New F1 cars may not need DRS to overtake – Green

2022 F1 season

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Formula 1’s new technical rules for 2022 may allow the series to stop relying on the Drag Reduction System to aid overtaking, says Aston Martin’s technical director.

DRS was introduced to F1 in 2011. It allows any driver who has closed within one second of a rival ahead in a race to open a flap on their rear wings to reduce drag and increase their straight-line speed, aiding their attempts to pass.

While this has proved an effective way of encouraging overtaking, it has also attracted constant criticism for generating passes which are considered artificial and impossible to defend against.

In a further effort to improve the quality of racing, F1 has introduced radical new technical rules for 2022. These require teams to create cars which should generate remarkably less drag and therefore be able to follow each other more closely without the aid of DRS.

While the rules allow teams to continue using DRS, Aston Martin’s technical director Andrew Green is hopeful it will become obsolete.

“I think the DRS itself is going to be just as powerful,” he said. “But I think it’ll be up to the FIA to look at the track layouts and see whether they need to modify the DRS zones accordingly.

Aston Martin AMR22, 2022
Pictures: Aston Martin AMR22 launch
“I suspect they will do. If it plays the way that they think it’s going to play, with the cars being able to follow more closely, they shouldn’t need as much DRS assistance.

“I think we might see the DRS zones reduced over time and some of them may even be removed. I think that’d be a good thing.”

However, Green pointed out that the varying performance levels of the teams early in the season may reduce the opportunities for overtaking initially.

“To start the season, we may still find that there’s quite a big spread in the grid as everyone finds their feet with the regulations, understanding the directions that other teams have taken,” he said.

“There are going to be teams that have found a rich vein of performance in the direction they’ve taken,
and there will be other teams that have not quite got there in the early stages.

“It will be a few races before we start to see how the pack plays out. Then, I think we’ll start to see
everybody close up relatively quickly compared to previous years.”

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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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  • 34 comments on “New F1 cars may not need DRS to overtake – Green”

    1. Hopefully the powers that be will react quickly and not allow overly powerful DRS passes to ruin more races than it already does. I will not be holding my breath.

    2. Glad to hear someone in F1 bringing this up again because I wondered where they were at with this. I strongly believe these cars shouldn’t need DRS and so I hope to see it’s use removed. I am also eager to hear more about what Domenicali spoke of regarding DRS which was the possibility that it could be repurposed simply as a tool for all drivers to use every time they are in the designated zones for it, no matter their proximity to other cars, simply as a way for all drivers to reduce drag in those zones, which promotes better fuel economy, and would also enhance top speeds and lower lap times.

      In general it makes no sense to me to change these cars so drastically for the very purpose of closer racing, only to then still rely on much-maligned DRS. I hope to see them experimenting with this as soon as they have cars on tracks in testing, and as soon as they are racing officially in anger, and I hope to see them all agree to race without DRS, or as Domenicali suggested keep it but use it in a way that is fair for all.

      1. Right, keep it and let it be used as much as a driver wants to use it. Sort the men from the boys.

    3. Since it’s unfortunately still on the cars this year what I would like to see them do is go into races with the position been that DRS won’t be enabled unless it becomes obvious after 15-20 laps than overtaking is no easier than it was before.

      Alternatively work it the opposite way where they are open to disabling DRS if it is apparent that it’s making passing too easy & isn’t required.

      The worst thing for me would be that the regulations work as intended as far as allowing for closer racing & allow for non-DRS overtaking to be more possible but we then still have to sit through races where battles are ruined & excitement hindered due to DRS producing passes that are far too easy.

      I also think that fans need to be OK with the possibility that without DRS we may see a bit less overtaking. Obviously when I say that I don’t mean a situation where overtaking is almost impossible meaning we hardly see any as was sometimes the case before, But that if we see 2 (Or more) cars racing closely in which the car ahead is able to stay ahead all race this shouldn’t automatically be seen as a bad thing providing that during that battle an overtake was possible & we got to see a few realistic attempts where good positioning/race craft is what allowed the guy to stay ahead rather than the guy behind simply never been able to get close enough to have a go.

      My view with overtaking has always been that it should be difficult but possible because we want it to be about driver skill & good racecraft. It shouldn’t be so easy that anybody can do it or so that defending isn’t possible. It shouldn’t be guaranteed, It should be hard fought for & earned. That is where DRS has for me always failed more often than not.

      1. @stefmeister Well said and I agree completely. And Brawn has said all along that with these new cars it is about more close combat, not about more passes just for the sake of the numbers. F1 in general, awful DRS aside, has always been about quality of passing and the art of defending, over quantity. It’s just that as time went on the cars got so so clean air dependent that even just combat, let alone passing, was becoming too difficult. The poor tires haven’t helped.

        Here’s to more close action, and passes and defences that will be incredible and memorable for years to come. There is not one single DRS pass that has been memorable beyond the few seconds after it took place.

        1. For me the most memorable moment of last season was Alonso defending against Hamilton on Hungary. A pleasure to watch, like the battles from pre 90s era. This was more exciting than all the DRS overtakes combined. Now is the moment to ditch DRS once and for all. I hope they have the balls to do it even if it lessen the qty of overtakes. Quality over quantity should be their new mantra. The new gen cars are here, now is the time to walk the talk.

          1. @mmertens But that was a DRS overtake — Hamilton was able to attack Alonso the way he did only because he was repeatedly using DRS.

            That battle is probably one of the best arguments for DRS — on a tight circuit where overtaking is difficult, Hamilton, in a significantly quicker car, was able to get by using DRS, but still had to work for it. To my point below, when DRS works as intended, we tend to forget that it’s there.

            1. Hi Mark, thanks for you comment, but I disagree. Without DRS, this battle would last 3 times longer. And Hamilton would need to consider carefully if he would need to take “brave pills” and try to outbrake Alonso on turn one without DRS much more than just trying to keep close, recharge batteries and use DRS to overtake Alonso. I doubt he would be able to overtake Alonso without DRS without having to go for an all or nothing manoeuvre, which ultimately is what DRS prevents. It prevents the driver to have to consider a risk of overtake and the consequences of an I’ll attempt. Today, Is much harder for a driver in a underperforming car to stay in front of a better car. That’s the reason you also see Hamilton going from last to the front in races like Interlagos; it was a good drive from Hamilton there, but undoubtedly it was much much easier because of DRS. This also prevents the big teams of having really bad weekends. If a big team or driver ness up in qualifying, regardless of what position he start the race, he can still fight for a podium. That shouldn’t be that easy. It is mostly because of DRS.

            2. @mmertens Well, I agree with you that without DRS, that battle in Hungary would have lasted much longer — it could very well have lasted the entire race and we’d have been here after the race complaining that it’s impossible to pass. Both types of battles can be entertaining. But if you liked what you saw in that battle — and I thought you did — you have to acknowledge it was only possible because of DRS.

              When DRS is overpowered, I don’t like it any more than the next person, but I feel we ought to acknowledge the good with the bad. It’s been a band-aid solution for a bad aero formula, nothing more, but nothing less. When the magnitude of the effect in the right window, we rarely notice it’s there.

            3. Fair enough Mark, I understand what you’re saying. In current context of aero dependent cars, DRS could help on some situations , in some circuits and make for fair duels. I for one wouldn’t mind in that particular race to see this battle last the full race without necessarily an overtake. But I get there will be people talking against this. The thing is overall, DRS ruined more the great battles than enhanced them. Also, even if DRS might it help on some circuits, it also ruined races on great circuits like Spa for example, where there’s not a decent overtake by the end of kemmel straight. It’s just my opinion, but since I started watching F1, now is the worst era with less inspiring overtakes or battles on a regular basis. But I respect your view, it’s ok. I get that on some circumstances DRS provided good racing too. All good

            4. @mmertens Fair points. And I certainly have to agree with you that DRS was too often overpowered, Spa being particularly egregious. Thanks for the comments.

      2. @stefmeister I hope they’ll be responsive in altering DRS zones, too, though after last season, I don’t know if it’s a good idea for F1 to change the regulations in mid-race. I’ve never been enamoured with sprint races, but if we are going to have them, they could be helpful here by allowing the FIA to evaluate and make changes overnight for the grand prix.

        @robbie I have no love for DRS and won’t miss it, but I think it’s a bit harsh to say there hasn’t been a single memorable DRS pass. When DRS works as it was intended to—allowing cars to merely pull up alongside—we tend to forget about it. DRS has certainly resulted in plenty of unmemorable passes, but it has also enabled some memorable ones, too, and livened up some circuits like Hungary and Zandvoort. I wouldn’t say it has been unwelcome at Monaco and Singapore, either.

        1. @markzastrow Sure perhaps a few passes memorable for some, but I know for me, even when DRS isn’t helping a driver blow past the leading driver who is completely helpless to defend, and it is a more even battle, I still always am mindful, oh yeah…DRS. It’s an awful gadget that is just a constant reminder that the cars went the wrong way, albeit I do appreciate the fascinating science of aero downforce. Fascinating and great for lower lap times and higher speeds, just not meant for close racing, and they’ve known that for years.

          1. @robbie Yeah, fair points. I’ll be glad to be rid of the reminder, too.

    4. petebaldwin (@)
      10th February 2022, 16:32

      That’s great news for F1 overall (if true) but really bad news for this season as we won’t see any good racing – we’ll just see cars follow closely and then blast past on the straights.

      I guess whilst I was hoping for a good season this year, I’d take one ruined by DRS if that meant it would be dropped for 2023.

      1. @petebaldwin Hold on now. Let’s see how it goes, and let’s not forget that even with the previous cars not meant to race closely, there were still lot’s of non-DRS passes too. I predict that DRS zones aside, there should be much more close combat and potential passes and great defences, at more places on more tracks than before. Yeah sure depending on what they do with DRS and the zones there will likely be times when a driver will just wait till he can open his wing, but I think everywhere else on tracks things should be a big improvement. Personally I’ll be floored and very disappointed if they still feel the need to use DRS in the same way it has been used, beyond this season, and imho they should be able to reduce it’s ‘strength’ this season even, so drastic are the changes to the cars.

        1. petebaldwin (@)
          10th February 2022, 19:21

          @robbie – Hopefully it won’t have a negative effect. The worry is that if they are able to
          follow closely, it’ll be easy to get into position for a simple DRS pass. Therefore why risk a tricky move when you can just press a button to swap positions?

          The goal has to be to remove DRS – I’d that happens over the next couple of seasons, it’ll be a huge win for the sport.

          1. @petebaldwin Yeah fair comment. I take your point and of course my hope is that if they are able to follow closely, it’ll be so easy to get into position for a simple DRS pass that F1 will recognize that it would be harmful to the quality of the product on track, and unnecessary and undesirable to witness, to finally get these cars able to race closely only to gift drivers free and easy passes anyway. As I think is plain to see, one of the bonuses of these cars meant to race closely is exactly that they then won’t need DRS to make up for cars that can’t race closely as per 2021 and previously. I’m sure this season will be a good time to experiment with DRS and it’s usage, and I will be very very disappointed if it isn’t either removed or repurposed for 2023. If they need the next couple of seasons, well, that will be hard for me to wrap my head around. If anything, if they still think DRS is ‘needed’ for 2023 the better route to go imho would be to tweak the technical regs to ensure they don’t need it still in 2023.

    5. Just as powerful? If Red Bull’s Pierre Wache’s estimation on higher top speeds caused by lower drag comes true, the DRS would automatically become less powerful. Drivers will, of course, keep activating as long as they can, but Green’s of reducing zone numbers for tracks or even removing some altogether could happen.

      1. @jerejj It would probably roughly cancel out. While the higher speeds will reduce the time DRS is open, it will likely make it more effective in a given time, because drag increases with speed (and from a quick google it looks like at the kind of speeds F1 cars reach, it may actually be proportional to the square of speed), so reducing the drag will have an even greater effect.

    6. If they absolutely have to keep DRS, which I’d rather they didn’t, but if they did have to, I would much prefer them to follow the same route GP3 and DTM use/used, which was limit the number of times it could be activated during the race/ during a given number of laps. Just makes people actually have to try and fit a little bit more opportunity to use it at the right point and not just sit behind using DRS for 10-15 laps in a row. I quite liked that idea in those series.

      1. Yeah a great alternative. Make it tactical and not just an always on thing. I mean people love the tacticality of F1 so making DRS use tactical might actually get fans on board rather than annoy them. Then again we’ve had DRS for a decade and they never implemented that concept.

    7. Why don’t they adapt how much the DRS can open depending on which track we are going to, for example 85 mm for Monaco/Singapore/Hungary and just 20 mm for Spa/Austria/Monza and then adapt in between at other races. This way DRS will actually just help a tiny at all tracks and not being too powerful at some tracks as of late

      1. 85.2 mm for Brazil, just to be safe.

        1. Hahah this would be bad for Mercedes 😂

    8. If the new regs work as designed then an overly powerful DRS will really become obvious and a negative for fans old and new alike watching along, so hopefully they’d respond quickly to reduce or remove its use altogether.

      If we can see battles and positions changing place back and forth lap after lap from close racing and good driving who on Earth wants that ruined by DRS?

    9. DRS was only meant to be a solution to a temporary problem, so I desperately hope F1 doesn’t need it from this year onwards. If they still need DRS then the new 2022 regs have failed, which will be a pretty dismal outcome after all the work that’s been done.

      1. If they still need DRS then the new 2022 regs have failed

        Hmmm…. I think that’s going too far. The 2022 regs could succeed by vastly reducing the performance deficit while following, allowing them to vastly reduce the length of DRS zones, but not be quite enough to allow a complete removal of DRS. It would still be a success, and one which could be built upon to get to a point where is was no longer required.

        Remember that, at the moment, it’s difficult for a car without a significant performance advantage to even close to within a second to be able to take advantage of DRS in the first place.

        1. ozzmosis Agreed.

          @drmouse Yeah fair comment but for me it is just that if they find they can ‘vastly’ reduce the lengths of DRS zones, then why not just get rid of it altogether, but I do take your point about them perhaps wanting to do it incrementally.

          If you’ve read what Domenicali suggested as a possibility for it’s usage, or me repeating several times here what he said, that being to just use DRS as a tool for them all to reduce drag and save fuel on certain straights, and not anything to do with proximity to another car as a passing aid, then I can understand them building DRS into these new cars and then evaluating what to do with it once they are racing in anger and will know so much more about the nature of these cars in traffic in reality vs the computer models.

          1. I’d be very happy with them using DRS as just a tool for everyone

    10. Won’t the higher speeds on the straights also give less time to make a pass?

      1. @waptraveler I don’t think that should matter as long as drivers while trailing have much more confidence in their car and presumably tires as they follow a car towards and into a turn, as theirs won’t have lost much performance just for being in dirty air ala previous gen cars.

        1. Thanks. I’m certainly interested in how it turns out this year!

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