DRS “seemed particularly ineffective” in India

2012 Indian Grand Prix

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McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe says more work needs to be done to improve overtaking at the Buddh International Circuit following a processional Indian Grand Prix.

Speaking in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in Lowe was asked whether the race showed that overtaking aids such as DRS and KERS were rendered ineffective when more conservative tyre compounds were used.

“I suppose in terms of overtaking DRS seemed particularly ineffective there,” said Lowe. “Several were people stuck behind cars for long periods of time. I think Kimi [Raikkonen] found it extremely tough.”

“I think when you saw, let’s say, Lewis [Hamilton] at the end trying to overtake [Mark] Webber, the particular issue seemed to be that you could set yourself up, gain some time in the first sector, get yourself just about within DRS reach but not close up, and then through the cornering sequences because of the effect of the wake you lost that gap again so you never quite got back close for the DRS stretch to make it count.

“So there’s something about that circuit which we ought to study to understand why, whether there’s something that can be done to make the DRS effective around there.

“I think there are a lot of circuits where it works very well so there’s a subtlety to it that needs to be understood.”

Lowe said he did not expect a trend of less exciting races to develop: “No I don’t think so. I think it’s something specific to that particular circuit.

“Having said that, let’s see how this event goes. Abu Dhabi has also been one of the more difficult ones in the calendar for overtaking, even with DRS. So if that is the case again that doesn’t disprove my point because I would have said this would be another one which would be quite difficult.”

2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

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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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41 comments on “DRS “seemed particularly ineffective” in India”

  1. Strange, from what I could see DRS made it all too easy to pass, not the opposite. The McLaren’s and Lotus’s were hampered by short gearing. The Ferrari’s clearly demonstrated this by cleverly turning the DRS zone to their advantage, further illustrating how the DRS zone cancelled out any thoughts (and set up?) to try a pass anywhere else.

    1. Having just watched the BBC summary of the race (was travelling on Sunday only got to it now) @psynrg, I certainly got the same impression in the majority of the cases: all too often, it was way to easy to pass.

      I suppose it could be that there is an issue that depending on circumstances it is not at all useful, or way too easy.

      I guess that if cars are comparable at the rest of the track, it works to much with the length of the zone as it was, as the DRS car gets a tow and a great increase in speed on the straight. But if you that car is either too draggy (Kimi), or the car you are following is a bit better in aero so it gains in S3 enough (HAM on WEB), DRS just can’t make up for that.

      I think the DRS zone, and certainly the detection at corner 3, perhaps isn’t in the right place – Massa was smart with Kimi, but it is gaming the DRS system and should really be ineffective.

      1. Massa was smart with Kimi

        what was smart about using the ferrari’s superior straight line speed(even with Lotus’s DRS enabled) to outpace Kimi’s lotus on the DRS straight??? with that kind of a speed advantage, I bet even karthikeyan could have just as easily managed to stay ahead of Kimi.

        Smart was when Alonso sneaked past both the mclarens. Smart was when Ferrari responded immediately to Lotus’s kimi pitstop. Stupidity, was when lotus kept kimi out for 4 laps more for the first stop, despite ‘knowing’ that they could have easily managed the extra laps on their hard tyre.

        1. The smart part was where both Kimi and Felipe were braking to get latest to the DRS detection zone line. Massa “won” that by passing it last, so he could use his DRS to stream past @F1 Fun attic

          1. Aaah, that just shows what is wrong with F1 at the moment, when people are trying to get to a corner in the slowest way. I swear the FIA are full of dumb people.
            IMO people shouldn’t be able to use DRS when they just have been overtaken.

  2. There was 31 on-track passes in India, Most done in the DRS zones so it was hardly ineffective.

    His comments regarding the wake of the cars making it hard to follow blows the argument he himself made a year ago about DRS taking away the need to make aero changes to the cars.

    As long as DRS, KERS & The tyres are relied upon to artificially create passing the underlying problems which hinders overtaking are still going to be there & as long as these gimmicks are in place the real problems are not going to be addressed so the quality of the racing is going to remain inconsistent.

    1. Missed this-

      Abu Dhabi has also been one of the more difficult ones in the calendar for overtaking, even with DRS.

      He clearly wasn’t watching last years race in Abu Dhabi as DRS worked very effectively there in 2011 producing 64 passes in the 2 zones & plenty of gimmickey passing/repassing.

    2. His comments regarding the wake of the cars making it hard to follow blows the argument he himself made a year ago about DRS taking away the need to make aero changes to the cars.

      Good point:

      What’s great [about DRS is] at least we can move on from this debate of trying to change the aerodynamic characteristics of cars to try to improve overtaking. We’ve found something much more authoritative, much cheaper, easier and more effective, and adjustable from race to race.

      Lowe: DRS removes need to change aerodynamics

      1. Good observation Dizzy!

        Maybe now, with FIA having decided how rules are to be formed in the future, the teams can take this moment to really take some steps to counter that @keithcollantine, it is not as if they don’t know what would be needed, they just haven’t wanted to go there, as that quote shows.

    3. His comments regarding the wake of the cars making it hard to follow blows the argument he himself made a year ago about DRS taking away the need to make aero changes to the cars.

      Absolutely spot on. DRS doesn’t fix the inability to follow each other through corners. It only allows for straight line slipstreaming. But weren’t the cars capable of overtaking in a straight line before?

    4. Well observed Dizzy, it really proves that with all the gimmicks thrown at the cars, they are no real solution to the underlying problem.

      That said, if I understand what Scarbs (I think it was him making the remark) was saying lately in The Flying Lap the cars will have about the downforce level they currently run in Monza because of the engines being a bit weaker, so they will have to shed drag, it might help a bit. Still think they should have done more to change aero dependance though.

  3. The problem with DRS is that it will always be a moving target & I don’t think there ever going to get it right as how effective (Or not) it is relied on too many factors such as engine performance, wind speed/direction, how close cars are entering the zone, gear ratios, wing levels, car drag, fuel levels etc…. You can have a really long DRS zone produce few passes & a short DRS zone produce easy passes & the same zone often produces totally different results between different cars totally depending on those factors.

    Its the same with the Pirelli’s, We have seen in both 2011 & 2012 that once teams/drivers figure out setups/driving style the unpredictability seen early on declines & we go back to more traditional racing (Not that I necisaily mind this). Regardless of what Pirelli do to the tyres in 2013 I guarantee we will see something similar, the tyres will get figured out & people will go back to moaning about things been boring (Even if there not).

    If F1 really wants to improve the racing & do it so that it remains of a high level throughout the year, They seriously need to drop DRS & look at ways to make the cars less aero sensitive when following another car. Despite whats often said there are ways to do this from the Swift/Formula Nippon ‘Mushroom Buster diffuser’ to something like what Indycar have done for 2012, looking at producing more downforce from the underside of the car (Both solutions work extremely well).

    DRS/Pirelli’s are simply band aids covering up the underlying aero problems & as long as they continue to rely on these things the quality of the race is not going to improve.

    1. This is the answer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_INdbXMqsw

      It’s not every season that GT racing is one step ahead of F1. Apparently these things can run in dirty air with minimal loss of DF.

      1. I wish people would stop spreading so much ** about that car.

        It isn’t half the weight, It isn’t half the power, It isn’t a Nissan engine (Its an RML WTCC Chevrolet unit), It can’t go as many laps on a single set of tyres like they say it can, its fuel consumption isn’t what they say it is, its got more drag than they say & its not as revolutionary as they suggest.

        It also flips quite easily because of how narrow the front it.
        That was at about 100mph, Can you imagine what would happen if it suffered contact at higher speed?

        Sure it looks ‘radical’ but the technology isn’t that radical & definately isn’t what they say.

        1. Lol, what’s up did it beat you considering it just finished 6th OVERALL at Petit Le Mans it’s not doing so bad. Watch the video and learn about the technology behind it and how the physics work. It may also be worth backing up your claims with some figures.
          Like what on earth are you comparing it with? It has a dry weight of ~480kgs, it uses a Nissan 1.6L turbo engine producing about 300BHP. It has less tyre wear than a comparable LMP (which is difficult as there is no comparable LMP) for obvious reasons.
          Why do you fear such a development so much, regardless of any claims? Very strange…

  4. I don’t think the DRS zone was too short in India. First you could use DRS on the start-finish straight to close up on the car in front, and then on the second straight I saw cars coming from quite far back and still pass easily. Take Hamilton’s move on Button, for instance. Lewis was nowhere near Jenson’s gearbox when they started the lap on which Hamilton overtook, but he cleared Jenson well before the braking zone.

    Good for Webber on making a gap in that part of the circuit that suited his (KERS-less) car better. Should it be disallowed to win time in the corners by creating even longer DRS zones?

  5. Sure let’s make the DRS zone even longer then. What a joke.

    “I think there are a lot of circuits where it works very well so there’s a subtlety to it that needs to be understood.”

    I simply do not understand why so many inside F1 like DRS so much. Are fans such as myself completely devoid of their senses? Perhaps so, but if we are there are an awful lot of us.

    “Several were people stuck behind cars for long periods of time. I think Kimi [Raikkonen] found it extremely tough.”

    He should find it tough Paddy, he should find it tough.

    Ok, apologies. That’s my DRS rant over for this week. *sigh*

    1. Rant not quite over (!)…

      Wider tyres combined with the proposed smaller front wings would negate the need for DRS in the first place. More mechanical grip. Why isn’t it that simple can someone please tell me?

      1. @john-h Forgive me if I’m mistaken but, won’t smaller front wings mean less downforce?

        1. What I meant was, if what I assumed is true, how will that aid mechanical grip? Wider tyres, okay. Upto an extent. But the other?

          1. @parthpb Yes, if the mechanical grip goes up, the aero grip must have to come down somewhere otherwise the cars will be simply too fast.

            Less reliance on aero means that regardless of what the diffuser is churning out in it’s wake, the following car is less reliant on generating downforce anyway.

            It’s not just the air that comes out of the back of the leading car, but what the following one is trying to do with it. Hope that makes sense.

      2. @john-h While I do agree wholeheartedly with your DRS rant, I don’t quite believe wider tyres would do anything for the racing. More mechanical grip would mean shorter braking distances (less room for overtaking into a braking zone) and higher traction (greater slingshot effect out of slow corners), so we would be back to square one.

        What we need is more power than grip, but that’s never going to happen again.

        1. @guilherme I think the braking distances isn’t really much of a problem, it’s still going to be who is latest on the brakes in a relative sense.

          With regards traction, I think you make a very good point. However it’s really the following through the high speed stuff that would perhaps have more of a bearing on overall lap-time between cars. This is also the area where cars actually back off because they don’t want to damage their tyres. With less reliance on aero, there would be less relative punishment for closely following the car in front.

          And yes, more power would be great (I have an image of Fangio driving as I’m typing here), but obviously not safe for modern F1 cars.

    2. @john-h, Massa found it to be easy.

      1. @hohum Good on Massa. I think he’s also spoken out at a previous race but I can’t remember where.

        I guess it’s more the principle of DRS in the first place that I’m surprised people on the inside aren’t being more vocal about, but no one wants to offend the OWG and FIA I guess… unless they all really do love DRS of course!

        1. @john-h, actually I was referring to his re-pass of KR, I doubt he actually said anything about it.

  6. I thought DRS made things too easy. Also the Indian Grand Prix was fairly good, just because McLaren and Ferrari were too slow to challenge Vettel doesn’t mean it was a boring race. There was good action elsewhere. Sometimes I think people in F1 only focus on the front and base their emotions and ratings of the sport on the singular things.

  7. On the contrary, I felt the DRS zone made passing way too easy.
    While watching the race, I remember thinking that the DRS had become a sure-shot way of making a pass. Almost like one of the arcade racing games where using the NOS ensures that you pass everyone without any hassle. It was annoying because the driver in front didn’t have even the slightest chance to defend his place. That is not the type of racing I or any racing enthusiast would like to see.

    I’ve always been against the concept of DRS since it was implemented and would like to see it scrapped. The fact that Massa let Kimi pass him just to get the additional boost in the DRS zone just drives my point home. No matter how clever the move was, it just seemed wrong that a racing driver would let someone else pass him so easily. Especially, when there weren’t any team orders involved.

  8. when overtaking is more, they complain that it’s too unpredictable. Now, this!

  9. Paul Hembrey said that tyre decision may have been conservative

  10. It is the nature of the circuit: putting a slow corner before a large straight is always going to cause the following car to lose speed and crucially ground. Also, the Ferrari was immense on the straights and so the significantly slower McLaren’s and Räikkönen’s Lotus were unable to keep pace with the F2012.

  11. I already have the answer, the problem is that no one listen. People continue to believe in the fantasy that a hairpin before a straight is good for overtaking. The proof to crush this myth is abundant.

    Yes, the problem is that there’s a harpin before the long >1.0 km straight.

    Truth is, having medium/faster corners before straights are better for overtaking than slower corners. Degner curve is perfect for such. If you have a harpin before a straight, the traction difference is simply too great.

    That’s also the reason to why despite the fact Shanghai and Yas Marina have similar length straights, a lot more overtaking happens in the harpin at China than anywhere in Abu Dhabi. Reason? The exit corner before the straight.

    I have been saying it for years. It is very clear to one if he has Racing Simulation experience. The corners at either end of a straight can’t be too tight or they become too traction dependent. Too fast and they become too aero dependent. Medium speed is the way to go.

    Hairpin-straight-hairpin for overtaking is a common misconception. The car behind can only get close in the braking, but obviously loses a lot of ground accelerating out of a slow corner to the car in front. It needs the whole straight just to close up the space it lose in the previous slow corner. End result? Overtaking very rarely or doesn’t happen at all.

    But when a medium speed corner is followed by a straight. That is were the most overtaking happen. A1 Ring, Interlagos, New Hockenheim… you need some kind of medium speed corner before the straight. It allows the car behind to stay closer, then after a hairpin. The driver behind also has a visual reference point from the car in front, and with the right line and a good exit its easier to overtake.

    Another one of the reasons is that having a medium speed corner before a long straight is better is because slipstream is much more powerful at high speed than at slow speed. So it’s better that cars are at high speed since the start of the straight.

    The best combination for overtaking is:
    Medium corner → long straight → hairpin.

    That is why the stop-and-go Tilke circuits have failed.

    1. Agree.

      The reason the Slow Corner-Long straght-Slow corner setup is used so much by Tilke is because that worked at A1-Ring & at the new Hockenheim when it was 1st run. The setup at Sepang also worked to an extent.

      The problem is as you say that the corners leading onto the straights now are often too tight, The chicane in the middle of the 2 straights in Abu Dhabi doesn’t work because its too slow on the exit, However over at Istanbul the medium speed more open chicane onto the longest straight worked well to encourage some good overtaking.

      In defense of Tilke, He’s stuck with the this sort of layout because of what drivers told him in the early 2000’s, However we had V10 engine’s back then which had a lot of low-end torque & of course traction control which made squirting off tight corners easier.
      The current V8’s have very little low end torque, Its something the drivers were complaining about since they 1st ran them in late 2005.

      1. Thanks for adding perspective (again) to how this strategy for designing tracks came to be GT_Racer.

        Also nicely shows how it can be dangerous to look too much at specific characteristics of the current cars for track design. That said, I think the general principal of what @kingfisher proposes does make sense, and it would be good to see Tilke (any chance at someone else?) have a go at that with future tracks / track updates

    2. Totally agree @kingshark.

      I wonder how the Tilkedromes will fair with low end torque when the V6 engines arrive.

      1. @john-h, unless the FIA intentionally starves the fuel flow at low rpm the TURBO engines should have excellent torque through the rev range.

        1. Ah yes, Turbos. But of course.

  12. I don’t agree that it was ‘ineffective’. The reason that the Indian Grand Prix was processional was because most of the cars were in their correct places in terms of outright pace. Yes, there were some exceptions, but not many, and not enough to make the race exciting by any means. It’s especially going to be like this when all tracks (designed by Tilke) are pretty much the same. Perhaps if some countries want more interesting Grand Prix’ then they should design tracks that are very different to the current spec. Design a track which rewards low downforce, or mechanical grip. Obviously it’s probably a lot easier to say this, but food for thought nonetheless.

    Surely all it would take is to look at some of the favoured tracks on the calendar, or ones that provide great racing and try to mimic some of their designs.

    1. Design a track which rewards low downforce

      With DRS, KERS & the Double DRS/F-Duct type systems they have now everyone is running pretty much maximum downforce everywhere.

      Its why you no longer see the super skinny wings at Monza.

    2. Design a track which rewards low downforce

      even better to design a track that has ‘less’ technical features and more ‘racing’ designs. Short of designing a US ‘dud’ oval circuit, anything else will do. And oh, gravel traps on the menu too, as long as someone’s still takin the order.

  13. run the race in the other way around the track

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