Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018

No “trend” for shorter DRS zones as Spa’s is trimmed

2019 F1 season

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One of the two DRS zones at Spa-Francorchamps has been cut by 20 metres for this weekend’s race.

The activation point for the first zone has been moved from 230 metres from the exit of Raidillon to 210 metres away. The other zone on the start/finish straight is unchanged from last year.

The changes comes after Silverstone and Hockenheim both had one DRS zone removed for their rivals. However FIA race director Michael Masi said this is part of a general reappraisal of how well the system is working and not simply a trend towards making the zones shorter.

“I circulated a document to the teams with basically all the DRS zones for the rest of the year,” Masi explained. “What’s been increased slightly, decreased slightly. There’s a couple of them that have been removed from memory. The teams all now have that information.”

The removal of zones at two of the last three races had led some to conclude F1 was reducing its reliance on DRS to create overtaking opportunities. But Masi denied there was a trend for making the zones shorter.

“[It’s] circumstances, having a look from previous events like the previous year at that circuit: Has it worked? Was it too powerful? Not powerful enough?

“Then the boffins all sit there and crunched data and look at that and then compare it to television and go from there. And also the drivers have given their feedback previously.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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  • 17 comments on “No “trend” for shorter DRS zones as Spa’s is trimmed”

    1. “Having a look from previous events like the previous year at that circuit: Has it worked? Was it too powerful?” I find this hard to believe in the case of Spa: the DRS zone on the Kemmel straight has always been too much, with cars slingshotting out of Raidillon and completing the passes halfway down the straight. A trimming of 20 metres is not going to change that.

      1. Yeah, I think the problem isn’t where DRS is started, it’s where it ends.

        If they would get DRS right after the exit of Raddillion but then have it closed automatically halfway down the Kemmel straight, drivers would have the help to close up but still have to complete the pass themselves in the braking zone for Les Combes.

        1. @jeffreyj as far as i’m aware, that isn’t how DRS works. it ends when you hit the brakes, so the end of the zone is just the start of the braking zone. I guess they could mandate electronically when it shuts, but that might require a redesign of the whole system and it could even be dangerous (i.e. when a car is following closely that doesn’t have DRS, which happens albeit rarely, if the car in front had its DRS shut suddenly before the braking zone, it would quickly lose speed).

          of all the zones on the calendar that needed to just go entirely, this was the one. 20 metres difference on this massive straight is just pointless.

          1. @frood19 It can already be shut automatically. This was the case last year at both Germany and GBR on the pit straight for example.

            DRS is meant to help the car behind overcome the disadvantage of turbulent air in the corner prior to a DRS straight, not to have the actual overtake take place under DRS like a pass on the M25. So, if you give it to them right after the corner and then automatically close it well before the braking zone, DRS would actually do what it was meant to do…

            1. @jeffreyj yeah, that would make more sense than the way it’s set up now. however, for those examples last year, was it not just turned off completely? they didn’t force close it half way through the DRS zone, did they? i’m not sure the system is capable of this – and perhaps it shouldn’t be for the safety reasons i mentioned above.

            2. @frood19 No it wasn’t turned off completely, it closed automatically. I know this from memory, but also because the F12019 game still has the DRS (with automatic close) on the pit straight at Hockenheim.

            3. @jeffreyj i’m totally with you now.

            4. @jeffreyj DRS deactivates automatically only by applying the brakes, though. Otherwise, it has to be deactivated manually via a button or switch on the steering wheel.

    2. “The activation point for the first zone has been moved from 230 metres from the exit of Raidillon to 210 metres away. The other zone on the start/finish straight is unchanged from last year.”

      So the activation point has come closer to the exit of Raidillion… away from Les Combes… Wouldn’t that mean it’s been extended, not shortened?

      1. @scottie Exactly what I was thinking. I think the numbers are the wrong way around, or maybe they’re talking about detection zones pre-Eau Rouge, but then they wouldn’t mention Raidillon as the reference point.

      2. Glad I’m not the only one thinking about it this way. The numbers are probably the wrong way around.

    3. It would be interesting to see the yearly change in the length of DRS zones per track since 2011. I wonder these data are easily available somewhere.

    4. Wouldn’t be surprised if FIA didn’t understand the meaning of a word “trend”

    5. Let’s hope the trend is to reduce it completely!

    6. Ross Brawn: We are looking to reduce and eliminate DRS
      Massi: This is not a trend to reduce DRS

      This is where the abdsurdity of a governing body and promoter running a sport comes in. There’s no need to put either statement “out there” just work on it behind the scenes and show the public the solutions when they’re ready.

    7. I don’t think there needs to be a DRS zone on the kemmel straight at all. The slipstream has always been very effective there on it’s own & we have always had a lot of good racing on that part of the circuit before DRS.

      Look at the first laps after the start or after a SC before DRS is activated. Lots of great slipstreaming & side by side racing into les combes.

      1. @stefmeister: Great point. Slipstreaming without DRS spoils the FIA show. During those periods of the race where DRS may not be deployed, the FIA must require drivers to deploy the DAS. Drag Amplification System. Not only would this give us the nose-to-tail racing we crave, assist weaker teams’ aerodynamics department, it would drag us deeper into the F1 as aero-series debate.


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