Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, 2013

Whiting denies DRS has made passing too easy

F1 Fanatic Round-upPosted on Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, 2013In the round-up: FIA race director Charlie Whiting denies the Drag Reduction System has made overtaking too easy.


Your daily digest of F1 news, views, features and more.

Whiting insists DRS beneficial for F1 (Autosport)

“It still requires extreme skill from the driver. It is not as if it’s turn on, overtake, go, done.”

Surtees anniversary draws hope from loss (Reuters)

“Mr Ferrari agreed with me at the end, just before he died actually, that we’d both made a bit of a mistake in that we’d lost probably championships together with the parting that we did in 1966. That again was a bit impetuous.”

LaFerrari-based race car spied (Autocar)

“Reports that Ferrari is using the car to put mileage on its new 2014 F1 V6 are also said to be incorrect, as this would break the sport’s regulations.”


Comment of the day

@Paul-A on budget capping and F1’s future:

In the beginning F1 developed as the fastest, top end of motor sport (now the ??pinnacle??) and attracted designers, manufacturers, drivers and fans (then called ??spectators?? and ??magazine readers??.) Over the last maybe twenty or so years it has seen an insidious input of ??spectacle?? and ??rules?? ? not all good, not all bad ? but all requiring more money and as any economist will tell you, there is a snowball effect in that you have to spend more and more in order to obtain more and more.

I don?t know how much the teams spend on ??rule compliance?? or how much the FIA puts into ??rule writing?? and ??rule enforcement?? covering design, testing, racing, tracks, etc… But if F1 wants to remain the ??pinnacle?? then innovation within very broad guidelines is an absolute necessity. Nit-picking minor details is counter-productive, very expensive and curtails innovative development.

As to the spectacle, the finances are outrageous. If Mr Ecclestone?s personal fortune and family trust were properly re-invested in F1, there would be no more talk of budget caps or pay drivers for years to come.

So, what do we want? The ultimate expression of the fastest man and machine combination? Or the flamboyancy of World Wrestling Entertainment with its tabloid driven squabbling? It all comes down to the freedom of achievement compared to the dreary, messy, over-regulated current state of affairs that is still called Formula One.

From the forum

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On this day in F1

1994 F1 seasonJordan revealed their 1994 F1 contender, the 194, 20 years ago today.

Rubens Barrichello, who was the team’s only confirmed driver for the season ahead at that point, put the first laps on the team’s fourth F1 car.

Also, happy 31st birthday to Adrian Sutil.

55 comments on “Whiting denies DRS has made passing too easy”

    1. Absolutely! Things are getting ever brighter for the World Endurance Championship, with the prospect of having at least 4 manufacturer entrants for the LMP1 category. I just hope that all of them have competitive cars which can give us some good fights in the races, especially in the Le Mans 24 Hours.

      This also seems to indicate that manufacturers are leaning much more towards the WEC than to F1. Even with the new technical regulations coming into play this year there doesn’t seem to be much interest surrounding the F1 championship, which would supposedly be more attractive to car makers.

      1. mmm for some reason I’m not sold on endurance racing just yet, while I certainly like the engineering side of things (in the prototypes of course) I don’t fancy watching a race for hours, I know you’re not supposed to be glued to the screen all the time but I rather have a race with a beginning, middle and end within two hours, so I can keep all my attention to that and don’t miss anything.

        It’s kind of like movies versus TV series, they both can be great in their own right but I just like more the storytelling format of a movie.

        1. I very much prefer WEC – even if you painted them the same colour, the cars still look different and even sound different.

          As for the action on there is plenty of overtaking without any stupid blue flags since everyone is racing for their own class.

          Then you have the true prototypes that Le Mans permit to enter even when they don’t fit into any existing class.

          Finally the teams enjoy the racing. The memory of Corvette & Aston having an informal race pushing their cars to the start and then taking photos sitting in each other’s cars or the Audi Manager commiserating the Peugeot manager personally after his leading cars all blew up in the last few hours are unimaginable in F1.

          Let’s hope Bernie keeps the F1 for the mass TV audiences and lets the real racing continue elsewhere


    1. I wonder if Whiting considers DRS as the “Damage Reduction System”. The use of two DRS zones at most events last season makes me feel it is employed by the race director as both a safety mechanism and a convenience. It certainly makes his job easier if a pass, which was previously hit or miss, became a clean forgone conclusion. No damage, no safety direction decisions (waved yellows, red flag, safety car, etc.) and no contentious decisions as to whether an infringement had occurred.

  1. I have to disagree about whiting’s point of view, I have watched F1 since the late 80s and I have a hard time understanding how passing on a strait whiting finds exciting? this is one of the few “artificial” silliness that needs to be extinguished from the sport.

    1. Lol, well summed up. I’m glad to see so many people not buying what CW is selling.

      Frankly when I saw that it was CW giving his opinion I was poised to consider some good argument he had for it…some positive. But exit speeds coming out of the previous corner to a zone? Please.

      I’m all for spiced up racing, but not through artificially manipulative means. Close racing through reduced aero for me please. With DRS I feel like even non-DRS passes are a bit lessened if the players got where they were to that point via DRS.

      Furthermore CW, even if there were some skill involved in these passes, which btw the drivers never seem to dwell on with pride in post-race interviews, it APPEARS like it is too easy for what the viewers expect, viewing F1 on TV, and there is a predictability now as soon as DRS becomes available after 2 laps into the races, that anybody with a car within a second of another need not do anything other than stay close and wait for a DRS zone.

      When you can see passes coming from a mile away, that ain’t the pinnacle.

      1. When I was at university, the internal phone number for the student administration centre was 4444. It was always interesting to see the Chinese residents calling them.

        Mind you, the system was so horrendously disorganised and tangled up in its own red tape that “death-death-death-death” was actually quite befitting of it.

  2. When the FIA get DRS right, it’s actually pretty good. It allows an attacking driver to get his front wing alongside the rear wheels of a defending driver. A pass is possible, but not guaranteed, and the attacking driver still has a lot of work to do to make the pass stick – but if he gets it wrong, it leaves him vulnerable to being re-passed.

    The problem is the length of the zones. In the first year that DRS was used, fine-tuning the placement was a bit of a black art. And that could be excused, because the system was still new and there was no data on how the physical characteristics of the circuit might influence DRS. But in its sophomore year, the zones were placed based on the data from the previous season, and it did not take into account the changes in car development. All of a sudden, DRS zones that were good one year became too easy the next. And it is impossible to predict how car development might affect the zones in upcoming seasons.

    That’s why the zone-based system does not work. I think it is high time to consider changing DRS to be time-based, with a time limit on how long it can be open for, and how long a driver has to wait until using it again.

    1. I also think a part of the issue is that zone length alone doesn’t really determine how effective/ineffective a DRS zone actually is.

      Things like wing speed/direction, Gear ratio’s, Downforce levels, How much drag each car generates, previous corner exit, kers, tyre life, tyre compound, Gap between cars etc…. all play a big role in determining how a DRS zone works & how easy or not a DRS pass is.

      We have seen over the past 3 years that at times long zones have been ineffective & short zones too effective & that this can change during a race as conditions change & depending on which cars/drivers are fighting over the position.

      I’ve been saying since 2011 that I don’t believe they will ever get DRS right by changing the zones every year because there are so many variables as I described above & that has always been a part of the reason for my opposition to it.

      If DRS is not going to be the temporary stop-gap solution we were promised it would be & if there not going to make the changes to the cars they said they were going to, They should instead ditch DRS & just implement something like the P2P system which has been used successfully & which has actually enhanced the quality of the racing in many other categories.
      Give them all x pushes or x seconds of usage where they get more turbo boost/higher revs for x seconds & let them use it whenever/wherever they want to either attack or defend, This also has the benefit of actually adding some driver strategy into the mix with regards to when/where you use it.

        1. For me, even if DRS zones are determined better, there is no denying it is a gadget to assist the drivers, and in the pinnacle of racing they need to keep the challenge in the hands of the drivers, not come up with ways to make their lives easier, and the passes unmemorable. I feel the same about the push to pass button such as Indy has used…but then Indy is not trying to tout itself as the pinnacle, and there is far less patience for rare passes in North America.

          Getting off the aero addiction is to me what F1’s main goal should be.

  3. Ah, so Whiting’s saying that he hasn’t watched F1 since DRS was introduced. That explains some of the stewarding decisions we’ve seen.

    Also, I had no idea that engine manufacturers weren’t allowed to run their engines however they wanted.

    1. I had no idea that engine manufacturers weren’t allowed to run their engines however they wanted.

      But what exactly stops, say, Ferrari from putting the brand new F1 V6 in a car and test it? If someone got to the test track asking questions couldn’t they just say they’re developing an engine for other purpose? Is there a specific rule which prevents such a thing from happening?

      1. Also, seeing as these engines should be able to be developed into le Mans engines, when do they draw the line and say it’s moved far enough away from F1 that testing it is allowed?

        I can’t work out what that Ferrari the Ferrari could be for. A Ferrari the Ferrari ‘FXX’ probably wouldn’t have a rear wing of such size, instead focussing on active aero integration. A Ferrari the Ferrari GT car would fit some GT regulations, but would probably find itself replacing the 458 and competing against cars which on the road cost 10% of the price. So unless they’re making a new GT1 or 2 category and keeping it a secret it doesn’t seem likely it’s a GT car. The next Maserati MC12? But they only made that in order to go GT racing anyway, so it runs into the same problem, plus Maserati have been moved further from Ferrari and closer to Alfa in the Fiat structure anyway.

  4. So how about this, in addition to have the time between two cars decide whether or not the DRS activates why not put a speed trap in the same point as well? If the speed of the car behind is let’s say 10 kph more, then the DRS remains off, but if it is the same then it’s available.
    Also when the overtaking car is next to the other one (or very close) the telemetry can turn it off, that way they remain side by side through the straight.

    Right there I just proposed two solutions for the DRS problem that should never have existed in the first place, people in charge need to use their brains a little bit more.

    1. They might sound good in theory, but I don’t think they would work in practice. After all, drivers currently get DRS when they are within a second of a lapped car, because the system cannot distinguish between cars that are on the lead lap and cars that are not. Adding the variable of speed or proximity introduces a new layer of complexity, and given the limitations of the system, I doubt they could be implemented.

    2. At the activation point, the speed of the cars are very close. The activation point being just after a corner makes no use of top speed of the car which is reached much later.
      Your idea might work if the activation point is moved right before the end of a long straight, but its just too complicated.
      10kmph more? Then red bull will run even more downforce.
      Its not a bad idea, but the values will be destructive for passing since no teams will try to have a too high top speed.

  5. It still requires extreme skill from the driver.

    Pushing a button in a straight must be an extremely difficult thing to do…

    Seriously, obviously Charlie Whiting will deny that DRS isn’t improving the racing. He works for the FIA, so if Jean Todt doesn’t say anything publicly, why would he? Especially in a negative fashion? It’s only natural for him to positively advertise the “solutions” that have been brought up to F1 to improve the quality of the racing, including the DRS.

    We, fans, fanatics, are tired of it, and people in the sport, at least those who have a pure racing mentality, who are racers at heart, surely would like to see the DRS scrapped altogether and a return to racing without that gimmick. The problem is that no one says anything about it suggesting any discontent, so as long as this situation continues, with no one respectable and with some power in the sport protesting against it, we can be sure that the DRS will be a feature in F1.

  6. Eric Boullier said he knew ‘for a fact’ that Lotus wouldn’t be the only team missing Jerez.

    So far we’ve got Mercedes, McLaren, Force India, Toro Rosso, Caterham, Sauber all going… Red Bull are flogging hospitality packages for it so they’re going, Ferrari apparently launching a few days before so they won’t miss it either.

    So Williams or Marussia not going, if Eric is well-informed.

    1. He obviously doesn’t know what the other teams might or might not do. With what he said I think he was just trying to get across the message that they’re just missing the test to have a bit more time to develop the car before running it, thus trying to dismiss any rumours of financial difficulties or any other reason to miss the test that wasn’t a calculated risk made by the team.

    1. Because sometimes people use number 7 to represent letter T (both characters are similar in shape), and Valtteri Bottas has two pairs of T’s, you get two 7’s in each word, hence 77 (Val77eri Bo77as, as in the tweet). I guess it’s just this.

  7. I disagree in some points with Whiting about his thoughts of the DRS. DRS is too powerful for F1 in some tracks, like Spa, China, Montreal, and Korea. DRS has ruined brilliant tracks such as Spa. But, as Rate the Race data says, there are some tracks that increased their action by a large number because of the tyres and, in a small way, DRS. Italy it’s a great example. Last year we didn’t saw so many overtakes and for the first time I agreed completely that DRS had to be deployed inmediately. But I know why fans hate DRS. Because of the tyres. Last year tyres where rubbish, and for that there wasn’t so much racing, and drivers only had to appeal to DRS to make progress. Look 2012. For me, the best season ever. With DRS. Can you see the difference? That year the tyres weren’t that bad and made incredible racing in the most boring circuits, Bahrain, Valencia and Abu Dhabi. In 2013 only Bahrain had a good race and Abu Dhabi a dull one. So, DRS it’s not bad, it can be used in all circuits without a problem, the problem are the conditions that are hold in it. If we had long-lasting tyres with DRS there can be good racing, but if you have fast-degradating tyres with DRS, there can’t be any balanced racing.
    Drivers can defend nicely form DRS if they have the conditions to do so, if not, there can’t be any type of racing that is good.

    1. I kind of agree with that. Obviously DRS has been to powerful on some/many occasions, it does open some interesting strategic opportunities.
      For next season the opening of the slot will be bigger, hence the speed advantage will be bigger? Can’t see how that will prevent motorway overtakes tho..

  8. No it does not take “extreme skill” to pass another driver using DRS, but overall, it has helped racing.
    It certainly has spiced up racing at circuits like Monza, where ovetaking was difficult in this era (2010, due to no refuelling is being the only example). It has also been very good for Tilkedromes like China BAhrain and India wiith those tracks all having a long back straight.
    It has improved the quantity rather than quality of the overtaking, accepted. But like Spa 2010 (Alonso was the only one who kept the car on track on the first lap while the others missed it. No one was penalized other than him when he was on the back by BArrichello. Forced to pit, his race was ruined) Or Abu Dhabi/Spain 2012 Where neither Vettel nor Hamilton were at fault for running out of fuel.
    It has reduced the quantity of drivers battling it out, I agree. Webber’s move on Eau Rouge on Alonso (and vice versa) for example show the real skill of the driver. Hamiltons drive at Malaysia 2010 is also a good example of exciting DRS less overtaking while Vettels comebacks at Abu Dhabi or Brazil are NOT. Yes, he showed mental fortitude, but he’s a formula one driver not a soapbox racer.
    IMO, Tracks like Spa, Monza and Silverstone need a short and single DRS zone which will not always be too effective. While Tilkedromes need a single zone to assist over taking after th zone-like on the backstraight in Mallaysia but not on the pit straight, Pit straight in India for an overtake on the back straight.

    1. It certainly has spiced up racing at circuits like Monza, where ovetaking was difficult in this era (2010, due to no refuelling is being the only example).

      There was actually more overtaking at Monza in 2010 than there had been there in dry races during the refueling era.

      Same was true for pretty much every track bar Monaco & as a result 2010 featured way more on-track overtaking than any year since 1989.
      Its why I never got the argument that 2010 was somehow processional with no overtaking, Overtaking stats had shot back to the levels they were at Pre-refueling.

      Even the 2 races which many felt saw no overtaking (Bahrain & Abu-Dhabi) featured more than in previous season.
      Bahrain’s 21 on-track overtakes were the most on that track since the 2006 race which featured 34 & the number of overtakes at Abu-Dhabi doubled over what was featured there at the 1st race in 2009.

      1. The only thing we rarely saw in 2010 were battles for the lead. But that a lot to do with various title challengers just having stand-out moments at different races. When the Red Bulls were actually as on it as they were in qualifying they could walk away with it. I think in 2011 people saw more passes for the lead of races and made some connection with 2010 being bad for overtaking.

      2. I don’t completely agree with you! I was spectating the 2010 italian grand prix and actually that race was despite the ”fast/overtaking-friendly nature” dull race, only good battles where after pit stops alonso vs button then webber vs hulkenberg and vettel vs rosberg at the closing laps but otherwise ”queuing” so even DRS is less effective in monza due the low-downforce nature of the circuit!

    1. @andae23 I was disappointed to hear this, too.

      Whiting is also saying that “if [the cars] are at the same speed at the beginning of the DRS zone, they will be alongside at the braking point. That’s the whole theory of the DRS.”

      You study engineering so you can obviously judge this better but isn’t it a strange theory? I mean, cars will rarely be at the same speed at the beginning of the braking zone because normally the car, who has caught the car in front, is faster (even without the DRS). For sure, the speed difference will not always be the same all over the circuit, which is why we still see exciting battles now and then, even when DRS is involved. But my impression is that most DRS passes are relatively straightforward and predictable, simply because the car behind is already faster and DRS just eases the task.

      My only hope is that this year more durable tyres will make the battles slightly more spicy as the defending drivers won’t have to care so much about nursing their tyres, which was often the case in 2013.

      1. @girts I guess it’s a bit irrelevant, because the length of most DRS zones is not really calculated anymore (they probably were in 2011), but they determine the length by experience. So if a DRS zone proved to be ‘not powerful enough’, as in ‘an X number of drivers still struggled to overtake’, they make it longer. By now they probably have enough experience to apply this to new circuit as well, like Sochi and Spielberg.

        But to be honest, I gave up on trying to work out logic in any aspect of DRS :P

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