Two DRS zones per track necessary for 2013 – Lowe

2013 F1 season

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McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe says all F1 tracks will need two DRS zones next year to ensure it remains effective.

Currently drivers have free use of DRS in practice and qualifying to encourage teams to use sufficiently long gear ratios on their cars to gain enough of a benefit from DRS to make overtaking possible.

That will change on safety grounds next year, meaning drivers will only be allowed to use DRS in the designated zones at all times.

Speaking during a Vodefone McLaren Mercedes phone-in, Lowe said two DRS zones will be required to ensure teams still have an incentive to use longer ratios:

“We believe that, particularly if [FIA race director] Charlie [Whiting] arranges for two DRS zones at every circuit, which is what he’s committed to doing, that this will give enough incentive to ratio the car appropriately – pretty much as we do now, the same as if we had free use of DRS.

Of the 19 tracks raced on so far this year four featured two DRS zones: Melbourne, Monza, Buddh International Circuit and Yas Marina. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and Valencia had two DRS zones last year but were reduced to one this year.

Lowe said DRS has been “a tremendous solution to the long-standing overtaking problem”.

“A lot of things have been tried over the years,” he added. “DRS at least has an authority to allow it”

“At some circuits it doesn’t. India I think was a good example of that – surprisingly, actually, because it’s got a good long straight there, it didn’t seem to allow overtaking.

“And then you get other circuits where arguably it’s too easy. It might be that we should look at that and try and trim the direction on those outlying circuits. But in general I think it works well.

“I don’t hear people talking about it being some sort of fix or artificial solution. I think it’s something that the driver has to play tactically and use with tremendous skill.

“We saw that on Sunday with Lewis and Sebastian. That was a fair fight, a very very close duel. Ultimately Lewis got past using DRS but it wasn’t easy and everybody admired the skill with which he did it. So I think generally it’s working very very well.”

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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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72 comments on “Two DRS zones per track necessary for 2013 – Lowe”

  1. I don’t hear people talking about it being some sort of fix or artificial solution.

    I do wonder where he’s looking, because I hear this mentioned EVERYWHERE

    1. Ignorance is bliss.

    2. Depends on the definition of “people” – sometimes you wish to label “people” only the personas around you.

      DRS is an easy fix | patch to the growing austerity of the teams, hence the frozen innovations, engines, developments and cost savings. As much as I don’t want to admit it, F1 is quite crippled at this time.

      Adding some really stupid tracks to the mix makes it easy to place the couple-of-thousands-dollars fix to the overtaking problem.

      1. I agree with your definition of “people”. I don’t doubt most fans don’t mind it; it’s usually the group that doesn’t agree with something that is most vocal. It’d be interesting to do a poll on this site maybe (unless there already has been one? Although perhaps opinions have changed).

        I do wonder if there’s ever been an independent research among fans about these kind of things, in other words, I wonder what Lowe bases his words on. Is it a general feeling? Or are there actual hard facts that support his assertion?

    3. Must be because these sounds from at least 50% of the fans are not coming to his ears. And that is not mentioning the people who accept DRS as being fine, but complain about the all too common feature of it not doing what it was supposed to do, instead allowing for horribly easy highway passes on the middle of the straight.


      Lowe said DRS has been “a tremendous solution to the long-standing overtaking problem”.

      is off course factually wrong. Its no solution, just an ugly stop gap.

      1. And that is not mentioning the people who accept DRS as being fine, but complain about the all too common feature of it not doing what it was supposed to do, instead allowing for horribly easy highway passes on the middle of the straight.

        Yeah, I’m terrible with remembering the details of what goes on in a race, but I think at Abu Dhabi, Raikkonen passed someone or someone passed Raikkonen by getting up with them under DRS but then getting the move done under braking in the corner. Anyway, I looked at that and thought *that’s* what DRS should be doing all the time. And one thing I hate even more than the motorway passes is when FOM feels the need to show 5 replays of them!

  2. “I don’t hear people talking about it being some sort of fix or artificial solution. I think it’s something that the driver has to play tactically and use with tremendous skill.

    That’s right – keep those fingers in your ears and hum loudly!

  3. Not every track. Just double-DRS where it is really heard to overtake, here is where I think they should have it based on where it has been difficult to overtake in the past: Melbourne, Bahrain, Barcelona, Silverstone, Hungaroring, Singapore, Korea, India and Yas Marina. The rest? One will do perfectly Mr Lowe :)

    1. @troylongstaff Other than 2010 – when has Bahrain (where, of course – teams didn’t dare to immediately push flat out for fear of wearing their tyres out, and were still learning new cars) been difficult to overtake at? Even then there were a good 5 or 6 overtakes on the day.

      1. @raymondu999 You raise a good point. 2006 is the only previously interesting race in the Gulf which comes to my mind, when Alonso and the Schu squared off for the lead, so why not make next year’s race much more interesting by adding double DRS? Coupled with teams still getting used to 2013-spec tyres early next year, it would make the race super crazy and great for TV!

  4. “McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe says all F1 tracks will need two DRS zones next year to ensure it remains effective.”

    I’d want it to ensure that DRS is needed in the first place…but no, let’s just cram 2 in on each track so it becomes more ‘effective’. Note the word ‘effective’ – I don’t see that as a positive thing necessarily, just so it makes it’s mark, and it’s less embarrassing if it doesn’t work on the one straight.

    I think the FIA have got to be much more dynamic on DRS, whether that means not using it on one track and having 2 zones the next.

    1. @electrolite He isn’t talking about the races, he’s talking about qualifying: two DRS zones at every circuit […] will give enough incentive to ratio the car appropriately – pretty much as we do now, the same as if we had free use of DRS.

  5. all F1 tracks will need two DRS zones

    And where exactly are they going to add another DRS zone in Monaco? The only possible place would be up the hill from Sainte Devote to Massenet, but I doubt it would be effective.

    1. Too risky. Imagine a car loses control or the DRS wing fails to close. Rarely happens but taking a chance is not worth it.

    2. All in the name of safety!

  6. DRS can’t work when it is applied in a universal way across all circuits. It needs to be individually tailored to each track in an intelligent and considered manner.

    Having a DRS zone before a corner where there is typically little overtaking? Smart thinking.
    Having a DRS zone in Spa after Radillion on the way to Les Combes, for example, when there has usually been plenty of overtaking in that section without it? Not very smart.

    1. This. I’ve been saying it since the beginning.

    2. Couldn’t agree more. They just seem to put it in cos they’ve backed themselves in to a corner.

      Problem being, teams try to build the most ‘efficient’ DRS, so it’s seen as unsportsmanlike if they start tampering where circuits that do/don’t have it.

      Now if they announced NOW where they’ll have none, 1, or 2 DRS zones on the calendar, I think that’d be totally fair for all teams.

    3. It’s the painful lack of common sense we’ve been used to the whole time we’ve had the bloody thing.

    4. Exactly that MAG. If used at all, it must be carefully tailored to allow a car that is clearly faster to stay close enough to have a chance at passing the car in front, (like Hamilton in the last race where Vettel still had a good chance of defending for a lot of laps until other circumstances allowed Hamilton to get by).
      Be it using one, two, why not even three zones. Or none on tracks were its clearly not needed.

    5. Well said Magnificent one, that has been the solution most readers of this site have called for all along.

  7. I can see both sides of the argument on DRS.

    Ultimately, I want to see overtaking, which is why on balance I favour its retention.

    I wonder however, if a reasonable compromise might be to limit its use, either to a particular amount of time per race (like WSR 3.5) anywhere on track or a specified number of times in the race in the designated zones, whether as the attacking or defending car. That would require greater tactical use of DRS, and introduce an element of skill and judgment, rather than as currently when the defending car is virtually helpless (at least at some tracks) once in range.

  8. All tracks need zero DRS zones

    1. agree 100 per cent

  9. DRS could work if it was used differently, and not just for overtaking (or motorway passes the majority of the time). I think drivers should be able to use DRS in the race anywhere they want for limited number of times during the whole race (e.g. they can use it 30 times in a race). With this, DRS can be used not only be used for overtaking, but also defending and possibly maximising inlaps and outlaps (or if Vettel wants the fastest lap). It would make using DRS more interesting as drivers must manage how often they use DRS, and what they use it for.

    1. this is a reply to Slr and Tyler above: perhaps instead of limiting DRS to a set amount of times, what about a set amount of time? say 60 seconds per race. that way you get a lot more strategy coming into play, as if its a set amount of times, they could have it open the whole back straight, and they would all do it as soon as possible. This way it could perhaps spice things up a bit more, and the drivers would only use it when they really think they can get pass (or perhaps alongside, as that was the point of DRS in the first place)

      ….Although then you have an issue of the driver in front using DRS to defend, and if you were to use the same 1 second rule as now, i have no idea how it could be technically implemented as there would be no set DRS activation line…? ….. but then perhaps they could use the micro sectors within each sector as a live activation point?

    2. The biggest problem I see with this idea, is that say we had a driver like Vettel leading from pole, then he would only need to use it to defend. Say you have a driver making a storming drive through the field (Alonso/Hamilton/Button/Raikkonen/Whoever) and had to use some of his allocated DRS uses to get passed cars further back, then that driver would then be at an immediate disadvantage if they caught the leader. Not only would they be suffering from the usual turbulence, they’d also have to try and get through despite the car in front being able to defend pretty much every lap, which could possibly spoil the end to a fantastic drive.

      Obviously, I don’t agree with an easy DRS-assisted pass for the lead either, but both have their flaws.

  10. Hands off the pit straight at Circuit of the Americas – that was perfect without DRS.
    And all these McLaren managers should get their own team working before they start telling the FIA (and Ferrari) how to do their jobs.

  11. If the cars were designed in such a way that natural following and overtaking were easier, we wouldn’t need DRS at all.

    1. I’m sure the teams will get right on that. After all, they don’t need all that downforce. It’s not as if more downforce offers any kind of advantage, so I have no doubt that they will be happy to give it up when asked nicely.

      1. @prisoner-monkeys
        @pjtierney makes a perfectly valid point (that doesn’t warrant a sarcastic response). Admittedly the teams build the cars to the rules, but the FIA would do well to look into future car regs that are less aero-dependent and do allow for closer following of the car in front, rather than going deeper down the cheap fix route, which the majority of F1 fans feel DRS is.

        1. @bookoi I don’t see the FIA relaxing aero rules enough to be honest. What they don’t want is an engine arms race because that would upset the green concious people. Sure, developing aero costs loads in CFD and terraflops but that’s not as obvious as trying to bolster an engine up to maximum specification..and wasting loads of fuel in trying to do so.

      2. You could make exactly the same argument for active suspension, laser ignition, traction control and a whole load of other technologies that have been banned over the years – the main difference with reducing downforce is that it would actually make the racing better and allow teams to innovate in other areas of development that would not only benefit F1 but would also have benefits to production car manufacturers and the general public who buy and drive production cars.

      3. Yes, the teams don’t like it, because it makes for a complete change of the form book. Something that is too risky for the big teams to go for. But after all its the FIA that makes the rules, and DRS was proposed as a stopgap before the 2013 (postponed to 2014) rules came in. As @beneboy points out, there have been countless other things the teams would have liked to keep but were disregarded by the FIA for various reasons (safety is easily used though).

        DRS is no solution to the problem, unlike what @pjtierney advices. As some have pointed out the simple fact that the engines will have less power come 2014 will already mean less downforce, because teams will be far more held back by drag caused from it. It would have only needed a couple of extra steps to get there.

    2. Agreed. DRS is a quick fix to a problem no-one seems to dare tackle head on. Whilst changing the engine rules is relatively risk free (when the aim is simply to bring the regs in line with production cars), having a particular goal in terms of a performance shift is much more of a gamble. Hence why remedies to these kinds of problems are typically a small change that can be undone relatively easily (such as grooved tyres and narrow tracked cars to tackle increased corner speeds). It would be a huge shift in the look and feel of the cars to, for instance, switch to ground effect and a limit on wings (currently being pioneered by the Nissan Deltawing) and if it didn’t pay off, heads would roll at the FIA. And no-one wants to put their head on the block.

    3. @pjtierney that’s harder than it looks. Whatever way they find to limit the cars’ downforce, teams will still get round it, thus spoiling the effect.

      How many times they’ve tried to fix the problem? They raised the front wings, they banned the 3rd flap in the rear wing, they lowered the front wings, they made the rear wings smaller, they banned double diffusers, they banned blown diffusers… and we’re here, still watching endlessly understeering cars while following another.

      It’s not the designer’s fault. It’s something that probably will never be fixed, unless, of course, they completely ban aerodynamics, thus returning to the 60’s… and even then, I get the feeling that designers would find a way round it…

  12. What if they allow it to be used anywhere on the track, as long as you’re in within 1 secs distance?? This way, drivers skills would be really important. They’d push the boundaries to overtake in places different than long straights. And overtaken drivers would be able to fight back right away.

    1. I meant, if it produces overtakes in places different than straights and it’s more used/accessible to all drivers, maybe it won’t be seen much artificial as an F-duck, flexible wing, KERS, double diffuser, mass-damper, eight controller system or any other gadget… Maybe it would be seen as just one more normal piece of the car. Maybe…

    2. @marcos

      What if they allow it to be used anywhere on the track

      Given that they’ve just decided to ban this very thing, it doesn’t seem a likely solution.

      1. I was thinking the same while I was writing the comment. I should have written the comment a few weeks ago ;-)
        I still see it as a good idea though. But agree, unlikely.

        1. Drop Valencia!
          22nd November 2012, 7:28

          I think this was the original intention of DRS, but the tech did not exist apparently.

  13. All cars need zero wings.

    1. @verstappen – Formula Ford with 800hp, now THAT would be interesting :-)

  14. I’ve never been a fan of the DRS but, as it seems that it’s supposed to stay, I’d suggest two DRS zones in qualifying and one zone in the race. I guess that would ensure that the system is still quite effective in qualifying but does not make the overtaking too easy in the race.

    1. I Don’t really see why it needs to be ‘effective’ in qualifying :S It is a bit of an anomaly that it is currently allowed and has handed certain cars a distinct advantage in qualy which I am looking forward to not having to put up with next year. We shouldn’t see such a disparity between Qualifying and Race pace next year although this in itself may lead to less overtaking.

    2. @Girts that’s what it should be at overtaking-friendly circuits like ”montreal, spa, interlagos and shanghai e.g.” 2 zones for FP and QLF but 1 for race to get rid of these easy DRS-assisted motorway passes from longest straights of these circuits!

  15. Hopefully 2013 will be the last year with DRS as the better ERS from 2014 will be the deciding factor when it comes to overtakes.

  16. Am I alone in thinking that DRS is still a blight on F1? That it’s an easy way to artificially gloss over a fundamental design issue re- dirty air?

    In my view tracks should have zero DRS zones and until they do, F1 is poorer for it. So I’m a purist. That’s not a bad thing y’know!

    1. Am I alone in thinking that DRS is still a blight on F1?

      No, you are not alone, it’s just that the teams/FIA/FOM have a very poor record of listening to what the fans are saying.

  17. Instead of using a Drag Reduction System, why don’t they reduce drag by reducing the aerodynamic effects of cars? Primitive ground effects could solve that problem without creating a huge safety concern (but they would need to be closely regulated to stop a repeat of the dangerously high cornering speeds in the early 80’s) and then reduce wing sizes. It worked before and it’ll work again.

    1. Exactly. That is an actual solution to the problem. But they (the FIA & the teams) would argue that this approach would require a relatively large re-design of the cars at a time when the teams are craving rule stability; not to mention the costs involved being probably more than the teams would like to spend at a time of serious cost cutting/control.

      The real problem we have is that the teams (as we can see in this article) actually have no problem with DRS. They seem to like it and its affects on the racing. Plus if the majority of casual F1 fans like it then we’re banging our heads off a brick wall even asking for a proper solution. The playstation generation seem to be the majority and that means bucks, which means they will get their way, sadly.

      1. @bealzbob – I couldn’t have said it better myself. Money appears to be the only concern at the expense of real wheel to whee racing. I have yet to be blown away by the skill and daring involved in a DRS-assisted pass, primarily because the move is usually completed before the corner and secondly because the rules governing defence encourage easy passing manoeuvres. One of the greatest battles I have seen was between Häikkinen and Schumacher at Spa in 2000: robust defence by Schumacher kept Häikkinen at bay but with brilliant use of a back marker Häikkinen got by. That’s proper racing: no gimmicks. We would see even more of this if the cars had less downforce, with corners such as Eau Rouge actually being a challenge for drivers to boot.

        1. Exactly. They have devalued the overtake. To the point where it is now an inevitability. We will never see the likes of what you describe between MH & MS while there is DRS. Even if the opportunity existed for it to happen at a non-DRS zone, the pursuer would simply wait until the next DRS zone so as to complete the pass with minimum risk.

          The overtake used to be something to be admired; an achievement. Like a goal being scored in football (soccer). If we doubled the size of the goal and every football game had 30 goals scored, the value of each goal would be greatly reduced. That’s what they’ve done to F1.

  18. My take on the DRS has changed a little bit since the beginning. At first, I sided with the purists saying that it was a horrible gimmick that destroyed the races. I thought that being a tool that only the attacking car would have, it was an unfair advantage not needed in a “sport”. But then I watched some old Indy 500 races as well as the 2012 race, and all the drafting seemed to me exactly the same as DRS: Put your car at a certain distance from the car in front, and you have a one-sided advantage over your rival.

    Indycar purposely built its new car to create a lot of drafting, in order to increase passing, and improve “the show”. Formula 1 can’t do that. F-1 cars have such complex aerodynamic requirements that drafting is very difficult. So DRS, while being less glamorous than drafting, seems like the tool for the job.

    However, my problem with DRS is that it is set up in a way that makes it ridiculously easy to pass a car, or it is assigned to places in the race track that eliminate real overtaking chances. In races like Korea, the DRS assisted overtakes were being completed with more than 1/3 of the straight left, which is just too easy. In races like Canada, the DRS section after the hairpin resulted in drivers waiting for that zone to make a pass, instead of making a move diving into the hairpin. In Canada, the problem is worsened by the fact that no grandstands are available on the DRS zone, so the passing was moved from a corner in front of large crowed grandstands to the middle of nowhere.

    Tracks don’t just need multiple DRS zones; they just need better DRS zones.

    1. But then I watched some old Indy 500 races as well as the 2012 race, and all the drafting seemed to me exactly the same as DRS

      An oval & a road circuit are totally different things where you need to race in totally different ways using some different skills.
      Drafting is the way you race on an oval, You get a good slipstream & have to use that to your advantage to get by people. There is also a lot of skill involved as you have to time it right, If you pull out too early you won’t complete the pass for example.

      Also at Indy the pass is usually still done in the corners, The draft gets you alongside but as soon as you pull out the drag of the air slows you down so you have to complete the pass using driver skill in the corners.

      One of the biggest problems with DRS is that unlike the slipstream the car behind doesn’t start to lose momentum when they pull out to try the pass. This is why so many DRS passes are so boringly easy, The car behind gets a 102-kph speed boost while behind the car infront & retains it even when it pulls out & even when its ahead.
      With the slipstream you get the speed gain while in the tow, but lose that momentum when you pull out so you get alongside but have to work hard to actually complete the pass.

      1. The car behind gets a 102-kph speed boost

        should read 10-20kps speed boost.

  19. Maybe they could have Q-DRS (Qualifying Drag Reduction System) on more sections of the track? Instead of just the single one in quali, have an extra two on back straights, tailor it to suit differant tracks. I quite like the spectacle of qualifying with DRS, there’s something I like about the drivers pushing it to the limit opening the DRS-letterbox as soon as possible, seeing some of them getting caught out and spinning.

  20. Instead of increasing the no. of drs zones, the cars can be made faster which will add more overtaking opportunities not just on straights but where ever possible on the circuits. I badly miss the days of the rumbling V10s and the cars of that period that had complex aerodynamic designs yet guaranteed higher levels of excitement on the tracks.

    1. Joey Zyla (@)
      7th December 2012, 8:00

      FIA, whatever you do, DON’T bring back the V10!

  21. @keithcollantine i wonder if there is the possibility to assign not only the race drs zone, but also any other long straights as ‘DRS available’ during practice any qualy. this way we dont need 2 drs zones in the race.

    example: in practice and qualy, the drivers can use drs on the wellington straight and the hangar straight, but in the race just the wellington will be used as a drs zone.

  22. The Dumb Racing System is what its name suggests.

  23. I think someone messed up whole DRS thing just before it got implemented.

    DRS should have been on a forced activation 200m before each corner, that would result in more unstable braking and cornering manoeuvres. Exactly what is needed to see who is a better :D

    1. Also iron brakes instead of carbon will fix up whole not enough overtake non-sense. It’s cheaper too!!!!

  24. DRS is definitely lacking in elegance. And besides that, it accentuates the more boring type of pass (on the straight) instead of the more spectacular ones. You almost want the opposite of DRS (add downforce when following).

    Aero effect following in turns is the real problem. In principle they should be able to just regulate the end goal, in the form of measuring the wake, instead of just car dimensions.

    That is difficult for scrutineering without a windtunnel. But perhaps it could be done: have a “control car” follow a competitor’s car at speed, and measure downforce effect at control car. Have some fudge factor for different environmental conditions, and whether a particular car is an outlier vs. other cars.

  25. So it seems I may not be watching F1 for much longer :(

    Im fed up of DRS, I hate the sort of boring/unexciting pass that DRS produces. I’ve put up with it for 2 years now & have yet to see it do anything to make a race more exciting.
    Its an artificial gimmick that produces artificial, boring, unexciting & soul-less passing & thats not the sort of passing I enjoy watching.

    I’d go as far as saying that overtaking in F1 has been badly devalued due to DRS these past 2 years because everyone is now looking at quantity rather than quality & as long as this keeps going the quality of passing is just going to get more & more boring which will devalue it even more!

    Something I find intresting is that back in 2009 when Raikkonen used KERS to pass Fisichella for the lead at Spa, Fan reaction was extremely negative to how easy KERS had made the pass. However suddenly the same sort of boring/easy pass DRS-assisted is hailed as brilliant by some of the same people today?

  26. Couldn’t they have the DRS shut down when one car is alongside the other? That then allows them to catch and fight in the braking zone without this ridiculous driving straight past mallarky…

  27. Not surprising that Paddy Lowe would want more DRS since DRS was apparently his creation.

    I’d much rather see less DRS rather than more as I really don’t like what its done to the racing, Far too artificial & very gimmickey for my liking.

  28. they may as well make a rule saying that the car ahead must move over & let the one behind past when it gets within 1 second as that more or less all drs does.

    hate it to the point where i won’t be attending next years canadian gp (having been there every year there’s been an f1 race since 1989) based off my experiences there with drs the past 2 years.

  29. Joey Zyla (@)
    7th December 2012, 7:55

    Get rid of DRS. Entirely. There was never an ‘overtaking problem’. It’s all in some people’s minds. DRS makes overtaking way too easy. It might be okay if the car in front could use DRS to defend.

  30. if there are two DRS-zones, do we see two detection zones too?
    btw, I´m a fan of the DRS-zones, they should be as long as possible

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