Drag Reduction Systems: Your verdict

Debates and polls

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.

For

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.

Against

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

  1. Athan (@athan) said on 21st April 2011, 10:46

    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.

  2. 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?

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st April 2011, 11:11

      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.

      • 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.

  3. TheVillainF1 (@thevillainf1) said on 21st April 2011, 10:48

    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.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 21st April 2011, 10:59

      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.

      • 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.

      • sumedh said on 21st April 2011, 11:36

        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.

  4. vickyy (@vickyy) said on 21st April 2011, 10:51

    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.

  5. Ben Bailey said on 21st April 2011, 10:52

    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.

  6. I say we let drivers use DRS anywhere they want, but they can only open it once a lap.

  7. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st April 2011, 11:01

    I’m sorry, but the argument that all drivers should have the DRS available equally under all conditions just points out the fallacy of the fans. Everyone complained for years and years about how there wasn’t enough overtaking in the sport and demanded that the Powers That be do something to make the races more exciting. Well, the PTB listened and came up with the drag reduction system, specifically designed to make overtaking easier. And despite initial concerns that drivers would push a button and magically pass the car in front (despite being based on the exact same principle as the F-duct, which never caused magic overtaking), the DRS has done just that, putting drivers in a position where they can overtaking, but still demanding the skill and judgement to make a pass work. Despite listening to them and giving the fans exactly what they wanted for years, the PTB are suddenly under fire for making the racing “too artificial” and “unfair”.

    Well, guess what? You wanted it – you got it. Now you’re just trying to have your cake and eat it, too.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 21st April 2011, 11:07

      the argument that all drivers should have the DRS available equally under all conditions

      Who’s arguing in favour of that?

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st April 2011, 11:13

        Everyone who says it’s unfair. The direct implication is that the DRS is only fair if all drivers have equal access to it. The part about “all conditions” refers to the way it can only be used within a designated overtaking zone, not all the time.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 21st April 2011, 11:17

          I think it’s unfair and that’s not what I’m saying. And I think I’d know if I was.

          There are other options: switch it off entirely, or limit its use to a certain number of times per race and/or per lap.

          It is not the case that the only alternative to the present solution is having it available all the times under all circumstances.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st April 2011, 11:21

            But how does that address any problem? The DRS was specifically designed to facilitate overtaking, and so allowing two drivers the use of the DRS under the same conditions will simply negate its purpose. If a driver uses the DRS at a certain point, his pursuer will use it, too.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 21st April 2011, 11:30

            And that’s the crux of the discussion. As it happens I don’t necessarily think it would be useless or a less than worthwhile addition to F1 under the terms you describe.

            But as I said in the article preventing a driver from being able to use it defensively when he’s being attacked with it is akin to throttling their engine performance to encourage overtaking. Would you be happy with that?

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st April 2011, 11:44

            I don’t think it’s comparable.

    • Damon (@damon) said on 21st April 2011, 11:09

      Everyone complained for years and years about how there wasn’t enough REAL overtaking in the sport [...] Well, the PTB listened and came up with the drag reduction system, specifically designed to make FAKE overtaking easier.

      And now you see, why you’re wrong here:

      Well, guess what? You wanted it – you got it.

      Nobody asked for fake overtaking.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st April 2011, 11:17

        Nobody asked for fake overtaking.

        I didn’t say anybody specify a way to produce the kind of overtaking they wanted. Did you? How are the Powers That Be supposed to read your mind? It’s like if you went into a bakery and ordered a birthday cake. The bakery makes your cake, and you get home to discover it’s vanilla when you wanted chocolate. You never specifically said you wanted a chocolate cake, yet you criticise the bakery for not knowing this.

        The same thing has happened here: the fans demanded more overtaking in Formula 1. More overtaking was delivered. But the fans never said “We want more overtaking and we want it to happen like this” – they just said “We want more overtaking” and expected the PTB to read their minds.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st April 2011, 11:18

          I didn’t say anybody specify

          That should read “I didn’t see anybody specify”.

        • vickyy (@vickyy) said on 21st April 2011, 11:21

          +1
          totally agree.
          Shangai is already registered as one of classics, yet there is not stopping whining

          • I wouldn’t call it a classic. Exciting as it was, with these artificial means of overtaking in place, I can’t judge them as respectfully as say, Donington 93. The tyres add enough to the races, please take away DRS, it is simply not needed.

        • Damon (@damon) said on 21st April 2011, 11:35

          Haha, Prisoner Monk, you’re playing with the definitions :)
          Ok, let me put it this way:
          A DRS assisted overtaking maneuver = not an overtaking maneuver at all. Almost like passing a blue-flagged car isn’t one.

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st April 2011, 11:42

            A DRS assisted overtaking maneuver = not an overtaking maneuver at all. Almost like passing a blue-flagged car isn’t one.

            We’ve seen plenty of attempted overtakes using the DRS that have failed. As David Coulthard rightly pointed out during the Sepang race, the DRS only allows a driver to get his front wing alongside the rear wheel of the guy in front. Everything else is up to them.

            And like i said earlier, in the rare instance where a driver has simply powered around the car in front – Vitaly Petrov did it in Malaysia – with the DRS deployed, then he was already so much faster than the car in front that the pass would have happened regardless of whether or not the DRS was open at the time.

          • Damon (@damon) said on 21st April 2011, 12:45

            We’ve seen plenty of attempted overtakes using the DRS that have failed.

            So what?
            Not-a-100%-efficiency of an unfair measure does not make it fair.

            It’s like giving a boxer in a boxing match a baseball bat for 10sec in a round that he’s losing and saying it’s fair, because the boxers with a bat aren’t always able to KO their opponents during those 10secs.
            “We’ve seen plenty of attempted attacks using the baseball bats that have failed.”
            That’s great man, great…

  8. Fixy (@fixy) said on 21st April 2011, 11:13

    I am for more overtaking, but I am against remote-controlled overtaking that a driver is sure of completing easily when he can use his DRS. Only real drivers can overtake, but if everyone uses DRS we won’t know who is a real driver and who is not.

  9. chris said on 21st April 2011, 11:18

    DRS is a good idea but should be there for a driver to use at any point arround the track, but limit them to say 20 seconds per lap and then it is down to the driver deciding where to use it and where to defend with it. Like kers but for a longer period of time. Then there is no limiting the top speeds it is then down to tactics

  10. TheNikii (@thenikii) said on 21st April 2011, 11:22

    I don’t think we have seen the worst of DRS yet. My biggest concern is that in one of the future races a midfield team could get in the lead due to lucky strategy or great setup like Force India did in Spa 2009 or Toro Roso at Monza 08 and lead the race, but then a Red Bull or McLaren comes within a second and just flies past with the wing wide open, just like Raikonen did with Fisichela using KERS. We haven’t actually seen a midfield team winning the race since 2008.

    • Agree with you 100% on this one. I doubt Webber would have finished 3rd without DRS. He didn’t have KERS, yet still was massively quicker. But then if this was due to the tyres, why is DRS needed? It needs to go, pure and simple.

  11. Funkyf1 said on 21st April 2011, 11:26

    a combination of tyre changes DRS and KERS have made racing exciting, they all work together to make racing
    more interesting

  12. Leftie (@leftie) said on 21st April 2011, 11:28

    It is way to early to start a debate on the subject. We haven’t seen all types of circuits and rubber compounds in action. The teams haven’t made their first major car upgrade and they are still learning about tires, KERS and DRS as well as the drivers.

    There’s so much refinement of all these issues to come from all sides of the grid. We could end up with everybody perfectly planning the strategy and managing tire wear, which will lead to processional racing and DRS may remain the only method to gain a position on track. The Formula 1 itself hasn’t got her head around the tech yet and we, fanatics, already speculating about it like it’s been here forever.

    I skipped the vote. It’s meaningless at the moment. I’ll reserve my judgement at least until Silverstone.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 21st April 2011, 11:36

      I didn’t want to run this article too soon and decided this was the right time.

      That was partly influenced by seeing the FIA first set the DRS zone for China at 902 metres and then shorten it to 752. Clearly they’ve got an idea of what would make it too powerful or not powerful enough

      So I think the time is right for us to make our minds up.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 21st April 2011, 20:12

        Yeah, I agree with that. Australia was not too typical and it was the first race. Malaysia showed DRS being maybe a bit too much and in China it was close to getting it right again, not too powerfull.

        Seems like a good time for the first evaluation, I think the teams also said they will evaluate it with the FIA after the first 3 races.

      • Leftie (@leftie) said on 21st April 2011, 20:39

        The point is that we have to look at the complex of factors, the big picture. DRS alone can be evaluated already, yes. We’ve seen where it helps, how it helps etc. But it’s not just about the wing, isn’t it? How many DRS assisted passes (and passing moves overall) would stick if there was no difference in tire wear? In China most of them wouldn’t simply because there would be no advantage in traction out of the corner which does not giving driver a luxury to choose any line into the corner and outdrag the opponent on the acceleration. This is exactly why i’m looking for more evaluation time, to give teams and drivers to play around a bit more and find the solutions. DRS works, yes – it gives speed boost etc etc etc.
        But as i said above, it’s not about the wing alone.

        On the other hand, lots of people claiming it to be too gimmicky and artificial yet at the same time praising Pirelli for fast degrading rubber, which in my view is the same thing – artificial. Manufacturer artificially disadvantaged those, who are at the end of their racing stint – and there’s not really much driver can do about it. It just goes off and you have nothing to defend with, they can take you on the outside, inside, braking, accelerating, entry, exit, slow corners, fast corners – everywhere – just blasting by on that fresher set of wheels. That’s even more artificially disadvantaging the driver than not letting him open his rear wing to defend his position on the straight. And people are excited, they praising the effort from the manufacturer and blaming the FIA for that gimmicky wing which makes our favorite racing artificial and predetermined.

        This is a very delicate debate to give it a go just now, it needs more input from races, teams and drivers.

  13. sumedh said on 21st April 2011, 11:29

    I am a fan of the DRS.
    I do not agree with the fact that you are handicapping the driver in the front by limiting his top speed. The guy ahead already has an advantage of travelling in clean air and everybody else is already disadvantaged because of the dirty air.

    DRS would have been a huge failure in the olden days when the reliance on aerodynamics was less. The 2009 rules aimed to reduce aero downforce but clearly that didn’t work.
    The DRS is offsetting this dirty air effect alone. It is only removing the handicap of the following driver and not giving him any advantage.

    For that matter, I also believe that unless Adrain Newey retires from the sport altogether, F1 will continue to generate more and more downforce (And hence less overtaking). Last 3 years every team on the grid has been following his ideas on every aspect of car-design.

    If you want to increase overtaking there are only 2 ways, either counter Adrain Newey’s innovations by some counter-innovation (such as DRS) or get him to leave the sport.

    • this argument is quite frankly silly. For the car defending, he is clearly at a disadvantage time-wise when in front on a straight. The car is punching a hole in the air for the car behind to catch up. Overall, the car is quicker through the corners, yet slower on the straights. So exaggerating the disadvantage of the car in front is clearly an artificial way to improve racing. The only way to improve it is to reduce downforce. Yes they reduced it once (by 33% I believe) and the engineers clawed it back. So remove another 50%, and they won’t claw that back. Then racing will improve.

      • sumedh said on 21st April 2011, 11:44

        If what you said were actually true, and there was just a hole in the air behind the car instead of dirty air, we would have seen lots more overtaking in 2009 and 2010. Did we?

        • Fair point, but at least last year cars like Petrov’s Renault at Abu Dhabi were able to defend, whereas this year on the open tracks it feels like taking candy from a baby at times. This is where the fundamental argument of downforce comes in. I’ve said many times on here that downforce needs to be reduced, as did you on another post, which I totally agree with.

        • SiY (@siy) said on 21st April 2011, 12:51

          No, we didn’t, because the following car was so far behind coming out of the previous corner. Just the same as they are this year – the DRS significantly reduces drag, leading to better acceleration and more top speed for the following car.

          “Dirty air” is turbulent air, which is fairly bad for aerodynamics, but it is also lower pressure than free-stream air, i.e. it IS a “hole in the air”.

  14. th13teen said on 21st April 2011, 11:36

    I liked china because half of the drivers could not get past in the DRS zone but only by a small margin which ment an excelent fight on the next 3 turns!
    I also wonderd wether DRS should be used throughout the whole circuit IF you have been lapped?! It may seem a silly idea but it would probably cause more of a battle in the same lap!

  15. ukk (@ukk) said on 21st April 2011, 11:37

    Until the diffusers are allowed, the DRS makes things fair. Agree with Nico – a great idea!

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