Second DRS zone extended for Bahrain Grand Prix

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix

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The FIA has extended the second DRS zone at the Bahrain International Circuit ahead of this weekend’s race to encourage more overtaking. However it has not added a third zone as it did in Melbourne.

Driver will be able to activate DRS 170m after turn 14 at the track, 100 metres earlier than last year. The DRS detection points for the two zones remain unchanged and the activation point for the first DRS zone on the back straight is also as it was last year.

Several drivers complained overtaking was very difficult during the Australian Grand Prix but some expect it will be easier this weekend.

“It was difficult to overtake in Melbourne, but Bahrain should be a bit easier because it’s a more traditional track,” said Sergio Perez.

“The Bahrain track often creates good racing. I still remember the battle I had with my old team mate, Jenson Button, in 2013. The layout really allows you to race wheel-to-wheel at times. If you lose a position in turn one, you can fight back through turns two, three and four.”

Bahrain is one of three circuits where the FIA has considered changing the DRS zones to aid passing this year, along with Baku and Montreal.

Overtaking in Bahrain

Last year 48 overtaking moves were recorded in the Bahrain Grand Prix, 18 of which were performed using DRS. Overtaking fell 47% year-on-year across the whole season between 2016 and 2017 according to Pirelli.

Data: Mercedes

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Keith Collantine
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20 comments on “Second DRS zone extended for Bahrain Grand Prix”

  1. Not that necessary, but I’m OK with it. In the end, DRS has never really been too powerful around this circuit even though it’s a relatively close-racing and overtaking-friendly circuit.

    1. I forgot to include: In the end, I doubt 100m is really going to make a difference in aiding overtaking into turn 1.

      1. Maybe think of it this way; Deploying DRS about 1/3 sec. sooner might give 5 to 10 Kph at the speed trap. Turn 1 is tight and tricky. Shedding that added speed might just increase the chances of a driver over-cooking the brakes or the corner.

        1. Great point there @paulheppler, that would be a positive

  2. 49 overtakes last year.

    How many of those 49 do people actually remember?
    How many of them were actually exciting or memorable enough for people to remember?

    That is the whole problem with DRS & the obsession with statistics. You can have quantity but quantity does not & never will be better because it’s more about the quality & excitement of the overtake that should be considered important. We all remember those truly exciting overtakes but i guarantee that 95% or more of the low quality stuff thats happened since 2011 with DRS and pirelli cheese tyres will be completely unmemorable due to be of such low quality.

    Quality -> Quantity!

    1. PeterG
      Odd, when drs was introduced it was done as an aid make passing easier. It now is been used as the only way to overtake. The change in emphasis is suttle but but telling. In fact, if drs is removed from these cars tomorrow, lilerally ever race on the grid would be like Monaco, processional, with little to no actual overtaking. This is just crazy. They seem to be doing anything, but address the problem stareing all of us and them in the face. It’s the front wings stupid.

      1. @bonbonjai, actually, it is not “the front wing stupid” – studies from individuals who have researched the topic with CFD and wind tunnel testing have show that most fans are falling into exactly the sort of knee jerk response that Brawn has warned against.

        Fans seem to obsess over the front wings because they can see them, and seem to assume that the problem can only be with something that is externally visible. They also seem to think that, because the front wing is at the front of the car, then understeer must be down to that front wing not producing enough downforce. Because of that, it seems that most fans seem to quite significantly overestimate the importance of the wings and, as a result, underestimate the importance of the floor of the cars.

        However, what those studies have shown is that the real problem lies with the current design of the floor, and in particular the diffuser – what is pretty much always forgotten is that the 2017 regulation package allowed the teams to start tapering the mouth of the diffuser further forward on the floor and allowed the teams to have a higher expansion ratio.

        Don’t forget, after all, that the floor of the car is the dominant downforce producing part of the car – we’re talking in the order of 60% of the total downforce coming from the floor, and probably more. The 2017 regulations have probably actually had the effect of shifting the overall proportion of downforce produced by the cars slightly more towards the floor due to the increased size and curvature of the diffuser that is now permitted.

        Now, pretty much all of the teams have adopted those changes, since they increase the performance of the floor quite a bit – however, the shape of the diffuser, combined with the high expansion ratio, means that the airflow can now become detached more easily than before, so the front of the floor and the diffuser are more prone to stalling.

        That is more of a problem for the trailing driver than the wings stalling – the front and rear wings tend to lose a comparable amount of performance, so although the car produces less downforce, the overall handling balance remains reasonably similar. The problems with the floor and diffuser stalling, however, tend to result in that chronic understeer that the drivers often complain about over the radio, mainly because you’re now getting a rearward shift in the centre of pressure that pushes the handling balance rearward – it also tends to result in a more erratic handling balance, since the airflow will periodically detach and reattach to the floor of the car, making it more difficult for the driver in the trailing car to predict how the car will behave.

        That is the real issue that seems to dog the cars right now: people seem to think that generating a high proportion of downforce from the floor of the car is a magic “silver bullet” that will solve everything (in the same way that the often misused term “ground effects” is treated as some sort of miraculous panacea), but in reality it is a far more complex proposition and there can be quite sizeable adverse impacts.

        Under the current rule set, most people would probably be disappointed to see that altering the front wings probably wouldn’t have as much of an impact as they think it would – you would probably notice a much more significant effect from altering the regulations on the floor to minimise airflow detachment, such as by softening the radius of curvature of the floor.

        1. Trent Stephens
          5th April 2018, 12:55

          Dang, +1 on this comment.

          Enjoyed the read and analysis.

        2. If this is the case, I suspect the regulations have failed and should be redone so that the floor and diffuser have higher stability and wider operating window to encompass cars following each other. I also like the challenge it is for the engineers also, as the compromise made in their design will ultimately decide how the cars performs in dirty air. Any instability should shift the center of pressure forward instead of aft to promote confidence in steering performance.

    2. @PeterG 48 to be precise.

  3. Isn’t this the DRS down the main straight which has been extended? In which case I think you mean the back straight DRS that hasn’t changed

  4. Vettel fan 17 (@)
    4th April 2018, 14:57

    Not that Bahrain needs it, but I guess it’s better then a third zone.

  5. Neil (@neilosjames)
    4th April 2018, 15:17

    I thought that particular zone was long enough, not just for overtaking into Turn 1 but also for setting up attempts into Turn 4.

    But extending it is better than shoving a third zone in between Turns 3 and 4 or 13 and 14… which is what I was fearing might happen.

    1. The problem is we are happy even with DRS overtaking now… the worst kind of overtaking possible.

      1. @erikje
        Ok. i am intrigued.
        Lets take away DRS. Do you the problem is solved ? You’ll see better overtaking is it ?

    2. @neilosjames
      Wouldnt having a DRS zone between turns 13 and 14 make more sense ? atleast from an overtaking perspective…
      Imagine A moving ahead of B before 14 and then B fighting with A on the start finish straight (with DRS ofcourse). I think it would bring in some parity and also give both drivers a chance to defend/overtake.

  6. The smart thing would be to leave the DRS alone and see how it works on a track that you can overtake on and react accordingly. It is also frustrating that extending DRS zones only serves to increase any advantage Mercedes have with their engine. It will be even easier to overtake the competition if they get stuck behind them. This sport frustrates me so much i wonder why i even bother.

    1. The smart thing would be to leave the DRS alone and see how it works on a track that you can overtake on and react accordingly

      In that case surely that’d be last year, meaning this year it’s time for the reaction?

      1. @davidnotcoulthard Well, different year. The cars are generating more downforce so the circumstances aren’t quite the same. That aside i thought last year’s race was pretty much perfect. DRS created an opportunity to attempt a pass rather than guarantee one (surely this was the way the system was intended to work)

        1. That 100 meters may affect the brakes and or mindset into turn 1 … We’ll see.

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