Formula 1 drivers questioned the decision to shorten the DRS zone on the main straight after struggling to overtake each other during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.2023 F1 calendar. It did so based on overtaking data it obtained last year, when it introduced new technical regulations devised by F1 aimed at making it easier for drivers to follow each other.
The DRS zone on the start-finish straight in Baku was shortened by 100 metres compared to last year. However following last weekend’s grand prix and sprint race several drivers said overtaking had been too difficult.
“They shortened the DRS this year down the straight,” said Lewis Hamilton. “I don’t quite know why they did that, we’ve always had great racing with where the DRS was. But by the time you switch the DRS, it was too late.”
Lando Norris said he found it “pretty much impossible to overtake” during the race. “Especially with our straight-line speed. It’s not helped by how much shorter the DRS is now compared to where it was last year.”
The decision to shorten the DRS zone was a point of discussion before the race began, said Norris. “All the drivers questioned it in the drivers’ briefing.”
Some drivers said overtaking has become more difficult in the second year since F1’s new aerodynamic regulations were introduced. “It certainly didn’t make any sense that they made it shorter, because the cars are harder to follow this year with the rule changes,” said Kevin Magnussen.
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“Also just the cars getting more complex and the involvement in aerodynamics is causing it to be harder to follow. So if anything, it should be the same or even longer.”
Logan Sargeant also believes F1 and the FIA should rethink the decision to shorten DRS zones.
“You can’t do much,” said the Williams drivers. “You get stuck behind the cars in front. It’s really difficult to overtake and get close enough. I just kind of had to settle in and just race my race – it was a pretty lonely one unfortunately.”
“For starters [they should], extend the DRS zones as they were last year. We’ve been making them shorter and shorter, 100 metres shorter this year compared to last year in Baku and just makes it too difficult to make a move at the end of the straight.”
Not everyone was convinced the change to the DRS zone was to blame after two largely processional races in Baku. “I’m not sure that 100 metres more DRS would have made a difference,” said Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff. “Maybe just.”
However before the weekend began his driver George Russell, who is also a director of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, had raised concerns about the decision to shorten the DRS zone and the lack of consultation around it.
“The overtaking is harder this year than it’s been last year,” said Russell in response to a question from RaceFans. “As the cars have evolved away from the initial regulations that F1 introduced, overtaking has become more difficult.
“Obviously they’re shortening all the DRS zones as well, which the drivers have had zero input on, and been a little bit disappointed again that we weren’t in that loop to hear that because I’m not even sure the FIA are aware that we feel that the overtaking is harder, yet they’re basing the DRS off historic information.”
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