Even longer DRS zone for Spanish Grand Prix

2011 Spanish Grand Prix

Nico H???lkenberg, Force India, Barcelona, 2011

The Spanish Grand Prix will have one of the longest zones for the Drag Reduction System seen so far.

The circuit’s official Twitter account said the zone where drivers can use DRS during the race will be 830m long. It is expected to be situated on the start/finish straight.

The FIA reduced the length of the DRS zone at the Chinese Grand Prix from 902m to 752m after concerns were raised that it would make overtaking too easy.

Concerns were also raised at the frequency of overtaking in the DRS zone during the Turkish Grand Prix, and the ease with which drivers could overtaking using their adjustable rear wings.

The Circuit de Catalunya has a reputation for being one of the most difficult F1 circuits to overtake on.

Update: The FIA have produced an image showing where DRS can be used during the race.

Drivers will be able to activate it as they cross the start/finish line, providing they are within one second of another car at the detection point between turns 15 and 16:

DRS zone for the 2011 Spanish Grand Prix

DRS zone for the 2011 Spanish Grand Prix

2011 Spanish Grand Prix

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123 comments on Even longer DRS zone for Spanish Grand Prix

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  1. MW (@) said on 11th May 2011, 11:28

    Possibly they’re factoring in the fact that it’s possible to counter attack on the following bends.

    I do think they’re pushing this in the wrong direction though.

    • sato113 (@sato113) said on 11th May 2011, 17:20

      no, because with a DRS zone of that length, the overtaking car will complete his overtake well before turn 1.

    • Doance (@doance) said on 11th May 2011, 23:17

      This is not good. This probably means automatic overtakes and no racing.

      • Sam said on 11th May 2011, 23:36

        better than no overtakes and no racing like we usually get here

        • Ben Curly said on 12th May 2011, 6:15

          I have doubts about that.

          If it’s better, then only slightly.

        • bosyber said on 12th May 2011, 11:26

          It is exactly the same, but with an artificial bit of overtaking added in. Not a recipe for a good race, IMO.

          Guess they made it extra long to make sure there would be overtaking, loosing sight of why we want more overtaking opportunities, namely, to see fights for position. They should have checked if a shorter zone would have allowed for an opportunity into the next corner instead.

    • Eric said on 12th May 2011, 6:44

      I agree. Hopefully they may have a look at things in practice and modify it on the day. They should probably have a few teams test out the distances first to gauge how long it should be.

  2. Dan Selby said on 11th May 2011, 11:29

    Tbh the straight is a long one – do we really need the longest DRS zone here?

    A standard size would be much more apt imo. It’ll definitely create overtaking. I think it’ll be quite similar to Turkey the way things are now.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 11th May 2011, 11:45

      But a standard size would not make sense with each circuit’s characteristics being a bit different. And it would not allow fine tuning the DRS’ effectiveness.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 11th May 2011, 11:55

      Tbh the straight is a long one – do we really need the longest DRS zone here?

      Wasn’t the DRS zone in Melbourne 867m? Look how much overtaking that produced.

      One of the reasons why Catalunya is so popular with teams during winter testing is because of all the circuits on the calendar, it’s about as middle-of-the-road as you can get in terms of set-up. It’s the jack of all trades and master of none, which is why it’s a good benchmark for testing. The downside is that this makes overtaking very difficult – and because so much testing is done there, the teams are already incredibly familiar with it. So a longer DRS will be a good thing.

      I think it’ll be quite similar to Turkey the way things are now.

      Not even close. The main straight in Barcelona is almost perfectly flat. In Turkey, the DRS activation zone was at the bottom of one of the steepest climbs on the calendar. When a racing car with such a heavy reliance on aerodynamics goes uphill, it effectively becomes lighter because there is less downforce pushing on it. So the cars already had a natural speed advantage as they went up the hill. And that particular hill is funny because the initial climb is steeper than the crest. So the car in front will feel the full effect of downforce – and hence drag – a moment before the car with DRS activated did, which is why we saw cars suddenly go from a second behind to on top of the car they were attacking.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 11th May 2011, 12:09

        Nice to see you explain just why the DRS stretch turned out to be such a large advantage.

        As you say, its very circuit dependant, what its effect is.

      • Fixy (@fixy) said on 11th May 2011, 16:39

        You’ve given me the hope we’ll not see too many overtakes, although I still think we will.

      • bosyber said on 12th May 2011, 11:29

        Okay, that does sound like a convincing argument to explain what we saw in Turkey, thanks. Still makes you wonder why the FIA didn’t factor that in though.

        Let’s hope you are right that the extra length in Barcelona doesn’t translate to an equal advantage as it would have at some other tracks.

      • ROSSI said on 12th May 2011, 21:12

        could you pls explain how an f1 car “effectively becomes lighter” ,when travelling uphill,pls pm. cant visualise this 1,surely the downforce will be the same because the car is still traveling paralell with the track-into the airstream? or is it something 2 do with the angle of attack of the wing ,while travelling uphill?????????? ;) .

        • Robbersdog49 said on 16th May 2011, 13:31

          No, yoiu’re right. The car doesn’t become lighter. The car going up-hil or down-hill makes no difference. Think about it this way, if the downforce makes the car heavier, then a bigger wing would be faster downhill. But it’s not, so we can safely forget about it.

          I know it sounds like a good reason why the cars in Turkey seemed to make so much ground up but it’s not. You can’t change physics.

          The situations where onbe car seemed a lot faster tended to be between cars on different stop strategies, meaning different tyre grip levels and different speeds exiting the turn onto the straight.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 11th May 2011, 12:54

      the corner that follows isn’t a harpin, tho… so it’s always going to be a bit more difficult than at Istanbul or China.

      It’d be a bit like Melbourne, and that didn’t go as easily for the drivers.

  3. F1iLike said on 11th May 2011, 11:41

    Seriously they need to get rid of this crap. It’s so frustrating to see these ridiculous overtakes happen. It’s just no fun at all and driving seems to come in second hand here. It’s all about who has the fastest car and not a moment about overtaking or defending skills.
    I’m so disappointed that all the seem to do under these “test” races is make it easier and easier for the push-to-pass-button-gifted drivers to just carry on with their race rather than battle and make an overtake they are proud of.
    Since I am a Vettel-fan, obviously this season is not al lcrap for me. But had I been a fan of just about anyone else, I would stop watching just because of DRS.

    • Geordie Porker said on 11th May 2011, 14:04

      I really wasn’t a fan at first, but actually, I think the problem is the reliance on aerodynamic, which cannot be easily undone – especially now that ground effect won’t come in; this upsets me, but heigh ho!
      So, what to do. In Turkey, you’re right: DRS made the passes a joke. In the other races, it seemed about right to me – it was still difficult to pass, but not impossible. I actually think that DRS needs to have different levels of activation at each circuit, not different lengths of zone. So your 15kph (max) difference in tope speed is sometimes only 8kph.
      In the end though, F1 has made overtaking impossible over the years because the regs get increasily restrictive so there’s no really innovation possible and the reliance on aero increases. DRS was meant to be a cheap way to counteract that, and I applaud them for it. But give FOTA/FIA a chance to work together on it to give us some racing where the REAL difference is the tyres (strategy is important) and the driver in front’s ability to defend (driver skill is important).
      Oh, and where appropriate, have 2 or three DRS zones per track, not just one where the grandstand is!
      But that’s just my opinion(s)!

      • timi (@timi) said on 11th May 2011, 15:42

        Oh, and where appropriate, have 2 or three DRS zones per track, not just one where the grandstand is!

        I kind of understand this but it just wouldnt work.
        Picture this; a mclaren overtakes a ferrari in DRS zone 1.. unless the ferrari makes a big mistake by zone 2, it is highly likely they” be within the 1 second window.. possibly leading to the ferrari retaking in DRS zone 2… and then repeats at zone 3.

        its hard enough to pull out a one second gap on someone after a whole lap, let alone within a third/half of the lap.

        • Geordie Porker said on 11th May 2011, 20:32

          I know what you mean, but if DRS was set up with the right level of improvement for the circuit, you’d only be able to overtake if you were much faster (tyres or ‘red bull v HRT’), so at the second DRS, you’d only get a re-take if the cars were very evenly matched.
          Also, if the difference made by DRS was reduced, then the better driver would be able to defend.
          I don’t know – I’m no expert, I just know what I want to see on the track, and that’s not the turgid races of ’09!

    • MinusTwo said on 11th May 2011, 17:14

      Sorry, but I really disagree with this argument against DRS, mostly because I don’t feel that the “purist” argument makes any sense, especially when the same people turn around and argue that it should be all about the tires.

      I dont see a legitimate reason why an overtake by a driver with much newer, faster tires is “real” whereas an overtake by a driver with DRS is “fake”… both involve a technical performance advantage used to get past a driver without the same advantage. I don’t see why driving on newer tires past someone with worn tires showcases driver skill so much more than DRS does, especially when DRS is done right, as it was in China.

      The only way to make an overtake purely about driver ability is to have a spec series where drivers all have the same equipment, the same tires, the same fuel load.

      Anyone want to hazard a guess how much on-track action we would see then?

      • Because the guy in front can’t use DRS. And that’s unfair.

        And, well, they’re all on the same tyres, no?

        A spec series? Sure, check out GP2. Best racing you’ll ever see.

  4. BasCB (@bascb) said on 11th May 2011, 11:42

    Who knows, the FIA might just shorten it again on Friday, like they did in China to react to first impressions they have or discussion, or whatever.

    But the effect of the zone certainly depends on the corners before it being fine to keep relatively close and position onself for an overtake as well as the corner following the straight.

    With Barcelona being one without much overtaking at all lately, I guess it makes sense to go the whole stretch here.

    • Barcelona is the years nadir when it comes to the dirty air effect. Often talked about as being the most important pole of the year behind Monaco.

      So, even if it makes the overtaking too simple, at least we’ll see on track action! I always took it as a badge of F1fanatic commitment that I invariably watched Barcelona despite it’s interminably dull nature.

  5. SirCoolbeans (@sircoolbeans) said on 11th May 2011, 11:44

    We always get overtaking into turn one anyway. Why not put it somewhere else? Like the straight before the hairpin in the middle of the lap?

    • F1iLike said on 11th May 2011, 11:47

      You speak the truth! Put DRS in non-obvious places! Actually quite smart. If they gonna have this crap, make it useful in a fun way. Worth a try.

      • F1iLike said on 11th May 2011, 12:03

        Since I thought it was designed to get MORE overtaking tries, not definite success in the one try per lap you get sort of. I still hate it, but if they’re gonna have this, this is they I would like to see it.

      • SirCoolbeans (@sircoolbeans) said on 11th May 2011, 13:25

        What I was saying guys was that Turn 1 was the most common place to see an overtake in Barcelona. The rest of the track is about keeping close to make turn 1 work for you (see Button and Schumacher last year).

        People do try overtakes there, it often doesn’t work, my point was to encourage overtaking elsewhere on the track so its not a wait for turn 1 like always.

      • Lew Numba 1 (@lew-numba-1) said on 11th May 2011, 18:47

        This is definitely the way to go. There’s no reason to have the DRS zone be at a part of the circuit that already leads to overtakes. We saw what happened in Turkey when they placed it in the spot where most of the overtakes occur — and some of the passing took place before they’d even started up the hill! Everyone agrees that’s no fun.

        So place the DRS zone at each circuit so that it’s possible to overtake, but not guaranteed. You know, like the spots that Lewis and Kamui manage to overtake people, but most drivers don’t. ;) Add a splash of DRS, and bang, instant excitement.

    • BBT said on 11th May 2011, 12:22

      We always get overtaking into turn one anyway

      err, no we don’t because of the last corner before the straight, it might happen there but any overtake it very rare in the Spainish races.

    • Torg said on 11th May 2011, 13:02

      You havant obviously been watching the same Spanish Gps a i have over the last few years. Turn 1 creates very few overtaking opputunities even though it is a massive straight leading up to it. DRS is definataly needed on the main straight.

      • SirCoolbeans (@sircoolbeans) said on 11th May 2011, 13:26

        What I was saying guys was that Turn 1 was the most common place to see an overtake in Barcelona. The rest of the track is about keeping close to make turn 1 work for you (see Button and Schumacher last year).
        People do try overtakes there, it often doesn’t work, my point was to encourage overtaking elsewhere on the track so its not a wait for turn 1 like always.

        • bosyber said on 12th May 2011, 11:33

          Well, I think that since the turn 1 overtake is so rare, it can do with some DRS before it, to make it just a bit more likely.

          But I can also see an argument to use a DRS zone somewhere else to make that “keeping close to try at turn 1″ a bit more effective, and even allow for another attempt somewhere else in the lap under the right circumstances.

    • dau said on 11th May 2011, 14:06

      Agreed, i’d put it right in between 9 and 10.
      Those 500m might be too short though.

      • Torg said on 11th May 2011, 14:27

        Exactly, the DRS zone would be wasted there as the fast chicane and the fast right hander before hand would make it hard for cars to follow closely. This wont allow for cars to take full advantage of the DRS on the straight.

        • F1iLike said on 11th May 2011, 15:51

          And by full advantage I suppose you mean, well, pass?

          • Torg said on 11th May 2011, 16:06

            At least get some sort of run at the car in front. The straight you are on about is tiny.

          • F1iLike said on 12th May 2011, 0:38

            Yes it is. Might as well bin the DRS? Now THAT’S a good idea innit!?

          • HxCas said on 12th May 2011, 3:57

            Yup, as the last few years races have been such stunners there is clearly no reason to want to balance out the major disadvantae a chasing driver gets from the turbulent air somewhere on this track is there?

          • Torg said on 12th May 2011, 9:54

            Anything that promotes overtaking in Spain can only be thing. Im sick and tired of watching a procession when F1 hits this circuit every year.

          • Torg said on 12th May 2011, 10:01

            ‘a good thing’ it should read. That will teach me for getting distracted by work :)

    • @SirCoolbeans. No we bloody don’t, the corner going in prevents it, the cars are too far behind an we get no tow. Barcelona has been a horrible track for years because of this.

      I’m all for this, hopefully the cars are close by the time the time they reach turn 1 and not past. But if they are past, meh they’ll fix it next year.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th May 2011, 18:58

      You mean like all what … 2 overtaking moves in the Barcelona race?

  6. Pete said on 11th May 2011, 11:49

    I can understand the arguments agaisnt DRS and in Turkey, it was a bit too much at times but at a track like Catalunya, we need something like DRS just to enable people to make a move.

    The tyres, DRS and KERS means that we actualy might have a decent race in Spain rather than 2 rubbish ones.

    • snowman said on 12th May 2011, 0:32

      Agree, if there’s one race that needs DRS it’s this one. I have been watching F1 15 years and this track has nearly always been a boring merry go round follow the leader.

  7. lame, bin this tosh

  8. James said on 11th May 2011, 11:51

    Here’s an idea. No DRS zone at all? I would say that KERS and degrading nature of the Pirelli tyres will provide enough entertainment. The FIA must consider doing this ,if only for one or two races, to see whether the races would be just as entertaining, if not more. The DRS was bought in to make the racing more entertaining, so maybe they should be scientific in their approach and see whether having no DRS makes the racing any better.

    • Mark Hitchcock said on 11th May 2011, 12:40

      They’re always doing that. Bringing in numerous changes to improve the racing, so we never really know which one made the difference.

      Like in 2009 when they changed the wings, introduced KERS, and reintroduced slick tyres.

      DRS undoubtedly increases overtaking. But recently (especially in Turkey) it’s been living up to the fears expressed before the season that DRS overtakes would appear to be too easy.

    • Sean said on 12th May 2011, 18:28

      Yes! Exactly, James. Any team will tell you when you experiment with something, you change one thing at a time, but this time we got Pirellis + KERS + DRS + small diffusers + no more f-ducts (and then the other non-mandated innovations like throttle-less systems to charge the underside, front-facing exhausts and so on).

      I warmed to DRS after first thinking it was way too arbitrary and half baked to be real, but the nagging thought still occurs that the tyre approach might be enough on its own, or that the races would actually be even better with just the tyre changes.

      As far as I know there’s no rule that says every track has to have a DRS zone. If it is kept, it would be cool to have circuits with 0,1,2 or 3 zones, depending on what works. In that context I wouldn’t even mind the odd “track position” race like we used to get. In a world where engineering excellence and restrictive rules (both probably inevitable) dial out performance variability, then more variability has to be the name of the game.

  9. Had DRS been around pre-2008, when we didn’t have the chicane before the final corner, I reckon they wouldn’t have made it such a long zone, as the two final sweeping corners were effective at differentiating between more and less grippy cars. But with the cars of today, it’s very rare, bar perhaps cars with differently worn tyres, to fundamentally close up on someone immediately with out-of-corner traction alone, especially with the engine equality between teams we have today.

    I reckon they’ve made it this long as a pragmatic decision based on what the track is like. But as said, they can easily change it if it becomes silly.

  10. Electrolite said on 11th May 2011, 12:01

    To be fair it won’t be like Turkey, but more equivalent to it’s effect in Malaysia. The turn in before the zone is a lot slower than it used to be. Sure, if Catalunya still had that high speed last corner then it would raise questions, but I think it’ll be alright.

  11. Ben N said on 11th May 2011, 12:05

    I predict that this race will actually be one of the best one’s of the season. There are plenty of overtaking spots and the difference in speed between fresh and old tyres are quite extreme. Add in DRS and KERS and it’s looking good!

  12. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 11th May 2011, 12:16

    Considering the awful effect that chicane has on overtaking, they’ll probably need it.

    The problem is one of perception. When you have new tyres v old tyres, the DRS magnifies the advantage and people think it’s too easy. yet if you isolate the overtakes that were between cars on the same strategy, you see close battles, proof that something like the DRS is needed with the current aero rules.

    Personally I think would be better down the back straight. The home straight will see plenty of overtaking between cars on different tyres, whereas the back straight isn’t preceded by a traction zone, so the DRS won’t magnify traction-assisted overtakes but ensure following drivers on the same strategies will have a decent chance to pass.

  13. BBT said on 11th May 2011, 12:23

    Everywhere but the main straight would be good.

  14. Robert McKay said on 11th May 2011, 12:24

    Actually I think we’ll need a long DRS zone here because it’s harder for the car to stick close behind going onto that straight than it is in China.

  15. Toro Stevo (@toro-stevo) said on 11th May 2011, 12:42

    About 830m too long in my opinion.

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