Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Monza, 2016

The data which shows DRS has failed to win over F1 fans

2017 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

The 2017 F1 season will be the seventh since the Drag Reduction System was introduced. But the days of DRS may be numbered.

Ross Brawn, following his appointment as motorsport manager by Formula One’s new owners Liberty Media, has questioned whether fans really want to see overtaking achieved by these artificial means.

As anyone who’s been reading F1 Fanatic for long will know I am no fan of DRS. And many of you have voiced complaints about it too, often in our regular Rate the Race polls. There have also been many who have defended it.

But do your race ratings give any evidence to answer Brawn’s question whether fans are happy with DRS? This article will examine that using a combination of your average scores over a four-year period plus overtaking data supplied by Mercedes.

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Total passes: A steady decline

This analysis is based on 67 races from 2012 to 2015 for which the necessary data was available. Wet races* have been disregarded in order to give a fairer basis for comparison as DRS is ordinarily disabled during wet running.

The graph above shows the total number of overtakes per race throughout that period, including both DRS and ‘natural’ non-DRS passes. Aside from a brief rise early in 2013 the average number of passes per race tended to fall. Having seen 35 passes per race in 2012 the rate fell to 24 by the final year in this period.

*Defined here as races in which intermediate or wet weather tyres were used by at least five different drivers.

DRS and non-DRS passes: A shift in emphasis

Pastor Maldonado, Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Hockenheimring, 2014
Hockenheim 2014: DRS passes galore
Breaking those passes down into ‘DRS’ and ‘non-DRS’ moves reveals an interesting dimension to that trend. Although overtaking became less frequent the relative importance of DRS grew. That is to say there were fewer passes and those which were happening were more like to have been because of DRS.

The average number of non-DRS passes per race fell from 18.7 (2012) to 10.4 (2015). DRS passes also fell, but at a slower rate: From 16.2 in 2012 they dropped to 13.5 in 2015.

So in the period we are looking at the total amount of overtaking has fallen but the extent of ‘natural’ overtaking has decreased far more sharply than the proportion of passes which were completed with DRS. How have fans perceived that change?

Total passes and Rate the Race scores: The more the merrier?

Instead of looking at the races chronologically, let’s sort them by how highly you rated each grand prix on average with the better races towards the right of the chart.

By comparing the number of passes to the Rate the Race scores for each grand prix we can draw some conclusions about how popular each type of overtake is. Over 50,000 votes were cast in these polls in which fans were invited to rate every race on a scale of one (worst) to ten (best).

Again we’ll begin by looking at the total number of overtaking moves to give us a basis for comparison. Taking passes of all kinds into consideration we reach the less than shocking conclusion that people do give higher ratings to races which contain more passes.

As you might expect there isn’t a perfectly clear connection between the two. But there is a discernible link: The more overtaking moves there were in a race, the likelier it was to get a high score.

Now the crucial question: Does that still hold true as far as DRS passes alone are concerned?

DRS passes and Rate the Race scores: As good as the real thing?

When we separate DRS passes from non-DRS moves a few striking details emerge. In particular there is a clearer upward trend in the number of non-DRS passes compared to the scores for each race than there are for DRS passes.

The lowest-ranked races tend to have significantly more DRS passes than ‘natural’ moves, and often very few of the latter. The race with the fourth-highest number of DRS passes, the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix, appears among the bottom half of the races. And high-rated races with lots of DRS tend to have more non-DRS moves too.

Conclusion

The graphic above indicates that more non-DRS passes correlates more strongly with higher Rate the Race results than DRS passes do. We can also quantify the extent of this correlation.

A standard correlation calculation returns a value of one for a wholly positive correlation, minus one for a wholly negative correlation, and zero for no correlation whatsoever. This puts what we can see above into figures:

Total passes Non-DRS passes DRS passes
Correlation to Rate the Race score +0.406 +0.465 +0.221

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India, Suzuka, 2016
Formula One fans prefer proper passes
This reflects the conclusions we drew above. Fans like races more when they have more overtaking, but DRS passes count far less towards that than non-DRS passes do.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise. It has been said by some, most recently by Jacques Villeneuve, that Formula One erred by trying to respond to fans’ calls for more overtaking. However it was clear even before DRS was introduced that many had deep misgivings about its gimmicky nature.

During the first year it was introduced Jenson Button said overtaking moves were more satisfying when DRS isn’t involved. Evidently fans feel the same way.

Over to you

How do you interpret the data above? Is there any way the analysis could be extended further?

Have your say in the comments.

Thanks to every F1 Fanatic reader who participated in the Rate the Race polls which helped make this analysis possible. To participate in this year’s polls make sure you’ve signed up for an F1 Fanatic account.

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110 comments on “The data which shows DRS has failed to win over F1 fans”

  1. Quite neutral about DRS actually.

    1. What these stats do not show is one Merc at the front overtaking another Merc, that just does not happen so in that sense it has failed.

    2. +1. Also very neutral about DRS.

      I think that a DRS overtake is better than no overtake at all

      1. ExcitedAbout17
        15th February 2017, 17:41

        But as the data above shows, with DRS you’ll see less normal overtakes.
        A driver will probably wait until the next DRS zone, rather than riks a ‘normal’ one.

        1. Well, as much as I’d rather see a normal overtake, I wonder how few would be possible without DRS. At least with the current regulations and design specs in place. There have been many instances since DRS where we’ve seen cars unable to pass even while in the DRS zone, so I would have to imagine it would become a parade unless something was done with the aero as well.

        2. I’ve always found this argument kind of strange, and actually quite misleading. It’s not like drivers were overtaking each other all over the track before: the current DRS zones have been the spots with the most overtakes long before DRS was introduced. Drivers used to wait for these spots all the same before, because DRS or not they were their best chance.

          On that note, I think it’d be interesting to put some numbers on that, if such numbers exist. Have what are currently the DRS zones seen significantly more overtakes (relatively speaking) since the introduction of the DRS?

          1. I am not so sure. Yes the corners after a long straight are the most common chance for an overtake, but most drs overtakes are complete before the corner. Also there are often other places on track where overtakes can be common (especially tricky corners where drivers are likely to make mistakes). It looks to me like since DRS that drivers are spending most of their effort to strategically get in to position for the DRS zone rather than go for an overtake at another corner. After all why risk crashing when you can simply sail past the car in front later in the lap.

            I would however also like to see data for this to see if it is just a feeling or if it is really true.

        3. A Nico Rosberg might wait for the next DRS zone. A Lewis Hamilton won’t.

          Some of my favorite passes in the past 5 years have been made possible by DRS, but executed without DRS– Hamilton on Vettel in Austin 2012, Hamilton on Massa at Monza in 2014… there are more.

          I think Canada is one of the worst tracks for DRS abuse– the majority of passes are made on the back straight, under DRS.

  2. DRS has seen me turn off more than a few races the past few years which is something I never did in the past.

    I just don’t get any enjoyment out of the easier of the DRS passes & races that feature a lot of those just are not that exciting to me so I just turn them off if things start going in that direction.

    I like to watch good battles for position, Some nice tactical defending & likewise the driver behind having to use his head to look for a gap & find a way past a car via a true overtake. I just get nothing from those instances where a driver turns up behind someone & within 1-2 laps hits the DRS button & is easily past before getting to the braking zone & in a lot of cases watching the driver ahead move offline to the inside to try & defend only for the DRS-ing driver to drive clean past him anyway just looks stupid as it basically looks like the car infront pulled over to let him past.

    DRS does unquestionably create more passing, But I just don’t feel that the passing it generates add’s anything to the excitement or interest of the racing, If anything it’s a big turn off.

    1. DRS doesn’t only make for boring overtakes, it also destroyed alternate strategies.

      Remember when a midfield driver gambled and stayed out on track instead of pitting for new tyres, then had to fight like crazy to keep the quicker cars behind?

      nearly impossible today. imagine this with DRS: https://youtu.be/dTTf5Icx7fo?t=5m35s

  3. No kidding! The worst idea I’ve seen in 40 years, get rid of it asap.

  4. do away with the DRS zones, let them use it anywhere on the track or do away with it completely and go back to follow the leader races.

    1. Go with the Indy-car model where they can use it anywhere on track for any reason, but they can only use it like 6 to 8 times per race.

      1. That’s even more gimmicky if you ask me.

      2. Why not put a monkey behind a switchboard and when he presses a button, a random car slows down for 4 seconds?

  5. “A standard correlation calculation returns a value of one for a wholly positive correlation, minus one for a wholly negative correlation, and zero for no correlation whatsoever”
    Loving your work @keithcollantine, that is some top-draw statistical analysis there. Numbers don’t have an opinion so this is a great way of looking at the issue.
    How did you get hold of the data for DRS and non-DRS passes? I’m just wondering how on earth that info was compiled, particularly when passes aren’t shown on TV. And does all of this data exclude the first lap?

    1. @unicron2002 Thanks very much. The data on DRS and non-DRS overtaking came from Mercedes.

    2. Except the numbers don’t really show a strong correlation for non-DRS passes influence on RTR score. A correlation of less than .3 is weak, more than .7 is strong, so this correlation coefficient is on the lower end of moderate.

      The best evidence is the .2 for DRS-pass relationship to RTR score, this would suggest that non-DRS passes don’t influence the score. But remember, with correlation, we are not talking about cause and effect but rather a relationship which may be due to any number of factors. The low non-DRS correlation would suggest that there are actually other significant factors which influence RTR score. An example of a strong factor might be when a team other than Mercedes won in the last 3 years.

      So, with respect, more details are needed.

      1. A comment that was necessary :) It is insightful to do this kind of analysis, but care must be taken…

  6. Useless info, but when I play F1 videogames I never use DRS, because it ruins half the fun. Anyone else does the same?

    1. @herm43 I remember getting very fed up the first time I played F1 2011 because I kept forgetting to press the button!

    2. I also don’t use DRS while playing; ofcourse, i still play a lot of GP2 …

  7. DRS = Dull Racing System

  8. A friend of mine once said “Never give fans what they tell you they want. They’ll only be disappointed and blame you.” At the time it was about film casts and every now and then it still rings true.

    It seems that the sport asked fans what they wanted – “passing” – and to their credit it’s what DRS has given us. The trouble is, I don’t think that fans really meant “passing” but more specifically “more opportunities for passing” as DRS has devalued the whole experience.

    1. You nailed it. The question put to fans was do you want more overtaking, to which the obvious answer is yes. However as you said it was really more opportunities for overtaking or more fights for position that fans wanted.

    2. A lot of fans don’t consider push-button (and in the early years, often zero-sum) positions swaps/passing to be overtaking, and didn’t when the idea was proposed, so it’s not clear that the fans ever saw DRS as solving the problem presented to them.

    3. I totally agree, don’t ask people what they want, they don’t know. Now when they say they don’t like DRS most likely they don’t mean “we don’t want DRS” -they will blame F1 if they remove it and leads to less overtaking- they mean “we would like a perfect world where F1 cars can overtake each other without problems and my favorite driver is the one that overtakes the most and wins the race”.

  9. When it was introduced in 2011 they talked about calibrating the length/number of the zones to make overtaking not too easy and not too difficult. But in 2013 they completely thrashed that idea and doubled the number of DRS zones. And they haven’t changed that at all since that despite clear indications it is too easy on some venues i.e. Kemmel Straight. I was more optimistic about DRS at the beginning but have few good things to say right now.

    What I also find disheartening, it is the fact many drivers openly say DRS improves racing because it is easier to pass and the number of passes have increased. And that’s it, there is no talk about artificiality or overtakes being too easy. They just appear happy to have it easier.

    1. @michal2009b true. They said they’d fine tune the lenght of the zones as they gathered more experience iwth the system.

      But as we always see when F1 goes to places like Spa or China, they just decided to leave the DRS signs in the exact same position every time. Which is absolutely annoying.

  10. I rest my case I made in another thread.

    As someone once said, “If everything is extraordinary, then nothing is”…

    This obsession with having more overtakes needs to stop, especially if it spoils numerous good battles, which it inevitably does. Overtaking is good – making it so that my granny could do it, less so.

    Max’s defence at Barcelona was one of the most memorable parts of 2016. How many DRS overtakes do we remember? None, because they’re not special when they’re handed on a platter.

    Then again, we remember his overtake on Rosberg on the outside of T3 at Interlagos.

    1. Well said Dewald

    2. @ho3n3r ”How many DRS overtakes do we remember? None, because they’re not special when they’re handed on a platter.” Not all DRS-assisted passes have been easy-looking and completed before the start of a braking zone, for example, Ricciardo’s pass on Bottas at Monza was one of the best if not the best move of last season despite him using DRS prior the move although the move itself was performed without DRS being activated.

  11. I would prefer they go back to the aero of 2009. The worst DRS race was when Button made it from the back of the pack twice because he was 30 MPH faster than other cars on the back stretch.

    DRS has a place, but I believe it shouldn’t simply be on the main straight, place it in areas where it allows cars to get closer to the car in front, but not easily pass. This may mean there are more DRS zones, or less, based on the need at a particular track

    1. Canada 2011? Michael Schumacher makes it to second place and DRS takes it away from him. Can’t give it a 10/10 with two DRS zones.

      1. MS himself used DRS earlier in the race which helped him get to that second spot, so in that sense he took something away from someone else too.

  12. It’s a cheat. It’s taking the goalie of the pitch every now and then to get more goals. Totally unacceptable

    1. Or playing with one shoe lace undone whilst your 1 nil up

  13. Sorry but your ignoring the major facts in this article. You just ignore the 2016 season to suit your argument even when it had the most overtakes in a race and second in a season of all time. Otherwise everything would be completely different..

    1. If you don’t have the 2016 data it’s fine, but I am pro-DRS :)

      1. Ah your the one

      2. @lolzerbob

        You just ignore the 2016 season to suit your argument

        No I don’t have the data for 2016.

        1. Ah ok cool I might have overreacted a bit :)

    2. The overall rating for Rate the Race went up in 2016 compared to 2015, so the increase in overtakes is a good omen. If that overtaking increase is due to an increase in the importance of DRS passing, then that would lend some weight to the notion that DRS can provide excitement in the right circumstances. (Clearly, it doesn’t always work, or even on average, but if 2016 represented better use of DRS, then that could provide a way forward that doesn’t involve banning DRS altogether).

  14. The only time DRS is actually interesting is when playing Codemasters F1

  15. Not a fan of this fake tools

  16. It’s pretty easy to make the numbers say what you want them to say. For example, 8 of top 14 races had more DRS overtakes than non-DRS – does that make DRS a success? Not necessarily.
    While I like the analysis, the flaw in the thinking is we’re only looking at races where DRS existed. In races where there are a large number of DRS overtakes, you don’t know what the total overtakes would have been if DRS wasn’t there. In places like Canada passing would still happen, in Hungary it would not. To truly understand whether DRS improved (or undermined) the racing would be to compare race ratings for 4 years without DRS (say 2008-2011) to 4 years of racing where DRS existed.
    You might find interesting conclusions. DRS may not have made the good races really great, but it may have improved races that would otherwise have zero action into something better.

    1. Why waste your time, I never even read these stats, its as clear as a wart on the end of your nose, when you know you know

      1. Yeah that’s true, we don’t really need more stats than this excellent summation. Besides, pre-DRS cars didn’t have the same pu’s or tires so comparisons would be shaded that way too.

        My bottom line is this. The presence of DRS has not helped the viewing audience numbers. And we’ve still seen processional racing in spite of DRS. The vast majority don’t want it. Brawn has talked about it negatively too, and thankfully speaks of heading toward a better ratio of mechanical grip to aero to solve that which DRS was brought in for but has failed to deliver on.

        DRS needs to go and they need to simply reduce their addiction to aero and give it less emphasis than tires, which they are on the right path to doing so, at least with the tires.

        1. @robbie

          thankfully speaks of heading toward a better ratio of mechanical grip to aero to solve that which DRS was brought in for but has failed to deliver on.

          I hope he finds a way I really do, however the problem with this solution is that the cars will be a lot slower. We have already seen the reaction of ‘fans’ to cars lapping slower than in previous era’s and relative to the GP2 cars. You can’t reduce the amount of aero and offset that by mechanical grip because the relationship to lap time isn’t linear (Unless you want 10ft wide cars with 6ft wide tyres). You may be able to claw some of it back with full active suspension but the problem will always be the dirty air shed from the leading car.

          This is of course what the 2009 reg changes were there to improve. The narrower taller rear wing and bodywork restrictions were designed to make the dirty air from the back of a car a little less dirty. It worked too, although unfortunately it’s effect was masked by the double, then blown, diffusers (which dirtied the air up again) and by the time all of that was sorted we had the ridiculous instruction from the FIA to Pirelli about degrading tyres which didn’t allow the cars to do what they were now able to do as they would overheat when actually following another car.

          Ultimately I believe that all they had to do was change the tyres, but in the usual F1 manner we had a massive over-reaction which will probably string the grid out again and make the whole problem worse.

          1. Well said, but I’m certainly not convinced the cars would be slower without more aero. It’s already been a balancing act when it comes to aero in that they would never dare run the same amount of downforce at Monza than they do at Monaco. Drivers would be sitting ducks halfway up a straightaway if they ran full downforce at a high speed track. So just because they will have more downforce available doesn’t me they have to or are going to use it.

            I’ll once again trot out a paraphrase of JV’s opinion 20 years ago when he complained of them bringing in the grooved tires. “Gives us back the big fat slicks of the 70’s…they created so much drag on the straightaways that you had no choice but to run less wing, thus killing two birds with one stone…less dependence on wings, more dependence on tires, for closer racing and drivers confident in their cars’ performance even in dirty air.”

            In the past we have seen processions with cars on better tires than we’ve had in these most recent years. To me the solution is not just in the tires, but also in reducing the negative effect on cars in dirty air. Keep them dependent on clean air, and useless in dirty air, and the tires can only do so much. Keep up the mechanical grip though, and ensure aero dependence doesn’t overwhelm the tires, and it will make for closer racing.

            I’m hopeful we will see cars able to run minimal wing more often because they will be able to lean on these new tires for respectable cornering speeds. The tire grip will get them out of corners quicker, the minimal wing will ensure good top speeds, and they shouldn’t need to access all the downforce they can as they rarely do anyway, other than at Monaco-like tracks. As we know tracks differ and cause teams to go with different setups as they compromise between tire and aero grip depending on the layout of the track. That won’t change.

  17. There is nothing more boring than watching drivers waiting for the DRS zone and then sailing past the car in front who doesn’t even bother defending because
    a) he/she knows its futile
    b) he/she is not allowed to
    c) he/she might ruin their tyres
    d) he/he might spoil their strategy whilst doing so
    yawn

    1. I think watching the boring processions that were the norm before DRS was MUCH more boring. I’m not a huge fan of DRS mind you but I think it has evolved to the point where it’s more integrated and feels a bit less artificial than it did in the first few years.

      Bottom line for me: unless the drastically alter the aerodynamics to make overtaking more feasible (highly unlikely). DRS is an improvement. I don’t love but it’s better than doing nothing about the procession problem.

  18. The worst aspect of DRS is that it negates the need for a “real” pass. It’s a tautology that the number of “real” passes will decrease as the number of DRS passes increases, because unless I’m lapping you I only need to pass you once.

    1. +1 … and if I do a real pass before the DRS zone, you’ll just get me back in the DRS zone … so I won’t bother

  19. There is a difference between passing and racing. Most people watch F1 to see a good race. If you only want to see passing you can go out to the highway and watch cars pass each other.

    I’m split on DRS because it is a gimmick that is terrible on half of the tracks, but it does help the racing on tracks that are really difficult to pass on (Melbourne, Hungary, Catalunya for example). Overall I would rather have no DRS than have it everywhere, just because it kills tracks like Spa, Mexico, Monza, Baku, and Montreal

    1. @blockwall2 Monza isn’t one of those circuits where DRS has at times been a bit too powerful as they’re already using very skinny rear wings, so there’s less drag to be reduced by activating DRS. The same can be said about Mexico to some extent as well, and furthermore, it’s pretty ineffective at most circuits these days regardless.

  20. I think it was a decent idea executed poorly. I don’t think I’d ever have liked or preferred to have DRS but there are some tracks where if managed correctly it could be used to balance out the loss of performance caused by following in a car’s wake. What they really wanted at the time was something that would have got Alonso past Petrov at Abu Dhabi 2010.

    Unfortunately in reality we got something too powerful (twice the benefit of KERS at the time) and too many zones which were made too long to pump up overtaking figures to mask the problem that natural overtaking was on the decline (largely in my opinion due to the change in driving style necessitated by the Pirelli tyres). I think they could keep it and still get great racing but I’m not sure the stigma attached to it will ever go away in the minds of a lot of fans.

  21. I honestly believe that this year should give us a true reflection of what DRS is. I feel that it was unfortunate that it came in 2011. I’m sure if it came in 2010, the opinion would be different, as I believe that the Pirellis are more to blame than DRS for the highway overtakes.

  22. If drivers can open the DRS everywhere in the track, without limiting it to a specific zone, I would like it more.

    1. @deadchicken That was the case in 2011 and 2012 but it was changed to the current format on safety grounds.

      1. @keithcollantine That was only for practice and qualifying. It was never free to use in the race.

        1. Indeed I was just pointing out they’re unlikely to bring that practice back as it’s been stopped on safety grounds.

      2. Tommy Scragend
        15th February 2017, 15:37

        Even before the change, there was only unrestricted use in practice/qualifying, wasn’t there? I thought DRS usage had always been restricted to the specified zones during races.

  23. Hi Keith

    Maybe a daft question

    The average number of non-DRS passes per race fell from 18.7 (2012) to 10.4 (2015). DRS passes also fell, but at a slower rate: From 16.2 in 2015 they dropped to 13.5 in 2015.

    do you mean 16.2 in 2012?

    1. @ob1 Indeed – fixed.

  24. The bigger problem is the disparity in engine performance. DRS can provide up to a ~ 15 to 20 km/h advantage, yet a Mercedes engine can provide a similar advantage over some of its rival manufacturers. Of course some of the DRS passes will appear lame when you have a Merc engined car with a 35 km/h advantage + slipstream vs another car crippled by their engine. Yet when we see cars with similar straight line performance we see great racing with DRS.

    The other thing to point out is that DRS is always used on the most common parts of the track to overtake. You think not having DRS on China’s back straight is going to make an easy slipstream that much more exciting? Non-DRS passes are more exciting because they take place normally on unconventional areas of the track to pass – eg. Around the outside of Blanchimont!

    The third thing is that DRS doesn’t automatically provide an overtake and when it does provide an easy pass people are up in arms about it, yet forget about the great passes it has allowed for. For example, even with DRS, passing in Abu Dhabi seems very difficult. Do we think Ricciardo would have been able to pull of his Banzai moves in Hungary or Italy over the years without DRS? I think not.

    And finally, there’s not point complaining about DRS if you don’t have a solution. Simply not having DRS isn’t an option, and I believe even Ross Brawn has made that clear. We cannot go back to the days of passing being almost non-existent, where a drivers race was over as soon as he got stuck behind a car that wasn’t 1 to 2 seconds per lap slower.

    1. Just because there isn’t an alternative as you put it doesn’t remove the right to be unhappy with it, I was happy with F1 before it was introduced and suggest an alternative isn’t required plus unless you remove it how do you alternatives are needed?

      1. Of course an alternative is needed, as Trulli Train’s are not desirable either, and there is a solution well within their physical means to institute quite quickly and inexpensively. They need to reduce their addiction to aero downforce, and now they’ll be on much better tires for mechanical grip to start to have a greater emphasis than aero grip. I don’t expect them to remove the wings of course, just limit their rake (speaking in generalities here) so that cars are less dependent on wings and therefore less negatively affected when in dirty air. Less wings are made up for in the corners with more mechanical grip, more predictability, more confidence the drivers will have in a car cornering on good tires, not on bad ones with wing effect diminished in dirty air at the same time.

    2. I think the solution could be going back to using ground effect. It’d be relatively simple to make a standardised floor, or section of floor for all teams. Massive downforce gains can be made pretty easily with ground effect. Wings could then be flattened substantially. We wouldn’t lose any overall speed, and the cars would be able to follow each other much closer. I think such a big change probably will never happen though. It would take a lot of research and the top teams would probably resist, they have invested so much in the current model of focusing on aerodynamics. If you suddenly got the majority of your downforce from underneath the car, you wouldn’t need to work so hard on aero.

      1. Agreed and they are as we speak indeed doing floor and diffuser work for more downforce from ground effects than they have had recently.

        1. The problem is that the under-tray area still relies on being fed air from the front of the car. They need to limit the number of surfaces and planes on the front wing also.

  25. I think without DRS we’d have a lot more races ranked very low in rate the race, because there’d be races with Trulli Trains® where nothing happens for the whole race (which is kind of what I expect for the second part of this year). With DRS you get less races ranked very high, because some potential great fights and races can be prevented and avoided by it being used. So DRS works as a technology that reduces extremes.

  26. I don’t like DRS at all. Why should you get an advantege being behind? If you’re faster find a way to overake and if you can’t change your strategy.

    I also don’t like the tyre rules, just use the tyres you think can take you to the finished the fastest.

    All these artificial stuff must go, IMHO

  27. Take a pole of your choice of the ten greatest living formula one drivers and ask them what their opinions are of the DRS concept and my guess is that few like the idea. Why not listen to these drivers and nip this issue in the bud. Its just not what racers want that being a gimic instead of skillsets to gain advantage over opponents.

    Announce the cancellation of DRS and the F1 fan base will immediately grow by 12%.

    Great effort Keith for providing these statistics

    1. I believe it’s closer to 11.7%.

  28. DRS should only be used to help close the gap to the car in front down to 1 second, but not when you are within 1 second, the opposite of what we have now.
    PC games have been using this catch up technique for 20 years to keep the pack tight and not let you cruise into the distance.

    1. so the driver in front has to lap up to a second a lap faster than the one behind, how can that be fair?

  29. I miss the data from before the DRS period to compare the results.

    Because when I look at the overtaking in 2010 (without DRS and fast degrading Pirelli tyres) I see that there were more overtakes per GP (per cliptheapex.com/overtaking) than without DRS in the years after. ANd double the amount of overtakes of the years before.

    I’ve never liked DRS and have the feeling that F1 could have done without it, without affecting the quality of racing. Personally I would have liked the re-introduction of ground-effect with the new engine rules (which the FIA also wanted, but was vetoed by the teams) to allow for slipstreaming to improve the racing.

  30. If F1 was a doctor and someone came along with a broken finger, F1 would suggest you cut your arm off. Problem solved. Your finger no longer hurts. Next.

  31. F1 is not just about overtaking, ask yourself why you first went to see a Grand Prix?

  32. When Horner squealed for engine comparity we all thought your joking right?
    What is DRS if it isn’t an equaliser?

    1. What is DRS if it isn’t an equaliser?

      A stupid artificial gimmick!

      A Dumb Racing Solution!

    2. It gives the car behind an advantage the one in front doesn’t have. It’s an unequaliser.

  33. DRS is pretty ineffective at most circuits these days, and that has been the case since 2014. The only venues where it has been a bit too powerful at times from the current race calendar are Spa, Montreal (although Rosberg still couldn’t get past Verstappen), and Baku, and Istanbul Park the last time it was part of the championship, so I don’t see it as a problem necessarily. I’d say tyre degradation has had more to do with some if not many of the motorway-style passes rather than DRS alone.

  34. What is the reason for overtaking going down from 2012-2015?
    Was it the lower noses, the engine change, the aero changes, or the tires getting a bit more durable?

  35. #Science

    Nothing to object here, Method is resonable, outcome predictable…

    What I wonder If FOM did any market research applying some of said #Science.

    I hope Liberty Media now goes.. “Geez, market indicates nobody really likes DRS, and most DRS passes are booring. Right, make them go away 2018.

    Historically DRS was introduced because Alonso and Webber were unable to claim title.., stuck behind Petrov.

    Hurting Ferrari in the process. Now we have to endure this mistake long after Petrov is nolonger racing in F1.

    I hope LibMedia go for it and investigate using #Science what we want…

    1. This misconception needs to die. DRS was announced before Abu Dhabi 2010.

  36. I’d rather like a scatter plot race score vs. overtakes than the confusing line+bar chart. The correlation coefficient and that graph should pretty much go together.

  37. Ross, if you’re reading this –

    Just. Get. Rid.

  38. DRS has solved some GP’s but to me a DRS driven race is a -x to the race score. As a whole it is detrimental. For instances ballast on BTCC, it sure does make the races dynamic but from the outside and as a purist BTCC is the “junk food” of racing it’s artificial.

  39. I wrote this in the linked article above, back in 2010:

    As I alluded to in my first post, the only way to help natural overtaking in F1 is to radically change the aero regs to allow cars to follow each other through corners. Until that time we have to make do with giving the trailing car an advantage.

    I pretty much still agree with that. The aero regs for this year were a missed opportunity because the rule-makers had DRS to fall back on. DRS should only ever have been a stop-gap until they could bring in aero regs that allow cars to follow each other closely.

    It’s poorly implemented at times too. As several people above have mentioned, they rarely adjust the zones – or remove them – when overtaking is shown to be too easy.

  40. There is the question of what right does a slower car have the right to hold up a faster car? You don’t have any absolute right to do that in any other race, but there is also the right of the slower competitor that they shouldn’t have to sacrifice performance or slow down to assist the faster competitor to pass, so there is an obligation on the faster person or car to prove they are faster. So DRS or not is all about trying to balance the right of a faster car to overtake a slower car without the slower car sacrificing their own performance.
    This is, after all, an open wheel racing series, so a car in front should be suffering more impediment from the air than the cars behind. The trailing cars should have a slight aerodynamic advantage over the leading car so they can at least get close enough to punish any mistakes made by the leading driver. Aerofoils, especially the rear wing, shift the aerodynamic advantage of a trailing car in braking zones and corners to the leading car, making it harder for the trailing car to compete with the leading one.
    One easy way to settle this argument is to remove the rear aerofoil completely … but then it would be more dangerous to drive these cars.
    It seems to me the turning a blind eye to overtakes achieved or avoided because a driver used an excursion off the track is worse. In this case either a car behind wasn’t fast enough to overtake the car in front, but then managed to do so because their lap was shorter and their average speed was artificially faster than the car in front, or the car behind was faster and would have overtaken the car in front but for the fact the car in front shortened their lap and artificially increased their average lap speed. The rule should be if you go off the track then you should incur a time penalty, e.g. be required to increase the time taken to complete that lap or the subsequent one by a set amount of time, e.g. 10 seconds, and to do so in such a manner as to not impede the right of the cars behind you to overtake you. There was, for example, one race last year where Lewis Hamilton, who was leading the race, took a “short cut” across the grass and went unpunished for this. If there was a rule that he should slow down by 10 seconds on that or the next lap then even though no one may have overtaken him, it would have at least given the appearance of equally applying the rules to all the cars.

  41. A really interesting article. But data presentation 101 would include that in this context the number of overtakes in a race really should be presented as a scatter graph rather than a line graph.

  42. I’m also sceptical when I heard that if we decrease aero and depend more on mechanical grip the fact that the lap times will increase will kills the thrill of the races due to lack of the sensation of speed. I totally oppose that thinking: I we compare a 2016 Suzuka qualifying onboard flying lap with let say an Ayrton Senna onboard qualifying flying lap on the same circuit in 1988 ( where the cars were much less aero dependent than 2016 spec cats, even the incredible MP4-4), even if Rosberg time was 1:30.647 versus Ayrton 1:41.853, I’m sure that seeing that Mercedes going on rails thru the circuit versus the fight to drive on the extreme edge by Ayrton, the 11 seconds difference will not change any f1 enthusiast opinion about which lap was more thrilling or with more of a sense of speed.
    I will happily trade 500 drs overtakes for 1 overtake like 1986 Piquet overtake manoeuvre against Senna at Hungary Gp. If we want to get races exciting again, we need to drop this concept of aero addictiveness. Just rewrite the rules, all F1 engineering will be clever enough to adapt themselves to a new reality, they’re the best at what they do, and all the teams will be on the same situation.

    1. +11.7%

      Good thing that F1 has listened again to their fans and promised that the 2017 cars will be 5 seconds a lap faster than 2015 models which were so slow and boring that we fans could only celebrate DRS passes and the B-list celebrities in the paddock.

      Thanks F1, for making F1 even more aero dependent! Can’t wait until you ‘improve’ F1 again so that drivers can spend 100% of the time on full throttle instead of the measly 70% we’re promised this year.

  43. Can someone get this article to Ross? he wants evidence.

    I would much rather see fewer overtakes and no DRS, with drivers looking for clever ways to get past.

    Here we see Al Unser jr. forcing Jacques Villeneuve into a mistake after unsuccessfully trying to get him at that corner for several laps. He simply disappeared from his mirrors and Jacques freaked out, Genius!
    https://youtu.be/WtjuFRsAPdk

    1. Where do you get that Jacques ‘freaked out?’ Jacques was a purebred racer who appreciated this type of duel, and fought for this type of racing once he got to F1. JV would have had a blast trying to stave off a faster car, which Unser’s obviously was at that part of that stint, for as long as possible. Even the ultimate Champion that year and the Indy 500 winner, can’t win every corner but sure loved trying.

  44. Thanks to DRS, we have a lot of overtaking…
    …but no more battles.

    Drop it! As soon as possible.

  45. I don’t disagree that non-DRS moves are often more exciting than those that are DRS assisted but DRS gives the races something less quantifiable.
    In previous years when the championship had been contested by only one dominant team, if either driver qualified poorly or got a bad start, that would often be it and any hope of a battle for the lead would evaporate unless reliability or pit stops changed the outcome. The 1996 British Grand Prix springs to mind where Hill got a bad start and was stuck behind one of the Benettons, unable to pass without DRS while Villeneuve disappeared into the distance making for a very boring race I regards to the fight or the win.
    In the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix, Nico Rosberg with the aid of DRS was able to recover from a low starting position and fight do the win leading to one of the not dramatic finishes of the season. While people didn’t enjoy the DRS overtakes, DRS did make the race a more exiting spectacle in terms of keeping the battle for 1st alive.

  46. I was totally against DRS in the past and do believe it creates a somewhat artificial image of an overtake.

    However, recently I have been playing F12016 a lot. And even with DRS, overtaking someone still takes a lot of skill and planing and more often than not, you fail to even get alongside the guy ahead.
    I play with 20 other highly competitive mates, who don’t give a single centimeter of room.

    I think IN THE GAME drs is just fine and doesn’t actually take much skill away from the driver.
    It’s easy to say “they just have to wait for the DRS zone” – but who can garantee you are going to get a good exit before the DRS zone?

    1. Are you suggesting we not only keep DRS but increase the zone length to enable you to pass your mates on a computer, oh and if possible make the tracks a bit wider?

      1. What he’s saying is that, given the characteristics of today’s cars, in a highly-competitive field, DRS does not equate to a “gimme” pass; rather, it still requires a solid setup and, when implemented correctly (which I would say it has been the past few seasons), allows the follower to get alongside the leader. Of course, we’ve all seen the blatant DRS passes where the follower breezes past the leader, but in those instances, I am very convinced that even without DRS the pass would have been executed.

        Being honest, how many times have we seen followers with DRS still unable to even get close to the car in front? It’s by no means a slam dunk

  47. In addition to the three correlation coefficient that you obtained, I also ran the correlation between Race Score and “#DRS Passes / Total # Passes”, resulting in a correlation coefficient of -0.17. NEGATIVE. The higher the % of DRS passes, the lower the race score. It’s a weak negative, but negative nevertheless.

    However, I do question how many of the DRS passes would have been executed without the system, and I would think that it’s a rather lower percentage. Unfortunately, with today’s dependence on aerodynamics, it’s too difficult to follow another car around many tracks (as we all know). Therefore, there are three solutions to this:
    1) Keep DRS
    2) Reduce dependence on Aero / increase mechanical grip
    3) Change track layouts to facilitate overtaking

    1 is the easiest, followed by 2, then 3. People like the look of aero and the resulting speed, so that’s out; and #3 is infeasible around most tracks… As much as I hate it, until we change #2, we’re left with #1 to see passing. At the end of the day, there is still a positive correlation between total # of passes and race score…

  48. I like DRS. I couldn’t stand watching faster cars get held up lap after lap because they can’t get near close enough in the final corner due to disturbed air from the lead car, to pass on the front straight at, say, Suzuka. I know it’s contrived. It’s also important they are diligent in getting the balance right to make passes still a challenge. It’s just my opinion.

  49. Interesting post. A few remarks:
    The total number of overtakes seems fairly low, especially in 2012. Lower than the figures mentioned by Clip the Apex at least. Also, for comparison, it would have been better to include 2011.
    Also I think it’s important to stress that the DRS zones are usually the places where most overtakes would take place (even without DRS). At some tracks the main straight is about the only place where you can realistically make a pass, so in some cases it may be a bit harsh to blame DRS for such overtakes. The decline in the number of “normal” overtakes may very well be the result of harder tires. Especially in 2011 and the early half of 2013 tire wear was quite extreme, and the huge grip advantage of fresh tires would give the faster car the ability to overtake almost everywhere (not necessarily in the DRS zones). In 2014 and 2015 Pirelli was rather conservative with the tires and that probably shows in the data (as overtaking becomes more difficult, drivers have to rely more on DRS).
    I’m curious about last year’s results. In 2016 we had significantly more overtakes than in 2015 and I think that was mainly because of the new tire rules. Due to the more extreme tires, there may have been relatively more “normal” overtakes, as explained above.

  50. Maybe DRS doesn’t go far enough. Is it time to give up fixed aerodynamics all together? Driver controlled (not computer controlled) aero would add more variables to the race and test drivers more. It could potentially drive development costs down, by simplifying the complexity of things like front wings. Manually controlled actuators are fairly simple devices, that could control simple wings. A big win would be seeing max performance at all points on the track – faster corners, faster straights, later braking. The ability to slam your car down, with aero at the last second, to get braking grip going into a corner would make one of the most exciting parts of the race even more exciting. Tire strategies would become richer.

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