webber had so much better tyres at that moment. In any case, had he had KERS, he likely wouldn’t have needed a DRS at all. But as it was, perhaps he would have needed an extra lap or two without DRS, which would have meant a possible podium for Button.

    In all, with the additional unreliability of the DRS that several teams have had creating possible unsafe situations, I think it would be better to not have it, but provided it becomes reliable soon, it really doesn’t seem to matter much, unless Lotus becomes a lot faster soon but Trulli is prevented from creating a train behind him by DRS.

  16. I think its been okay, its aided overtaking a bit but i like that’s it help cars stay closer together to be able to try a pass somewhere else.

  17. The thing for me is that it is fake. It isn’t genuine, so no matter how effective it is, it is still wrong. They should find ways to improve the aero regulations without having to resort to gimmicks to improve racing. F1 contains some of the brightest minds alive today, surely they can think of something more genuine to put into the regulations?

    1. They should find ways to improve the aero regulations without having to resort to gimmicks to improve racing.

      The teams will never agree to this. So long as they know they can find a tenth of a second per lap from aerodynamic downforce, they will fight to keep it. And even the best-written aero regulations will have loopholes that the Adrians Neweys of this world can exploit.

      1. This is what is breaking the sport in my opinion. What makes it great is also its main flaw, so this debate will rage on for as long as F1 stays as it is.

  18. The chief complaint against DRS is so flawed. Yes, the trailing driver gains an advantage not available to the leading driver at that time. However every opponent of DRS conveniently forgets the equally huge advantage available to the leading driving by running in clean air and throwing up dirty air for the following car. DRS is great because it evens out these 2 advantages. It’s no mean feat to get within 1 second of the car in front so it’s never a ‘free’ pass, and I for one was sick of seeing a clearly faster car catch up by 1-2 seconds/lap but then having almost no chance to get past purely because of the dirty air. In addition most of the DRS passes we did see did still required bravery and precision under braking and wasn’t just sailing past on the straights.

    About Alonso’s DRS problem, I don’t believe it has activated by itself, the system error was that it was available to him at the wrong spot, but he must have chosen to enable DRS manually at that point. Software error or not, he just should not have pushed the button at that point.

    1. However every opponent of DRS conveniently forgets the equally huge advantage available to the leading driving by running in clean air and throwing up dirty air for the following car.

      But cars haven’t been designed like that to deprive other cars of the ability to overtake. They’ve been designed that way because it’s the quickest way of getting them around the track.

      There’s nothing artificial about that – whereas DRS clearly is.

      1. running in clear air on the straights is also a disadvantage to the car in front – so the DRS increases what is already a disadvantage to the defending car. But as you say Keith, its the fact its artificial that is what I’m against, I personally feel the introduction of KERS and DRS have ruined F1 – 2005/2006/2007/2008 were all great seasons without these things in the sport.

      2. But cars haven’t been designed like that to deprive other cars of the ability to overtake

        True, Cars have been designed to generate more downforce. But a byproduct of the more downforce is the dirty air behind the car. Inadvertently, this dirty air deprives the ability of the following car to overtake.

        So in a way yeah, the car design is what is compromising the other car’s ability to overtake.

        This dirty air gives an artificial advantage to the car in the front. DRS just gives another artificial advantage to the car behind.
        If one is in favour of TRUE overtaking then one should be opposing the excessive aero-grip on the cars, not on DRS.

        1. They should be opposing both, which I am :)

        2. Very valid you make too, by the way sumedh.

  19. Obviously it has added some spectacle, although it would have been more interesting to gauge the same system on Bridgestones.
    But one thing is clear, it has given faster team more advantage even if somebody screw up Qualies,(Renault’s and Schumi in last race) until or unless there are some crashes.
    Till now it looks like point distribution will be too much skewed towards faster teams unlike last year midfield: 69(williams), 68(FI), 44(Sauber), these teams probably have to settle for much lower figures.

  20. How about if the DRS shut once the attackers front wheels drew level with the defenders rears. This would stop the rear driver just sailing past…
    I think they should try a race without DRS.
    Pirelli is the biggest star of f1 2011 so far.

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