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Fans react strongly to the Adjustable Rear Wing reality
Fans react strongly to the Adjustable Rear Wing reality
Posted By: James Allen  |  16 Mar 2011   |  7:52 pm GMT  |  204 comments

We’ve had a strong reaction from readers to the story I posted yesterday about the Drag Reduction System (DRS) or adjustable rear wing.

Up until now the DRS has been a concept and more recently an item on the cars during test sessions. But as the racing season comes into view Charlie Whiting’s comments on the way the system will work have drawn many fans to feel negative about the idea. But there are also some who feel that the system should be given a chance.

Photo: Darren Heath

Here are two posts from readers, which I feel articulate the debate and deserve a wider audience.

Tom Mitchell speaks for many when he says,

“If most other fans were in favour of DRS, then fine. But reading here, it seems that practically nobody is. Whitmarsh et al will say that they are listening, like when he said that if it doesn’t work then they will remove it. But what he doesn’t get is that we don’t want it to work – because that would mean they’ve successfully made the racing artificial.

“Now there is a clear distinction between real fans and those they’re aiming to please with DRS. The former are people like those on this website, who have been watching F1 through the good and bad. The latter are people who know nothing about F1 (aka ‘new markets’), and I suspect are those who we all know; “the only good bits are the crashes” type people. Now I have nothing against new people becoming fans, but not at the very clear expense and anger of the loyal fans, who the F1 insiders clearly do not give a damn about and take for granted.”

However Sebee argues that, as with many innovations in F1, it needs to be given time,“I applaud the FIA for at least trying something for 2011. For years we the fans complain that lack of passing is an issue, now we have the DRS, KERS and fragile tires. All the driver aids over the years have resulted in cruise control racing over the years – I’m all for well thought out variables being brought into the mix. You accept automatic paddle shifting gear boxes now, weren’t they a gimmick at some point? Will anyone here seriously argue that their introduction took away from the spectacle, the driver skill, and most importantly passing opportunities? Since manual gear boxes aren’t a realistic option in F1 today – DRS and KERS it is.

Also, James is right that he’s reserving judgment, but perhaps is viewing it with questions and wishes to be proved wrong.

Let’s let a few races take place and see what they came up with. I recall some major UK newspaper declaring that you should put down a layer of paint next to your TV in 2010 because it’s more interesting to watch it dry than F1 will be after Bahrain. We could discuss if it was pure or due to peripherals(as per Fan’s view back a few months), but whatever your conclusion – you can hardly say 2010 was a boring show.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Give 2011 spec a chance. If it doesn’t work, will it really be that hard to remove DRS and KERS from the cars? I think not.

Now, someone please show me photos of F1 hardware arriving in Australia. I’m developing an anxiety twitch.”

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Interesting that they brought KERS to be “green”, when the f-duct last year did a simular task and was as green as you can get :S:S


Smell the coffee, people. F1 is a sport with an audience measured in millions. As with almost anything related to broader popular culture, it’s a mugs game hoping for sophistication and nuance. Popularity regards TV shows, pop songs and the like is usually inversely proportional to quality.

If the adjustable wing delivers more overtaking, making the races superficially more eventful and exciting to the casual viewer, then that will be measured a great success. The concerns of a niche of hardcore supporters can go hang. Anyway, F1 is already hugely artificial in so many ways. Likewise, the technical regs (which have given us these awful cars that can’t run properly in close proximity) are already so awful, it’s hard to argue this makes things any worse.


“Popularity regards TV shows, pop songs and the like is usually inversely proportional to quality.”

Well said and dead on, JJJ!

I find it funny that the DRS is being introduced to a car with a tiny little high rear wing that was introduced to do what? You guessed it – improve overtaking. If they’d simply scrapped the new rear wing rules, then allowed an electronically controlled F-Duct with bespoke design qualities, this thing would never have needed to see the light of day. But tweaks on top of a failed system ignore the two real problems of overtaking – the circuits, and front/rear wings themselves.



We need to give DRS a chance first before deciding. We will see plain and clear if the overtaking generated (if any) is ‘false’ or too easy – especially the more experienced fans. I hope it allows the cars to be able to get closer together and give the possibility while there still being a clear challenge to overtaking. So long as you can tell overtaking is a challenge still I have no issue. It could open up some tense defence/attack battles (imagine Hamilton and Alonso!). If cars are just drafting straight past each other that’s a different story.

Lets suck it and see.

Worst case is really that we can tell one car is faster than an other but still can’t get close enough to even consider a move.


Just wanted to say that Tom Mitchell couldn’t be more wrong in terms of my opinion on this issue.

I am not a “watch F1 for the crashes” type and I do not necessarily think that it will make the racing artificial..

The KERS in 2009 already made it artificial (passing before the braking zone) so.. what do they have to lose.

Let’s wait and see, but it’s telling that he said he doesn’t want it to work..

My team won everything last year and it was STILL almost unwatchable for me. Horrible racing.


But if it works, how can it not be artificial to effectively give the driver in front a boost that the one in front can not use? How is that fair? In football(soccer), they if a team goes 1-0 down, should they make the team winning remove their studs?

That’s why I don’t want it to work, not because I’m being petulant about it. There are plenty of changes in F1 that have happened that I’ve wanted to work, and many times I’ve been disappointed when they didn’t work. But if DRS works as intended then to me, it has successfully changed a fundamental principle of the sport (or in fact, sport itself).

KERS doesn’t produce artificial racing because the defender can defend with it.


Sorry, correction:

“how can it not be artificial to effectively give the driver BEHIND a boost that the one in front can not use”


I object to the comment that says the fans from ‘new market’ are not real fans of F1. I have watched F1 ever since we have had the privilege of watching it (ever since ’97) and I can say there is a huge population of F1 fans here too. We may not be a nerd in the tech aspects of F1 but we know where real entertainment is and do not judge a race with the number of overtakes that has happened in a race like the so called ‘real fans’ do. So jump off the high horse and show us some respect.

The DRS system hasn’t been at place yet and we should atleast be patient enough to judge it after a few races.

Remember what people said after Bahrain last year and how opinions changed at the end of the season? Hope for a great season ahead:-)

I am all for change and if it does bring in some excitement into F1, then I think we should embrace it.


Well, I’ve been used to the idea of the adjustable rear wing for a while now.

But I’ve been really riled up (and kind of astonished) again in the last few days by this announcement that there will be an on-screen graphic when a driver can “use” the system. I thought the whole idea of this system was that it would provide overtaking, which would provide further excitement? Shouldn’t that alone be good enough for the people who came up with it? We don’t need to be specifically told when it’s being used. If you get more overtaking, then that’s your goal achieved isn’t it? Apparently it isn’t enough for whoever came up with this. Apparently we also need to tell everyone when someone’s clever new gimmick is activated. For the sake of that persons’s ego, I guess. And also seemingly based on the er, “school of thought” that “We should have as many flashing lights on screen as possible! Yaaay!”

Really it’s so stupid. At first I thought… it’s as though they’re announcing “for those of you who thought this was too artificial, we’ve decided to come up with a graphic that will rub your nose in it!”

F1 *IS* rapidly becoming like a vision of a “half-baked videogame fantasy” that would have been only considered an absurd parody 3, 4 or 5 years ago. People used to joke about things like “maybe they should have sprinklers to liven up dull races”, and now Bernie is seriously talking about it. The approach by the “powers that be” (i.e. crotchety old men like Charlie Whiting and Bernie Ecclestone) is to just throw as many half-arsed gimmicks into the mix as possible, and label anyone who objects a “stuffy traditionalist”. Why? It’s so insulting to a sophisticated sporting audience. He’s rapidly turning F1 into something that will make the the McDonalds of world sport, NASCAR, look classy by comparison.

I think Bernie seriously has a vision in his mind that F1 fans everywhere are going to wear those big foam finger/glove things and start waving them and cheering when the “DRS activated!” sign comes up on the screen. Of all the stupid things F1 has done in the last 10 or so years, this is a serious, serious milestone. I don’t know how this kind of crap is going to be stopped. Surely there must be more sane people in the pitlane other than just Mark Webber (who rubbished the sprinkler idea). Why can’t they just stop and take stock for a moment and ask “really, how far away are those sprinklers?” It doesn’t seem far to me.

After Bahrain last year every F1 fan and his dog had an opinion on how to improve the show. Actually, I found the sheer amount of public navel-gazing by the F1 teams and personalities embarrassing. But what they need to do is come up with serious proposals for improving the spectacle, not this kind of crap. They are the only ones who can do it, fans can only watch in astonishment from afar (or, just stop watching).


I dislike the notion of “DRS” pretty intensely.

Having said that, it is a technical attempt to deal with a technical problem, which becomes a racing problem: how do you deal with “dirty air” (mentioned at least once in the comments above)?

I recall some working party a few years back (Ross Brawn was on it?) which even considered split rear wings (IIRC). I suppose that didn’t work, but the tactic strikes me as the preferred route: clean up the dirty air by some stable means, so that the faster “following” cars can actually make good their advantage.

This DRS thing is too fickle, too “interventionist”, too non-driver-ish, too … too!

Patrick S. Hunter

Can DRS affect degradation of the tyres?

Patrick S. Hunter

Another question for me is, after you got overtaken, when can you start using DRS to regain the position?


Complete rubbish.

F1 should mean more than a cheap pc game that has turbo zones for little children to play.



Thanks for a great forum for debate.

It’s good to see such passion from the fan base, whichever side of the argument you sit on. Long may it continue. Roll on Melbourne…


I don’t have time to read all comments, so sorry if any of this is duplicated! Have read a few though…

Ok time to set myself up. Been an F1 fan for 20 years, so I don’t remember the great innovations of the 70s and 80s. But I have seen how F1 has changed, from cars that could race wheel to wheel, to ones which find it hard to even get close.

Firstly, KERS. I don’t know. It certainly helped some in 2009, but then it took away from great racing too – look at Belgium. Fisichella had a faster car in the Force India, but because Kimi had the KERS, he could keep the Ferrari in front. I firmly believe Fisi would have won that race.

DRS – simply I don’t know, and I won’t until the first few races. the difference between this, and other innovations mentioned, is that the FIA came up with DRS, not the teams. Semi auto flappy panel gearboxes etc were developed and copied, not handed out to every team by the FIA. So is it the FIA looking to create artificial racing?

No. At the end of the day, the system still needs to be used. The driver needs to get within a second, and hold on into a position to pass to use the device. the driver in front, however, can pick his line, still make it difficult. Yes there’s a speed advantage, but only until the driver behind is blocked.

Got to wait and see, but I would prefer passing than processions. If they can’t amend the aerodynamics to get the cars closer, then this is the next best thing.


Would it not be better to have two or even three zones where the wing can be used on the track, but only limit the driver to one use per lap? This would at least make it less predictable for the defending driver. At the moment it seems like all the leading driver will need to do is set the car up to be better in sector 3 to ensure he has a gap of over a second before they enter the zone. Say in Melbourne if there was zones going into turn 3 and on the back straight (turn 13? where Webber pranged Hamilton last year) – it would increase the options the chasing driver had.

I only live a few miles from Silverstone but won’t be booking tickets for the GP until I’ve seen how this affects the racing. If it’s too gimmicky I won’t bother.


It’s going to be rather amusing watching cars stacked up behind Jarno Trulli again. With his car setup to be undriveable in sectors one and two and lightning quick in sector three. 🙂

You hit the nail on the head Ben.


bernie said something very interesting at today. He is against 4 cyl turbo engines, because he thinks it is not what the fans want, and it’s going to be negative for f1.

I totaly agree with bernie. And i agree with james, on the fact that true racing fans feel have been taken for granted. I do.

I don’t go to race tracks anymore, because i think the spectacle i get is not worth it, but i am easy to get back as a fan, because i have the bug. But not with those ridiculous small engines.


I guess a lot will depend on how they present this to the viewer. Its going to look a lot like a Playstation game in my view.

P.S James the Codemasters Birmingham team won a BAFTA last night for their F1 2010 game. They deserve a shout out so well done lads!

Oh and Happy St Patricks Day from Dublin.


A large portion of the teams on the grid will not be running KERS because they can’t afford it. Which is rather convenient for the wealthier teams.

The DRS will prescribe exactly where overtaking will occur. Drivers will wait for the zone and all the other circuits overtaking opportunities will be ignored.

Getting rid of refuelling was the best move the F1 regulators have made in so many years. Now leave the teams to work out how they are going to design their cars to get in front of the competition. It gave us the F-Duct and will give us loads of other innovative ways of overtaking. They don’t need this prescriptive idiocy, it is a knee jerk reaction to Bahrain. Creativity abhors a vacuum it also wilts when you stick it in a cage or tell it what to do.


Hi James,

Controversy always brings out fan’s passionate opinions which has to be a good thing. I applaud the fact the FIA are trying solutions my only concern, and let’s remember this is after a phenomenal season, is that we are introducing too many variables to improve the racing all at once. Kers, DRS and the new tyres introduces a lot of variables that potentially could spread the field out. I hope we don’t miss out in understanding which innovation is effecting the racing. If a car is kind on it’s tyres, then using kers and drs becomes trivial I would suspect. A car’s ability to have traction out of the corner sets it up for a stronger top speed. Will we lose the ability to acknowledge that with DRS? Hope not.


I can’t read this much discussion. Congrats on it staying civil.

DRS is stupid. Requires externalities to actuate. Who is going to protest that his wing was noot activated by Bernie, and he lost the race – Alonso? We do have some whiners.

But hey, plese try and remember one of the stated reasons FIA has for F1 – to advance road-going technology.

DRS does not do so. KERS does.

But I shall solve this problem for you.

No Wings.

Maybe we’ll allow a pop-up spoiler of limited size. Now Adrian will be beavering away, like a lot of others, making new aero discoveries. That may actually transfer to road cars.

And we get spectacle. At least until someone makes tires of rubber cement…


If you want ovetaking and proper racing watch Endurance racing – Le Mans, ALMS. Tyres can now manage 4 stints – in some cases that is more than a Grand Prix race.

Sebring 12 hours this weekend – and yes they also race in the night (without street lights!!).

I stiil watch FI races – but record them first so that I can fast forward until/if anything interesting happens.


I’m happy to wait and see.

The DRS system has been thought through with the input of the teams. Theyre there to race, not qualify in a position and hold it. They know better than we do what theyre doing, so I think it justifies giving the benefit of the doubt.

Let come back to it in 6 races or so, like James said.


Any body thought that the DRS can actually be used to save fuel when chasing another car? Makes me wonder if this season will be more about cars saving their tyres by heavily under fueling the car for the start and driving smoothly using the DRS when following another car.

It could possably save a pitstop by starting with a light car which would naturally lap faster and be kinder on the tyres


I think we are all getting a bit worked up over this because we are itching for the season to get going. I wonder what we would be saying if Bahrain had gone ahead rather than still waiting for Australia.

There is no substitute for real racing and seeing how the season develops.

However this forum is the next best thing for a F1 fan and I always admire the intelligent debates that rarely fall below excellent and James should be congratulated on the way it has developed.


Thanks for that


James & other posters….what are your thoughts on the innovations being brought into F1 in comparison to the Le Mans Series? LMS racing is often plagued with big disadvantages between cars but they don’t seem to meddle with the rules nowhere near as much as F1 and to be blunt…there’s a whole heap more of ontrack action. Personally I’ll reserve judgement re DRS, I’d like to see it work to prove the technology works but I would like to see a stop to the constant interfering with the rules before each season. When was the last time teams were simply left to it for 2 seasons in a row with no big rule changes placed on them? James… when do you feel it goes to far?


I’m reserving judgement too. I dont mind Kers as an idea but limit it to a number of times per race.

Reducing the reliance on wing based aero in favour of ground effect is the way I’d rather they went.


is it true that Byrne and Head are working on developing the concept around the rules for 2013? I’d heard less wing based and more ground effect/shaped floors based downforce?


That is true, yes


I’m not a big fan of the rear wing but I’m willing to see if it works.

I actually like the idea of kers, but believe they should be given 10-15 boosts per race (depending on laps) and if someone is a complete nimrod and uses them too quickly, that’s their fault.

I think the tyres will result in more driving on tge edge and that will be better racing.


Ultimately the changes were surely implemented to get fans interested. Its generating plenty of discussion, so seems to be working. I’m really looking forward to the racing now, just as always but, also to see how all these theories play out in practice.

Not that there’s not plenty to look forward to anyway – can schui get back up front and mix it with the new guys? can some new teams join the lead pack (how fast are sauber really)? and, as an Aussie, can webber take it up to vettel? and if he can, will red bull practice what they preach this year?

I’ll be happy to praise or bag the new regs once i’ve watched a few races.

Bring on the action!


Its certainly given us all something to talk about for a couple of months 😉

I remember the reactions just after bahrain last year, when everyone predicted a boring processional year, and we got quite the opposite.

On Mark Webber, hes knows hes sitting in the best car on the grid and I know he’ll be pushing himself next year.

He proved last year he can mix it with vettel, and he only just came up short (Korea comes to mind).

I’ll be glad for us to be talking about racing soon enough.

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