Two DRS zones per track necessary for 2013 – Lowe

2013 F1 season

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Circuit of the Americas, 2012McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe says all F1 tracks will need two DRS zones next year to ensure it remains effective.

Currently drivers have free use of DRS in practice and qualifying to encourage teams to use sufficiently long gear ratios on their cars to gain enough of a benefit from DRS to make overtaking possible.

That will change on safety grounds next year, meaning drivers will only be allowed to use DRS in the designated zones at all times.

Speaking during a Vodefone McLaren Mercedes phone-in, Lowe said two DRS zones will be required to ensure teams still have an incentive to use longer ratios:

“We believe that, particularly if [FIA race director] Charlie [Whiting] arranges for two DRS zones at every circuit, which is what he’s committed to doing, that this will give enough incentive to ratio the car appropriately – pretty much as we do now, the same as if we had free use of DRS.

Of the 19 tracks raced on so far this year four featured two DRS zones: Melbourne, Monza, Buddh International Circuit and Yas Marina. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and Valencia had two DRS zones last year but were reduced to one this year.

Lowe said DRS has been “a tremendous solution to the long-standing overtaking problem”.

“A lot of things have been tried over the years,” he added. “DRS at least has an authority to allow it”

“At some circuits it doesn’t. India I think was a good example of that – surprisingly, actually, because it’s got a good long straight there, it didn’t seem to allow overtaking.

“And then you get other circuits where arguably it’s too easy. It might be that we should look at that and try and trim the direction on those outlying circuits. But in general I think it works well.

“I don’t hear people talking about it being some sort of fix or artificial solution. I think it’s something that the driver has to play tactically and use with tremendous skill.

“We saw that on Sunday with Lewis and Sebastian. That was a fair fight, a very very close duel. Ultimately Lewis got past using DRS but it wasn’t easy and everybody admired the skill with which he did it. So I think generally it’s working very very well.”

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72 comments on Two DRS zones per track necessary for 2013 – Lowe

  1. disjunto (@disjunto) said on 21st November 2012, 11:53

    I don’t hear people talking about it being some sort of fix or artificial solution.

    I do wonder where he’s looking, because I hear this mentioned EVERYWHERE

    • Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 21st November 2012, 12:10

      Ignorance is bliss.

    • Kiril Varbanov (@kiril-varbanov) said on 21st November 2012, 12:29

      Depends on the definition of “people” – sometimes you wish to label “people” only the personas around you.

      DRS is an easy fix | patch to the growing austerity of the teams, hence the frozen innovations, engines, developments and cost savings. As much as I don’t want to admit it, F1 is quite crippled at this time.

      Adding some really stupid tracks to the mix makes it easy to place the couple-of-thousands-dollars fix to the overtaking problem.

      • I agree with your definition of “people”. I don’t doubt most fans don’t mind it; it’s usually the group that doesn’t agree with something that is most vocal. It’d be interesting to do a poll on this site maybe (unless there already has been one? Although perhaps opinions have changed).

        I do wonder if there’s ever been an independent research among fans about these kind of things, in other words, I wonder what Lowe bases his words on. Is it a general feeling? Or are there actual hard facts that support his assertion?

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 21st November 2012, 13:18

      Must be because these sounds from at least 50% of the fans are not coming to his ears. And that is not mentioning the people who accept DRS as being fine, but complain about the all too common feature of it not doing what it was supposed to do, instead allowing for horribly easy highway passes on the middle of the straight.

      Also

      Lowe said DRS has been “a tremendous solution to the long-standing overtaking problem”.

      is off course factually wrong. Its no solution, just an ugly stop gap.

      • And that is not mentioning the people who accept DRS as being fine, but complain about the all too common feature of it not doing what it was supposed to do, instead allowing for horribly easy highway passes on the middle of the straight.

        Yeah, I’m terrible with remembering the details of what goes on in a race, but I think at Abu Dhabi, Raikkonen passed someone or someone passed Raikkonen by getting up with them under DRS but then getting the move done under braking in the corner. Anyway, I looked at that and thought *that’s* what DRS should be doing all the time. And one thing I hate even more than the motorway passes is when FOM feels the need to show 5 replays of them!

  2. ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 21st November 2012, 11:55

    “I don’t hear people talking about it being some sort of fix or artificial solution. I think it’s something that the driver has to play tactically and use with tremendous skill.

    That’s right – keep those fingers in your ears and hum loudly!

  3. Troy Longstaff (@troylongstaff) said on 21st November 2012, 11:57

    Not every track. Just double-DRS where it is really heard to overtake, here is where I think they should have it based on where it has been difficult to overtake in the past: Melbourne, Bahrain, Barcelona, Silverstone, Hungaroring, Singapore, Korea, India and Yas Marina. The rest? One will do perfectly Mr Lowe :)

    • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 22nd November 2012, 2:26

      @troylongstaff Other than 2010 – when has Bahrain (where, of course – teams didn’t dare to immediately push flat out for fear of wearing their tyres out, and were still learning new cars) been difficult to overtake at? Even then there were a good 5 or 6 overtakes on the day.

      • Troy Longstaff (@troylongstaff) said on 22nd November 2012, 8:13

        @raymondu999 You raise a good point. 2006 is the only previously interesting race in the Gulf which comes to my mind, when Alonso and the Schu squared off for the lead, so why not make next year’s race much more interesting by adding double DRS? Coupled with teams still getting used to 2013-spec tyres early next year, it would make the race super crazy and great for TV!

  4. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 21st November 2012, 11:59

    “McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe says all F1 tracks will need two DRS zones next year to ensure it remains effective.”

    I’d want it to ensure that DRS is needed in the first place…but no, let’s just cram 2 in on each track so it becomes more ‘effective’. Note the word ‘effective’ – I don’t see that as a positive thing necessarily, just so it makes it’s mark, and it’s less embarrassing if it doesn’t work on the one straight.

    I think the FIA have got to be much more dynamic on DRS, whether that means not using it on one track and having 2 zones the next.

    • andrewf1 (@andrewf1) said on 21st November 2012, 17:42

      @electrolite He isn’t talking about the races, he’s talking about qualifying: two DRS zones at every circuit [...] will give enough incentive to ratio the car appropriately – pretty much as we do now, the same as if we had free use of DRS.

  5. gatekiller (@gatekiller) said on 21st November 2012, 11:59

    all F1 tracks will need two DRS zones

    And where exactly are they going to add another DRS zone in Monaco? The only possible place would be up the hill from Sainte Devote to Massenet, but I doubt it would be effective.

  6. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey) said on 21st November 2012, 12:02

    DRS can’t work when it is applied in a universal way across all circuits. It needs to be individually tailored to each track in an intelligent and considered manner.

    Having a DRS zone before a corner where there is typically little overtaking? Smart thinking.
    Having a DRS zone in Spa after Radillion on the way to Les Combes, for example, when there has usually been plenty of overtaking in that section without it? Not very smart.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 21st November 2012, 12:05

      This. I’ve been saying it since the beginning.

    • ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 21st November 2012, 12:08

      Couldn’t agree more. They just seem to put it in cos they’ve backed themselves in to a corner.

      Problem being, teams try to build the most ‘efficient’ DRS, so it’s seen as unsportsmanlike if they start tampering where circuits that do/don’t have it.

      Now if they announced NOW where they’ll have none, 1, or 2 DRS zones on the calendar, I think that’d be totally fair for all teams.

    • electrolite (@electrolite) said on 21st November 2012, 12:16

      It’s the painful lack of common sense we’ve been used to the whole time we’ve had the bloody thing.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 21st November 2012, 13:23

      Exactly that MAG. If used at all, it must be carefully tailored to allow a car that is clearly faster to stay close enough to have a chance at passing the car in front, (like Hamilton in the last race where Vettel still had a good chance of defending for a lot of laps until other circumstances allowed Hamilton to get by).
      Be it using one, two, why not even three zones. Or none on tracks were its clearly not needed.

    • GeeMac (@geemac) said on 21st November 2012, 16:07

      Well said Magnificent one, that has been the solution most readers of this site have called for all along.

  7. I can see both sides of the argument on DRS.

    Ultimately, I want to see overtaking, which is why on balance I favour its retention.

    I wonder however, if a reasonable compromise might be to limit its use, either to a particular amount of time per race (like WSR 3.5) anywhere on track or a specified number of times in the race in the designated zones, whether as the attacking or defending car. That would require greater tactical use of DRS, and introduce an element of skill and judgment, rather than as currently when the defending car is virtually helpless (at least at some tracks) once in range.

  8. Ben (@benchuiii) said on 21st November 2012, 12:06

    All tracks need zero DRS zones

  9. DRS could work if it was used differently, and not just for overtaking (or motorway passes the majority of the time). I think drivers should be able to use DRS in the race anywhere they want for limited number of times during the whole race (e.g. they can use it 30 times in a race). With this, DRS can be used not only be used for overtaking, but also defending and possibly maximising inlaps and outlaps (or if Vettel wants the fastest lap). It would make using DRS more interesting as drivers must manage how often they use DRS, and what they use it for.

    • timtoo (@timtoo) said on 21st November 2012, 12:49

      this is a reply to Slr and Tyler above: perhaps instead of limiting DRS to a set amount of times, what about a set amount of time? say 60 seconds per race. that way you get a lot more strategy coming into play, as if its a set amount of times, they could have it open the whole back straight, and they would all do it as soon as possible. This way it could perhaps spice things up a bit more, and the drivers would only use it when they really think they can get pass (or perhaps alongside, as that was the point of DRS in the first place)

      ….Although then you have an issue of the driver in front using DRS to defend, and if you were to use the same 1 second rule as now, i have no idea how it could be technically implemented as there would be no set DRS activation line…? ….. but then perhaps they could use the micro sectors within each sector as a live activation point?

    • JamieFranklinF1 (@jamiefranklinf1) said on 21st November 2012, 13:37

      The biggest problem I see with this idea, is that say we had a driver like Vettel leading from pole, then he would only need to use it to defend. Say you have a driver making a storming drive through the field (Alonso/Hamilton/Button/Raikkonen/Whoever) and had to use some of his allocated DRS uses to get passed cars further back, then that driver would then be at an immediate disadvantage if they caught the leader. Not only would they be suffering from the usual turbulence, they’d also have to try and get through despite the car in front being able to defend pretty much every lap, which could possibly spoil the end to a fantastic drive.

      Obviously, I don’t agree with an easy DRS-assisted pass for the lead either, but both have their flaws.

  10. Tomsk (@tomsk) said on 21st November 2012, 12:08

    Hands off the pit straight at Circuit of the Americas – that was perfect without DRS.
    And all these McLaren managers should get their own team working before they start telling the FIA (and Ferrari) how to do their jobs.

  11. PJ (@pjtierney) said on 21st November 2012, 12:09

    If the cars were designed in such a way that natural following and overtaking were easier, we wouldn’t need DRS at all.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 21st November 2012, 12:14

      I’m sure the teams will get right on that. After all, they don’t need all that downforce. It’s not as if more downforce offers any kind of advantage, so I have no doubt that they will be happy to give it up when asked nicely.

      • Bookoi (@bookoi) said on 21st November 2012, 12:51

        @prisoner-monkeys
        @pjtierney makes a perfectly valid point (that doesn’t warrant a sarcastic response). Admittedly the teams build the cars to the rules, but the FIA would do well to look into future car regs that are less aero-dependent and do allow for closer following of the car in front, rather than going deeper down the cheap fix route, which the majority of F1 fans feel DRS is.

        • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 22nd November 2012, 13:58

          @bookoi I don’t see the FIA relaxing aero rules enough to be honest. What they don’t want is an engine arms race because that would upset the green concious people. Sure, developing aero costs loads in CFD and terraflops but that’s not as obvious as trying to bolster an engine up to maximum specification..and wasting loads of fuel in trying to do so.

      • beneboy (@beneboy) said on 21st November 2012, 12:58

        You could make exactly the same argument for active suspension, laser ignition, traction control and a whole load of other technologies that have been banned over the years – the main difference with reducing downforce is that it would actually make the racing better and allow teams to innovate in other areas of development that would not only benefit F1 but would also have benefits to production car manufacturers and the general public who buy and drive production cars.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 21st November 2012, 13:28

        Yes, the teams don’t like it, because it makes for a complete change of the form book. Something that is too risky for the big teams to go for. But after all its the FIA that makes the rules, and DRS was proposed as a stopgap before the 2013 (postponed to 2014) rules came in. As @beneboy points out, there have been countless other things the teams would have liked to keep but were disregarded by the FIA for various reasons (safety is easily used though).

        DRS is no solution to the problem, unlike what @pjtierney advices. As some have pointed out the simple fact that the engines will have less power come 2014 will already mean less downforce, because teams will be far more held back by drag caused from it. It would have only needed a couple of extra steps to get there.

    • Alex Brown (@splittimes) said on 21st November 2012, 13:28

      Agreed. DRS is a quick fix to a problem no-one seems to dare tackle head on. Whilst changing the engine rules is relatively risk free (when the aim is simply to bring the regs in line with production cars), having a particular goal in terms of a performance shift is much more of a gamble. Hence why remedies to these kinds of problems are typically a small change that can be undone relatively easily (such as grooved tyres and narrow tracked cars to tackle increased corner speeds). It would be a huge shift in the look and feel of the cars to, for instance, switch to ground effect and a limit on wings (currently being pioneered by the Nissan Deltawing) and if it didn’t pay off, heads would roll at the FIA. And no-one wants to put their head on the block.

    • Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 21st November 2012, 15:14

      @pjtierney that’s harder than it looks. Whatever way they find to limit the cars’ downforce, teams will still get round it, thus spoiling the effect.

      How many times they’ve tried to fix the problem? They raised the front wings, they banned the 3rd flap in the rear wing, they lowered the front wings, they made the rear wings smaller, they banned double diffusers, they banned blown diffusers… and we’re here, still watching endlessly understeering cars while following another.

      It’s not the designer’s fault. It’s something that probably will never be fixed, unless, of course, they completely ban aerodynamics, thus returning to the 60’s… and even then, I get the feeling that designers would find a way round it…

  12. Marcos (@marcos) said on 21st November 2012, 12:14

    What if they allow it to be used anywhere on the track, as long as you’re in within 1 secs distance?? This way, drivers skills would be really important. They’d push the boundaries to overtake in places different than long straights. And overtaken drivers would be able to fight back right away.

    • Marcos (@marcos) said on 21st November 2012, 12:20

      I meant, if it produces overtakes in places different than straights and it’s more used/accessible to all drivers, maybe it won’t be seen much artificial as an F-duck, flexible wing, KERS, double diffuser, mass-damper, eight controller system or any other gadget… Maybe it would be seen as just one more normal piece of the car. Maybe…

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 21st November 2012, 12:35

      @marcos

      What if they allow it to be used anywhere on the track

      Given that they’ve just decided to ban this very thing, it doesn’t seem a likely solution.

  13. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 21st November 2012, 12:22

    All cars need zero wings.

  14. Girts (@girts) said on 21st November 2012, 12:38

    I’ve never been a fan of the DRS but, as it seems that it’s supposed to stay, I’d suggest two DRS zones in qualifying and one zone in the race. I guess that would ensure that the system is still quite effective in qualifying but does not make the overtaking too easy in the race.

    • Asanator (@asanator) said on 21st November 2012, 15:39

      I Don’t really see why it needs to be ‘effective’ in qualifying :S It is a bit of an anomaly that it is currently allowed and has handed certain cars a distinct advantage in qualy which I am looking forward to not having to put up with next year. We shouldn’t see such a disparity between Qualifying and Race pace next year although this in itself may lead to less overtaking.

    • Jere Jyrala said on 28th February 2014, 16:03

      @Girts that’s what it should be at overtaking-friendly circuits like ”montreal, spa, interlagos and shanghai e.g.” 2 zones for FP and QLF but 1 for race to get rid of these easy DRS-assisted motorway passes from longest straights of these circuits!

  15. crr917 (@crr917) said on 21st November 2012, 12:49

    Hopefully 2013 will be the last year with DRS as the better ERS from 2014 will be the deciding factor when it comes to overtakes.

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