Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Bahrain International Circuit, 2022

Brawn pleased with first race after replacing F1’s ‘horrible old cars’

2022 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Formula 1 motorsport director Ross Brawn declared himself satisfied with the first race run under new technical regulations devised by his team.

The series introduced a drastic overhaul of its technical regulations for the new season which were intended to improve the quality of racing.

After seeing Charles Leclerc win the Bahrain Grand Prix, fighting wheel-to-wheel with Max Verstappen on the way, Brawn said his initial impression of the new rules is positive.

“It’s a sample case of one,so let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” he cautioned. “But we’re seeing no negatives today, which is a great thing.

“I think now once the drivers have debriefed and the FIA start to look at all the data, we can see how far we’ve been able to move. But the old cars were horrible, so we’ve been able to make that step.”

He indicated the rules will require some maintenance over the coming season to ensure F1 continues to improve the quality of racing.

“I think we’ve shown that the race-ability of the car has to be a strong consideration going forward,” he said. “It’s not just one solution and we’re going to stop.

“We need to keep this process up. We need to keep working at understanding how we can make great racing cars and continue to develop that direction.”

Brawn added he was encouraged that drivers were able to have sustained wheel-to-wheel battles during the race.

“I’m pretty pleased and I think when you watch the cars racing you can see they can race,” he said. “They’re not just having a go at each other for one lap and then they have to back off. There was no backing off to save the tyres today, they were on top of each other the whole time.

“Which is credit for Pirelli, but I think is also a credit to the type of cars we have.”

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Keith Collantine
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52 comments on “Brawn pleased with first race after replacing F1’s ‘horrible old cars’”

  1. How on earth are you supposed to know if the cars race any good if you don’t even try to run them without DRS

    1. Is it surprising that the first comment is yet another complaint? Not really, but it’s a bit of a shame that even when Brawn is proven right, we can’t just enjoy that moment and immediately have to go back to moaning, to be honest. F1 Fandom in a nutshell, it’s like they’re incapable of enjoying themselves.

      1. @sjaakfoo how is that a complaint? How? That’s literally how these regulations came into place, that was their selling point , to get rid of DRS. DRS was never meant to be a solution but a compromise until we find something.

      2. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend)
        21st March 2022, 1:21

        @sjaakfoo yes mate thats how it is. It’s the formula 1 “fan” prerogative to always think they know better and hence always complain. It’s also sort of the vibe of this particular website.
        We saw a great race today, DRS was set up in the sweet spot, lots of battles up and down the field, a revitalised Ferrari. Great start to the season, fingers crossed it continues this way. I am very happy with F1 right now.

      3. How is he right when he is describing the old cars as horrible? The new cars are slower and are sluggish, if any, these new cars are horrible, at least for now.

    2. There were two/three overtakes in places where it was unthinkable to pass with last year’s cars. DRS was super powerful only for Verstappen.
      It is also true that this is not a revolutionary change.

    3. I don’t get what the fascination with dropping DRS is.

      It’s almost as if the people arguing for this have forgotten the races we had to endure before it was introduced.

      1. DRS is a band-aid, but yeah, modern F1 racing would be much worse without it.

        It cannot be sacked until they find a better solution.

      2. @proesterchen A majority of F1 fans (According to F1’s own surveys) want to get rid of DRS because it’s an artificial gimmick that has far too often created fake ‘racing’ with boring, unexciting, forgettable push of a button highway passes half way down a straight which are a boring & laughable spectacle to have to watch.

        Fans want to see proper racing thats down to the skill of the drivers where we get to see some longer battles that allows drivers racecraft to shine & where any eventual overtake is down to that driver skill/racecraft rather than because they were within 1 second in a pre-determined passing zone & were able to push a button that drive them past with relative ease.

        DRS is nothing more than quantity over quality, Yes it produces a ton more passing but it doesn’t improve the racing & doesn’t produce proper overtaking that is exciting & memorable to watch.

        I’d much rather see fewer quality overtakes than more boring highway passes & every poll/survey conducted by F1 & other websites has shown consistently over the past decade that a vast majority of F1 fans feel the same.

        It cannot be sacked until they find a better solution.

        There has been a better solution since before they adopted DRS & it’s called Push-2-Pass & has been used in many other categories with good success over the past 20-25 years.

        You give every driver a set amount of uses or a number of seconds over a race & then let them use when & wherever they want to either attack or defend. It’s less artificial, Less gimmicky & a fairer solution which also incorporates an element of strategy & is more down to the drivers deciding when/where/how to use it. It can also be tuned far more easily than DRS as there are less variables in to how powerful it is so you can get it to assist drivers getting alongside without generating the boring highway drive by passes that simply are never fun, exciting or memorable to watch.

        The thing with DRS is that there’s no skill, tactics or strategy involved. You get 1 second behind, wait for the zone & push the button when you get the beep in your ear & the car ahead that doesn’t have DRS is often defenceless. None of those things are an issue with a P2P type system.

        DRS was meant to be a temporary solution, It was meant to be around just a few years yet it’s been a decade of constant promises from F1 because they know it’s unpopular among fans & drivers. It needs to go away & it needs to go away sooner rather than later so that it doesn’t ruin any more potential great fights by generating boring highway passes!

        1. DRS exists to reduce the difference in pace needed for a quicker car to overtake a slower car.

          Personally, I don’t need more than one follow-the-leader-event in a year and find the one we already have tedious to endure. Which is why I won’t support changes to increase the pace difference needed to allow for a successful pass.

          No more Trulli trains.

          1. I’d rather see an overtake on Trulli than a thousand DRS overtakes. The beauty of F1 has never been the amount of overtakes per race.

        2. @roger-ayles push to pass is equally as much a gimmick as DRS

      3. @proesterchen as far back in 2017, one of the selling points for the proposed new regulation package that Brawn put forward was the suggestion that it could eliminate the need for DRS, whilst Nikolas Tombazis, in his role as technical head of the FIA’s single seater racing series, also talked back in 2018 about how the new regulation package was an opportunity to reduce or eliminate DRS.

        We have also had multiple drivers talk over the years about the prospect of removing DRS, whilst Seidl mentioned in mid 2021 that the teams were talking about the removal of DRS and, only last month, Andrew Green noted that the teams were also discussing the shortening or removal of DRS zones from tracks.

        With representatives from the governing body, teams and the commercial owners having previously promised that, as part of the new rule package, they would investigate either reducing the importance of DRS or remove it entirely, there are fans who are calling on those parties to now put that to the test.

        1. We’re not talking about cars of equal speed fighting for position on track, DRS merely reduces the advantage the quicker car needs to be able to overtake.

          Why do you prefer even slower cars to stay ahead of quicker cars?

          1. Why do you prefer even slower cars to stay ahead of quicker cars?

            @proesterchen Some of the best & most memorable & exciting bits of racing throughout the history of the sport have seen drivers in slower cars using good racecraft/car positioning to hold off faster one’s. And in those scenarios again some of the most exciting/memorable bits of racing have come from drivers having to use actual skill/racecraft to do something different to pull off an overtake in order to get past a ‘slower’ car ahead thats holding him up via good racecraft.

            The mentality that a slower car shouldn’t be about to stay ahead of a faster car isn’t what the sport has ever or should ever be about because the sport isn’t just about overtaking or car performance, It’s about driver skill & racecraft that shows off the ability of drivers not just to attack/overtake but also defend.

            The excitement for many fans isn’t simply the overtake, It’s the battle & the skill of drivers racing. That is why so many reject DRS because it doesn’t give us the sort of long battles & truly exciting/memorable overtakes that stand the test of time for decades.

            The thing with DRS is that it’s quick/instant gratification that is very quickly forgotten. I mean how many races from the past decade where DRS has been especially effective are remembered now? How many DRS overtakes are remembered? How many DRS passes are looked at as truly great, exciting & skilful moves?

            I can think back to the days before DRS & remember all these great moments, All these amazing overtakes & great battles with some great bits of racecraft. I can remember drivers who were amazing at overtaking and/or defending & drivers who weren’t. They are moments that will be remembered & played over & over again forever, The same just can’t be said with things involving DRS which is why I think most of the last decade will be lost to time due to not having as many of those same sort of moments.

            Over the past decade it’s been clear that hardly anybody likes DRS. A vast majority of fans dislike it as do the drivers who have pretty much all spoken out about wanting it gone. If the new regulations end up been unable to rid us of something that hardly anybody likes then they have failed.

          2. @proesterchen did you intend to respond to somebody else and instead responded to me by mistake, given your argument doesn’t have any relevance to the points that I was making?

            I was pointing out that, given the governing body, teams and drivers have all said that they would like to test the effect of removing DRS because the current rule set was intended to make that unnecessary, and thus the fans are calling on them to put those theories to the test – a point that you are completely ignoring to go off on an entirely different rant.

            If the entire purpose of the new regulations was that DRS is meant to become obsolete, then why shouldn’t the sport be testing whether that is indeed the case?

      4. @proesterchen at least those were RACES. Not artificial contests like nowadays.

    4. Putting up with horrible cars for 12 years was very tough. This track is great, the racing is not going to be as good this was but that is life. I still don’t like that wings are so massive and that cars are so big but we are far ahead of where we were. Next step delete DRS, I miss not predicting an overtake.

  2. It did look like the cars could follow closer, which is positive, though overall, the pack is more spread out (as would be expected at the start of a new formula). It was nice to see the VER/LEC scrap, but that seemed more a function of DRS and the massive Honda PU advantage down the front straight than the new regulations—otherwise Leclerc would have broken Verstappen’s DRS quite quickly. The consecutive DRS zones at T1 and T3 have always seen back and forth fights.

    What I hope is that that fight doesn’t tempt F1 into retaining DRS zones…

    1. That a change would make the distances between teams grow a bit is to be expected, it’ll converge just like before over time, I don’t think that’s much of a surprise or an issue. I actually thought the race saw a lot of on-track battles and cars able to follow closer over multiple laps without having to drop back due to overheating. There also didn’t appear to be any DRS trains, like before.

      I think we’ll see less DRS zones, or perhaps even shorter ones, as the year progresses.

    2. The field is not more spread out. Looks the same which is remarkable for a new formula also Ham and Max used to be 30s ahead of the next car, that did not happen today.

      1. @peartree You’re right, after checking last year’s race chart I can see that the gaps are about the same. As you say, remarkable for a new formula.

  3. Too bad it still seems like 1) they can’t follow, 2) the state of the tires has become even more dominant, 3) they look sluggish on high fuel loads, 4) still way too big a gap between teams…

    5) I still comment too much after basically having given up on F1 near the end of 2020 (after 30 years of watching)

    1. Disagree with point 1, the race obviously showed otherwise. As for 4, if you have been following F1 for 30 years, you’d know the current state of affairs is actually better than average concerning the gap between teams…

      1. JustSomeone
        21st March 2022, 8:10

        1. No it didn’t. Live timing clearly showed 1+ second gaps. Cars did get close because of tire limitations.

        4. You are right! Doesn’t mean it can’t (or should) be better though. Most talented driver field in the history of F1 deserves more equal racing.

  4. Early days, but a definitely promising start there Ross.
    Given that I didn’t see the race live, I just caught the highlights, I saw cars able to follow through the bends, and attack on the straights.
    There are definitely some big gaps in performance at the moment, as always when the rules change, but as the performance of the cars converges over the next race or ten, it looks like we will be seeing some excellent close racing.
    As for the DRS F1 has always said they will be tweaking, or even removing it. As I said, early days.
    So looks like we could be getting some genuine, exciting, sporting, fair racing.
    Very promising indeed.

    1. Davethechicken
      20th March 2022, 20:43

      I am not so sure. I watched the race. Perez interested me. He seemed quicker than the cars in front but failed to close down and sit within a second on their gearboxes. The large majority of overtaking was DRS assisted that I saw. I think Albon overtook someone that wasn’t DRS assisted but other than that seemed normal service.
      Bahrain is traditionally an easier circuit to pass on, maybe defer judgement until Australia, never been a great race for overtakes so judge better there.

      1. Davethechicken, if you look at Perez’s lap times, after the first pit stop, he put in two quick laps on laps 17 and 18, then his lap times started slowing and, by lap 23, he was on the same pace as Sainz (and even then, the previous few laps had only been a fraction quicker).

        It does suggest that, whilst the new aero package might be having some effect, the tyres are still a significant limiting factor in how hard the drivers can really push and that management was more significant than Brawn perhaps suggests. In fact, when you look at the lap time trends of a lot of drivers, their times do still seem to suggest that there was still an element of driving to a delta that seemed to be driven by tyre performance.

  5. Still early to judge but DRS is not as strong as last season. Cars can follow each other a bit better but you still need a powerful DRS most of the time to make a pass and they have reduced the effectiveness of DRS.
    Bahrain in recent years have produced thrilling races with lots of overtakes. And these new cars did almost as many overtakes as some of the previous Bahrain races so not a major change in overtakes if at all.

    F1 should introduce a more powerful DRS, Active Suspensions and more durable tires for next season.

    1. @amg44 Active Suspension is somewhat unnecessary as is more powerful DRS, while tyres are already very durable, so they can’t really get much more durable.

      1. Active suspension also is not a bolt-on thing, it needs to be designed in, and takes a lot of power. Also tends to cause big accidents if it fails.

  6. At least those “horrible old cars” didn’t look like a bunch of Elephants dancing on ice going into turn 1.

    1. Reminded me of the old Grand Prix Masters series

  7. The new regs are an improvement. DRS is still needed. But for a long time we havent see a 1st placa battle going on for 5 laps. Even the RB being th slower car, Max had 3-4 chances for proper overtake. On late years, it were one attempt, then two laps later something else, then everybody settled.
    Another positve was that at 2/3 of the race only 1/3 of the field was lapped.
    People talked about midfield battles especially last yeas – almost as an excuse for the lack of racing among front pacers, but this race shown proper racing with a mixed field.
    Sure the championship will be solved by LEC-SAI-VER, but the rest of the field will have a say, particularly if we consider that Mercedes always had a mid season development rush.
    Finally, these car wont work well in Monaco and some street tracks, but I believe they will provide for great action in Interlagos, COTA, for instance.

    1. DRS is still needed.

      Which for me shows the new regulations may have failed at one of there primary goals which was more organic, genuine & real racing that didn’t need silly, unpopular artificial gimmicks.

      I don’t even think the Max/Leclerc thing was that good because a lot of it was down to DRS & that sort of back & forth DRS-ing has never been that fun to watch because it comes across as what it is, Fake & contrived down to gimmicks rather than pure driver ability.

      If we didn’t have DRS & that was just charles & max racing like that on there own it would have been mega but the overly powerful DRS effect in that instance just made it come across as fake. As did the obviously fake crowd cheers they seemed to be pumping in to add drama.

      The fake crowd noises become more obvious when they cut to a shot of a grandstand where nobody was doing anything despite it sounding like the England soccer team had just scored a goal while playing at Wembley during a tournament final.

  8. Cars seem like they can run closer but i’m not necessarily sure the actual racing was any better than what we usually see at Bahrain or that we saw any more overtaking that wasn’t reliant on DRS or a tyre delta which is a bit disappointing as I was hoping to see a clear sign that we could finally look at moving away from relying on things like that to create overtaking.

    The Charles/Max scrap was the obvious highlight in terms of the racing but it felt a bit artificial in that it was created by DRS been especially powerful in that instance & I didn’t enjoy the DRS passing/repassing in the 2 zones anymore than I have when we have at times seen it in Abu Dhabi in the past.

    Also feels like things played out the same as they have done for a few years now in terms of having 2 teams run away at the front with a 3rd a bit behind & then a larger gap to the rest. Only differences been that Mercedes & Ferrari have switched places as have Haas & McLaren although McLaren are closer to the rest than Haas was last year.

    That said i’m not ready to claim the new regulations a big success or failure just yet as I want to see how they work on different types of circuits, Especially those that are typically not known for close racing/overtaking.

    1. @stefmeietr I agree with all of this.

      Going into this weekend I actually went back & watched the last couple Bahrain GP’s to have what the racing was like on this track with the old cars in my mind going into the 1st with the new ones.

      And to be honest I don’t think todays race with the new cars really played out all that differently. DRS was perhaps a bit less powerful overall (Although was still a bit too powerful in a few instances) & cars could follow a bit closer through the fast corners (Although watching onboards it looked like cars were still washing out when following through turns 6/7) although it didn’t look like we were seeing any more genuine close racing or overtaking as we saw around this circuit in the past few races i watched.

      Much of the passing was still down to the Dumb Racing System & awful tires. If anything when you put 2 cars on tires of similar performance & where DRS wasn’t doing anything & there was less passing than last year because the slipstream was less effective.

      I agree with your last paragraph. We should wait to see on more tracks & hope it works better so we can finally start to see the light of a future with the gimmicks of DRS & awful tires.

      1. Was the scrap between LEC and VER much different from the one between HAM and ROS at the start of the hybrid era? Maybe because it was two different teams this time.

  9. The Dolphins
    20th March 2022, 21:37

    DRS is here to stay at least for the duration of these regulations. It’s obvious it’s still necessary for overtakes.

    1. So these new regs haven’t actually done anything.

  10. Not your typical circuit to really know. Early signs are good but then again Bahrain has always been quite easy to battle wheel to wheel with 3 DRS zones and long straights followed by almost hairpins.

    We’ll see.

  11. Why not just make the DRS open at half of the width of today? Then you will get chances for overtake because of little help from DRS but it will make the drivers fight more and more divebombs. Not highway passes. I never understand why they don’t play with how much the DRS can open, i think this would work best

    1. Well you limit the use, drivers could deploy DRS a certain number of times in a race, say 20. Easy to implement, not much than programming, and no rear wing redesign.

  12. Can’t attribute the battle at the front to the new cars because Hamilton and rosberg had the same battle in the horrible old cars at the same track. And if it wasn’t for the SC again we would have two teams leave the field for dead at 1s per lap. Let’s wait to give brawn his inscribed lexan brick and wall certificate.

  13. To be honest, I think it was pretty much the same. The field spread seemed no different to me. I guess it’s the sort of thing that a driver could tell you what they feel more than anything. Great to see 2 evenly matched teams at the front.

  14. The race didnt look much different to F1 of the last 10 years. i bet Monaco will be the procession it has been the last 30 years.

    1. It’s always going to be like that due to the size of the cars.

  15. Race was same as before with the addition of way to sluggish cars. Limiting fuel cells to 40 kilos and refueling might help… that would also give at least 2 tire changes.

  16. New cars are in and, as expected, some of them are heavy and ugly and the remaining are slow, heavy, and ugly.
    Seeing how many teams have overestimated how little cooling they can get away with for their brakes and engine, I suspect it is time for F1 to start reducing the size of the car. Make the engineers work for it.

    But first, get rid of DRS. Of all the things that was promised with these new rules, that is the biggest that matters.

    1. Eh they all look much better than last era’s cars.

  17. Considering this was a brand new regulation designed to improve racing I was disappointed.

    The only good bit of racing we saw was between Verstappen and Leclerc – and it was an outstanding fight – but only came about because of Verstappen’s top speed advantage with DRS.

    – The cars can follow closely but there doesn’t seem to be any slipstream effect – nobody was closing gaps on the straight unless they had DRS open
    – The cars have terrible front end performance into slow corners. Anyone that tries an aggressive move is going to lock up and sail wide

    I actually think the racing was better with the old cars. If someone got within a second in the old cars, you knew something was going to happen. With these cars, it looks like it won’t.

    1. The first test is indeed a failure as i saw only overtakes with DRS only but this circuit was always leaning on the 3xDRS we should wait untill the real circuits are used.

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