Lewis Hamilton, Carlos Sainz Jnr, Circuit de Catalunya, 2024

Shorter DRS zone made overtaking harder in Spanish GP – Hamilton

Formula 1

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Lewis Hamilton said the decision to shorten a DRS zone at the Circuit de Catalunya made overtaking harder for drivers in the race.

The activation point for the DRS zone on the pit straight was moved 100 metres further away from the final corner compared to last year.

The Mercedes driver nonetheless managed to pass Carlos Sainz Jnr into turn one with what his team principal Toto Wolff described as one of “the best overtakes I’ve seen in a long time.”

“They shortened the DRS, so it was not so easy to follow through the last corner,” Hamilton told the official F1 channel. “I really had to pull this move off as early as possible.

“He moved over, but didn’t completely cover the inside, so I went for the inside. It was very, very close between us, he tried to hold and stay on the outside, I left him a little bit of room, but it was nice and tight.”

The FIA experimented with shortening DRS zones at some tracks early last year but halted the practice following complaints from some drivers. In the third year of F1’s current technical regulations, drivers have increasingly warned following other cars is becoming more difficult due to the turbulence they produce.

Lando Norris said this prevented him from attacking George Russell during the first stint after Max Verstappen passed the Mercedes.

“There’s so much dirty air,” said Norris. “The first three laps of a stint, you can [attack] because the tyres are so good. So at the beginning of a stint, I was good and I could, but that was Max’s opportunity to get past George, he did that.

“After, the tyres just get so hot, you just can’t do different lines, and you can’t go out of the dirty air and cut back and things like that. So there was nothing else I could have done. It was just as simple as everyone kind of falls in line a little bit.”

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Keith Collantine
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20 comments on “Shorter DRS zone made overtaking harder in Spanish GP – Hamilton”

  1. “They shortened the DRS, so it was not so easy to follow through the last corner,” Hamilton told the official F1 channel.

    Dirty air through the last corner has nothing to do with the shortened DRS zone. What is Hamilton even talking about?

  2. And that’s a bad thing!? That’s what made this race watchable.

    1. DRS has never been overpowered in Montmelo anyway.

    2. Did you read the article or just the headline? Your question does make answering that rather easy

      1. I did, of course. I was referring to what Hamilton said, which ended in the headline, not the more positive note from Toto. Although I can’t really say what Hamilton meant to say, context is lacking (this is where non-verbal communication matters).

        1. Dex: “I was referring to what Hamilton said, which ended in the headline,”…

          …except it didn’t. Are you sure you read the article? The headline doesn’t reflect what Hamilton said, and is more of a reporter’s interpretation made to sound like a complaint. The actual quotes from the drivers make much more interesting and informative, but if you’ve already made your mind up then facts are optional.

          1. Dex has a lot on his plate like being a Putin apologist. We can’t expect him to read full articles.

  3. Precisely my point beforehand.
    The worst thing is indeed the fact FIA had already stopped shortening activation zone lengths following a driver request, but still eventually started doing so again despite following getting harder season by season within stable technical regs & unfortunately, the unintended consequence was very evident in both Imola & Montmelo, not to mention most shortenings have been for 100 meters, or 105 precisely in Montmelo’s case, meaning the starting point was 5 meters further into the S/F straight than pre-2017 when it used to locate 157 meters after the final corner, but 162 for this year after having been positioned 57 meters after in 2017-22.
    Simply zero justification for shortening any activation zones in the current state anyway, but at this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised if even the likes of Hungaroring, Zandvoort, & Marina Bay get treated the same way.

  4. Yeah, it looked like a real struggle out there.

  5. I’m guessing that was the point, no?

    1. Everything’s about a balance, i.e., being unable to even attempt an overtake with constant DRS trains doesn’t favor anyone.

  6. Lando, Max managed to pass Russell easily enough.

    And yeah, overtakes shouldn’t be a gimme. I think they got it just about right – there weren’t too many slam dunks amongst the cars that are otherwise fairly evenly matched.

  7. Reading the headline I thought it sounded like Lewis was complaining, but he was just describing the overtake in detail. And it was a nice one!

  8. Norris’ description sound more like a tyre problem than an aero problem.

    If a spec part is such a limitation, it’s time for a change.

  9. I think the shortened zone was a success. Rather than just breezing past down the straight, drivers had to fight their way through turn one – and on several occasions this extended into turn two as well. Made for some exciting interludes.

    1. Avro, I agree, it looked like they were needing to make more of a judgement call on the brakes. It also helped that there was an outside line around the corner, to stop people just being defensive on the inside line. Maybe in an ideal world we want DRS zones which make it possible for cars to arrive side by side at the braking point, so it becomes a question of judgement, handling under braking, and tyre condition.

  10. Because drivers just want the easy push of a button highway passes so they don’t have to risk the car because that’s what they have all got used to.

    The art of trying to set up an overtake to overtake naturally has been lost to the current generation of drivers because they have all got used to just needing to push buttons to get by with ease in the FIA designated passing zone.

    Thats why I don’t think DRS has a place in any of the junior formula. That should be where drivers learn about race-craft, to race & overtake without gimmicks. But when from day 1 in single seaters now they are taught only about passing in certain zones by pressing buttons it’s no wonder they don’t know how to do it without the gimmicks anymore.

    And indeed in F1 the silly comedy tyres don’t help with overtaking. They need tyres less sensitive to overheating which allow drivers to push harder for longer when in battle with another car.

    1. “Because drivers just want the easy push of a button highway passes so they don’t have to risk the car because that’s what they have all got used to.”

      Roger, it sounds like you are reacting to the headline rather than what the drivers actually said. If you read the article you will see the drivers were explaining how they used racecraft and how the DRS zones and tyre conditions affected that.

      1. Seems like 80% of the comments reacted solely to the headline. And most headlines, even at RF which is one of the least sensationalist sites, give a false impression of what the quoted person was actually saying.

  11. BMW P85 V10
    24th June 2024, 17:38

    The DRS length was just about right. With passes on the very end of the straight, close tobreaking zone into the corner.
    It led to several passes that weren’t completed on the straight but was taken further into the following corners. That’s what (I think) most want to see instead of a pass on the straight where you can go back to the racing line before you have to brake for the corner.

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