Whiting: Lapped drivers can use DRS to pass leader

2011 F1 rules

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Lewis Hamilton, Rubens Barrichello, Jerez, 2011

Backmarkers who are overtaken by the race leader will be allowed to use the Drag Reduction System (adjustable rear wing) to un-lap themselves, Charlie Whiting has confirmed.

Whiting told F1 Fanatic: “Any lapped car within one second of a car which is a lap in front will still have the opportunity to use the DRS in the relevant part of the track, the proximity detection system will take no account of the number of laps each car has done.

“There are two reasons for this: a) the lapped car could in fact be a faster car which had an earlier problem; and b) if a car is "genuinely" one lap down it is very unlikely to be able to actually overtake anyway. Because of the first reason we have to live with the second.”

Although some cars will likely be too slow to overtake others even with the DRS, it raises the potential for more ‘un-lapping’ to take place in 2011.

And lapped cars which are closer to the leader’s pace may be able to use DRS to move ahead again, creating a fresh obstacle for the leaders.

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    101 comments on “Whiting: Lapped drivers can use DRS to pass leader”

    1. “Any lapped car within one second of a car which is a lap in front will still have the opportunity to use the DRS in the relevant part of the track, the proximity detection system will take no account of the number of laps each car has done.”

      You were watching the races in 2010 … weren’t you, Charlie? Did you notice anything about the cars that were being lapped the most? They were six seconds off he pace. Any car that gets lapped this year is going to have a hell of a time getting back on the lead lap short of punting the leader off.

      1. Isn’t that exactly what he says in part b) of his comment….

        1. Yes…but some people like pointing out the obvious, dont they!

      2. what I don’t get here is if a lapped car unlaps himself as the rules been he will start getting blue flagged as soon as the other car gets close enough? So what is the point unless the rules changed?

        1. BTW I hate blue flags, get ride of them..

          1. I’m not the biggest fan either but until overtaking becomes easier they are here to stay.

          2. I’d love to get rid of them too, but then backmarkers would have too much say in the WDC and podiums. Can you imagine Toro Rosso would give the same treatment to Red Bull as to Ferrari?

          3. Agree, esp. as those DRS should help the leaders get past those backmarkers easily in normal circumstances.

        2. Doubtful situation…

          1. you changed the colour of the helmet!

        3. If the car is able to unlap itself, that would indicate it beign faster than the leading car.
          In which case there should be no blue flags waved.
          In reality it might be that this car would still get the flags waved at it a few corners further down the track.

      3. Mark Hitchcock
        16th March 2011, 16:04

        b) if a car is “genuinely” one lap down it is very unlikely to be able to actually overtake anyway.

        1. Mark Hitchcock
          16th March 2011, 16:04

          oops, should probably learn to refresh the page before I comment haha

          1. Nah, maybe if PM sees it several times, he may finally get it :D

            1. Laranja Mecanica
              16th March 2011, 18:48

              You can’t cure voluntary blindness

    2. That’s cleared that one up.

    3. I don’t know what to think : Take two cars of relative equal speed, with the lapped car (car B) remotely faster than the car currently 1 lap ahead (car A).

      Once car B has unlapped itself thanks to DRS system, itB couldn’t possibly be a fresh obstacle : Once it is in front and for the sake of arguments kills its tyres off and suddenly is slower, if car A comes back (car A still is nearly a lap ahead), wouldn’t car B get blue flagged and be forced to let car A pass again?

      1. The blue flag does not mean ‘let the leader lap you’. It means ‘the approaching car is faster, let him past, you are not racing him for position’.

        If car B through genuine pace does unlap himself from car A ahead on the track (does not need to be the race leader), and then is also faster afterwards, the blue flag cannot be used, as car A behind him on track is no longer approaching him, but falling back.

        1. Out of curiousity, does that mean the leader can get blue flagged if someone is coming up to unlap themselves?

          1. Out of curiousity, does that mean the leader can get blue flagged if someone is coming up to unlap themselves?

            Haha! I don’t know about that one… :P But blue flags are going to mean the person unlapping themselves will have to yield the position immediately after completing the pass. I can’t wait for the chaos to start in Melbourne!

            1. Oops! Just realised macahan had already said that. Ignore.

          2. I dont know, by the letter of the law it should be I suppose, but then again if a car is coming to unlap himself, I doubt the race leader would be stupid enough to not let him through. If he did, he would just slow the both of them down

    4. And lapped cars which are closer to the leader’s pace may be able to use DRS to move ahead again, creating a fresh obstacle for the leaders.

      And the converse is true as well, if the leader is within 1 second of a lapped car within the timing loop, he will be able to use his DRS on the straight.

      1. So if a car is going to be lapped and gets blue flagged and moves out or purposedly slow down in the DRS zone, the overtaking car might still get an advantage compared to his chasing direct adversaries by deploying its DRS ?

        1. What I mean is that you might get a “free boost” if you happen to be within 1 second of a car you are going to lap at the entrance of the DRS zone. (as lapped cars generally get blue flagged and hardly arm the faster’s car speed relative to its chasers)

          1. Exactly!

            1. Again for the sake of argument, say Massa has had a problem, he might exchange position with Alons and give Alonso a boost every two laps (same goes for any other pairing).

              And also I get it that it may be possible for two cars running at the front, I feel being able to play this game when one of the team members is a lap behind seems wrong.

            2. It would be very rare that both cars would be on the same pace, so if anything that would slow Alonso down, so it won’t happen.

            3. Thats just convuluted and slow. And practically gurantees:

              a) a crash
              b) the withdrawal of the DRS in the face of such blatant misuse

      2. Are we going to see another Webber roll-over like we saw in Valencia last year? Closing speeds are going to be even greater now.

    5. It’s about tires because they can make big difference old and fresh ones.
      Second if for example Massa has problem and loses one lap, rejoins race behind leader on older tires he will be able overtake leader and go ahead fight for better position.

    6. A lot will depend on whether the timing loop is located before or in the braking zone for the corner prior to the straight. As I alluded in the Schumacher thread, if it is in the braking zone the trailing driver will get an artificial boost due the ‘accordion effect’ as the leading driver will have to brake first and perhaps allow him to catch up to within a second.

      1. I don’t think that this is the case, the accordion effect is the closing of the physical distance rather than the time gap, because at lower speeds the same time gap equates to a shorter distance.

        This would only work to the extent that the following driver brakes later into the braking zone to get closer. It may be worth it if the loss of time from braking too late is less than the time gained using DRS on the subsequent straight but the level of judgement required would be too difficult (for example the car behind would need to know he is more than 1 second but less than, say, 1.2 seconds behind as the approach the corner).

        1. When the leading driver gets off the throttle and hits the brakes for a corner, the following driver is still accelerating until he follows suit a second later. This does close the time gap between the two which then reopens when the leading driver gets back on the throttle and begins accelerating before the trailing driver does.

          1. Obviously the measurement will not be taken in the braking zone, that much is clear.

            Thinking otherwise assumes the FIA knows nothing about racing…

          2. John Kilmartin
            16th March 2011, 18:29

            No you’re wrong. Why would the time gap change. The distance yes but if they have identical performance the time gap for any point is a constant. Have a good think about it.

            1. DeadManWoking
              16th March 2011, 19:45

              Thanks John and Jersey, I did sit down and rethink this and you’re right, given identical performance the time gap would not change no matter the point it was measured at.

            2. And you are right. Time does not change, only the distance (as its travelled at lower speed).
              Only time changes in this area are with one car braking better or later than the other, but that would be exactly proof of them being faster.

    7. is the picture supposed to imply the mclaren of Hamilton being lapped by such cars as williams this year. :P

      1. Wouldn’t be suprised!

    8. What an idiotic ruling. Not just the use of the DRS “unlapping” leaders, but just the whole concept is ridiculous. It’s false, artificial, has little relevance in the real world. The new tyres and KERS will create better racing and overtaking.

      1. John Kilmartin
        16th March 2011, 18:32

        The limited use of the DRS is no worse than the concept of using unsuitable tyres on multi-million pound cars. Both will create new scenarios.

      2. Why is the word ‘false’ being bandied around so much? Is it because it may make overtaking easier and give the following car some advantage? If so it really isn’t any different from a McLaren overtaking a Williams. The McLaren is clearly a faster car, so that makes the overtake a bit ‘artificial’ i.e it wasn’t purely driver skill. F1 isn’t a level playing field, all I see the DRS doing is creating slightly more overtaking opportunities in tracks which otherwise would not allow them

        1. Gents, we have a winner…

    9. Now since this year team orders are allowed…
      If one driver HAS to win… I’d just let my second driver drop down the field until driver 1 is behind him. Then I’ll tell them use slipstream each other and change the “lead” now and then on the straights.

      Could work on tracks like Monza.

      1. Fantastic idea, dennis! :D

      2. They also would not have to be one lap apart, they could run 1 – 2 nose to tail all race and swap positions every lap if it improves their overall speed.

        This is open to every team, who will we see use it first? My guess is Mercedes or McLaren, I don’t the performance parity and level of cooperation being right in the other teams.

        1. I can’t see how a little boost in top speed in one straight would be enough to make this strategy viable since regardless of the new DRS system.

          F1 cars like clean air, and always work more efficiently when they aren’t in the dirty air of the car infront. In this scenario you’d be trading running in the dirty air for a lap, to ok take and lead, and then have your “teammate” running in the dirty air.

          The only thing I can see this doing is hurting the fragile tyres more then necessary and causing excess stress on the car from the heat of following the other car ?

          Please correct me if I’m wrong :)

          1. Well, it was just a thought.
            But imagine a lap in Monza. Driver B follows driver A relatively close through Parabolica. Then activates the DRS and gets past driver A immediately setting himself infront. Driver A now in the slipstream can use DRS as well, and slingshots himself past driver B again… And so on…

            1. Dennis – That might work in Practice and Qualifying. But in the race there will only be once spot per lap to activate DRS. So it plays out differently to how you describe.

    10. Well, this oughta get interesting.


    11. Alonso is going to love this..

    12. Why would that be a good idea?
      I don’t like drivers that hold up drivers they are not fighting for position. It is their own fault most likely that they are getting lapped, so i don’t see why they should be allowed to benefit from being lapped, and if they manage to overtake, hold back the lapping driver even more. I think that when a driver comes around to lap them, they should just get out of the way as quickly as possible and continue their own race.

      1. Put it this way. In a circuit such as Monaco Vettel (who is in the lead) has lapped Kovalainen, but several laps later he has an engine issue which requires him to nurse it back home. Kovalainen catches up, and you’re suggesting that he is not allowed to make use of a system which is put in place to aid overtaking. Kovalainen is unable to overtake Vettel, and gets caught up by another driver, who is allowed to overtake him with the DRS, and therefore does so. Also, Kovalainen might lose positions due to pitstops by being impeded by Vettel. There are several more problems which spring to mind.

        This is an extreme scenario perhaps, but you have to realise that the DRS is being implemented to aid cars who are faster to overtake those who are slower than them (even if it is just for a short amount of time), regardless of the position they are in…

    13. I think they’re making the rules for this fit in line with the poor technology which was developed to determine the cars distance from one another. They couldn’t make a clear separation between cars that were a lap down so they fudged this stupid rule in and tried to make it look like ‘we meant to do that’.
      If you’re a lap down, you’re not 1 second behind the car that just lapped you, you’re an entire lap (1minute+) + 1 second behind!

      1. I disagree, I thought back in January that this is how the regulations would be put into effect which just highlights how much of a videogame arcade F1 is about to become.

        1. Isn’t it mind boggling that at this high of a level in motorsport, that a new rule be put into place and two fans of that sport interpret the rule in two totally different ways?

          1. Yeah, I had a discussion going with Keith in another thread where he was arguing the Spirit of the rule while I was arguing the Letter. The problem with pushing the Spirit of the rule interpretation is that it kept down the outrage over the computer game mess that we’re going to be in now that the Letter of the rule is being applied.

            1. At the risk of starting the argument again, I never saw my point of view as being the ‘spirit’ of the rule.

              As far as I’m concerned a car that has been lapped once which is right behind the leader isn’t less than a second behind, it’s a lap and bit behind.

              But we all know by now that you and I disagree so let’s leave it at that!

            2. We agree again! LOL

        2. Well I agree, another example of making a decision (making something up) and then thinking about the problems later… result…. flawed rules.
          Just like the pace car rules /problems last year and countless other things

    14. Brilliant!
      And I mean that, not sarcastically.

      F1 is racing to finish in the highest place you can, so why should the driver in last have to compromise his race just to make it easier for the top drivers – the driver in last has to be allowed the chance to catch up and overtake the next slowest car or there is no point in these drivers turing up. F1’s fastest should have to deal with it.

    15. Reminds me of a little incident in Suzuka in 1993 which heralded the auspicious arrival of one Edmund Irvine onto the F1 scene.

      Nothing wrong with unlapping yourself – as Eddie said to Ayrton: “you were too slow, and I had to overtake you to try to get at Hill”.

      Roll on the unlappers, delappers, whatever…

      1. Reminds me of a more recent incident in Brazil 2008 when Kubica unlapped himself by passing Hamilton in the closing stages of the race. I think it destabilized Hamilton enough to allow Vettel past which almost cost Hamilton the championship. This type of rule could do more damage than people seem to think.

        1. But thats just racing in my eyes. The car which a lap down cannot impede a car on the leading lap if it is lapping faster, and it has every right to unlap itself.

          Consider a race where it is staring to rain heavily, if a car a lap down having pitted and on full wets approaches the race leader on dry tyres dicing round to try and make it to the pits, should ihe just sit behind him?

          No chance, and its not his problem whether the car he passes becomes ‘unsettled’ and lets another car pass for race position. Not his problem at all.

          1. I agree, the Kubica on Hamilton pass was just racing and he had every right to unlap himself. But why should the rules give Kubica and advantage to passing Hamilton? It isn’t for position, and he hasn’t closed within a second of the Hamilton to qualify for the advantage because he’s a complete lap behind!

            1. The DRS is to assist passing, not necessarily passing for position.

        2. Unlapped himself and also brake tested Hamilton, almost costing him the championship

          1. Laranja Mecanica
            16th March 2011, 18:53

            The most unfortunate “almost” ever

        3. Yeah it was fair play by Kubica, even though I immediatly struck him off my christmas card list at the time. But it brings up a possible change in dynamic strategy: If there is rain, or if your tires are running out, you may not be so free to try to slow down to try to maintain a strategy against your actual competition if you have a feisty backmarker coming up behind. Especially given that now a Ferrari may at some points be seconds slower than a Lotus. If you are slow into Retifillio or whatever, you could next see a Virgin trying to cram a wheel under you in the next turn, for really no good reason other than he had a button to mash and it works.

    16. Was the main pictures chosen to illustrate a Mclaren lapping a Williams, or a Williams lapping a Mclaren? :)

      1. Those are 2011 spec cars so probably the latter. ;)

    17. I don’t think this will make a very big difference. Even if the lapped car manages to unlap itself, it’s almost certain that the driver will be shown blue flags at the next corner and will have to pull over.

      The only thing this will do is slow down the “lapping” car, which might matter if the lapped driver’s teammate is in a battle with the “lapping” car.

      But yeah, overall it’s a silly rule. DRS and blue flags work against each other.

      1. Perhaps, but given the big difference in tyre performance it’s not hard to imagine a backmarker on fresh tyres coming out of the pits behind the leader on worn tyres and lapping quicker than them.

        1. That’s true. If tyres do drop off during races as dramatically as they seem to have in testing, things might get a bit more interesting.

        2. But in that case, isn’t it good that the slow leader isn’t holding up drivers racing a lap back, as he would be doing without them being able to use DRS? For them to be able to try it, they have to be, at least at that moment on track, the faster car.

          I like it, because I dislike the effect of blue flags on the race that is going on behind the fastest cars, slowing those cars down and disrupting fights; this seems a relatively trouble free (for the leading cars) way of mitigating that effect.

          Since quite often most action seems to happen at the back of the midfield, due to drivers taking risks in an attempt at getting towards point-scoring positions, I find that an important consideration.

    18. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      16th March 2011, 17:22

      It will gice some cameras to the last cars, but it’s risky. If you have good memory, I remember when Montota had already overtaken Verstappen, I don’t remember the race track. But Verstappen tried to unlap and collided with Montoya, and that can happen again if a rookie or a nervous pilot tries to do what he’s not used to do. These (always-last) pilots are like car testers. Remember Badoer’s performance? And he had a Ferrari, not a HRT. So I don’t want to imagine what would happen if there’s Hamilton or Vettel, or any great racer, overlapping Karthikeyan and he decides to unlap. Crash possibilities right?

      1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
        16th March 2011, 17:23

        typo gice = give

        1. I thought Montoya just braked earlier..

          (However, the one driving into the back is mostly wrong, maybe Coulthard-Schumi in Spa in the rain was an exception where in fact neither was to blame)

          1. I concur, and Montoya also swerved in front of Montiero when lapping him:


    19. I imagine that if Ferrari have problems with backmarkers this year, this rule will be overturned.

    20. Irvine would approve ;)

    21. I can’t see this being an issue to be honest…unless KERS gives the front-runners that little bit more?

      I would think that when a driver is lapped it’s more beneficial for them to hang back and take advantage of the guys slipstream…albeit only briefly!

    22. I think a case of sponge brain is creeping back into F1. This has not been thought out well and the consequence will likely be a stalemate similar to Alonso – Petrov, but this time with Petrov constantly being able to retake the position, thus preventing Alonso from catching up with the race leader.

    23. John Kilmartin
      16th March 2011, 18:37

      “And lapped cars which are closer to the leader’s pace may be able to use DRS to move ahead again, creating a fresh obstacle for the leaders.”

      No, this is somewhat outside the proposed implementation which is to give better opportunities for overtaking but falls far short of permitting cars of similar performance, no matter slower cars, make easy passes.

    24. After reading this article, the zones for arming the DRS in Australia are a tad odd. If I recall correctly, the system gets armed two or three corners before the main straight due to the short straight in Melbourne. Couldn’t this cause someone to get a free boost off of a car in front, within one second, who dives into the pits?

      1. Canada and Italy, probably Brazil also, are good candidates for such as the pit entry are high speed or semi high speed.

    25. It’s a fair rule on the face of it but it could be a headache if the cars unlapping themselves end up being shown blue flags again right away which would be pointless but I don’t know how likely to be that it would happen. If a car unlapping itself is on a fresh set of rubber so has closed up due to tyres then I doubt they’d even need to press the wing down as the tyre performance seems to avry so much. After reading the article and all of the great comments I still can’t decide if this is a very fair or very silly rule so I’ll just wait until it’s tested! :P

    26. Will the leader be able uo use the system to lap the other cars?

    27. I don’t see the point of these? I will be kind if anyone explains it to me.

    28. Mr. ZingZang
      17th March 2011, 7:40

      What of lapped cars that change onto faster tyres, which can be many seconds faster than used tyres?
      We’ve seen in 2010 times where cars round the back go onto softs pretty late in the race.
      The same can happen here with the slower cars in the back.

    29. There are two reasons for this: a) the lapped car could in fact be a faster car which had an earlier problem; and b) if a car is “genuinely” one lap down it is very unlikely to be able to actually overtake anyway. Because of the first reason we have to live with the second.

      I suspect as well that it made the software that will run the system simpler and less likely to fail…

    30. I know this is fairly unlikely, but what happens if there is 3 or more cars each within a second of each other going into the DRS zone? and just to make it really complicated, what happens if one of those cars is a back marker???? :)

    31. Question…they have talked about getting rid of blue flags…now that they have DRS and Whiting is giving these scenarios, are we sure there are still blue flags in F1 for 2011?

    32. It’s ridiculous to think that a lapped car is only a second behind the cars that lap them, this is merely FIA refusing to acknowledge the inadequate technology they use to measure the distance between cars.

      I think it’s up to FOTA to make up for FIA’s silly decisions in this case…and even if FOTA does not make a “gentleman’s agreement” the unlapped car will soon be lapped again after the pair exit the pre-determined passing zone where DRS activation is allowed during the GP.

      All this DRS thing is really going to do is allow the #22 Hispania to follow on the tails #1 RedBull (a faster car) for a lap or two and hopefully they can use the RedBull to help them catch the #21 Virgin (the next car to be lapped).

      Yey, or ney?

      1. It is very simple, they have no way of telling the system that monitors the time between cars (timing loop), what lap the each of the drivers now less than 1 second apart, are actually on. Hence the supposed ‘well thought out’ benefit being added. I agree with Cranberry, in that a canny back-marker can use this loophole to draft up behind the next car which is to be lapped by the leader. I like the new element that adds.

    33. Question: will the DRS be active in the early laps of a race? I can see a karting style melee where the pack arrives on top of the leader at the breaking zone on lap 1 and with the higher closing speeds and a few egos chaos ensues! In karts it is fair game to smash your way through (‘I missed my breaking point, he was on the breaks too early, someone behind my hit me first!’) but in F1 it could be more serious… I assume that it won’t be available until the pack has been strung out and who decides when that is?

    34. @Marco. As far as I am aware, DRS will not be enabled for the first 2 laps of the race. I am not too sure if that is also for 2 laps after a safety car as well though…

    35. What about DRS for the lead cars lapping the back markers???

      on Sunday Vettel come out of the pits behind a Virgin car (lap 48) and used his DRS to over take the back marker…is that not a little unfair? DRS was brought in to create more overtaking but this use of it is only giving the leader an extra boost he doesn’t need?

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