DRS and tyres: Has F1 got the balance right?

Debates and Polls

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Shanghai, 2013The 2013 season is the third year in which F1 has tried to produce better racing using the Drag Reduction System and having Pirelli produce tyres that degrade rapidly.

Both have undergone changes this year. Pirelli has produced a new generation of softer tyre compounds and almost every track will have two DRS zones this year.

However it has opened a debate over whether Formula One has gone too far in altering the sport to make it more entertaining. Has it got the balance right?


Following complaints from some drivers the Drag Reductions System can no longer be used freely during practice and qualifying this year.

To ensure it still has a significant effect, an extra DRS zone has been added at most tracks which previously only had one. The last three races all had one extra DRS zone compared to last year.

Has that made DRS too powerful – or not powerful enough? Do you think F1 has got the balance right? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

What effect is DRS having on F1 racing in 2013?

  • DRS is having a very positive effect on F1 (3%)
  • DRS is having a positive effect on F1 (32%)
  • DRS is having a neutral effect on F1 (11%)
  • DRS is having a negative effect on F1 (38%)
  • DRS is having a very negative effect on F1 (16%)
  • No opinion (0%)

Total Voters: 539

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In the previous two seasons with softer tyres we’ve tended to see lots of pit stops and strategic variety in the early races, but by the end of the season the teams understand the tyres better and one-stop races become more commonplace.

In response to that Pirelli have produced softer tyres this year. But concerns they may have gone too far, voiced by Red Bull among others, have led them to change the hard tyre to a more durable compound.

Are this year’s tyres too aggressive? Has the move towards softer compounds produced better racing since 2011? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

What effect are the current tyres having on F1 racing in 2013?

  • The current tyres are having a very positive effect on F1 (11%)
  • The current tyres are having a positive effect on F1 (30%)
  • The current tyres are having a neutral effect on F1 (11%)
  • The current tyres are having a negative effect on F1 (24%)
  • The current tyres are having a very negative effect on F1 (23%)
  • No opinion (0%)

Total Voters: 531

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177 comments on DRS and tyres: Has F1 got the balance right?

  1. karter22 (@karter22) said on 3rd May 2013, 20:17

    Voted for negative on the DRS since I see no need for 2 zones in every race, other than that, I´m cool with DRS although it is artificial.
    Voted very negative on the Pirelli tyres since what we are watching is not racing, it´s tyre management 101. I´m baffled how people can say it´s having a positive impact. That is beyond me!!

    Please let there be another tyre supplier for 2014…. out with the Pirellis I say!!!

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 3rd May 2013, 23:52

      @karter22 the problem as far as you’re concerned is not the tyres supplier, but the FIA. Pirelli have done exactly as they were asked, so as long as what the FIA wants doesn’t change the tyre supplier doesn’t make the blindest bit of a difference.

      They could just as easily make indestructible tyres as mozzarella ones if they were tasked to do so I’m sure.

      • karter22 (@karter22) said on 4th May 2013, 3:37

        I understand that the FIA has asked them to produce these lemons, but in all honesty, if I was the owner of Pirelli I would not comply with such things. It´s my company, my product, and I don´t want people thinking my product is crap, simple as that.
        There is a saying in my country that says: the monkey will dance if you pay him enough. The same could be said about Pirelli, They have become the FIA´s callgirl.
        Seems that contract must´ve been good enough for Pirelli in order to give in to this crap.

        • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 4th May 2013, 8:42

          Actually, it was the teams that asked Pirelli to make these tyres. Not the FIA.

          • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 4th May 2013, 9:53

            @prisoner-monkeys true enough, I stand corrected on that aspect. The point remains the same though: Pirelli are just doing what they’re asked and they’re getting lots of publicity for it @karter22, and as the saying goes “any publicity is good publicity”.

          • karter22 (@karter22) said on 4th May 2013, 12:13

            I doubt that the teams agreed to such lemons. They must´ve wanted grippier tyres but not so that they would tear off in so few laps.
            Yeah I´ve heard that one as well but still, Pirelli will be asociated with bad tyres, I fail to see how that´ll increase sales! I wouldn´t want to put a tyre in my road car that has technology coming from F1 seeing how bad they desintegrate in so little time!

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 4th May 2013, 13:14

            @karter22 – The teams specifically asked for tyres that behaved differently to the Bridgestones. They wanted tyres that drivers would have to work to manage so as to introduce a range of strategy options for each race, because it was noted that when Bridgestone was supplying the tyres, there was only ever one optimal strategy that everyone stuck to. When Pirelli submitted their proposal for what they wanted to do, a large part of it hinged on the way they would constantly and subtly alter the tyre compounds so that the teams could never be totally comfortable with their previous knowledge of the tyres. This was one of the major elements of the proposal, and one that was very well-received by the teams.

            Of course, you can continue to stick to the belief that if something is bad for Formula 1, then it’s clearly not the teams’ fault and that they are just the victims who are forced to put up with the poor judgement and lack of foresight that other have inflicted on them. However, that argument holds no weight, as the teams had to unanimously agree on the new tyre supplier when Bridgestone announced their intention to leave the sport. They knew exactly what Pirelli planned, and Pirelli have followed that plan from the moment it was agreed that they would be the tyre supplier.

          • karter22 (@karter22) said on 5th May 2013, 3:18

            I´m not saying the strategy part is all that bad… I just wish they wouldn´t desintegrate so fast… 2012 spec rubber would have been fine!
            Oh and BTW, Bernie got Pirelli as the tyre supplier, Jean Todt wanted Michelin as the sole tyre supplier!

          • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 5th May 2013, 9:43

            The teams were already familiar with the 2012 tyres. The point of changing them was to give the teams a new challenge.

            And while Bernie might have backed Pirelli and Todt Michelin, the teams were the only ones who got a vote on the matter.

      • @PijelliZeroGrip (@pijellizero) said on 5th May 2013, 4:22

        “They could just as easily make indestructible tyres as mozzarella ones if they were tasked to do so I’m sure.”

        Could they, though? Do we have any proof they could make anything near the quality of the Bridgestones? Perhaps they saw that the FIA wanted *** tyres and though to themselves “yea we can finally get back into F1 now. we can’t compete in a tyre war [Pirelli specifically stated they would not come into F1 unless they were the sole manufacturer] but we’re actually being ASKED to make shoddy tyres”

        Besides which, Pirelli accepted the FIA’s mandate and therefore ultimately responsible for this farce. If no tyre manufacture were willing to accept the FIA’s absurdity, then the FIA would have no choice but to back down and we’d be left with at least a semi-sensible formula.

        “I was only following orders” is not an acceptable line of defence in any courtroom!

  2. Traverse (@) said on 3rd May 2013, 20:26

    I absolutely hate DRS, KERS, these Pirelli/Blue Peter/here’s one I made earlier/papier-mache/do it yourself Art Attack tyres and any new nonsense idea that Bernie comes up with.

    • Traverse (@) said on 3rd May 2013, 20:35

      Dagnabbit! I meant to vote “DRS is having a very negative effect on F1″ but accidentally picked “DRS is having a negative effect on F1″. That’s the last time I use a touch screen phone…EVER!!!

    • @PijelliZeroGrip (@pijellizero) said on 5th May 2013, 4:32

      KERS is OK because everybody’s in the same position. DRS is daft because it’s only the people following that get the benefit. I think very few people could argue that the first 6 laps or so of Bahrain were great. And that’s because everybody were on relatively fresh tyres, and pretty much everybody bar the leader has DRS – because they were all following within a second of the guy in front.

  3. Paulocreed (@paulocreed) said on 3rd May 2013, 20:29

    I think the DRS should be available to all the drivers during the race and not only the ones that are 1 second behind.

    I don’t see any passing as artificial. Worn tyres are not anything new in F1, they are simply much more aggressive now. IMO too aggressive. I think what is needed is the right balance where tyres do not last an entire race, but at least half a race or a third of the race so that the drivers can push the cars rather than conserve them. I can not really tell whether they’re driving to delta times or not. If one car is, so are the others, so it’s the same for everyone anyway. What’s artificial about that?

    In the grand scheme of things, the more conservative the drivers drive, leads to better reliability and improved safety as the speeds are not as radical as they can be. Better reliability leads to saved costs. But if the tyres degrade too fast that may be a safety concern as well.

  4. Aimal (@aimalkhan) said on 3rd May 2013, 21:09

    How about reducing the gap created by the DRS in the rear wing when activated?

  5. Hallard (@hallard) said on 3rd May 2013, 22:35

    I would like to see the fragile tires and DRS gone, because they are band-aid measures that bring the credibility of F1 as a sport into question.

    The problem is that F1 has gotten to a point where these items are needed in order to provide “exciting” racing. Sooner or later F1 needs to change it’s formula and drop the downforce levels significantly. I would suggest that the wing sizes be drastically reduced and the ride height raised slightly. I would also like to see all teams either run a spec diffuser, or a spec floor with significant ground effect. These areas of development are largely invisible to viewers (especially the casual viewers that FOM seems so keen on courting), and yet they constitute a huge performance disparity between big and small teams.

    Furthermore, the whole development freeze on engines is doing F1 no favors… if F1 wants engine manufacturers to come back, they need to allow engine development, and frankly I think the cars could use a lot more power.

    Lastly, the cars need bigger, more puncture-resistant tires to shift the grip balance towards mechanical/away from aero; and to encourage drivers to battle wheel-to-wheel without fear of a puncture ending their race.

    I hope the formula can change soon, because I want to see a little less artificial competition. In the meantime, I’m sure I’ll still be watching anyways :-)

  6. Michael Brown (@) said on 3rd May 2013, 22:50

    DRS: Makes overtaking too easy. Its benefit should be reduced. Considering that, bring back free usage for FP and quali.

    Tires: The only Pirellis I liked so far were the 2011 ones. It may not have been perfect but it was still better than Bridgestone.

  7. Calum (@calum) said on 3rd May 2013, 22:51

    DRS negative; Tyres positve.

  8. StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 3rd May 2013, 22:54

    I voted negative for both.

    I loathe DRS & think its hurt the racing far more than its helped it & its also slowly but surely destroying my love of F1, Everytime I see a DRS pass I feel myself becoming less interested in watching.

    Also something to consider regarding DRS, The lack of DRS didn’t seem to hurt Alonso at Bahrain, He still managed to pull off a lot of overtaking, It was all real exciting overtaking as well!

    While I voted negative on the tyres I did so based on the tyres as they have been so far in 2013. I feel they have been way too sensitive & have hindered the racing & not helped it, Watching drivers driving to a lap time (Which is often slower than what GP2 cars could run at), having to ask there team if they should race a car ahead or behind them is not correct in my view.
    I get that tyre management has always been a part of F1, However the current level is too much & is detracting for the racing.

    I think the balance with the tyres was about perfect in 2011, They still degraded & therefore forced the pit stops people seem to love for some reason but they were not so sensitive that you had everyone desperately trying to nurse them & they were not the talking point of every weekend as they have been in 2012/2013.

    However if I had a choice I’d either take every dry compound to every race & let teams/drivers run whatever they wanted as was the case Pre-94, Or just make each team pick what compounds they want to run 2 weeks before each gp rather than having Pirelli force everyone to run the compounds they feel is best.

    For me there’s 1 word in the title of this article which needs to be looked at & thats ‘Balance’. There should be a balance between overtaking been too hard & been too easy & there should be a balance between managing tyres & been able to push them.
    Right now for me the balance of both is wrong, DRS is making passing so easy that its been devalued & Tyre management is now so important that drivers are unable to really lean on them.

    • StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 3rd May 2013, 23:13

      Something else I just want to say regarding DRS.

      One other reason I feel its bad for F1 is that I don’t feel there ever going to be able to get the balance right & therefore its always going to produce a number of the easier so called Highway passing which I don’t think anyone really enjoys to see.

      In 2011 when it produced easier passes we were told ‘Its work in progress’ that ‘The length of zones & position of activation points will be tweaked’ & that ‘It will be better next year’.
      Well in 2012 with knowledge gained & zones tweaked it still produced a similar level of the easier pass.
      In 2013 so far I feel its been much the same & the addition of 2nd zones hasn’t helped this.

      I feel that the issue is that everyone looks at controlling how effective or not DRS is purely by the length of the activation zone, Making it shorter will lessen the effect & making it longer will increase the effect. However I’d argue that assumption is wrong & that circuits like Shanghai, Montreal & Spa where Zones were shortened with little effect prove this.

      The effectiveness of DRS isn’t judged by zone length or detection/activation points but instead by tyres, downforce levels, gear ratios, gap between cars, wind direction, wind speed, How many cars are together & also how good an exit the cars got from the previous corner.

      Due to all this I feel it will be impossible to ever reach a point where DRS works as it was intended (An assist & not purely an overtaking device) on a consistent basis.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 4th May 2013, 9:39

      @stefmeister Balance, indeed, and I see that lacking with DRS; witth the tyres it is imo. better, but I would like the FIA to be more aware of that need for a balance in most any rule.

  9. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 4th May 2013, 1:10

    I don’t think Formula 1 has the right balance. I think it has the next-best alternative.

    To my mind, the tyres and DRS were introduced to do what the teams could not – or, more likely, were not willing to – do and create a version of the sport where drivers could actually race one another, and where the result was not decided by whoever was the first driver into the first corner. I remember those days quite well, and for all the criticisms of DRS and Pirelli, I think they are the lesser evil compared the alternative when the alternative is racing without any actual racing.

    In an ideal world, the endless pursuit of aerodynamic grip would be a thing of the past. For instance, the Red Bull RB9 has a front wing with six individual elements, which I think it just over the top – teams should be limited to a front wing with no more than two elements. But the teams would refuse to agree to any rule limiting their ability to develop their front wings, because they know that more aerodynamic grip means more speed. I’ve often found the talk of “improving the show” to be quite hollow, principally because deep down I know that every team on the grid would happily take a dominant car, and that if there is a show to be improved, then let it be the show for second place.

    • bosyber (@bosyber) said on 4th May 2013, 9:43

      @prisoner-monkeys, that is well put; I also agree for the most part, though I believe that DRS might be dropped without negative effect, that is only a slight difference in how we judge it.

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 6th May 2013, 17:51

        @prisoner-monkeys I too think what you have said has been well worded, but I don’t believe that our only options are these tires and DRS, or processions. And while I think you make an excellent point that the teams wouldn’t agree to, for example, two element front wings to help ‘improve the show’ when they would happily rather have a dominant car and let the show be for second place, I also think that they would change their tune if the fans starting falling away in droves due to a phoney show of DRS passes and drivers only pulling off passes because his foe was at a tire disadvantage.

        F1 went years doing nothing about the processions in the MS/Ferrari era, and now they seem bound and determined to promote passing at any cost, even risking the integrity of Pirelli and the sport, so something has changed, and if it is that they are now paying more attention to fan surveys, then perhaps they are listening still to those of us who certainly don’t want phoniness as a substitute for processions.

  10. Melchior (@melchior) said on 4th May 2013, 6:35

    Tyres need to be able to last a lot longer than they do.What’s the point in holding Quali if drivers can’t/won’t turn a few laps because they need to conserve the tyres that they have for the race.
    And what’s the point if the drivers have to drive the race in conservation mode for a fair percentage of the race so as to conserve their tyres.
    Maybe DRS would be better if the driver coming under attack from the driver behind can also use DRS.

  11. Resort2Spa (@resort2spa) said on 4th May 2013, 7:12

    Sports change and evolve to create a more exciting package. Football removed the rule allowing players to pass the ball back to the Goalkeeper for him to pick it up.

    I know there are a lot of racing purists who wish to see “skill only” overtakes but you have to admit that the amount of super exciting races has exponentially increased in recent years.

    China 2011, Canada 2011/12, Hungary 2011, Valencia 2012, Abu Dhabi 2012, Brazil 2012, Malaysia 2013 (Webber – Vettel fight was intense).

    You have to go back to Japan 2005, Brazil 2008 to find some truly epic races.

    The racing at places, that are historically boring, like Bahrain, Hungary and Australia has also increased the excitement immensely 2011 onwards.

    Abu Dhabi is the best case in point. The championship deciding race in 2010 was like watching a train and expecting the carriages to overtake each other. Fast Fwd >> to the 2012 race and there was over taking galore. Imagine that race replaced the championship decider of 2010 and can you imagine the level of epicness… ala Brazil 2012.

  12. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 4th May 2013, 7:23

    I voted:
    DRS is having a negative effect.
    – However, it has the potential to have a very positive effect, its just that the FIA have gone for complete overkill this season to compensate for the restrictions in Qually and Practice.
    – If they tone it back to just 1 singular zone, then the races (which is where points are awarded) would be better.
    – Also, the FIA needs to think more carefully about where they put a DRS zone(s) for a track. Just because a track has a massive straight, doesnt mean it needs DRS down it, in fact, DRS should never be put on the longest straight (bar Monaco) because that’s where cars have the best chance to overtake anyway. It should be placed in a less obvious place, so that you can position the cars to have a “possible” overtake, not an easy “hey lets open slot and fly past the guy 100m in front” type overtake.

    Neutral for Pirelli tyres
    Because they can always make the softer tyre more durable.

    But they aren’t . :\

    They need to:
    Make the Soft and Super-Soft MUCH more durable (4-7 laps is pathetic).
    Make the Medium slightly more durable.
    Leave the Hard tyre as is.

    Having such a massive gap between the tyre compounds doesn’t actually lead to a “greater strategy window”, because teams will obviously go for the harder compound and get rid of the soft ASAFP, and just run the prime for the rest of the race. Where’s the strategy in that?!

    And that’s my rant.

    • Cristian (@theseeker) said on 4th May 2013, 8:11

      Well…if you make the Soft and Super-Soft “much more durable” and the Medium “slightly more durable” you might just end up with Bridgestone tires, mate. It would be better just to make the Super-Soft some kind of a qualifying tire (for Q3, of course) and to improve (all-round) the Soft, Medium and Hard from time to time. Also, Pirelli should learn to work better with the teams, in both sides interest…and to make some bloody better tire designations (unlike China 2013).

      • Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 4th May 2013, 11:08


        you might just end up with Bridgestone tires, mate.

        Well i didn’t mean make the softer compounds THAT much more durable. But they should be atleast be able to be competitive for 14-18 laps.

        Otherwise, they’re redundant, because if its anything less, then the teams just get rid of the option as soon as possible, and there’s no strategy there.

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 4th May 2013, 10:06

      @tophercheese agreed wholeheartedly with your rant!

  13. Cristian (@theseeker) said on 4th May 2013, 8:00

    How about allowing multiple tires suppliers? That way Red Bull won’t be bitchin’ about Pirelli tires (while winning). Every tires supplier has it’s own characteristics and FIA would just have to ensure top quality and some ballance between different suppliers…
    Then, get ride of the DRS, encourage more investment more into KERS (ERS from 2014), bring some 1000bhp V12’s with turbochargers/superchargers (or not) and we would have a real sport…what F1 should be like.

    • Max Jacobson (@vettel1) said on 4th May 2013, 9:56

      @theseeker that’s a terrible idea, as that’s just asking for every team besides Red Bull and Ferrari to go bankrupt with the cost of yet another tyre war.

      The problem here is emphatically not the tyre supplier, it’s what they’ve been asked to create. Your criticism should be directed at the teams themselves, not Pirelli.

      As much as I’d like those engines also, I just can’t see it happening sadly…

      • GT_Racer said on 4th May 2013, 13:25

        A more open engine/kers formula would raise cost’s, However contrary to general opinion a tyre war would not raise cost’s for the teams.

        The biggest cost to teams from a tyre war in the past came from tyre testing, With testing now banned the cost on teams from a tyre war would be no issue.

        • Cristian (@theseeker) said on 5th May 2013, 19:35

          I know huge engines is just a childish dream right now, but multiple tires suppliers might be a solution…and with costs not being an issue for the teams this could be the answer. There is some kind of tire war going on right now actually, if you look close, with most teams agreeing to what Pirelli dose and with a few disagreeing. That tire war (caused by multiple tires suppliers) would be better for the teams, FIA and F1 than the current one.

      • Cristian (@theseeker) said on 5th May 2013, 19:27

        My criticism was directed at the teams, actually. And I do understand what you’re saying. It’s just that reducing cost doesn’t seem right for a sport like Formula 1. I would much rather see 7-8 spending huge amounts of money to be just 0.1 faster than the others, than 11-12 teams with most of them carefully investing. There are some constructors (like Audi, BMW…maybe some privateers) that would love to spend billions, if FIA would know how to attract such investment in the sport.
        [I know Audi said they will not get into F1 as it is not road-relevant, but…let’s be serious. I believe they just don’t want to invest a few hundred millions into engines, KERS, R&D…and wait 2-3 seasons or more, like Mercedes, for some real performance and then underperform, due to not understanding the tires, or invest funds and time into some kind of new development, like DDRS or passive suspension, that would then be banned by the FIA without any real motivation…]

  14. RicoD (@ricod) said on 4th May 2013, 10:35

    I have voted for DRS and against the tyres. DRS was introduced to make overtaking easier, as there was hardly any overtaking in the years before DRS. Agreed that the effect may be a little to strong now, but we need it in some form. The Aero-war is still the biggest issue in my view. I agree with Briatore (never thought I would say that).
    The tyres are making racing a big strategic farce. A driver cannot push, cannot stray from the race line, cannot risk a lock up while out braking an opponent etc etc.
    I would like to add one thing: ban communication between driver and team. That makes the driver(s decisions) more important and reduces all the strategic c***

  15. KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 4th May 2013, 11:22

    Interesting to see the results of this poll.. Once again it appears that the people who don’t like the tyres (The self-proclaimed ‘purists’ who then try to explain why the sport is rubbish) are the ones who shout the loudest and therefore think their opinion is gospel truth. I imagine Keith put this article up to try and gauge current opinion after so many comments about this on other articles. Same as last year, the minority appears to be the ones who are proclaiming to be the majority..

    • HCA said on 4th May 2013, 13:20

      im reading it slightly differently.

      combining the 2 answers (very positive/positive & very negative/negative) its clear that the vast majority feel DRS is having a negative effect while opinion on tyres is split.

      one of the interesting things though is reading the comments, there are those who voted that tyres are having a positive effect yet who also feel that the current tyre compounds could & should be made a bit harder.

    • Jon Sandor (@jonsan) said on 4th May 2013, 22:03

      As I write this, the poll is 44% negative on the tyres to 43% positive. And it’s 22% “very negative” to 11% “very positive”.

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