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

Loading ... Loading ...

Select all the answers you agree with.

You need an F1 Fanatic account to vote. Register an account here or read more about registering here.

Debates and polls

Browse all debates and polls

211 comments on “Drag Reduction Systems: Your verdict”

Jump to comment page: 1 2 3 4
  1. I say we let drivers use DRS anywhere they want, but they can only open it once a lap.

  2. 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.

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

      Who’s arguing in favour of that?

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

          1. 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.

          2. 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?

          3. I don’t think it’s comparable.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. I didn’t say anybody specify

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

        2. +1
          totally agree.
          Shangai is already registered as one of classics, yet there is not stopping whining

          1. 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.

        3. 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.

          1. 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.

          2. 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…

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

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

  7. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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?

        1. 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.

        2. 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”.

  9. 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!

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

  11. The same way you wouldn’t call an execution by firing squad “a battle”, you can’t call a DRS overtake “racing”.

    But the real problem lies with the rules. Limiting the defending driver to a single defensive move per corner – now THAT’s artificial. Get rid of that, and suddenly the DRS won’t seem like such a firing squad.

    1. Interesting point. The removal of that rule is needed anyway in my opinion, and with it being there for safety, if a driver causes a collision defending too vigorously, they get a severe punishment. That’s something to think about though. Personally I’d like to see both DRS and the one-move rule scrapped :)

  12. I’ve voted: DRS makes F1 races too artificial.

    But is artificial a bad thing? the knife cuts on both sides with DRS. It’s great to see more overtaking instead of driver trains because I hate driver trains. On the other hand I think you need more skill to overtake a driver without having DRS at all and I like that too.

    I’m still wondering if Webber would have finished 3rd in China if there wasn’t DRS.

    1. I feel he wouldn’t have – as superb as he was, without KERS he would have a hard time overtaking that many cars towards the end of the race.

  13. Best idea is to keep DRS the same way as KERS, so that both the tools can be used at anytime. I think this would really make overtaking and defending more challenging. Right now, DRS during race is a bad idea in the current form. Some of the overtaking in China was really artificial.

  14. very interesting comment by Keith about allowing a limited amount of DRS uses per driver. Say every driver gets 10 activations per race. This would totally defuse the ‘unfairness’ debate as both attacker and defender could use it in a fight, but it also adds a whole new strategic dimension to the race. It may make drivers wonder whether to go for a DRS pass or try it the ‘ol fashioned way. Imagine the final laps Lewis v Vettel. Lewis has 2 DRS uses left, Vettel just 1, when to use it, where,… Oh the drama and tension!
    I think that could be truly awesome

    1. Taking the idea further, you would probably have to limit them to one activation per lap, to keep them from using them just to jump other cars during pit stops.

      So it’s not perfect, but everything’s a compromise.

      1. I think I like the “1 activation per lap” idea better.
        Because I wouldn’t want to see a 5-final-laps showdown between Vettel and Hamilton with Vettel having 6 DRS boosts left and Hamilton having none, only because he was stuck behind some backmarkers in the middle of the race after a pitstop and was forced to use all of them then.

      2. CART/INDY had this in the guise of “push to pass.” You got 50hp for X seconds, and you got Y amount of pushes per race. The broadcast graphics would show how many pushes a driver had left. So yes, there was a whole strategy of when to save it to defend, when to use it to attack, etc. This would be an improvement on how DRS works now.

        It would be better if a car basically immobilized by having run the Pirellis one lap too long could thwart a pursuer who had foolishly used up all his pushes. That would be bona fide racing, because if the drivers arrive at the battle with unequal weaponry, it would only be because one of them did not properly forsee or prepare for the situation by wasting his arrows—rather than because every single lap and that particular point on the track the pursuer gets a special dispensation.

        But of course, that would be too easy and too economical, espeically now that we have a common ECU. Instead we had teams spend a fortune on a weak hybrid system, to improve passing, and then spend more money on a rear wing contraption.

  15. I´m absolutely for DRS. It still doesn´t make it piece of a cake to overtake.
    About the unfairness: The overtaken driver has the chance to use DRS and take a position back next lap but we haven´t seen very much of that.

    DRS makes it easier for the fast to use their speed, race and not being blocked by slower cars.

    1. It still doesn´t make it piece of a cake to overtake.

      If we fought each other with you having a large knife and me having a sword, it wouldn’t be a piece of cake for me to kill you either.
      This fact wouldn’t make it fair though, would it?

      Like I’ve said:
      Not-a-100%-efficiency of an unfair measure does NOT make it fair.

      1. @ Damon

        I never said the DRS is fair. It´s not but I´m fine with the fact that you “win” the advantage to use DRS if you come close to a slower car so you can more easily pass it to race on. For me, being faster and get stuck behind a car because of all the different reasons (dirty air, less grip outside race line, etc.) is not racing. It´s boring. Yes, I wish it would be easier to overtake in F1 so we wouldn´t need DRS but it´s hard with the technical rugulations as it is today.

        Like I said in other comments: If you don´t want somebody to DRS-zoom past you, don´t let them come within 1 second from your gear box.

        DRS+Pirelli=Better F1

  16. I like DRS, but think it needs more finetuning.
    -> In 2008, we had 9 overtakes in China. This year, we had over 60… something is working and DRS plays a part in it. I don’t agree that the majority of all overtaking were made too easy on the long straight.

    But I only like DRS as a short-term solution for the problem of the “dirty air” and the overtaking issues it causes. Truly hope that the 2013 rules will address the dirty air issue (ground effect would be lovely), so that we no longer need something like DRS.
    KERS can stay (if all teams get it worked out and we see some different strategies in making use of it, otherwise it can be cancelled as well),but most important of all is that we keep having good tyres. Let them wear out quickly. I don’t care. All the more excitement.

    1. -> In 2008, we had 9 overtakes in China. This year, we had over 60… something is working

      Yeah, the Pirelly tyres are working. ;)
      And I like the irony of that statement, haha.

      and DRS plays a part in it.

      A marginal one.

  17. Basically, for this year at least, there is no other option other than run without in which case, whilst the tyres are different, the formula will basically be the same as the last few years:

    Have a quick go at overtaking if you are massively faster than the guy in front, if not then drop back out of the dirty air because all you are going to do is wreck your tyres and you are unlikely to get past anyway – best bet, try to distract them but preserve your tyres and try to do them on an undercut.
    Other option – Hero or Zero lunge. Unlikely to be attempted – not good racing – often ends up taking one or both cars out of the race.
    Result – mainly processional ‘races’ where people settle for places and deliberately hold back away from other cars. It would be even worse this year with high tyre wear because running in dirty air for a few laps will ruin your day.

    Now: People attack everywhere – there is always a chance to overtake even in equal cars you will get close enough to ‘have a go’ if the DRS zone is correctly placed then it just allows you to get close without making an easy pass. We see actual racing throughout the field. Nobody holds back and we don’t have a fast car getting mired down behind a really slow car that’s 2 seconds a lap slower ruining the best battles (P.S. No that’s not a battle in general it’s a rolling road block)

    I wasn’t behind DRS at first and I don’t think that it’s a solution that should be kept forever BUT for this year for a step on the road to ground effect (which is almost certainly the solution) it has to be accepted as a GOOD thing for the sport and a clever and well thought out move.

    1. This post is closest to my thoughts on the issue.

    2. nice post this one, I understand your views. I’m against DRS but I suppose if it’s just for this year and maybe next, then ground effect is brought in for 2013, that will satisfy me. The racing with ground effect will be much improved.

  18. DRS is wrong for F1. The racing has been better this season, mainly due to the tyres, and there is a danger that DRS will become a fixture. We need a better solution to the overtaking problem and it has to be reduced downforce.

    Attempts to reduce downforce have so far been ineffective because they haven’t been drastic enough. Designers have recovered the losses too easily and we have been back to square one too quickly. Rear wings should be lower, front wings narrower, and both should be simpler in design. Ground-effect should not be re-introduced. The circuits could then be altered to get rid of the chicanes and tight turns that are being used to keep speeds in check. The cars would be better for racing and the circuits would provide a greater challenge. There would be no need for push-to-pass gimmicks.

    1. Sounds awfully like Indycar… small wings, no tight turns, no chicanes, lots and lots of slipstreaming. No thanks.

      That said however, I follow the context of the idea, in that I am all for drastically reducing aero downforce and increasing mechanical grip. No additional aero appendages as currently. I’d have the wings, the sponsors need the advertising space, but smaller and ineffective. I would re-introduce ground effect and the diffuser, as they are less influenced by the wake of the car in front. Increase the tyres and lets go racing.

      1. ps. and I’m for KERS, or other electicity generation tools, but open up the restrictions. I like the idea that James Allen reported on recently of electricity only in the pitlane too.

      2. It would be nothing like Indycar. I can’t imagine how you got that idea.

        I didn’t say ‘no tight turns’. Of course there is a place for tighter corners and hairpins. I’m talking about reinstating sections of circuit like the final sweeping double-right at Barcelona.

        It seems we have to choose between fast cars or fast circuits. Slower cars on faster circuits would actually go faster than the current super-grippy cars are allowed to go on todays overly-tight tracks.

  19. DRS has to be:
    a) banned altogether
    b) allowed everywhere at any time on the track.
    c) working properly if b = true.

  20. I think there would still be more overtaking if DRS wasn’t there. I voted for option 1, 3 and 4.

Jump to comment page: 1 2 3 4

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.