Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2019

DRS change was “easy” way to create more overtaking

2019 F1 season

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Increasing the power of DRS for the 2019 F1 season was a “safe bet” to ensure more overtaking this year, according to the FIA’s head of single-seater technical matters Nikolas Tombazis.

Discussing the aerodynamic changes for this year in the FIA’s official publication Auto, Tombazis admitted that boosting DRS was seen as an easy way to create more passing this year.

“In many ways that was a safe bet, as we knew it would increase the effect of the Drag Reduction System and therefore a car will be able to close on the one in front more easily,” he said.

New regulations for 2019 also required teams to simplify their front wing designs. This was done to reduce the ‘outwash’ effect in order to help cars run together more closely. Speaking before the Bahrain Grand Prix, Tombazis said they expect the combined effect to create significantly more passing at some venues.

“We were not expecting a huge delta in Australia, which is a difficult track at which to overtake in any case,” he said. “Some simulations were showing an [over] 10% increase of overtaking, assuming a similar evolution of a race, of course. In other races the same simulations expect a more sizeable increase, possibly to the tune of [over] 50%.

“To be clear, that is from simulations of cars following each other in races from last year, using this set of rules. That’s the feedback we’ve had so far, but it will really only become clear as we progress through the season. We weren’t expecting miracles in round one at Australia, but generally we are expecting a step in the right direction as far as aerodynamics are concerned.”

Several drivers have said the DRS changes have done much more than the new front wings to increase the amount of overtaking.

F1 2021 concept rear wing
New 2021 F1 concept car analysed
“All teams say the increased DRS effect is a strong positive,” said Tombazis. “But as I said, that was fairly easy to achieve.

“Some teams say the front wake is going in the right direction but that it’s not a huge step, while others are saying it does represent a bigger change. It’s not fully clear yet.”

Drivers including Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen have called DRS a “band-aid” which F1 should aim to remove. The FIA is planning an overhaul of the aoerydnamic regulations for 2021 which could include a DRS-free car.

Tombazis said the lessons learned in 2019 will help them create cars which are less sensitive to turbulence. “I think that if we hadn’t gone through this process and we were sitting here writing the 2021 rules we would be in a much weaker position,” he said. “For what we are trying to achieve, 2019 has been a very useful exercise and has lessened the wake effect.”

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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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  • 22 comments on “DRS change was “easy” way to create more overtaking”

    1. a “safe bet” to ensure more overtaking

      My head hurts, this is so wrong. By that I mean assuming more overtakes equals better quality of racing or ‘the show’.

        1. Again I would caution that just because someone inside F1 thinks more powerful drs is a good thing for this year, doesn’t mean they forever want cars that need it because of their very nature of discouraging close racing. I’m sure everyone in F1 would prefer the type of car they are developing for 2021 and onward that will not need such an unfortunate gadget.

          1. Just to add, I highly doubt you would find anyone in F1 who thinks more passes just for the sake of the quantity equates to a higher quality product on the track. They are simply stuck with processional cars for now that would not be able to follow or close in at all without drs.

      1. @matthijs It’s not that difficult to comprehend though. Without DRS they need to be 3 seconds per lap faster to be able to overtake. Which simply means no one gets past anyone. Like the races with about zero vertakes all race we had for a bout a decade.

        With DRS they still need to be faster, but at least it enables some overtakes where there is a speed difference.

        1. @f1osaurus At tracks like Bahrain it’s simply not true what you say.

          1. @matthijs What a useless reply. Even if it claim was true, are you implying that F1 races are only held in Bahrain?

            Vacuous statements like that only make it clearer that you are just blurting out populist view. Just like your initial statement, it contains no though or insight.

            That’s the problem with this whole DRS “discussion”. People just are too eager to take the “look at me, I’m so cool that I want old school F1 back” without actually thinking that no one actually wanted that back when it was happening.

    2. All teams say the increased DRS effect is a strong positive,

      I missed those quotes/interviews :P

    3. well, this fan sees it as a strong negative.

      1. @matthijs Fans who understand F1 don’t. People who were watching F1 before DRS was introduced complained massively about there being no overtaking whatsoever. That after the start they might as well switch the TV off (in those days F1 was on regular TV still!) since the end result would be the exact same after lap 1. Minus some technical DNF’s perhaps. Eitehr way, not worth watching at all.

    4. DRS is here to stay for at least 2021, perhaps F1 can adjust the lenght of the DRS-zone (make it shorter). Best would be if the zone starts somewhere at the beginning of the straight (as it is now) but ends not at the beginning of the braking zone, but already a halfway point on the straight. In that case the DRS helps the following car to reach the slipstream and then DRS is deactivated. At least then the defending driver has the possibility to defend.

      1. Not thought about this but initial thoughts are I like it!

      2. @matthijs Easier said than done, though, as DRS de-activates only if either the brakes are applied (which obviously doesn’t happen on the middle of a straight) or by re-pressing the DRS activation button.

        1. @jerejj Obviously yes, but if you create a DRS detection and activation point, than it should be possible to create a DRS deactivation point, when you pass this point DRSis no longer active.

          If they want it they can make it, but I doubt they want it.

    5. I don’t have and never really have had a problem with how DRS is being applied at present, nor did I feel that it was too effective in Bahrain. Overall, it was fine there.

    6. Something became glaringly obvious to me in Bahrain…. I just don’t really care anymore. I see all this DRS-ing & I see the tyres acting the way they act now & I just start to tune out because I just don’t enjoy it even if DRS isn’t creating easy drive-by’s I just cannot stand the fact it’s there & see everything it does as nothing more than fake.

      I don’t even trust them that DRS will be gone in 2021 & if it isn’t then regardless of whatever they do i’ll walk away because i’m sick of it.

      I’ve put up with the DRS & these high-deg tyres since 2011 because they were sold as a temporary thing but as each race, as easy season has gone by with them still been around the love & passion I had for F1 has dipped that little bit more & i’m at a point where I no longer care as much as I once did.

      Number of overtakes is the wrong metric to judge how good/bad a race was & highlighting the percentage increase in overtakes DRS produces does nothing but highlight the flaw.

      Good racing isn’t just about seeing an overtake & it certainly isn’t about how many overtakes happened. A race with few overtakes can be way more exciting & memorable than a race with dozens providing that there is some good fighting between drivers & some realistic looking overtaking attempts because it’s the fighting & the nearly’s that create excitement & any overtake that may occur is just the cherry on top.

      1. OK bye!

      2. Agreed. They better hope the 2021 regs are bang on, because it might be the last hope F1 has.

      3. Well said. Number of overtakes will be pedalled heavily in 2019 as a metric of how ‘awesome’ the sport is, thus making its extermination highly improbable in 2021. We’ll first be softened up with the “let’s just keep it and we’ll wean you off once we don’t need it” approach, followed by “oh wait the teams have developed dirtier aero solutions now so we actually need it again.” Then we’ll be stung with bizarre excuses like “well the younger generation have been brought up through the formulas with it and they kind of need it now…” Sorry boys and girls but in fairness wasn’t it great when we hit 600 overtakes in Abu Dhabi this year? What a race! Hamilton came from 22nd and won!

        1. @cevert73 I think you are misunderstanding the fact that the cars will have so much of their damaging wake diminished, as well as additionally so much of their clean air dependence diminished, that there is no amount of allowed adjustments or design tricks that could get the cars anywhere near back to the levels of today’s cars.

          And, nobody in F1 will be pedalling numbers of overtakes as a metric, as all they are trying to do I have some overtakes vs. hardly any. There won’t be exorbitant amounts of passes anyway, and F1 would sooner there at least be some close racing out there. They’re stuck for now with cars they have to apply bandaids to, with small tweaks, to at least eek some small semblance of what will be much improved with brand new and unprecedented cars to come at the earliest time any entitiy taking over from BE could possibly have done…2021.

          1. Should say ‘all they are trying to do is have some overtakes…’

      4. @stefmeister Obviously you have to be you, and who can argue how you feel about things, but how I feel is really excited because I think 2021 is going to be great. That’s because, amongst several reasons, I’m 100% convinced they will not use drs. I am so convinced that I, having watched F1 since Gilles’ presence brought television coverage to Canada, will consider it’s use a deal breaker for me too. With potentially as little as only a 5% drop in performance in dirty air, as opposed to 50% now, even if they realistically hit 20% loss, the use of drs would be a ridiculous waste of all that Brawn has been developing with his team, and that we now have encouraging evidence of within this site’s body of articles. To me it would be an unthinkable travesty, especially after getting a sneak peek of the technical proposals, and the verbiage itself implying no drs. There seems to me an overwhelming sense that they will easily achieve gadget free close racing with all they are addressing toward that file.

        So this all to say, I wish you to have some more patience and appreciate that Liberty and Brawn are probably chomping at the bit to be rid of these cars too. And I don’t see how you would be able to bring yourself to go away but not check out F1 in March of 2021.

        Your last two paragraphs. Agree 100%. And so does Brawn. He has spoken about close racing and how that is completely different from quantity of passes just for the sake of the numbers. He’s never been about that and never will. He’s all about the pass attempts and the art of defending, like all real racers are.

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