F1 2021 concept rear wing

F1 planning to keep DRS in 2021 – but may not use it

2021 F1 season

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Formula 1 is planning to keep the Drag Reduction System when it introduces sweeping new technical regulations in 2021.

The new formula is intended to make racing and overtaking much easier by allowing the cars to follow each other more closely. This was a problem DRS was intended to address when it was introduced in 2011.

However eight years since it was first used the proximity-based overtaking aid is still far from universally popular. Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen are among drivers who have criticised it this season. In March the reigning world champion described it as “a band-aid for the poor quality of racing”.

Documents seen by RaceFans indicate the 2021 cars will continue to have a DRS function which operates in much the same way as it does now. The geometry of the drive-controlled moveable flap will be revised in line with the reshaped rear wing.

RaceFans understands the system is likely to be kept as a back-up in case the proposed regulations fail to provide the anticipated improvements in overtaking. If the system is present on the cars to begin with, its use could be prevented if the FIA chooses not to establish any DRS zones at a given track, which does not require regulation changes or agreement from the teams.

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46 comments on “F1 planning to keep DRS in 2021 – but may not use it”

  1. Yawn….

    DRS actually worked really well at monza for the front cars because it made RACING possible not passing. But that was only due to the superior speed of the Ferrari. But that is what we want out of it, it was meant to close the challenger up to the leader not get him past before the braking zone

    1. There is was a quite a big difference between speeds of Mercedes and Ferrari look couple of places behind and DRS was too effective like it was in Spa.

      1. Pretty much what i said.

        It only worked well due to the speed difference. If they were equal it would of been too effective.

        1. isaac (@invincibleisaac)
          10th September 2019, 11:21

          I agree here. It worked well at the front of the race because it was a Mercedes trying to pass a Ferrari. Had it been the other way round then the Ferrari would’ve breezed passed the Mercedes and it would have looked far too easy.

        2. Also in Monza rear wings are very skinny, DRS effect is quite low.

          Also downforce levels were low, something 2021 regulations should do well, low downforce and low(better yet zero) DRS effect.

          Racing thus was quite good. To bad Vettel was not in the mix, to clash with Mercedes. But I suspect then Charles would cruise to an easy victory with fight happening behind him.

    2. DRS voids all racing

  2. I.e., If it’s still in F1 then, it’d only come back to use should the next aero-changes fail at improving the ability of the cars to follow massively.

    1. I really don’t know why DRS is only enabled within 1 second of the leading car.

      It would make more sense to extend the DRS zone to 1.5 seconds to account for the areodynamic effect the car ahead has on the car behind. Or even change the DRS window from track to track to take account of the track potential for overtaking, as well as slip streaming.

      Why fix DRS at 1 second, who drew that line in the sand?

  3. It looks like F1 is setting itself up for a knee-jerk reaction. One boring race at Paul Ricard and there will be clamoring for the return of DRS.

  4. As much as I don’t want to admit it, this decision surprisingly does makes sense!
    They finally started to look at least “one step” into the future, and they try to prepare a little bit in case new aero doesn’t give as much as they want – the cars will be ready to use DRS ASAP (at the current or the next race after a “go-decision”), without necessity to wait for a whole year or force teams to design a new system\components mid-year.

    Though as I mentioned elsewhere on this site – with every one “positive” step these guys manage to make 10 negative ones… so I fully expect something awful to be made known today.

    1. Yes, always be prepared. Good for a change.

  5. To me it seems sensible to at least “allow” for it rather than condemning a whole year’s racing if things don’t turn out as planned/intended.

    However, sensible and FIA don’t necessarily go hand in hand – here’s hoping that they actually give the new spec cars a decent amount of time and races before rushing into using the DRS provisions on the cars. As @adrianmorse points out one boring race shouldn’t generate a knee jerk “we have to have DRS back”.

  6. johnandtonic (@)
    10th September 2019, 8:30

    Two initial thoughts.

    1. Brawn has spent two years and a bucket load of money to develop new regulations to improve racing and remove gimmicks. Seems he has no confidence in his work

    2. Reducing costs is an FOM objective and now the teams will spend money designing a DRS solution that they plan not to use! This is counter intuitive.

    1. @johnandtonic

      Brawn has spent two years and a bucket load of money to develop new regulations to improve racing and remove gimmicks. Seems he has no confidence in his work

      Or perhaps he is sensibly keeping an insurance policy just in case. I don’t expect to crash my car, have my house burgled or die, but I have insurance in place to help in case they do.

      1. @drmouse I so hope it is as you suggest, and I do think that is the case.

      2. johnandtonic (@)
        10th September 2019, 19:50

        @drmouse Brawn said he setup his team and process to bring certainty to regulation changes and avoid unexpected consequences.

        if you don’t have certainty / confidence the new regulations will address fundamental issues you should have a fallback solution.

        1. @johnandtonic

          if you don’t have certainty / confidence the new regulations will address fundamental issues

          There will never be certainty.

          As for confidence, I had confidence that my first marriage would last forever (or else I wouldn’t have married her). It didn’t.

          You can have the utmost confidence in something, while still knowing there’s a chance you’ve missed something. Brawn knows that, if the regs are followed as he expects them to, they will work well. However, he’s also smart enough to know that there are 11 teams full of some of the smartest engineers on the planet, all trying to gain the best performance from their car, and they could find something he missed. If they do, and what they find seriously affects the aims of the new regs, it is sensible and smart to have an insurance policy to fall back on.

          1. johnandtonic (@)
            11th September 2019, 16:26

            @drmouse. Your response seems to support my position. Brawn does not have confidence that the regulations will produced the desired outcome ( his remit). He has undertaken a risk assessment (probability, possibility, impact, cost) and determined that the risk is sufficiently high that he needs DRS (against his remit)

          2. @johnandtonic

            Your response seems to support my position. Brawn does not have confidence that the regulations will produced the desired outcome

            I still disagree.

            I work as a software developer, mostly on large ecommerce websites. When we deploy code, it goes through many levels of testing. If all of that testing goes well, and we are confident that there will be no averse issues, it is deployed to the live environment.

            However, in spite of the fact that we are confident that everything will work, we always have a plan in place to back out the changes if they do not work. This could be including a setting to enable/disable the new code, or it could be a procedure to deploy an old version (often it is both, and more besides), but the fact remains: no matter how confident we are, things can go wrong and it is best to be prepared in case it does. In fact, it would be completely irresponsible of us not to. As an independent consultant, I could actually be sued for negligence if I didn’t do so and something went wrong.

            So, no, neither do I agree with you, nor does what I say support your position, that “Brawn does not have confidence”. He is just being a responsible engineer and keeping a plan in place to mitigate any unforeseen issues.

    2. @johnandtonic reply to 1.brawn’s team project, has to be approved by the teams, their work is a compromise. It might be the case that DRS might be used as a bargaining chip, in order to force what brawn wants.

      1. johnandtonic (@)
        11th September 2019, 16:31

        @peartree. I agree the process is flawed.

        Not sure why Brawn invited the teams to participate. Even so, I would have hoped that basic principles/red lines were agreed (remove gimmicks) so all the teams were on-board

        I am not criticising Brawn, just making an observation, based on what he stated were his objectives.

        1. @johnandtonic f1 is so broken that the teams have to agree on the ruleset. It’s not that Brawn invited the teams, it’s the regulation that forces this.

          1. johnandtonic (@)
            13th September 2019, 17:36

            @peartree. I understand that the teams need to agree for 2020. It was my undertstanding that for 2021 ( New agreements) that there was no obligation on FOM.

          2. @johnandtonic the new concorde agreement what Carey, Brawn and the teams are negotiating could undo that, at the moment nothing has changed

  7. I like this… it’s the answer I gave to the poll on here a month or so ago about whether it should be retained or not. Obviously I hope it won’t be needed, but it’s sensible to have it there as an option in the event the rules don’t work as well as intended.

  8. Suffering Williams Fan
    10th September 2019, 9:13

    Plan for the worst, hope for the best. A good call. Having some flexibility while real-world data is collected on the new regulations makes complete sense. If the new regulations were to completely fail to deliver, keeping DRS at least avoid going backwards. If the new regulations are an improvement, but not quite a solution, you might be able to opt for shorter, DRS zones that end well before the breaking zone to avoid the excessive over-speed problem (I think this was Chain Bear’s idea?) while further analysis and tweaks are determined. If it works, great, DRS can go in 2022.

  9. Although I am no fan of DRS, I realise that it does increases the show at some races. So maybe F1 chooses not to use DRS at most circuits and only uses DRS at tracks where overtaking is too difficult (say Monaco, Singapore)

    1. @matthijs I might be wrong, but I don’t think DRS does much at all at Monaco other than shave a few tenths off a quali lap and maybe a handful of passes into Sainte-Dévote over the years. I think if you were to run this years race with or without it you’d get the same result.

      1. @bernasaurus You are right. But with the new aerodynamics cars should be able to run a lot closer, making it possible perhaps to overtake at Monaco again, with DRS. But still Monaco will be a special and different circuit.

  10. DRS is here to stay.

  11. Seems to me they don’t have faith in their own designs. I was afraid drs would stay but at the same time it was a given considering quality of passes doesn’t mean anything anymore. It is all about quantity. Spa was horrible because of drs and fia has a track record of making the drs overpowered. The monza hamilton-leclerc pass attempt was worth hundred drs passes. I think what will happen is that if the 2021 rule changes work it will be all too convenient for fia to add drs on top of and have every car make drs position switch on every lap and then gloat about amazing racing and big increase in overtaking.

  12. no surprise there. DRS will outlive everything. even after a nuclear war the only thing left will be DRS wings.

  13. This is not at all what I wanted to hear, but I’d like to hear Brawn comment on it. It remains my very big hope that they will not need to use this integrity robbing device.

    I think we have to be careful here in distinguishing between ‘allowing closer racing’ and ‘making passing easier.’ For me I thought the idea with the new regs was that closer racing would ensue, closer battles, and that it was not to be about quantity of passes, for that has never been the F1 way. And that may well still be the case. The last thing I want to hear Brawn say is that they need to make passing easier, and I don’t expect him to say that. He has already said it is about close battles.

    I remain confident that drs will not be needed. But as per the article cited in the second paragraph, perhaps they do have to allow for teams to reduce some of Brawn’s wind tunnel work by trying to make their cars make more wake for example. In a way it excites me that the teams might have that much latitude, but I’m not expecting that they will have that much range such that the drastic changes being made all at once won’t far exceed any changes teams can make to claw that back.

    News to me is that the FIA controls the drs zones. Adds an element I wasn’t expecting.

    1. News to me is that the FIA controls the drs zones. Adds an element I wasn’t expecting.

      Who did you think was controlling them?

    2. News to me is that the FIA controls the drs zones. Adds an element I wasn’t expecting.

      I’m genuinely surprised, you seem to spend ALOT of time on here poring over every article. It’s pretty common knowledge, who else would control them?

      1. @socksolid @RB13 Ya that was pretty stupid of me wasn’t it? Combine a little stress and anxiety along with some exhaustion and an early morning post and that’s what you get. For some reason I was picturing Lord Todt on his high chair decreeing in the new gen whether thou shalt be drs zones or nay, forgetting about Masi and his lot, likely in discussions with the teams as to what worked last year and what didn’t and whether to add a zone or not or change the existing one’s lengths. I know it says above that they don’t need the teams agreement but I’m sure they still discuss this with the teams and don’t need to take a vote or look for unanimity or anything, which is why I wasn’t initially thinking of this so much as an FIA thing but rather an FIA/F1 thing. I mean, it wasn’t FIA that instigated drs to begin with was it? They didn’t actually suggest the gadget did they? And it’s Brawn and team of F1 who controls it’s fate. Anyhoo, I’m sure I’ll have better days.

  14. I cannot stand DRS, For me it’s hurt my enjoyment of races far more than it’s ever helped.

    DRS & to an extent the high degredation tyres are more than anything else the reasons I care less about F1 now than I did a decade ago. I just don’t enjoy what they have done to the racing because I don’t enjoy the sort of racing they produce & I don’t think I ever will.

    The article says it will be kept as a fallback but the problem is that when it comes to gimmicks I don’t trust them. I mean let’s not forget that back in 2010/11 when DRS was first been sold to us they said it was only temporary for a few years, They were going to experiment with, They weren’t going to use it everywhere & weren’t going to use it where it wasn’t needed.

    Well it’s been around longer than it should have been, They have never really experimented with it, They use it everywhere & there are many examples of it been used where it isn’t needed (Kemmel straight at Spa for instance).

    1. @stefmeister Monza would have been utterly boring without DRS.

    2. @stefmeister I know nobody that watches f1. Every once in a while my father chats about f1, jokes about DRS frankly I’m embarassed to talk about f1.

  15. RaceFans understands the system is likely to be kept as a back-up in case the proposed regulations fail to provide the anticipated improvements in overtaking.

    What I suggested doing here. Cheers :0P

  16. This to me says they don’t really know what they’re doing in terms of changing the rules. Before introducing a significant number of changes designed to make the cars easier to follow, Brawn’s team needed to make bloody sure they knew exactly what the result of the changes would be. Engineering is about certainty of results not guessing and hoping. This sounds like it’s all just a best guess and they’ll keep they’re collective fingers crossed that they get the desired results.

  17. Thing is that once you start introducing & relying on gimmicks & other artificial elements they can be extremely difficult to get rid of, Especially in an era where people struggle to look beyond numbers which are easily available to be used in online debate.

    At it’s peak DRS & the High-deg tires were producing 50-100+ overtakes a race as well as the unpredictability of early 2012. Problem is those overtaking figures & the 8 winners in 8 races stats are out there & regularly been thrown around so they have become the benchmark that things will be measured by. If in 2021 we have cars that can run closer, Tires that allow drivers to push harder for longer & a situation where overtaking is a lot more possible but there’s only 25-30 a race rather than the 50+ that was seen with DRS with only 3-4 winners each year (I think going back to the 70s the average is 5 different winners a season), Those stats are going to be thrown around in online debate & used to say the 2021 regs have failed.
    And with DRS on the cars there are going to be a lot of people who simply want more to raise the stats who are going to push for it to be turned on.

    I actually think the best thing to do is to take it off & go into 2021 & then just let things play out. It also has the side effect of putting the emphasis on what may need to be improved with no easy band aid to reduce the need to change anything.

    1. @gt-racer Wrt relying on gadgets once they’re there, and therefore hanging on to them, I won’t say that can’t possibly happen, but I hope this is a new chapter and a turning of the page with Liberty/Brawn stamping their authority on their entity.

      I don’t personally get involved in or see discussion about all the passing stats from season to season, but I’m sure there is a body of fans that want more for the sake of more, and I just hope that their numbers and influence aren’t so large that they override what would be sensible and reasonable to expect. I’m leaning heavily on Brawn’s own wording about the need not for quantities of passes for the sake of their numbers but for more close battles. Entertaining us that way with a sport to be between (challenged) drivers a little more (hopefully more than a little), vs between engineers overly advising drivers how to manage everything too much, as now.

      Your bottom five lines…so well said…couldn’t agree more. However, it sadly would seem that they’ll engineer drs in, perhaps as it is more financially prudent while they’re doing a ground up restoration anyway.

      I surely will continue to expect the vast changes they’re making to result in drs free racing in 2021. I remain unable to fathom how they could possibly end up still needing it, but perhaps it is safe to say that if they embarrassingly did, I’m sure it would be done differently inherently, since the cars will feel and be so different than now.

  18. Keep it, but lose the restrictions. Let them all use it whenever and wherever they want.

  19. Maybe a bit late to comment and also get a response from someone but would love to discuss an idea.

    That is I think it would be much better if drs deactivated along the straight 9nce the closing car is either 1 tenth of a second behind or once they go alongside each other. This would in theory prevent highway or motorway style passes and attempt to instead set the cars up to battle rather than just drive by one another.

    Perhaps the fia have just been too lazy for this or maybe I’m missing some problems with this idea

    Any thoughts?

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