Red Bull double DRS revealed in Suzuka
Innovation
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Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Oct 2012   |  5:47 pm GMT  |  69 comments

It’s not often that an innovation on an F1 car slips through without being noticed at a Grand Prix, but the talk of the Japanese Grand Prix was the double DRS device on the rear wing of the Red Bull, which had actually been on the car in Singapore.

The idea is a simple variation on something tried by Lotus this year, to shed even more drag than a standard DRS wing.

Lotus have a passive system and are yet to be able to qualify and race with theirs as they have problems getting the aero rebalanced once the device is deactivated.


The Red Bull idea works more like the Mercedes F Duct front wing; when the DRS is activated it opens a hole (where the narrow, curved grey piece is on the inside of the endplate) to channel air through the rear wing endplate and out through the main beam of the wing (the lower part), shedding drag. It also exits onto the diffuser, helping with rear balance. It helps with top speed and speed through fast corners. In Suzuka Red Bull were in the top ten through the speed trap, only 1km/h slower than Button’s McLaren.

At Spa, in contrast, the Red Bulls were 21st and last in top speed at the end of the Kemmel Straight, 6km/h down on the McLaren.

Like Lotus, Red Bull needed help with qualifying; their chances in races were being harmed by not qualifying at the front of the grid. The DRS device can be used in qualifying, but not in the race (except for overtaking) and on a track like Suzuka, where there are many higher speed corners, there’s a good gain to be had.

So in Suzuka this device came into its own, helping to give Red Bull their first front row lock out of the season and setting Sebastian Vettel up for a momentous win, that blows the world championship wide open with only four points separating him from Fernando Alonso with five races remaining.


Red Bull also had a new front wing in Suzuka, which appeared to have been evolved to be sure to pass the more stringent FIA flexing tests, which were introduced to address rumoured rotation of the front wing.

Red Bull also had some updates to the rear suspension which helped to improve traction and rear tyre life. It was very noticeable from the audio on the on-board camera shots of Vettel’s pole lap that there was almost no wheelspin out of the lower speed corners.

The team has a tremendous momentum now and must be considered the favourites for the championship as the car is coming good at just the right moment, especially as Ferrari seems to be struggling to make updates work on its car.

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69 Comments
  1. Miha Bevc says:

    Thanks James!
    Great stuff by Adrian Newey and his team, but will their double DRS also bring so much advantage at other circuits? In Singapore McLaren was the fastest car, even with Red Bull’s DDRS.

    1. KGBVD says:

      Their cars have always been down on straight line speed. All this does is allow them to compete on the straights (at least in quali) while still reaping the benefits of all of their medium-to-high speed cornering down force.

      I was surprised that most teams didn’t follow Merc with the DDRS. Lotus is going their own way, but the 4-5km extra with DRS surely would pay dividends. At Suzuka, Vettel used his DDRS to get on pole, while Alonso qualied in the danger zone and paid for it.

  2. AlexD says:

    I am a Ferrari fan (not Alonso fan) and I need to say that if Ferrari is not going to win the title this year it is simply because they had a bad car (not a championship contender).

    Red Bull is developing at impressive rate…something that only Ferrari and McLaren could do in the past, but for some reason it is not working for the two biggest teams when it matters the most.

    My only hope is that Ferrari is going to introduce something that will make this car 0.5-1.0 sec per lap faster starting next race, but with Domenicali revealing new (old) problems with the wind tunnel – it is highly unlikely.

    So…another year for the energy drink. Shame on car manufacturers.

    1. Chromatic says:

      What do you put Massa’s surprise progress in Suzuka to? Could be that Ferrari’s new bundle of upgrades is actually making a difference, not as much as the BR, but still ….

      1. Massa just seemed on a different level this weekend, with Alonso having the upper hand in Q2 only.

        Let’s see how they progress in Korea. Personally, I’d like the championship to do down the wire. Interlagos is not Yas Marina and that would be a pretty exciting prospect.

      2. AlexD says:

        Nope…Massa was very fortunate that many cars went off track and he avoided an accident, made a very strong progress while others went off.

        If you think about his pace in the race, Vettel was at least 1 sec faster when he was not cruising.

      3. Justin says:

        Massa definitely benefited enormously from the first lap incidents but it’s not like McLaren or Sauber were able to catch him. Ferrari were the second fastest car on sunday, but Red Bull is way out ahead of them.

      4. KGBVD says:

        Chaos at the start and a safety car.

    2. Joe says:

      16 of the last 20 constructors champions have had vehicles designed by either Rory Byrne or Adrian Newey. That says something about who the real champions are in Formula 1. Forget the driver.

  3. Jim Dee says:

    What a great weekend for Vettel and RedBull. I would say that these updates are hugely significant, qualifying 1-2, and pulling fastest laps at the end of the race. Shame for Mark because this would have been a perfect weekend.

  4. Serrated_Edge says:

    Red Bull can only win by bending the rules- first the flexing front wing, pushing the blown diffuser rules then the dodgy engine mapping.

    Seems Red Bull can’t win races fair and square in the spirit of the rules.

    1. Matthew says:

      If it isn’t violating anything in the rules then the development is perfectly fair, and one that could have been adapted by any team. They found an innovation that works, and they developed it. Bending the rules is what innovation is F1 is all about. It may not be within the spirit of the rules but it is certainly within the letter, and perfectly legal until the rules are otherwise modified. Is your gripe that the innovation exists, or is it that Red Bull is the team that developed it? Would you be so unhappy if it was Williams or Caterham that created it?

    2. No Hope says:

      S_edge, you haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about. If a car passes scrutineering its legal. Especially the RedBull, which is scrutineered with a fine tooth comb compared to many other teams.

    3. Exploring the regulations loopholes is what the technical and sporting departments are about.

      F1 is not a spec chassis series, unlike Indycar or GP2.

    4. peruvian says:

      Indeed, this looks to me like a double difuser at work… as I see it, it works like this:
      Open the DRS and let air go to the open pipe hole, and redirect air to aid the difuser extract air out from underneath the car.
      Basicly it is like the older and bunned Double difuser, that Red Bull had, and now eligal…. so again, a cheat, which is the only way Adrian Newey can win.
      James, how else can you take the 130R with the DRS active, if you are not blowing the difuser?… I would banned the designer and take away points fron the cheater team…. is it, or is it not a banned technology, come on FIA, don’t robe us a champions ship again, what a joke this sport is.

      1. Smeghead says:

        How else can you take 130R with DRS open?

        Well, I can’t say for certain who did and didn’t this year but apparently it was doable last year, even in a Caterham or a Marussia (see #3):

        http://sidepodcast.com/post/tweets-of-the-week-lessons-in-bravery

        I’ll take a peek at the DVR tonight; I think I still have Quali recorded on it.

      2. Richard says:

        the blown diffusers last year (not allowed this year) provided enough grip to cover for the DRS being open

      3. Smeghead says:

        Sorry, nope. See my comment below after I had a chance to peek at qualifying. Footage from Q1 showed Alonso running 130R with DRS wide open, as did both of the Red Bulls. Several other drivers were running up to the corner with the rear wing open, closing it for varying lengths of time on corner entry (Maldonado in particular had his closed for a couple of tenths) and then opening it again.

        It appears that, with the right balance, even 2012 cars can make it round 130R with DRS.

      4. Smeghead says:

        OK, poking through the recording of quali on the old DVR, I see plenty of evidence of DRS use to varying degrees in Q1 alone:

        14:20 left on the clock – in-car footage plus the telemetry graphic shows Senna running up to 130R with the rear wing open, closing it briefly on entry to stabilise the car for < 1 sec, then opening it again long before the exit of the corner.

        12:31 left – great external shot of Alonso entering 130R with DRS open the whole way round, only clicking closed as he brakes just before the 100m board before the final chicane.

        11:23 left – same external shot, this time of Webber doing the same thing, just to prove that yes, the Red Bull can go round 130R with DRS open.

        10:21 left – same location again. I can't tell if Kobayashi had his rear wing open on entry (I record stuff at fairly low quality to make more space) but he definitely had it open before corner exit.

        7:03 left – Button approaches 130R with the wing open, then takes a similar approach to Senna, closing it on entry and opening back up again once the car stabilises.

        4:53 left – Maldonado does the same thing as his team-mate, but far more agressively, closing the wing for what looks like a couple of tenths of a second. Martin Brundle even comments on his use of DRS (apparently some teams are moving to foot-operated DRS) as he runs down the main straight.

        I'm not going to bother digging through the other two sessions to see what else went on, given Alonso demonstrated that it was definitely doable in a Ferrari.

    5. Smeghead says:

      F1 has and will always be about finding the loopholes and grey areas in the rules, “spirit” be damned. If a car passes the tests and scrutineering required of *every* team on the grid, then it’s legal until the loophole or vagueness is tightened up.

      It’s the same deal as in a court of law: you can’t be convicted for not fallowing the “spirit” of a law, only for transgressing against what the law actually states.

      A double DRS system isn’t new or novel. Mercedes came up with the concept at the beginning of the season, so FIA has had plenty of time to decide whether they want the system banned or not. Since the 15th race of the season is now in the bag, it’s a fair bet they have no quarrel with how a double DRS works, and no quarrel with ducting air from the back to other areas of the car.

      All such innovations cause sour grapes on the part of those that didn’t think of them first, especially if they actually work. Take 2010′s F-duct. When McLaren debuted the idea, Red Bull (IIRC) were one of the first to complain about it. The car was inspected, but because the f-duct didn’t utilise any sort of movable aerodynamic device, the car was given the green light for the Bahrain race.

  5. F1fan4life says:

    James, are any of the other top teams working on a double DRS? Everyone was aware of Lotus.. so why have Red Bull come up with it but not Ferrari or McLaren?

  6. olderguysrule says:

    As a long time fan of the red cars, I would quote Obi-Wan, “Don’t under estimate the power of the dark side”. :>)

    1. marcelo valois says:

      Being Maranello the Death Star, you mean? ;-)

      1. olderguysrule says:

        I was think more like the boys in red, the good guys, are under extreme pressure from the dark side, which would be the Newey designed cars from the Bulls. :>) All good natured fun of course. “This is our most desperate hour. Help us Obi-Wan, your our only hope”.

  7. D@X says:

    Well it’s a Newy car so I expected something sooner or later…The guy is just awesome at what he puts his hand to.

  8. Chromatic says:

    Mr Newey. A true genius is firstly a practical man.
    Lotus talked up a half-hatched idea – he made it reality. The hope now for Lotus is to copy the way their idea has been applied. Make it soon. Because everyone else will have their version of this by India.

    1. Wilma the Great says:

      ‘everyone else will have their version of this by India’

      Are you serious? Mercedes employs the principle since the beginning of the season. Other teams are not lacking the idea either, but it’s probably (seriously, I don’t have a clue) a heavily complex task to get all the side effects to work as you intend them to.
      That’s why you still need a wind tunnel to verify your calculations.

      I’m sure RBR is not the only one team working on this for a very long time. Only they did it faster and/or better.

    2. Wild Man says:

      Only one team really mastered the blown diffuser.

      Lotus have had difficulties getting their version to “Double DRS” to work.

      Suggest that it is not as easy as it sounds. Takes the magic of Mr Newey to get it to work & get the balance right??

      1. Nigel says:

        There is a big difference in complexity between the Lotus system and the Red Bull blown beam wing.
        If it’s not subsequently banned, I expect the leading teams to implement the Red Bull system quite quickly. As it’s switched by the DRS activation it’s relatively easy to control.

        The Lotus system potentially has a far greater payoff (at certain tracks, anyway), but because it’s switched passively by airflow effects, is very difficult to optimise. It needs to be calibrated differently for every track to be safe and effective, and given the limited amount of testing and wind tunnel time allowed, its understandable that we haven’t seen it in action yet.
        All their work might give Lotus a big advantage… next year.

      2. Wild Man says:

        There is nothing easy about F1 aerodynamics.

    3. Ahmed says:

      This is in principle completely different to the one Lotus has been trying. This implementation of the Double DRS will be banned at the end of 2012.
      What Lotus is looking for is a passive method of stalling the rear wing at high speeds, without pressing the DRS button. The Lotus one can be used next year as well if they can get it to work.

      Ahmed

  9. Rich C says:

    Newey strikes again!
    The man should be outlawed for next year!

  10. MelB says:

    The Lotus device is not a double drs because it doesn’t use drs. On the other hand it doesn’t appear to work at all…

  11. Timmay says:

    I invented this I am so proud now. Go Finger!

  12. Robert Gunning says:

    Only three things stand between Red Bull and Vettel for the title this season now. They are: reliability, unfortunate accidents, and wet weather; without these nothing stands between them, unless Ferrari seriously pull their finger out.

    1. Nathan says:

      Don’t forget Grosjean! ;)

      1. vxyler says:

        He mentioned him with “unfortunate accidents” ;-)

  13. Luciana Gutierez says:

    This device may have played a part in securing a one two for Red Bull on Saturday but would have no use for Vettel in the race as he wouldn’t have had an opportunity to use the DRS. Unless there is something else, Suzuka may have been a one off for the Red Bulls; probably the track suits their car. Ferrari are much more stronger at the start and also during the race. This is not over yet.

    1. James Allen says:

      Qualifying is very important as it allows you to drive in clear air and that protects tyres and has been shown to be a huge advantage this year

      1. Max Harris says:

        I’m surprised no comment has focussed on the recent gains in RB’s top speed. Regularly in the top 10, from memory at Singapore nearly the fastest. Previously, they’ve dominated whilst being towards the bottom in speed trap results. Surely this is evidence of the DDRS and other tweaks having huge effect???

      2. Chris South says:

        2012 is all about clean air!

      3. Mike from Colombia says:

        Like Jaime Alguesari said to you “without air you are nowhere”

    2. Ghayth says:

      Still vettel did have the fastest lap of the race without using DRS !!!!!!!!

      1. Richard says:

        that’s the point, RB have a fast race car but cant use it too full potential as not qualifying front row, DDRS moved them into that position so SV could drive away from the rest

    3. VanDhloms says:

      Qualifying top is everything Dude… Ask Kobayashi he’ll tell you…

    4. Jim Dee says:

      True, James mentioned about the updated rear suspension too! Better balance allows for more power to the tyres without wear!

  14. Sensei.GT says:

    I dunno, sounds dodgy, I think there is more to the RB car than DDRS. Vettel just ran away with it. If I were a FIA scrutineer I look a bit deeper into that car!

    1. Doohan says:

      Maybe the new suspension that was mentioned as well?
      Plus both drivers seemed to get their cars near perfectly set up. Around a track like Suzuka to have the first 2 sectors with a perfectly balanced car would trounce a faster car that’s not setup right. (Hamilton)

    2. Ahmed says:

      My thoughts exact, there is some other trickery going on with that car.

    3. Nigel says:

      I agree with Doohan – they just got the setup perfectly right.

      Car performance is extremely dependent on setup this season – and limited testing together with very sensitive tyres makes it difficult to get exactly right.
      I don’t think you can properly judge relative pace based on one weekend’s results.

  15. M Veep says:

    I have to agree with No Hope in regard to your comment. RBR is such a refreshing team compare to others.

    Its R&D has so much going for them and becoming the industry leader.

  16. David Ryan says:

    As has already been said in other comments, if it passes scrutineering the car is legal. Simple as. Some of the teams on the grid may be bitter about Red Bull seemingly pulling out another advantage, but it’s no different to McLaren’s brake-steer system or Ferrari being on best terms with Bridgestone. It’s the nature of the beast.

    Anyway, the DDRS certainly sounds intriguing but I suspect the tweaks to the rear suspension are probably the more significant change. Reducing wheelspin and saving tyre life are pretty critical at a circuit like Suzuka, particularly in the slower corners, and they probably account for how Vettel stormed away from the field. In any event, Ferrari has a lot of work to do if it’s going to cling onto this lead.

    1. Jamie Norman says:

      That’s just rubbish, if you’re not caught, you’re not cheating. Teams have done all sort of things to get round scruitineering, tyres that increase in size when they get hot, hidden fuel tanks, traction control that can’t be detected, all illegal, all pass scrutineering

      I don’t know if Redbull are cheating or not, but to say if your’e not caught, then its legal, is just wrong.

      1. David Ryan says:

        With respect, you seem to have completely misunderstood what I was saying. If a system is designed and manufactured in consultation with the FIA (which all of them are these days), is fitted to the car and is passed by the scrutineers, the car is legal for that event irrespective of whether other teams don’t think it should be, or just didn’t think of it as an option. My point was aimed more at the ever-present grumbling within the paddock whenever someone comes up with an idea they didn’t think of, or got one to work that they couldn’t, as was the case with double-diffusers, F-ducts and blown diffusers before. I wasn’t advocating that it’s open season once as long as you can pass scrutineering, and I take exception to suggestions that I would. I do have some basic integrity.

        Incidentally, with standard ECUs and tyres and car-mounted sensors both illicit traction control and shape-shifting tyres would be nigh-on impossible nowadays, and the one team in recent memory to try and hide a fuel tank (BAR) failed scrutineering and was banned as a result. As such, they are perhaps not the best examples to illustrate your argument.

  17. F1addicted says:

    Shame on McLaren engineers.

  18. JB says:

    I like the Lotus/RB simple DDRS. Way better than the complicated system found in Mercedes. I am not sure why Mercedes team is focusing on those improvement that ultimately is not gonna make the fast package.

    Sauber, Mclaren, RedBull, Ferrari all know this, make as much downforce as possible preferably more than your competitor and make the tires last. That’s it! max speed from DRS is not the winning tech.

    Good to see RB and Seb’s famous index finger back! I know some hate it but I love a guy who is true to himself and not afraid to show it.

  19. tim says:

    Always thought the best way to improve the Mercedes DRS idea was to blow the diffuser when the DRS was open rather than the front wing. Shed drag while you simultaneously maintain rear downforce: Voila, drag-free downforce and retained balance. Brilliant.

    I love that Red Bull has redesigned their car about five times this year. That’s development. No other team comes close. Love it or hate it, development is what wins in the end. Or at least what pushes others to fall flat. McLaren and Ferrari are not happy right now. Red Bull have an upper hand thanks to constant improvement.

    1. Moog says:

      DRS is best used when you’re not traction limited such as on straights. Blown diffusers are used in corners. So with your idea you want to either blow the diffuser on a straight (why?) or stall the rear wing in a corner (kind of when you need the wing).

    2. Chris says:

      Good job they pulled out of FOTA and refused to sign up the Resource Restriction Agreement along with Ferrari. 5 Car designs in one year is obviously not very sustainable for most teams these days, money no longer grows on trees for most of us blessed to world this planet.

      All hail Redbull as they still have plenty of money trees but money doesn’t buy you happiness, ask Ferrari.

  20. Carlos Marques says:

    There’s always something dodgy about Red Bull. They never seem to be able to win anything cleanly. I wonder if they’re able to invent a gadget that doesn’t require 2 lawyers to argue that it’s legal…sure, win the championship, doesn’t mean much with a device that will be deemed illegal in a few races…

    1. Nigel says:

      Nonsense.
      I’m not a Red Bull fan, but their blown beam wing is 100% legal.

    2. Steve says:

      Did you have the same opinion when other teams (Lotus, Mercedes) were working on improvements in this area earlier in the year?

  21. DANNY says:

    F1 is all about high speed cornering. Adrian Newey gets right to the point. Lotus and Mercedes are wasting their time and resources.

  22. F1 + NISMO says:

    I am wondering when will Mclaren use this double DRS?. Like Lotus, they have flirted with this rear wing stalling technique. Mclaren started of the F Duct in 2010, which became DRS in 2011 and this year. James do we feel that the next tracks will suit cars without DDRS? like in Singapore. It is strange that Lewis Mclaren was performing well after 20 laps later?……..

    1. F1addicted says:

      I’m also hoping James has some info on this – if McLaren are planning this at the next race (or 2) and also about the difference in tracks!

  23. deancassady says:

    Wow the diversity of comments on the RB DDRs!
    While I am not convinced that the Red Bull front wing does indeed NOT, “rotate about the axis”, ultimately, what defines the rules are the tests used to determine whether a car is compliant or not with them. And I’d bet the RB complies with the rules.
    Any other team that could create technical advantages while remaining within the constraints of the tests, would do it, or they shouldn’t be in F1!
    So, whether you like it or not, this is the game of F1, the rules are the same, (most of the time) for everyone, and Red Bull have come out, now, almost at the end of the year, with the most competitive package, as fair and square as Formula One is.

  24. Fireman says:

    If I got it right, there’s two types of drag reduction devices present. The so called Double DRS and the Drag Reduction Device.

    Double DRS works when DRS is activated. Mercedes DDRS stalls the front wing, Red Bull DDRS stalls the rear wing even more.

    The Drag Reduction Device which Lotus (and also Mercedes) have tested is passive and doesn’t require DRS activation. DRD is activated above certain speed and it stalls the rear wing. It must be calibrated for each track, which can be tricky.

    DDRS is outlawed next season, DRD is not (at least not yet).

    It seems that the DRD is also pretty useful in the race, not only qualifying.

    1. Fireman says:

      Today Autosport writes: “Mercedes will continue to experiment with the Lotus-style double-DRS in Friday practice for the Korean Grand Prix.”

      Definately going to raise confusion :)

  25. bennybmg says:

    Why is it that when Redbull innovate and then dominate people cry foul? What about accepting the fact that you have fallen behind, give RB the credit they deserve and then set about improving your own performance.

    Pulling back the benchmark only stifles innovation and is a sure sign that the other teams admit defeat.

    How the FIA can change the rules on the fly(flexible front wing), not once but twice is absolutely beyond me.

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