DRS: How should it work in 2012?

Debates and polls

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes, Nurburgring, 2011

Schumacher using DRS at the Nurburgring

A year since its introduction in F1, the Drag Reduction System continues to inspire a mix of vehement criticism and steadfast defence from F1 fans.

Its detractors say DRS is fundamentally unfair because it robs the leading driver of the ability to defend their position. They add that Pirelli’s more challenging tyres and the reintroduction of KERS in 2011 proved overtaking can be made easier in F1 without resorting to artificial gimmicks.

DRS defenders insist that it has successfully increased overtaking, and that problems with its implementation can be solved by tweaking the rules and positioning of DRS zones.

The top ten passes nominated by F1 Fanatics last year did not contain any that were achieved using DRS. The move that was voted pass of the year – Mark Webber’s sensational move on Fernando Alonso at Eau Rouge in Spa – was reversed the following lap when Alonso used DRS to pass Webber on the straight.

The DRS debate is complex and highly-charged with shades of opinion which run the gamut from banning DRS entirely to subtly changing the rules.

With that in mind, I’ve set up two polls below in an effort to accurately reflect what F1 fans think of this controversial recent addition to the sport after the first full season with it.

How often should DRS be used in 2012?

There are no changes to the DRS rules for 2012, although the position of the DRS zones at some tracks may be altered.

Assuming the DRS rules for 2012 remain unchanged, how often would you like to see DRS available for drivers to use in races?

How often should DRS be used in 2012?

  • DRS should be available in all races throughout 2012 (45%)
  • DRS should be available in most but not all races (20%)
  • DRS should be available in around half of races (7%)
  • DRS should be available in less than half of races (4%)
  • DRS should not be allowed in any races in 2012 (25%)

Total Voters: 604

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How should DRS work in 2012?

In the many conversations we had about DRS during the course of 2011, various different rules were suggested. Here are a selection of some of the most popular alternatives.

But could the alternatives make it less useful for overtaking? Or might they encourage drivers to mainly use DRS on out- and in-laps to increase their chances of passing their rivals via the pits?

Cast your vote on what should be done with the DRS rules in 2012.

How should the DRS rules work in 2012?

  • Drivers can only use DRS when within a second of another car (in races)* (21%)
  • Drivers should have free use of DRS during the races (14%)
  • Drivers should have the opportunity to use DRS a certain number of times per lap (8%)
  • Drivers should have the opportunity to use DRS a certain number of times per race (35%)
  • DRS should stay, but using another different set of rules (6%)
  • DRS should not be allowed at all in 2012 (16%)

Total Voters: 573

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*i.e., the 2011 rules

How successful was DRS in 2011? Do you think it should be used at every track in 2012? And could rules changes improve it?

Cast your votes on DRS using the polls above and have your say in the comments.

An F1 Fanatic account is required in order to vote. If you do not have one, register an account here or read more about registering here.

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170 comments on DRS: How should it work in 2012?

  1. Sean Newman said on 13th January 2012, 11:53

    DRS is overtaking by committee. It’s insane and where racing is devine, DRS is an anathema.

    Take the example of success ballast. The faster the car the more ballast it has to carry. Now I’m against this also but at least it attempts to equalise performance by handicapping the faster car. DRS is the opposite! It handicaps the slower car just at the time it’s at it’s most vunerable. Is that sport? I think not.

    Unless an overtaking manoeuvre is between two cars built, operated and running to the same spec at all times then the overtake manoeuvre has zero value.

    DRS is just a poor ‘sticking plaster’ solution to the so called overtaking problem. Anyone who believes otherwise is deluded. Collectively in F1 we have some fantastic technical brains. Unfortunately the rule-making brains are incredibly blinkered. We won’t get any progress towards a fairer more even and exciting F1 until those ‘brains’ come together in an lateral and open minded way.

    • Girts (@girts) said on 13th January 2012, 12:18

      DRS is the opposite! It handicaps the slower car just at the time it’s at it’s most vunerable.

      I couldn’t agree more. Quite often in 2011, after Kovalainen had made one of his good starts and thus got in front of one or more of the established teams’ cars, I caught myself thinking: “OK, a cool start but what’s the use? The guys behind will get DRS enabled and inevitably overtake him again in a couple of laps.” How can anyone find this exciting?

      When we had “Trulli train”, that was at least something to talk about. Now it’s just Trulli-in-front-DRS-bye.

      • John H (@john-h) said on 13th January 2012, 13:28

        100% agree

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 13th January 2012, 18:05

          Me too…same thing happened at Spa when NR took the lead from 4th on the grid, and held back SV while the whole world knew all it was going to take was for the for DRS zone to come up once they were allowed to use it. That kind of predictablility is ridiculous in the pinnacle of racing.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 13th January 2012, 18:08

            That should say…’for the FIRST DRS zone to come up’….

          • BasCB (@bascb) said on 13th January 2012, 20:49

            I can agree with the general argument in your post @robbie, shame your example does not add up, as Vettel overtook Rosberg long before the DRS was activated (remember it gets activated only after the 2nd lap of the race)!

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 16th January 2012, 15:24

            @BasCB…fair comment…I think I must have been recalling something either DC or MB said as NR took the lead, that being it would only be a matter of time before DRS saw NR get passed…I hadn’t remembered that SV didn’t need to wait that long, such was the superiority of the Red Bull over the Merc, but I think my point still stands in that even before it happened the commentators were saying DRS would take care of NR’s lead…for my point about predictability I don’t think it matters in this case that SV didn’t actually use DRS to get by him, when the commentators felt safe in predicting NR’s quick demise in spite of a great start.

  2. Hatebreeder (@hatebreeder) said on 13th January 2012, 11:56

    there shld be some mechanism to block DRS with the racer in front so he atleast has a chance rather than be a sitting duck.
    One should have a certain number of DRS attempts and the leader should get a DRS disabling unit. which disables the chasers drs when he enables it. and even that is limited. So it’s a choice of whether its worth deploying the jammer or just let the guy pass or defend really well and waste his drs.

  3. PJ (@pjtierney) said on 13th January 2012, 12:12

    I often pondered the notion that DRS should only be available at races where there’s less than average overtaking numbers.

    If we were to take the 2010 stats for example, add up all the overtakes (excluding lapped traffic) and then find the average per race, we could apply DRS to races that fell below that average number.

    That way the more overtaking-friendly tracks remain unaffected while the drab ones get a bit of sorely needed (if artificial) action.

  4. smifaye (@smifaye) said on 13th January 2012, 12:13

    DRS for closing gap
    Shorter activiation zones

    I think DRS is a great tool for closing the gap between drivers. Getting them close enough to make a pass the next lap/activiation point. I think that one solution could be to allow drivers to use it in specific zones of the track up until they are within something like 0.8 seconds of the car in front. So it allows drivers to break the dirty air and get close enough for a pass.

    One other simpler solution could be to use shorter DRS zones so it makes drivers still have to be brave on the brakes to get past like in Australia (think Button on Kobayashi).

    The main problem with DRS is the fact that F1 fans want overtaking but then they get too much and they aren’t happy. Martin Brundle says he likes DRS because it essentially allows the quicker driver to get past eventually. I agree, if a driver gets past with DRS the driver behind, if he is quick enough should be able to keep up and use DRS the next time. So I don’t think it is good in the fact that we don’t get drivers ahead because of better use of DRS, the quicker driver always gets past.

    The thing is, we are never going to be able to see the likes of Gilles Villeneuve holding up a train of cars because if that was 2011 they would have used DRS and KERS to get past. I as an F1 fan, love the underdog and for a slower car to be ahead of a faster car is something a lot more exciting than seeing a pass using DRS.

    I think F1 needs to cherish what it has at the moment as some of the races over the last few years have been the best in a very long time. F1 fans are just hard to please!

  5. KNF (@knf) said on 13th January 2012, 12:18

    I’d say no to double DRS zones because a defending driver can give up his position in the first and regain it in the second zone. Some drivers seem to have cottoned onto this fact while attacking, but it makes the first zone redundant.

  6. scribbler (@scribbler) said on 13th January 2012, 12:36

    Look there are some very inovative but essentially flawed suggestions above that are very expensive and complicated to implemement. Esentially the effect of DRS is very similar to KERS. You push a button and you go a bit faster for a limited amount of time. if this is down to more power to weight ratio or power to drag ratio is irrelivant, so why all the silly rules. Combine the two into one Boost button and give everyone a fighting chance at overtaking / defending but limit it to universal fixed amount, so its down to the driver when to use it. My preference is to Keep these ‘aids’ to enable a fast driver to catch up to the front of the pack in the event of a colision or rain forced tyre change etc. something outside of their control to allow them to recover. I think once they had caught up the advantage would be lost as both front runners would have the same aids available to them and therefor only racecraft would secure a sucessful pass. Being an Engineer i also like to see the outcome of the race dictated by not just the driver but also the equipment Therefore it would be interesting to see which team could combine the effect of a joint drs and kers the best as you could effectively tune them to work better together.

  7. Doug (@) said on 13th January 2012, 12:55

    I think DRS is a good idea. I’m not sure on the current rules though, I like the idea of it being used a certain amount of times in a race, it would play into the strategy and increase the spectacle in my opinion.

    I think the rules of DRS in qualifying need to change as well.

  8. Calum (@calum) said on 13th January 2012, 13:02

    All or nothing.

  9. drmouse (@drmouse) said on 13th January 2012, 13:05

    I voted “Most Races” and “Free use” as they are the closest to how I think they should be done.

    “Most Races” is because I think there are certain tracks and/or areas of track where their use is dangerous: to other drivers as much as the one who opens their flap at the wrong time (I would reword that, but I’ll leave it in so those as immature as me can have a giggle). Therefore it should not be allowed on those races/sections of track (or conditions such as heavy rain/yellow flags etc).

    WRT rule changes, I think they should basically reverse the current rules: Allow free use of DRS throughout the race, anywhere on track (subject to the above restrictions), EXCEPT in a defined “passing zone” if there is a car less than 1s behind you (actually I’d change it to half a second).

    This would also allow the device to be used for different purposes, e.g. fuel savings. It is very similar to my view on KERS/ERS: If the system has charge, the driver should be free to use it, including off-throttle (fuel savings again) or similar, for as long as it lasts (no artificial time limit)

  10. JK (@justingt5) said on 13th January 2012, 13:16

    To me the solutions is very simple:

    Allow DRS in all races scrap the “within 1sec rule and dedicated zones” and simply limit the number of activations per race – this could be done in many ways

    A: Max 10 activations per set of tyres??
    B: Fixed number of activations per lap or fixed number for the whole race??

    This still gives an advantage but allows the driver to decide when its best used and as other said it adds another dimension to the already complicated strategies.

    At the end of the day I want to see man and machine battle it out, and to me that means who can get the most from their machine who can utilize their brain to make the best use of what they have available? Also it would spice things up as the drivers experiment on where to use it in order to gain their advantage?

  11. jonners99 (@jonners99) said on 13th January 2012, 13:19

    If it is going to exist then it needs to be at all races.

    Really needs to be re-written to be used whenever the driver likes (though have some DRS safety blackspots where the system won’t allow it to be activated) but limited to a certain number (say 10) times per race so that there is some strategy to whether to use your allotment early on or as the race progresses.

    Then have rules that it can’t be used for the first two laps of the race or immediately after a SC. It also can’t be used when running anything other than dry tyres.

  12. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 13th January 2012, 13:26

    I am not a fan of DRS instead I think the FIA needs to work hard with Perilli to make tyres that will make interesting & also sometime in the future they need to allow teams use unlimited amount of KERS in a race per lap.

  13. John H (@john-h) said on 13th January 2012, 13:27

    DRS should only be used at cricket grounds.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 13th January 2012, 13:44

      Sorry about these silly comments.

      Trying to make a serious comment for once, I really think that we should test out a few races with no DRS now that the double diffusers have gone.

      This seems like complete sense to me and we may find that the level of overtaking is perfectly entertaining (and not 200 per race either) because now drivers are not waiting until the DRS zone to overtake, but actually looking at all parts of the track once again.

      Overtaking should be difficult. F1 is a challenge. Admittedly it was made too hard by the dirty air generated by a) Aero parts over all the cars up to 2008 and b) double decker diffusers in 2009-2010.

      This would also let the drivers think more about steering the car and pressing the pedals, and not when to push a button. Call me old fashioned but that’s what I call racing.

  14. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 13th January 2012, 13:51

    I’m not decided. I’m between no DRS never and, DRS at some (boring) tracks with current rules.
    I liked DRS in Barcelona, I really did. It added to tha suspense but didn’t spoil it.
    But to have this system at good tracks like Spa and Monza is à sin.
    Aren’t tha rulemakers watching? Don’t they know that overtaking should never be too easy?

  15. paolo (@paolo) said on 13th January 2012, 14:24

    If the problem is that it makes it unfair to the driver in front then how about linking DRS usage to KERS usage so that DRS use reduces the amount of KERS available on that lap. Therefore there is some equalisation of the benefit between the front driver and the one behind. I believe DRS provides a greater benefit than KERS so they wouldn’t just cancel each other out.

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