Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

F1 keeps same three DRS zones for first race weekend with new cars

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Formula 1 will keep its DRS zones unchanged at Bahrain International Circuit as it seeks to understand whether new technical regulations have achieved their goal of making it easier for drivers to overtake.

DRS was introduced in 2011 as a means of aiding overtaking by allowing a chasing driver to reduce drag and increase top speed by opening a slot in the rear wing.

F1 has drastically overhauled its technical regulations for the new season with the goal of making it easier for drivers to follow more closely. While DRS has been retained, several figures within the sport have indicated it may no longer be needed.

However the FIA has confirmed it will use the same three DRS zones as last year for the opening race weekend of the season in Bahrain.

The Sakhir circuit has three zones which are positioned on the start/finish straight, the straight between turns three and four and the straight between turns 10 and 11. The detection and activation points for all three are unchanged from the 2021 race.

AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton said it was not clear from testing exactly how the effect of DRS has changed under the new technical rules. However he believes it offers a similar straight-line speed increase to last year.

“People are running a range of a range of rear wing levels but it’s at least comparable, I think,” he said in response to a question from RaceFans. “But when you’re following another car with these new regulations there’s more load on the car, it’s a slightly different scenario. It’s a difficult one to answer at the moment.”

Bahrain International Circuit track map
Bahrain International Circuit track map

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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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46 comments on “F1 keeps same three DRS zones for first race weekend with new cars”

  1. The same three since 2019, but this was effectively a given since they remained in place for testing.
    Perhaps further into the season, some changes might come.
    This depends on how followable the new generation cars will be in actual racing situations.

  2. Oh why oh why can’t the FIA grow some gonads and take the DRS zones away at least for the first few races.
    There’s been so much work done to ensure that dirty air has been reduced so lets see if it actually has been.

    I yearn for a proper race between cars instead of these silly “easy pass” zones that are completely meaningless when it comes to drive skill.

    1. @dbradock
      Completely agree. Now is actually the best moment to do it. I don’t see them deciding to take it away after a few races if it appears too powerful. It’s much easier to start without DRS and see if you might need to enable it in future races. (I prefer not needing it at all) A missed opportunity.

    2. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      16th March 2022, 11:09

      They’re shooting themselves in the foot as well because drivers aren’t going to overtake “organically” knowing there are 3 DRS zones to overtake at instead. So instead of showcasing the new regs we are just going to see the same old DRS moves (except probably more of them).

    3. Because the new owners care only about numbers, sheer quantity. Then they present those numbers and claim success. “This year we had 39% more overtakes than the last” or something like that. As it’s said here, they want to make it “easier to overtake”. But who the hell wants overtakes to be easy? If these cars can follow each other without significant drop in performance, why the hell would we want easy overtakes? I’m even under impression that most of us appreciate good defending even more than overtaking. But how does one defend on a long straight, against a faster car that’s given unfair DRS advantage on top of that? What skill can help you defend your position in Baku on that main straight against someone with DRS? F1 made such progress with marketing, but is in such a decline as sport. I think all people from the management should be replaced before it’s too late and we end up with a reality show instead of motorsport.

      1. Dex perhaps you can show us the quotes from Liberty and/or Brawn where they say they want more overtakes and they don’t care if they are easy ones. Before you call for the replacement of management, I think you should go back a read what Brawn has said since 2017 on this topic, when they first started the R&D into these cars. I promise you at no point have they said they want quantity over quality, and from Brawn it has always been about more close combat, not more easy passes for the sake of the numbers. You are misguided or have chosen not to bother reading Brawn’s words, or you have read them and chosen to hear only what you want.

        1. Coventry Climax
          17th March 2022, 0:32

          Brawn has said many things, going in all directions, depending how it suited LM, FIA or both.
          We know of your unconditional love for the man, but it is not justified.

    4. I agree. Still some hope that this will eventualy lead to the end of DRS.

    5. @dbradock It seems a bit puzzling but I have to ask why they are doing this when instinctively one could presume they should be able to rid themselves of DRS now that we have these cars. But they’ve retained it. I wonder then, is it just an experiment initially? A way of comparing last year to this? Making sure the teams haven’t found a way to still make their cars too clean air dependent? Do they just need to see all the cars in a pack before deciding anything? I wonder if perhaps after a few races they will realize the virtues of these cars, and start diminishing the ‘strength’ of DRS by reducing the number of zones or the lengths of them.

      But I’m also still stuck on what Domenicali said several months ago now on the topic of DRS and it’s retention. He spoke of retaining it but using it differently and merely as a tool to save fuel since ‘they don’t need drag on straights anyway’ as he put it. All drivers employ DRS at all times when they are in the designated zones for it, no matter their proximity to other cars. That simple change could/should make DRS’s presence acceptable to all as it would no longer be used to give a trailing car an unfair advantage over a leading car. So imho if they are considering this as an option once they see that DRS is no longer ‘needed’ then I can understand why it is being retained and why they are setting forth for this race that it will be used and how.

      I’m completely with everyone who has hated DRS from day one, but if they do that simple repurpose that to me would make for a night and day difference and would make perfect sense. I hope through and through that at some point this season they realize they don’t need DRS like it has been used, and can use it for much better effect going forward. Or of course I would be fine with it’s complete removal, but I just think there is a lot of sense made by Domenicali with his suggestion of a potential use for DRS. If they remove DRS they wouldn’t have that ability to save some drag and therefore some fuel on some designated straights. And for those who need to see lower and lower lap times, this type of use would aid that too. We know F1 is trying to go greener, and I just read an interview with Newey where he talks a lot about how it makes no sense in this time when they are trying to go greener, to have the cars be heavier and heavier and thus needing more energy than ever to propel them. The repurposing of DRS could help in that regard if the cars are not about to get lighter any time soon.

      1. @Robbie, completely agree, if they’re going to have it there, repurpose it and then maybe reduce the max fuel weight as well.

        It was my understanding, but I could be wrong, that it was only added to the new car specs as a “fail safe” in case they didn’t achieve racing as close as intended by the new regs, which I supported, but I’m just disappointed they’ve not given the regs a chance.

        1. @dbradock Yeah good point about perhaps being able to carry a bit less fuel too.

          I too was under the impression Brawn was just wanting to cover off the possibility of the teams finding loopholes to carry on disturbing the air and thus the car behind, although he also spoke at length about his team trying very hard to prevent any such loopholes from being found. Brawn has also said he has never been a fan of DRS.

          I’m confident that the days of DRS being used as it has are numbered. I will be very disappointed if I’m wrong but I also appreciate they may need to assure themselves over some races, perhaps the season, before they make decisions on what to do with it next. I believe there are key people within F1 that want to see DRS gone as well. I think they just need to see how the cars race together, and probably give the teams some time to sort things such as porpoising, before they do anything with DRS. But generally speaking I cannot fathom why they would possibly need to carry on with DRS (once the dust has settled on these cars), in the same way it was needed for the previous cars so dependent on clean air for so long that it caused this drastic redesign with which to begin. The very reason the cars were changed is the very reason DRS was brought in as a bandage fix that they know is not only overwhelmingly unpopular amongst fans, but within F1 too.

      2. Coventry Climax
        17th March 2022, 0:42

        It’s a massive declaration of mistrust in their own new regulations. Nothing more, nothing less.
        Furthermore, DRS as such is acceptable only when it’s allowed to use it anytime, anywhere, by anybody. (Or should I say everybody here? ;-) ) That would still fullfill the goal of fuel saving, and take away all artificial traits of it, making passing and defending driver skills again, right where it belongs.
        All else is an undesirable, weak compromise.

    6. Because it may still be necessary, as they’ve seriously damaged the effectiveness of the slipstream on the straights.

    7. Coventry Climax
      16th March 2022, 16:30

      Haha, and there were so many people that really thought DRS would go away.
      Wake up. It won’t and most likely never will, ever again.

  3. Well, that answers my doubt.
    If cars will stay much closer in the twisty section of the track, then we will have zero battles and super easy overtakes. Something Lando had anticipated a few weeks ago (which I heavily criticised – my bad).

    1. We need that though…. Unfortunately those in charge seem to love DRS so we need to see it absolutely ruin a season for them to decide to remove it.

      1. @petebaldwin I am far from convinced they love DRS, but I do think they accepted it as a necessary evil as the ones who were co-conspirators in making the past cars so clean air dependent that without it there would have been nothing but processions.

        1. Coventry Climax
          17th March 2022, 0:44

          They love it alright. It’s their means to influence the season, for the sake of the show.

        2. Coventry Climaxx
          17th March 2022, 0:46

          AND.. your so-called co-conspirators include the FIA themselves.

  4. Nobody knows yet what the true effects are of the regulation changes when these cars are driven in anger.

    F1, FIA, Brawn have clearly communicated it wasn’t the intention to get rid of DRS.
    And until there is any data of the new cars driving in anger its impossible to know whether they can get rid of DRS at all.

    Therefore a very sensible and rational decision to keep DRS and it’s zones in place.

    1. You’re being rational and intelligent. Stop it, you’ll confuse the natives.

      :)

    2. @SadF1fan:
      Funny enough I’d use the same reasoning but the other way around: since nobody knows yet what the true effects are of the regulation changes when these cars are driven in anger, drop DRS the first few races and see if you need to enable it later :-)

      1. Coventry Climax
        17th March 2022, 0:49

        You’re talking like a true racefan. Stop it, you’ll confuse the show-people.

      2. They literally can’t afford to. If the cars are still impossible to overtake, after the most significant rule change in the history of everything, then the FIA and Liberty are going to look like total idiots.

        Better to have too much passing than not enough early in the season.

        And all reports are that the slipstream is now about half as effective as it used to be (not surprising, since the old rules were about punching as big a hole as possible, and the new rules aren’t).

  5. I think it’s a good idea to keep them; and that has nothing to do with my dislike for RB who seem to be the front runners going into the new season.

    1. DRS doesn’t make slower teams faster, it makes it easier for similar-paced/faster teams to overtake.

      DRS didn’t solve the problem (not being able to follow in corners), but was a bit of an arbitrary make-good for the potentially lost time on the next straight.
      Or in other words: it’s like a race director benefitting one driver in the last race because he was disadvantaged in some of the previous races ;)

      1. It actually only allows those with faster cars to overtake those with slower cars, it doesn’t happen the other way around. So instead of watching Hamilton working hard to overtake some Ocon or Magnussen we get to watch half-lap battles where he saves his fuel and tires, waits for the long straight and then simply waves goodbye. Since we have DRS drivers in slower cars have almost zero chance against those in faster cars. Best case scenario – DRS train, where the effect is negated and we get an actual battle.

        1. The point of DRS is that thanks to Brawn and Newey, all cars since 2009 will lose distance to their rivals in the twisty bits. DRS offers the ability to make up some of that loss on the straights.

          That’s it. Nothing more.

          1. @grat:
            I think most people know that. But there is merit in all the moaning because that description of DRS is not how it is mostly observed. It’s almost impossible to get the implementation of DRS perfect, even a single zone on a single track, because of the difference in cars. But my biggest gripe is that the existence of DRS is keeping DRS ‘relevant’. Instead of working around the track to find an opportunity to pass they are managing gaps. The focus is now on the detection point, a strategic element, to get that bonus pass. There is a low incentive to try a pass somewhere else. In fact, if you’d do that you’d just get re-passed on that DRS zone. All the while someone with a counter somewhere will point to the numbers: “this big percentage of overtakes was done with the aid of DRS and there are hardly any non-DRS passes. Therefore DRS is very much necessary.”

            This could have been the big reset, to get rid of it. But they didn’t dare to commit to more drastic car-changes

      2. Naughty Neutral
        16th March 2022, 16:29

        I completely agree. It’s like giving one team the engine specs two years early, and then act surprised when they win several years in a row.

        1. Except that didn’t happen, no matter how much people want it to be true.

  6. If we’re keeping DRS at all I’d much rather it’s on sections of the track we don’t traditionally see overtaking. The straight to the final corner being a great example. Let’s leave the main straights DRS free please.

    1. I would like to see “free range” version return if these new regs don’t work. I like the way how drivers were able to choose where to use them on a quali lap.

    2. @cduk_mugello I’ve always felt that’s how it should have been used anyway.

      Quite a few of the places they have put DRS over the past decade has been parts of tracks where we always saw some good racing & overtaking without DRS which is a big part of why overtaking in those places because far too easy when a DRS zone got added there.

      The kemmel straight at Spa been the most obvious example. It never needed to be a DRS zone & it was obvious in 2011 that adding DRS there was more often than not making passing too easy so it always frustrated me that they kept putting a zone there. The run to T1 at Interlagos & The long straight in China are similar examples.

      1. @stefmeister yep bang on. Kemmel straight has to be the worst example. Or perhaps the long back straight in Canada. It’s like watching cars pass each other on a motorway!

  7. Makes sense. DRS is here for the season anyway so we may as well do a back to back comparison with the race held last year to validate the changes in car performance.

    1. Coventry Climax
      16th March 2022, 16:37

      Back to back comparison? That’s an impossibility. To many factors have changed with each teams cars.
      If you want to do science, change just one thing at a time, measure, and repeat.
      So basically, doing the first couple of races twice, same track layout, one with and one without DRS, would be a good option for comparison.
      As it stands now, doing a couple of races without DRS altogether is just as much a valid or invalid comparison as anything else.

      1. Back to back comparison? That’s an impossibility.

        Then maybe dictate that DRS can only be used during certain laps of the GP (e.g. the first half, or laps 15-45).

        1. Coventry Climax
          17th March 2022, 0:59

          For science-sake, that would be sort of an option, but you would miss the comparison with fuel/without fuel, begin of race/end of race, depending on which laps would be with or without DRS.
          From a race point of view, I’m not sure I’d like to see that implemented. It’s a race, not an FIA test.
          But either way, it would be better than having DRS again full time, and in the same zones we had the previous years.

          1. And what about only DRS for the yellow camera cars? ;)

  8. There are two solutions only:
    1. Drop DRS.
    2. Allow DRS for every racer on every lap.

    But, the FIA and Liberty want F1 to be a show, not proper sport. So I assume it will only get worse.

    1. Coventry Climax
      17th March 2022, 1:05

      That’s an assumption, we can not know it for sure.
      On the other hand, based on the FIA’s history regarding decision making, it’s quite a safe assumption to make.
      Might I add to option 2: On any part of the circuit. Without any conditions other than driver decision?

  9. Ah well, this will ruin a potentially classic Bahrain opener. But my hope is that it will ruin it so badly that it will lead to them cutting back DRS at future races. And I can only hope that their initial step of cutting it back is moving DRS from the main straights to the shorter straights where help will always be needed to make overtaking a possibility.

    Incidentally, a point nobody makes is that due to the exponential nature of drag force going up to the square of speed, is that this makes it very difficult to calibrate the correct DRS zone length to make overtaking just the right level of difficulty, especially when you consider its sensiticvity to the wind direction and speed. In contrast, Indycar’s push to pass borsepower boost approach has a much more linear, less sensitive nature, so tends to get the balance right more often. Indycar has more than 1 engine manufacturer, so I don’t see why, long term, F1 couldn’t replace DRS with push to pass.

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