DRS critics are “wrong” – Fittipaldi

2014 F1 season

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Jerez, 2014Emerson Fittipaldi believes the Drag Reduction System introduced to Formula One three years ago has been a positive development for the sport.

Writing in an article for McLaren, Fittipaldi said that while DRS can make passing too easy in some instances, he thinks it has been to the benefit of F1 as a whole.

“Purists tend to criticise DRS, but in my view they’re wrong to do so,” said the two-times world champion.

“Granted, initially, on some circuits, DRS occasionally made overtaking a little easier than is ideal, but on balance the contribution made by DRS has in my opinion been positive.

“And, more important, on the vast majority of circuits, even with DRS, overtaking is still sufficiently difficult that it demands that each driver knows how to race, not only how to drive quickly, which isn’t the same thing at all.”

Fittipaldi is the president of the FIA Drivers’ Commission.

The only change to DRS for this season is in the size of the rear wing flaps. These have been made larger in an attempt to ensure DRS remains approximately as powerful as it has been previously despite the reduction in downforce in this year’s cars.

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91 comments on DRS critics are “wrong” – Fittipaldi

  1. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 11th March 2014, 21:37

    Thank you Emmo! DRS isn’t half as bad as people like to make it out to be. Trouble is people love to jump in the bandwagon, whatever it may be (DRS, Grosjean, Maldonado, tyres, refueling, engine noise etc). Sometimes out of cowardice, other times out of laziness, most of the time to be accepted. DRS has helped to make races more interesting. Yes there has been times when they got the balance wrong, no doubt. It is difficult to get it right all the time but on the balance it has been good. DRS isn’t a gimmick, it is merely a by-product to F1’s reliance on aerodynamics. In this day and age, without DRS the driver in front will ALWAYS have an unfair advantage on the driver behind because of the turbulent air created by the extremely complex aerodynamics used in the cars today. DRS, when correctly done, merely redress the balance giving the guy behind a fighting chance, that is all there is to it in my view. Besides, if there is someone who knows about F1, surely it has to be a guy who has been around motorsport for 50 years, winning races and world titles not only in F1 but in other categories too.

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 11th March 2014, 22:02

      Or because we have a valid opinion and believe in a certain amount of racing purity. DRS is ham-fisted. The good overtaking we see happens away from the DRS zones because they produce such dull passes. That proves 2 things- DRS ruins good overtaking spots, and overtaking is clearly possible without DRS anyway.

      Besides, if there is someone who knows about F1, surely it has to be a guy who has been around motorsport for 50 years, winning races and world titles not only in F1 but in other categories too.

      Although I can’t think who exactly, I’m fairly sure other ex-champions have said the opposite. So what makes Fittipaldi right and those wrong?

      • PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 11th March 2014, 22:27

        @matt90 a lot of people claim to believe in racing purity. I personally have seen the term being used several times to justify a opinion that often made no sense other than being made in the name of racing purity. There is no such thing. Racing in its purest form would mean to have two or more drivers competing with exact the same chassis, same tyre, same engine. The only differential being the driver. That is as close to racing purity one can ever get, and F1 never was and never will be that. As I said in my previous comment DRS isn’t perfect and they don’t always get it right, but on the balance it has been good, even necessary.
        Finally as far as others disagreeing with Emerson, please can you point out a quote by a world champion bashing DRS? I think you won’t find one, but even of you do, I simply meant to say that if someone of Emerson’s calibre goes out and say that the least we could do is respect that opinion.

      • Dizzy said on 11th March 2014, 22:28

        Although I can’t think who exactly, I’m fairly sure other ex-champions have said the opposite. So what makes Fittipaldi right and those wrong?

        Villeneuve & Lauda are 2 Ex world champions I can think of who have constantly raised questions about DRS.

        Many other F1 drivers have also spoke very negatively about DRS.

        I remember after the 2011 China Gp while everyone was busy talking about Mark Webber’s drive through the field to 3rd, Mark himself was talking about how unsatisfying it was driving up behind great racers like Alonso only to drive past him easily in the DRS zone. He reaffirmed that opinion when asked about the 2011 race a year later on Sky.

        I also remember Button passing I think it was Alonso at Brazil in 2011 & talking about how sad he was that DRS made the pass so easy & that he missed having good scraps with good racers.

        On the sky broadcast’s last year Martin Brundle was very critical of how easy DRS was making things & made a comment about how talking in private most of the drivers admit to not been fond of it.

        • PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 11th March 2014, 23:10

          we are gonna have to agree to disagree I suppose.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 12th March 2014, 12:43

            Count me as one who disagrees with you too PM…speaking for myself I didn’t just jump on a bandwagon, thank you very much. For me where EF falters is not with his opinion…he’s entitled to that as we all are of course…it is that he fails to support his argument. He just claims it is good for the sport and doesn’t say why.

            I hate DRS because it is a gadget, a gimmick, and a get out of jail free card that makes passing look ridiculously easy and indefensible. If DRS is needed it is a sign that F1 is going the wrong way.

            And what a shame when this year they actually do have a reduction in wing, a reduction in downforce, and beefier more stable tires to handle the tongue of the PU’s. What a shame that will get muddied with DRS.

  2. HoHum (@hohum) said on 11th March 2014, 22:56

    DRS works on that part of the track where it is least needed, if we really want to make a level playing field for the following car we need a system that activates a spoiler on the front wing of the leading car when a following car gets to within 4 or 5 car lengths (needs investigation and refinement) activated either by a sensor on the rear of cars or the following driver when within range (there is lots of collision avoidance technology now that could fill this function) this would allow drivers to follow inches from the car ahead through corners and be ready to pounce when the leading driver made a mistake. It’s technically easy and opens up the whole track as a passing zone unlike DRS and still allows designers to generate all the downforce they can find.

  3. Dizzy said on 11th March 2014, 22:58

    Something I hate about the way DRS is used is how they put the stupid thing on every circuit & always seem to put it on the longest straght, Even if its a place where we already saw overtaking in the past.

    Looking at 2013 they added a 2nd zone at Interlagos on the straght into turn 1, Why? We always saw good racing/overtaking there so a DRS zone was totally unnecisary.
    Likewise the 2nd zone added on the straght to turn 1 at Austin where in 2012 without DRS we already saw lots of good racing & overtaking.

    The worst thing about DRS is that its killed the prospect of other changes been made.
    Before DRS we were going to regulations seeing less aero & ground effects, Before DRS circuits like Abu-Dhabi were talking about making changes to improve the circuits. Thanks to the stupid DRS there’s no ‘No longer any need to make other changes’ according to Paddy Lowe (The guy who came up with DRS apparently).

    Watching the older races on SkyF1 recently reminds me of how much DRS has ruined F1. Watching the great racing & truly exciting overtaking at the 2005 Japanese Gp the other night, Watching the same at the 2009 Brazilian Gp just makes me hate DRS & F1 more & more.

    People have already started turning off F1 because of DRS, Just look at the plummeting tv figures & fan opinion poll’s, its quite clear that the majority of fans hate drs.

  4. Uzair Syed (@ultimateuzair) said on 11th March 2014, 23:20

    What does Emerson Fittipaldi know about F1? Besides, he’s a werewolf!!!

  5. wsrgo (@wsrgo) said on 12th March 2014, 0:12

    I find it strange how a junior series like World Series by Renault has nailed the concept while F1 is still struggling to do so.

    • Abbinator said on 12th March 2014, 14:56

      They have the same engine (and chassis?) so it’s comparing apples and oranges looking at them vs F1…

  6. Adam Blocker (@blockwall2) said on 12th March 2014, 0:48

    How much has Bernie payed you Emerson?

  7. Gneegnaw said on 12th March 2014, 1:51

    If DRS is here to stay then thats fine. However if this is the case then the FIA should review footage year on year on zones that give a huge advantage to the car behind, and reduce the zone lengths accordingly. In my opinion DRS should only give a driver the capability to pull alongside another car, giving both drivers an even chance to outbreak each other to the corner. If a zone is too effective, it is reduced next year. Of course this would never happen as all the FIA seems to care about is extending the length of DRS zones and adding double DRS zones where possible, only exasperating the problem of ‘easy’ passes.

  8. Kenny said on 12th March 2014, 5:10

    IMO, there’s far too much hyberbole in many of the comments about how easy it is to overtake with DRS (passing a milk truck with an ICBM? Cute but c’mon now). Staying a bit more realistic: the driver has to use non-DRS assisted driving to get in position within one second *at the activation point*, before DRS can even be used. That takes skill and it’s a something that I’ve enjoyed watching in the races. It also takes driving skill to open and maintain a gap of more than 1 sec after DRS overtaking. Personally, I would like to see some type of visual indication on the cars when DRS has been readied at the activation point. Also when the wing is open and when it closes, which is not always easy to see.

    Yes, there may ultimately be better solutions to the turbulent air problem but short of a massive aerodynamic redesign of F1 cars, I think DRS has shown itself to be a reasonable solution for the time being.

  9. OneBHK (@onebhk) said on 12th March 2014, 7:18

    Wow, the fanatics here can thrash anybody… not even the great Fittipaldi is spared…

  10. Keith Campbell (@keithedin) said on 12th March 2014, 8:51

    I’m not really a DRS hater. To me, watching a train of cars unable to pass is probably a tad less exciting than ‘highway passes’ where you can at least see the cars make some progress. It also probably helps vary strategy a bit allowing for the one-extra-stop strategy to work by making fast, efficient passing a possibility.

    But i think there is room for a little more experimentation, bearing in mind this is the first time this type of technology has been used. My first thought – why not try a 3-lap rule where DRS can only be activated if the car following has been within 1 second of the leading car for 3 conscecutive laps (or extend it to 1.5 or 2 secs if appropriate since it might be frustrating to fall a fraction over 1 second behind on your 2nd or 3rd lap). This way cars are still encouraged to make conventional passes so they don’t lose time behind slower cars, but their race also isn’t completely ruined by coming up behind a slower but unpassable car.

    Or a second suggestion, trial a couple of races without DRS on tracks where overtaking has traditionally been easier. We haven’t seen a single race on the post-2010 Pirelli tyres without DRS, and this would help determine whether the tyres create sufficient overtaking opportunities by themselves.

    Either of these options (or alternatives made by actual racers/experts rather than an armchair expert such as me) could be trialled at say two or three races in a year to see how it affected the racing. Obviously these ‘trial’ races would need to be agreed on before the season started so there would be no perceived favouritism and teams could plan strategies/designs accordingly.

  11. Chris (@tophercheese21) said on 12th March 2014, 8:53

    I think it’s been both good and bad for the sport. Good because it’s opened up overtaking possiblities that, in the past, weren’t there, and as a result made some races far more enjoyable than they would have been otherwise. Because like it or not, before DRS, the racing became very processional, with maybe one or two overtakes per race.

    On the other hand, the amount of overtaking has increased so much that there are no real stand out moves anymore. It’s all just a blur: a sugar hit, if you like. And on top of that, 90% of the overtakes made within a DRS zone are pretty artificial, because the driver has just pushed a button, and bam, he’s passed.

    But if you ask me, (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again) DRS is not the real culprit in this decreasing quality of pure racing. The 2013 Pirelli tyres were 99% to blame for last years laclustred season.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th March 2014, 14:18

      @tophercheese21, certainly the marshmallow tyres bear a lot of the blame, when to stop his tyres from melting a driver has to drop back 2 seconds behind the car ahead it becomes very difficult to be only 1 second behind for DRS activation and impossible to overtake anywhere else from 2 seconds back, and any driver that risks his tyres by attacking and passing in a non DRS area can expect to lose the place back in the DRS area. A double catastrophe for F1.

  12. Out of the three years that we’ve had DRS, two has provided great racing and one has provided an epic championship showdown. Yes, some races have been ruined by DRS, which the FIA really should have sorted out by now, but on some of the tighter, twistier Trulli-Train-friendly circuits, it’s been great. For me, it’s 50-50 on whether I think DRS should remain in F1 or not.

  13. Andy (@turbof1) said on 12th March 2014, 12:08

    DRS is a wrong solution brought in for the right reasons: cars have become increasingly sensitive for turbulent air from the car in front, which decreases downforce on the car behind. Trying to compensate for that isn’t such an issue for me. However, the implemented solution doesn’t try to solve that. It tries to compensate for that, but that always leads to new issues, the ones we are facing today: boring overtakes.

    But it is what is: the fia made huge mistakes in the past with mindlessly cutting down downforce, pushing the teams to develop ever more sensitive aero platforms. The FIA should have been much aware of that and decrease downforce with having the development curve in mind. It is what it is now, there’s no way back, so you do need something artificial to solve, and not compensate, the issue.

    They should go back to the 2009-2010 solution, with the addition that only the following car can use it: have them a button to run more front and rear downforce in the corners. Overtaking in corners is way more difficult to pull off and even it does happen it atleast is more skillfull then blasting past on a straight.

    • Andy (@turbof1) said on 12th March 2014, 12:09

      *Trying to compensate for that isn’t such an issue for me. However, the implemented solution doesn’t try to solve that. It tries to compensate for that, but that always leads to new issues, the ones we are facing today: boring overtakes.

      Should of course have been “trying to solve that >.<

  14. Michael Brown said on 12th March 2014, 13:22

    I think DRS has a place in F1 a an overtaking aid. However, the FIA keeps insisting on longer and more zones, giving us the bland overtaking of 2013.

    I think if 2014 had no DRS, it would produce more overtaking than 2010 did. This is caused by the no refueling rule, harder Pirelli tires, and a combination of higher top speed and less downforce, which means longer braking zones.

  15. StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 12th March 2014, 13:52

    DRS for me has done nothing but hurt my love of F1 & made me lose interest in several of the races where DRS has been too much.
    Others have already covered many of the reasons I hate the stupid gimmick so i’ll skip all that & get onto some other points.

    Firstly, DRS is the wrong way to go about improving the racing because in my view it doesn’t do that. DRS does create a boat load more passing but in my view more passing, Especially those of such low quality does not = more excitement. Does anyone remember Istanbul 2011, There was plenty of passing via DRS that day, Well over 100 yet they were all so easy that there wasn’t really much racing going on between the battling cars.

    What they should have done is what other categories have done, Thats introduce P2P. Anyone who watches Indycar or any of the other series which use P2P will know how that system does improve the racing as well as making overtaking more possible without making it too easy.
    The other plus with P2P is that its all down to drivers when/where they use it & since the defending driver can also use it to defend we see some proper racing battles with each driver often using there P2P at differnt parts of the circuit.
    So unlike DRS a P2P system actually brings in some strategy on the part of the drivers.

    Regarding the DRS zones, They will never be able to get them right because how effective (Or not) DRS is, Isn’t a simple case of the length of the zone. DRS is affected by some many other variables such as wind speed, wind direction, gear ratios, downforce levels, How many cars are in a line, how good the exit from the previous corner was, Tyre life etc….
    We have seen short zones produce easy passes & long zones be difficult so fiddling with zone length year on year isn’t going to change anything.

    I watch a lot of the OnBoard feeds each weekend & contrary to popular belief there is still a slipstream effect & it’s just as effective now as it ever was. I’ve seen better racing via the slipstream in the opening laps & When DRS is disables due to yellow flags than at any time DRS is enabled.
    Take Korea as an example, On the opening laps there has been some great racing down the long straght to Turn 2 because of cars slipstream. As soon as DRS kicks in the quality of the racing declines & when you have more than 1 car in a line using DRS the slipstream doesn’t seem to work.
    Martin Brundle has pointed this out a couple times.

    Something probably did need to be done to make overtaking opportunities more possible, DRS does not achieve this, More often than not it generates the passing rather working to assist overtaking.
    DRS was & always will be the wrong solution yet sadly as long as DRS is in place nothing else will be done, In fact they won’t even look at doing else which is a pitty.

    This year we have Turbo’s & more powerful ERS systems, This would have been the perfect time to ditch DRS in favor of P2P, Sadly they have instead decided to go with more DRS. That really is unfortunate.

    As to me, I’ll still watch but as I said at the start my love of F1 has been in decline because of what DRS has done. If it sticks around & continues to work as it has been, I may not be following F1 in a few years which given how much I’ve loved this sport since I discovered it as a 6 year old kid in 1989 would be a shame.

    • HoHum (@hohum) said on 12th March 2014, 14:35

      @stephmeister, a well thought out comment that I mostly agree with, please do not take the following as a personal attack.
      P2P was in use in F1 from the very beginning, P2P was operated by the drivers right foot and he could use as many times as he liked or until the engine failed, as could the defending driver, somewhere along the way we lost the P2P feature, ah yes I remember the FIA cancelled it with rev limits, equalised power and engine longevity requirements and gave us DRS instead.

        • StefMeister (@stefmeister) said on 12th March 2014, 16:26

          F1’s never had a P2P system, Some (Not all) of the engine manufacturer’s allowed a few extra revs but it never really did anything as they never allowed enough extra revs to make any difference.

          The reason P2P works is because its regulated by the series, Everyone gets the same amount & the same rev/boost gain which gives everyone similar speed gains from using it & its ensured that the speed gain is only enough to help a car behind to start to get alongside.
          It can also be used to attack or defend unlike DRS which can only be used to attack often leaving the defending driver unable to even try to defend.

          The other great thing about P2P as used elsewhere is that since its restricted by x seconds per race the drivers actually have to think about when/where to use it. With DRS there basically told when/where to use it, There’s no strategy involved in it they get within 1 second, Enter the DRS zone & hit there button to get DRS until they brake.

          P2P works to enhance the quality of the racing rather than simply generate a lot of boring passing as DRS all too often does. Its also much easier to ‘tweak’ than DRS ever will be & has always worked in a much fairer way given that everyone has the same amount of P2P to use.

          Going back to when DRS was announced, They said there would be races without DRS, They said they would experiment with different systems etc… Yet they haven’t.
          Why not try a race without DRS, Why not try a race using a P2P system. Experiment & find the best solution rather than just sticking with something which is widely unpopular amongst fans & which is proving so hard to get right on a consistent basis.

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