Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Imola, 2022

DRS was activated too late in Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, say drivers

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Several Formula 1 drivers complained DRS was activated later than it could have been in yesterday’s rain-affected grand prix at Imola.

The race began on a track which was wet enough for all cars to start the race on intermediate tyres. By lap 19 all drivers had changed to slicks, but the single DRS zone on the start-finish straight was not activated for another 15 laps.

Esteban Ocon said the delay cost him the chance to pass Lance Stroll. “I was asking [for] DRS because I would have passed Lance,” he said.

“I had a mega opportunity at one point, the car in front was disappeared in front of him and I was just behind, I would have passed him. So a bit frustrating on that side. I think it was safe to put it before.”

Daniel Ricciardo said the lack of DRS led him to change tyres again, fitting the hard tyre in the hope it would help him gain ground.

“We were just behind the pack, not really doing much, and I was asking them please activate DRS,” he said. “I don’t know why they waited so long to activate it, because no overtaking’s going to happen.

“Nothing was happening so we fitted a hard just to see if that gave us anything, if the others dropped off as well.”

Williams driver Alexander Albon said he initially hoped DRS would be activated sooner, but by the time it was, it didn’t help him.

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“I was wanting it to come in earlier because we had a six or seven laps where I was a lot quicker than the cars in front,” he said. “I knew with our downforce level we could overtake these cars straight away with DRS and I was a bit frustrated that it took so long to come in. Obviously once it did come in, I was wishing it didn’t come in.”

Race start, Imola, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in pictures
Albon suspects race control wanted to avoid a repeat of last year’s crash involving George Russell and Valtteri Bottas in similar conditions. Russell claimed DRS had been activated too early before the track was sufficiently dry, contributing to the collision between the pair.

“It’s a tricky one,” said Albon. “I can understand why they don’t want to risk it. Obviously, there was a big crash here last year so I’m sure that plays on their minds.”

However Sebastian Vettel said race control were “correct” to wait until lap 34 before activating DRS.

“You have no idea how it looks when you go down there and it narrows and you have very high speeds. They have the shade from the trees, it’s very difficult to distinguish dry and damp and it’s very easy to have an off like George and Valtteri had last year.

“So I don’t think you gain anything by doing it a couple of laps sooner.”

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2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
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38 comments on “DRS was activated too late in Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, say drivers”

  1. I just see quotes from drivers who felt they had something to gain in their personal situations. They did not say much about whether the track was actually ready for DRS. Vettel was the only one to comment on the actual running conditions.

    1. very well said

    2. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      26th April 2022, 9:26

      Exactly it is personal preference rather than an opinion if it would have been safe to allow DRS earlier.
      Most of the drivers saying DRS should have come earlier likely would have been fine with it if they were ahead or leading a DRS train.

      That is the issue with driver statements – most of what they say or criticize is purely based on their personal situation.

  2. Vettel was correct with his coments the track dryed up slowly and the road before turn 1 has trees hanging over it making to be wet for a long time. So they waited untill that was dry.

  3. I quite enjoyed having no DRS.
    After David Croft made it a personal mission to gaslight an entire audience that DRS is absolutely required for the “Spectacle” (yes he used that word), it amused me that subsequently activating DRS made pretty much zero difference!

    1. @eurobrun I thought his other line was silly where he kept going on about how they needed to switch on DRS “So we can get the race under way” despite the fact the race was 35-ish laps old at that point & we had seen plenty of wonderful racing and some real overtaking prior to that point.

      It’s clear that Croft just wants F1 full of gimmicks because he wants passing no matter what and would probably love F1 to be like nascar plate racing with constant changes of position that are completely meaningless.

      Croft & everyone else at Sky don’t care less about the sport, They just want to turn it into an artificial show full of as many gimmicks as they are able to cram in.

      Reverse grids, DRS, Awful comedy tires, Equalisation of performance, Longer sprints with mandatory pit stops & various other gimmicks are all things that Croft regularly pushes for because he doesn’t understand the sport & doesn’t care to try to.

      He is the Vince Russo of F1!

      1. @roger-ayles definitely. I really don’t like what Croft is doing for the sport. I know people who are recent adopters of F1 (the morecthe merrier, please!) and they’ll talk to me knowing I’m an avid fan, but then they’ll quote verbatim something that Croft has said and it just makes me sad that they’re internalising his rubbish.

        1. Croft doesn’t even look at what’s going on on-track, says so many things wrong all the time. He’s rarely aware of who overtook whom and often things it’s the other way around. Despite him being a very poor commentator in so many ways, he’s quite irritating as a character (yes, this is subjective, but I’ve never met anyone who liked him and his forced act). They really need someone new. Or just keep Brundle as main commentator…

          1. Jacques & Gilles
            26th April 2022, 2:57

            I’m glad to find out that I’m not the only one who is tired of his act. Croft yells and hyperventilates through the first lap to the point that we need to turn off the volume and luckily miss the rubbish he spews for the remainder of the race. Bring back Varsha, Hobbs and Matchett . . . please.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        26th April 2022, 18:16

        @roger-ayles – DRS in a pole match. Whoever pita and climbs the pole first, gets DRS for the rest of the race.

  4. Ocon getting past Stroll wouldn’t still have been a given.
    Seb’s assessment is ultimately the most accurate & while DRS use may have been safe a few laps sooner, I don’t blame FIA for being cautious, given the track nature towards Tamburello & what happened on that specific section last season with similar weather & track surface conditions.

  5. I really enjoyed the racing without DRS, Was certainly better than the sprint where DRS just made overtaking far too easy.

    One of the things I loved about not having DRS was that it put the focus on the whole circuit with drivers having a look at trying an overtake in different places. With DRS, Especially when it’s very effective you don’t get that as all the focus is on that one part of the circuit with drivers not really looking at having a go elsewhere. It’s no longer about drivers having to study the car ahead to see where they may have an advantage over them & then applying that to having a go where they do, With DRS it’s just about getting into the 1 second gap to push the button in the FIA designated overtaking zone with all the action (If you can call some of it that) happening in that place & it was just nice not to see that for a bit yesterday.

    1. With or without DRS, there’s still a need for much bigger performance difference to make a pass under normal circumstances. Even with DRS, cars that are closer in performance couldn’t pass!
      With the current cars, the slip-stream effect is much less so therefore cars that are closely matched can’t overtake each unless of tyre deg is higher in one car, then overtake may be possible.
      In other words, with the DRS, we will have a lot of processional races!

      1. I meant to say without DRS, we will have a lot of processional races!

        1. Not true, since we had more overtakes without DRS than with DRS this time. I don’t care for easy overtakes on the straight that are done even before the braking line. This is real racing, maybe it’s not for everyone, but I wish for more pure racing without these gimmicks for “new fans”. After all, many of them would think the same if there would be less brainwashing talk about the sheer quantity of overtakes, as if that made the racing more exciting. Yes, very exciting… Save battery for one lap, don’t get too close (keep it around half a second), wait for the longest straight, turn the DRS on and overtake just the way you do it on a motorway. There’ll be as much defense as well. Have you noticed how they avoid overtaking outside of DRS zones, to avoid easy re-overtake? That tells the whole story about how silly this is. Besides, DRS only helps drivers in faster cars and make those is slower machines practically unable to defend.

    2. Of course you enjoyed the race with no drs. On a wet track with inters, there were overtaking opportunities in places where normally it is impossible to pass.
      With or without DRS, it was impossible to overtake on medium tyres with only one race line.

  6. I think drivers have become too used to it & so just want to get that easy push of a button overtake now rather than have to actually work at pulling off a real overtake.

    We saw yesterday that some drivers were able to adapt quicker and start to look at making some real overtakes in some ‘unusual for the DRS era’ places.

    Had the Dumb Racing System been turned on earlier would we have seen Lance Stroll trying to have a go at passing (Was it Tsunoda?) on the way into Rivaza? Would George Russell have been trying to find a way past by sticking his nose up the inside of Magnussen at every opportunity & eventually overtaken him into Varianta Alta? Would Lewis Hamilton had tried to put his nose up the outside of Gasly into Villeneuve or the Inside of Tosa?

    No, They would have all just held back and waited to be 1 second at the DRS line to get that easy push of a button highway pass.

    They have all just forgotten how to race & overtake because they all now only know how to do it at the push of a button.

    Tell they they won’t have DRS, Teams will set cars up to race without DRS & then drivers would adapt & re-learn how to race and overtake without it & we will start to see some real racing & proper exciting overtaking again!

    1. This is a good point. There were some great overtakes before DRS was activated, and this is with cars that are built to race with DRS, at Imola which is a track always famous for the lack of overtaking.

      I have always said that DRS is a necessary evil that F1 should aim to eradicate in the future but couldn’t at the present. With the old cars, the races would have been terrible without DRS as they just couldn’t get anywhere near the car in front and there would have been no battling. But the new cars are so much better that now they can run closely, and watching a car run close behind another car trying to overtake but not being able to is far more exciting than watching them breeze past easily. I think that it is time to drop DRS (from 2023, giving the teams time to build the cars for not having DRS), and while there would be less overtaking, the ones you would get would be better and there would be more battles that last longer. DRS has been necessary for the last decade, but it is now time for it to go.

      1. Yes, and a thing to not underestimate are drs trains: in a situation like albon-gasly-hamilton, since gasly wasn’t able to pass albon, hamilton had no chance because gasly could use drs on albon too, instead without drs at all it wouldn’t be impossible to make a move in such a situation.

    2. That is COTD material.

      There is only three active drivers who have raced in F1 pre-DRS: Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel. You can add Hülkenberg and Kubica who are reserve drivers nowadays.

    3. petebaldwin (@)
      26th April 2022, 18:19

      Definitely. DRS ruins the spectacle but there’s no reason why the drivers would care that much… They just want to win. I know when I was karting, there were races where I was stuck behind someone and if I could press a button on the wheel to get past, I’d have loved it!

  7. IfImnotverymuchmistaken
    25th April 2022, 15:20

    They are now able to follow each other as closely as I’ve ever seen them. Right now, a driver is able to follow within 2-3 hundreds of a second for an entire lap, and then when they press the DRS, it really is a cheating button. The defending driver has absolutely zero chance to defend.
    The first 34 laps of Imola was without a doubt the best racing I’ve seen in the hybrid era. And the most fun.
    I really like to see the best drivers in the world having to fight to defend or overtake, it was a sight to see. I’ve never liked the DRS, and always found it artificial, but this season it really is making the races more dull, taking away any uncertainty. If a driver is within a second, he’ll be able to overtake effortlessly, while the driver being overtaken has no options at all. That’s not what I want to see from the best drivers in the world.

  8. @roger-ayles Teams will set cars up to race without DRS

    That’s a good point actually.

    The cars will have all been setup with DRS in mind so the racing yesterday wouldn’t be a totally accurate representation of how things would have played out if they went into the race knowing they weren’t going to get DRS at all.

    You go back a few weeks to Melbourne for example & the FIA removing the DRS zone caused teams to make changes to the cars going into FP3 so it would be interesting to know just how differently teams would run them if they went into a weekend knowing they weren’t going to get DRS & what effect that would have on things.

    1. I think it would be really interesting to hold a race without DRS at all. Just to see what happens? At an appropriate circuit of course. It would be interesting to see how the cars would be set-up to perform without it.

      I think there is a real opportunity for those in charge to try this if they are brave enough. A main aim was to have cars that can stay close to each other when racing so why not give it a chance. What’s the worst that can happen in one race.

      1. If there was to be one, Austria sprint would be it.

        1. The Dolphins
          26th April 2022, 1:38

          While I agree Austria would be a good track I believe the GP would be the appropriate time to not use DRS: this gives the teams a setup challenge to balance a car which will get DRS for quali and sprint but for the longest distance (and most points) it will need to run without DRS.

      2. petebaldwin (@)
        26th April 2022, 18:23

        @phil-f1-21 – With the way F1 is run, I’d expect them to do a test race without DRS at Monaco and then say “see… no overtakes.”

        1. LOL. A cynical but funny view. I wouldn’t put it past them!

  9. While I agree that race control were likely just concerned about drivers using DRS off-line on slippier sections of track, they’ve inadvertently created a great comparison between DRS-assisted and DRS-free racing.

    The 2022 regs have succeeded in allowing cars to follow each other closer throughout the corners, that much was obvious. So I wonder if DRS remained off for the rest of the race, would we have seen a more satisfying conclusion to the battle for P8-13… would Hamilton have lunged at Gasly at an unexpected corner for instance? Also, Leclerc’s fight back through the field would have been far more interesting if he didn’t just sail by every defending driver with no resistance.

    I don’t expect FIA/FOM to say this out loud, as they’re not going to pour cold water over their existing product. But I’d like to think that, having seen the promising improvements in wheel-to-wheel racing this year, that they’re more willing to have discussions with the teams and drivers. Maybe try a sprint race without DRS, or reduce the amount the wing can open. But the ability to experiment is there, and it’d be a huge loss if they refused to consider it.

  10. I enjoyed the lack of DRS. There was a race a few years ago where a system failed and it couldn’t be used. Made for a good race.

    This race-
    Was always going to be processional, it’s Imola.
    Showed that the cars, while they can follow, cannot pick up much of a slipstream.

    I’m annoyed that the changes to the cars just mean we have the same train, but smaller gaps. Which means the very artificial DRS is here to stay, as the “spectacular show” of one car cruising past another comes above any long drawn out battles.

    Very sad.

  11. I find it amazing how the opinions on this website and others like this reflect a more ‘pure’ attitude towards racing but those in social media are the polar opposite

    1. You tend to have a lot more of the casual netflix crowd on social media while the fans on the dedicated F1 websites tend to be the more dedicated/knowledgeable fan who understands what real racing is.

      The nascar netflix social media crowd have low attention spans so need constant action to give them a reason to tweet. Plus many of them don’t know F1 without it, It’s just a normal thing for them and i see many holding the view that every category should have it because not having a hundred passes a lap is dull according to that crowd. It really is a sad state of affairs that f1 now gives that crowd so much attention given how little about the soort they actually know.

      Even F1’s own polling shows most fans hate the silly gimmick.

  12. No DRS was the best part of the race. I prefer seeing drivers build up to a pass not stream pass with a gimmick. Let them intelligently use the battery boosts rather than this awful long term rubbish

  13. For me it was activated far too early.

  14. I understood the reasoning beihind the need for drs. Its not a bad thing. But they should maybe reduce the area they can use it. So the driver attempting to make the pass still has to work for it. Amd or they need to alter the tracks especially the train tracks where passing is almost zero. Ive been watching f1 for 3 decades plus. I remember the days of cars juat following eachother. I also remember drivers making epic passes. So we need to find a balance. And unfortunately f1 needs the netflix fans. Pure race fans are a dying breed. Otherwise the sport would not have been on a decline for many years.

  15. I enjoyed the lack of DRS bar the constant bleating by Crofty. Those Schumacher Alonso which was a big part of the build up to this GP, would not have happened with DRS and it reminded me of what F1 used to be, often a slow burn which makes those moments of drama all the more exhilarating. It also made me appreciate the great Murray Walker as he still kept you interested during those lulls as well.

    With DRS I think the time has come to stop being so reliant on it especially when cars can follow one another.

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