Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, Imola, 2022

Lack of passing at Imola shows why Ricciardo is “still a DRS person”

2022 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Formula 1 cars still need DRS to overtake each other despite the changes made to allow cars to follow more closely this year, Daniel Ricciardo believes.

Damp but drying conditions at the fourth race of the season at Imola gave some indication how closely cars could race each other without DRS and after it was activated. Race control gave the go-ahead for DRS to be used on lap 34, at which point several teams had already asked for it to be switched on.

Ferrari was one of them. As Charles Leclerc pursued the Red Bull drivers he was told on his radio his team had “asked for” DRS but that the “race director thinks turn two off-line is wet”. The corner – Tamburello – was the scene of a high-speed crash in similar conditions during last year’s race after DRS was activated.

Ricciardo made an extra pit stop before DRS was activated and ran near the rear of the field. He believes that despite changes made to encourage overtaking this year, F1 cars still need DRS to race well.

“Don’t get me wrong, the cars are better this year to follow, and there was a small improvement already [at Imola],” he said.

“But still, I don’t know, did anyone pass without it? You still need it. I know some people are not that much in favour of DRS these days, but I’m definitely still a DRS kind of person.”

DRS is still needed because cars don’t gain as much from following others on the straights this year, says Ricciardo.

“You can follow better, so you can definitely stay closer, but the slipstream effect is smaller than last year I feel, at least. So you do need DRS to make that straight-line advantage bigger. Although you can stay closer, you don’t get a crazy, crazy effect like maybe last year.

“But I think that probably changes track-to-track as well, depending on the size of wing cars are running. So I think it still needs it. Of course then you can shorten, length zones. They can play with the distance of DRS, but at least some distance is good.”

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Some passes were made before DRS was activated. Leclerc took Lando Norris, Guanyu Zhou passed Mick Schumacher and Kevin Magnussen lost places to George Russell and Valtteri Bottas.

Albon passed Gasly without DRS and kept him behind despite it
Alexander Albon also overtook Pierre Gasly without using DRS. But once DRS was activated it did not produce a sudden spate of extra passes. “For whatever reason even with the DRS I don’t know for what reason but this year was very tough to pass,” the AlphaTauri driver remarked.

Albon believes the nature of the Imola track explains why little passing occured before or after DRS was activated.

“I still think the cars are better for overtaking, better for for racing,” he said. “It’s just this track’s quite tricky.

“We only have one DRS point. Of course it’s not great to always have DRS overtakes, but this track’s hard. There’s not really a place where you can brake late and overtake it’s all quite quick, which stops the overtaking.”

Last year Max Verstappen suggested Imola should have a second DRS zone on the downhill run to the penultimate corner, a few Albon backed.

“I think we need a bit of a revision,” he said. “Maybe a DRS down the the straight before the last two corners or something as well. But it’s a tricky track this one.”

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28 comments on “Lack of passing at Imola shows why Ricciardo is “still a DRS person””

  1. Varying the distances is OK, as in some tracks DRS is like Attack mode and fan boost put into one and in other tracks DRS is more of a suggestion

    But our obsession with overtakes will be the equivalent of American Corporations obssession with share price.
    Other categories like GT might not have overtakes but the chasing down, the car infront nailing every corner and not making mistakes is also what racing is about.
    Sometimes we have to realise that “Maybe the car that qualified ahead is ahead because it was actually faster?” I know sounds radical

    1. Maybe the car that qualified ahead is ahead because it was actually faster?

      Indeed, but only on a single lap, not necessarily on race-pace.
      Which is another reason why sprint-qualifying int its current form is no good, it essentialy takes this equation out of the sunday race.

  2. Cars being able to more closely follow other cars is one step, but what’s missing is a good look at the selection of the venues. A growing number of selected tracks create just the chance to overtake at the end of the main straight. Overtaking possibilities clearly aren’t a selection criterium for where to drive, it’s mostly money driven with some nostalgic arguments here and there.

  3. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend)
    2nd May 2022, 8:05

    F1 needs DRS and will continue to in the coming years. Set up correctly it puts the driver behind in a position to fight for the overtake and gives us great racing. It’s a difficult balance to get it right, but as FIAs understanding of it in each track improves so will DRS. In fact I think they more often get it right than not.

    1. @pmccarthy_is_a_legend

      gives us great racing

      I don’t think DRS has ever produced good racing…. Unless you really like seeing cars rendered defenceless with the ‘overtake’ been a boring devoid of any excitement push of a button highway pass.

      but as FIAs understanding of it in each track improves so will DRS.

      They have had a decade to get it right & never have so I don’t expect much to change now.

      For example it was plainly obvious after 2011 that DRS wasn’t needed at Spa yet it’s been in the same place at Spa with the zone been just as long and just as overpowered every year since. Same with the boringly long straights on every other track where they always put a DRS zone and where it always produces boringly easy push of a button highway passes that are completely devoid of any tension or excitement.

      Even at Imola we saw on Saturday just how overpowered DRS still is in many scenarios & I don’t think we saw a single really exciting real overtake in the sprint, They were all push of a button highway passes. At least in the GP without DRS we actually got to see some proper racing, some good defending & some real overtaking that took place away from the ‘Highway pass zone’.

      DRS is a horrible artificial gimmick that producing boring push of a button passes which a majority of fans have never & will never like (Go back and look at every poll on every website & the several conducted by F1 themselves over the decade).

      But since all the casual netflix crowd cares about is quantity over quality (because many don’t know what proper racing really is since DRS highway passing is all they know) I don’t think we will ever get rid of the horrid thing.

      1. @roger-ayles

        I don’t think DRS has ever produced good racing…. Unless you really like seeing cars rendered defenceless with the ‘overtake’ been a boring devoid of any excitement push of a button highway pass.

        Although I am a vocally against DRS, I do feel there are two types of DRS-‘battles’. The one you are referring to are indeed defenseless highway passes that are completely devoid of any tension. But these passes are usually the result of the car behind being significantly faster than the one ahead. In cases where the speed difference between the two drivers is small, we do see some close racing, when without DRS there wouldn’t be any overtake attempt at all. We have seen plenty of these scenarios at Imola before the introduction of DRS.

        I feel DRS is some sort of leveller. It does take away excitement in a great battle, but it can also add excitement in a dull race with no excitement. Overall I would prefer some races without DRS to see how bad/good it really is without it.

        1. @matthijs

          But these passes are usually the result of the car behind being significantly faster than the one ahead.

          Which in itself is a problem because it makes it basically impossible for an out of position car to be able to defend that & grab a surprise result as they may have been able to in the past. Same when front runners end up starting further back, DRS just makes it far too easy for them to recover because there’s no chance for anyone to defend against them.

          My whole issue with the very premise of DRS as well as the belief from some that it’s ridiculous for a slower car to be able to hold up a faster one is that it should indeed be possible for a slower car to be able to defend against much faster cars because if with DRS you are just making it easy for faster cars to move forward is it then any surprise you don’t get any surprises or that mid-field drivers stand no chance of punching above there weight as they could have in the past.

          Fans complain that F1 is too predictable, That you don’t get any surprises & that the mid-field don’t stand a chance of getting that high into the top 10. Yet many of those same fans will praise DRS even though it is one of the factors that make things more predictable & prevent a mid-field driver from been able to qualify exceptionally well & stand a chance at maintaining it.

          You see a situation like at Imola where Kevin Magnussen pulls out a mega qualifying lap at Imola for P4 yet you know he has zero chance of staying there because you know he’ll just be DRS’d within a few laps & I think that is a shame & not really what racing should be about.

          1. @roger-ayles I agree with you. I am only arguing that in the situation where there is not much difference in speed between 2 drivers, in the past (without DRS) we often did not have any fight at all, but with DRS we do see more action. But this advantage does not outweigh the disadvantages you describe.

  4. When I first read the title, I thought someone was making the accusation that Daniel is a DRS reliant driver. Whew !

  5. Even with DRS the same happened that means you can drop it as it doesn’t much (On this track)

  6. The sprint race proved that overtaking in Imola is not a problem (with DRS).
    On Sunday, the track was damp and the field spread out. That’s it.
    I think that in Miami, racing will be similar to that in Bahrain or Jeddah.

  7. As far as i recall we saw more overtakes before the DRS was switched on. Switching it on didnt seem to change anything. The train that Hamilton was in continued to be a train.. just now with slightly higher speed. There was some overtaking due to Leclerc and Perez pitting but that was mainly due to high tyre delta (and DRS just made the passes easier).

  8. Either race tracks are engineered to fit the cars, or the cars are engineered to able to race on the track.
    The last 30 years we had neither.
    Yeah, the addition of a chicane here or there to get the top speeds down.

  9. He had a horrible weekend. And apparently a damaged car in the feature race.

  10. There were a couple of reasons for the lack of overtaking at Imola.
    1) The track itself is very narrow, so overtaking outside of the start/finish straight is very risky and the breaking distances are rather on the shorter side. T2 at the end of the DRS zone isn’t that great of an opportunity either, because the driver behind has to be a lot faster (like Leclerc on Norris) or already alongside with his opponent. It’s also a medium speed corner, which means the braking distance is a bit too short, similar to T1 at Barcelona.
    2) For the majority of the race there was only one dry line (racing line), so overtaking outside of it was quite risky. Many drivers didn’t dare to go off line, as they could’ve easily spun out on the damp patches. Pérez took the risk and made a great overtake on Leclerc into the Villeneuve chicane.
    3) Following a train of cars when you could go faster is always going to be a problem, be it with DRS or without it. If the second car in the queue can’t make the overtake happen, then that also means the other guys behind haven’t got much chance. Remember the famous ‘Jarno-Trulli-trains’ in the early to mid 2000s?
    4) The biggest problem why we can’t already get rid of DRS is the slipstream or the lack of its effect to be precise. The effect of slipstream with the new cars is just not powerful enough, they are too aero efficient. Though I don’t know if just increasing the drag would do the trick.

    1. @srga91 On point 4.

      The slipstream effect is lesser this year than it was with the 2017-2021 cars but I don’t think it’s as weak as people seem to think. We have for example seen it work to produce overtaking on the initial laps after the start before DRS is enabled & the same in the laps after a Safety car.

      And at Imola we saw the slipstream work well to produce overtaking before DRS was enabled (Including outside of the DRS zone) & we saw it work to produce opportunities at overtaking also.

      DRS is nothing more than quantity over quality. If all you want to see is hundreds of boringly easy highway passes that offer zero excitement then I guess you’ll love it. But if you want to see some actual proper racing with cars battling, Defending possible & overtaking actually hard fought for & exciting to watch then your never going to think much of the silly artificial gimmick.

      I’m sure the casual netflix social media nascar crowd are happy with quantity, But a vast majority of the longer term more dedicated & knowledgeable race fans will prefer the quality.

      1. @roger-ayles
        I think it also depends on the car’s characteristics. If a car with better cornering speeds is chasing a car with better straightline speed, then overtaking looks more difficult compared to the other way around.
        Yes, I agree 100%. DRS is certainly quantity over quality. Perfect for the casual viewer, but boring for the true F1 fan. I think it’s natural to have exciting and boring races, because the boring ones make you appreciate the exciting ones even more. You will never have just super exciting races throughout a full season. As long as there are more good ones than bad ones, I’m fine with it.

    2. Yeah, I feel that judging DRS on this track, and especially on this race just does not make much sense @drga91.

      The track was not great for overtaking to begin with, and DRS doesn’t change that too much. And this race it was very hard to even find an alternative line where one could pass because the track was wet there.

    3. To point 3 Trulli trains were a main problem that DRS was supposed to solve, it was supposed to help a faster car behind get infront of a slower car. There really shouldn’t be a point where a faster car can’t get past a slower car, and if there is it either means a heroic effort by the slower cars driver, or a complete failure of DRS goals.

      1. @skipgamer
        The DRS certainly didn’t achieve what it should’ve done. The fact that it’s an aerodynamic device doesn’t help either, because it’s limited to certain areas due to safety concerns. Had the FIA gone for a purely power-dependent device instead of DRS in the first place, we might’ve had much better races already before the new regulations.

  11. Quality over quantity!

    1. Agree with this, at least when it comes to the DRS passes.

  12. The problem with DRS is it changes the nature of racing, teams can setup around it. For tracks where the FIA has overtuned it (meaning DRS is really strong,) the teams can take advantage by going low downforce to really take advantage or otherwise ignore it completely if it is undertuned and you will never get alongside.

    At the end of the day, the defending car will always have an advantage unless the following car is given a speed boost, whether that’s DRS, an overtake button, energy management… This either needs to be accepted as a cost of going racing, or DRS (or something like it) needs to be accepted as a solution.

    I think the sport would be better without DRS, as then there wouldn’t be an artificial tuning knob the teams need to work around. Sure there would be less opportunity to get along-side the car infront, but then there should be a working group just like with the aero regs that makes a solid mechanical solution to that rather than an artificial band-aid solution they’re supposed to live with.

  13. Why don’t you ever write an article about “lack of defending”? That’s what happens with long straights and 3-4 DRS zones. Everything is easy, textbook and predictable in terms of overtaking. No one takes any risks, no one shows their talent; no one will try to do anything outside of that. In Imola we saw real racing, and yes, we didn’t see as many passing, but you pass people on the motorway, in F1 you’re supposed to do hard battles. Essentially, what you wish to have is NASCAR, drag racing on the (well, in a way) straight, but unfair one, where one driver is allowed to lose some drag, another (usually in slower car) isn’t.

  14. I think someone should have pointed out to Daniel that there were more passes before DRS was enabled than there was after.

    1. I think it’s worth pointing out (while we are at it) that DRS was enabled when the field was already spread out at about half race distance, and the track was still pretty wet off line in several places.
      Not exactly ideal conditions for creating overtaking opportunities on a circuit that only really has one anyway (if we are being generous).

      1. But I think there were a couple of unusual-spot overtakes, bottas for sure, maybe russell, before DRS was enabled.

        1. When the whole track was wet?

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