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Hear the leading F1 engineers tackle fans’ questions on DRS and blown diffuser ban
Posted By: James Allen  |  01 Jul 2011   |  1:15 am GMT  |  17 comments

Three of F1’s leading engineers, Paddy Lowe of McLaren, James Allison of Renault and Paul Monaghan of Red Bull, took to the stage for the technical element of today’s FOTA Fans Forum.

On the agenda as far as the fans were concerned was the artificiality of the DRS wing, which was conceived by the Technical Working Group on which all three men serve, and the ban on the off throttle blown diffuser, which comes into force at the next race in Silverstone, among many other topics.. The engineers explain what they’ve had to do to adapt their cars for the changed interpretation of the rules and Allison gives a candid assessment of the impact on lap times.

Also on the agenda was women engineers in F1 and how engineers can measure the difference in driving performance between team mates.

You can hear the whole discussion here:

FOTA Fans’ Forum, UK. Part 2: Engineers by James Allen on F1

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Don’t you think it would be interesting after British GP to do a poll on the DRS issue again?

I see JV recently spoke out against it and it got a lot of support from fans on other sites.

It would be interesting if at almost 1/2 way point fans like DRS or not. Simple 2 choice, to avoid the not sure votes to say either yes or no.

It seems that the anti DRS camp is growing. Seems like fans got their fill of passing like hungry person gets their fill with a loaf of bread. Suddenly quality bread…passing I mean, is sought after and hard to find among this pile of what fans are seeing as stale bread.


Are these real engineers?

They are denying that we had far superior racing in the past?

Anyone can clearly see that the current F1 aero is over engineered, and has eliminated the need for driver skills… a car on rails requires next to no skill.

DRS is the worst, and most unfair fudge factor overtaking hack, that any poor engineer could have come up with…

The FIA further influencing races is the worst possible scenario… DRS is the biggest disaster in F1’s history… it’s biased, it’s artifical, and totally diminshes driver skill.

Defending is no longer possible – how dumb is that?


Thanks James, as always a great job from you and your team.


I like the DRS I think it makes the races more exciting to watch. As long as the cars depend so much on areodynamics to get performance which is then adversly affected by following a car closely, then we will have this overtaking problem for closely matched cars. I prefer this solution even in its current less than perfect form to the other option of watching the cars follow one another round.


Personally I feel the season would have been no worse without DRS – the Pirelli tyres are what have given us much more exciting races.


Hi James, I take your point, but is not this a bit artificial as well, adjusting the performance of the tyres to degrade after a few laps? You may argue, but it is the same for everyone, and I would say the same about DRS.


For what its worth I like the DRS. We had years of cars being 3-4 seconds per lap faster than the car in front but could not get past to make progress. Now that’s sorted. If the following car is faster it passes and drives away. If the two cars are similar in performance we get a repeating battle. When a car is 16 foot long, 7 feet wide and does 180mph to 60mph in a few yards its impossible to get past without some help. What is the workable alternative? I suppose another option is to go back to steel disks on the front and drums on the rears to increase the breaking zone!


Not as crazy as it sounds. The size of the brake disks is already limited. Make them even smaller and the braking distances will be longer.


Trouble is all drivers still have exactly the same. DRS works because it gives an advantage to the following driver. IF bthey get past and are quicker they can scamper off.



1 thought the talk about women engineers was rubbish, the gender of the engineers is neither here nor there, any right minded team (which I’m sure they all are) simply employs the best person for the job.

I also am dead against DRS in its current form, if we’re going to have it it should be available to all drivers to use as they see fit end of. Defending is a skill as much as overtaking is and I will never accept that when drivers fly past Schumacher for example is NOT what F1 is about.

To hear the Renault engineers to simply pass a critic comment that ‘wer;re not here to make Webber happy is missing the point (Webber is not the only current F1 driver who feels overtaking in many circumstance with DRS is and has taken something away from F1 he’s just the one with the grit and honesty to say it.

The real key to overtaking is simply track design, stop taking F1 to bad tracks.


James a great job with the new site and these sound feeds.

Renault engineer was just trying to be funny with Webber DRS comment – but shouldnt give up his day job. Webber isnt the only one that has this opinion – and current drivers have to have a valid opinion – thay are the ones that actually drive the cars.

We could just say engineers are trying to impress their wives with DRS…

DRS seems to be a mixed one for me. I think its a bit of a band aid fix – cars and track design could fix this issue – but its a hard one to work out.


Track design is always the key.

Some drives of like there yesterday will always find a way past a slower car.

The teams (and they are the ones that can make it happen) should address this.

It’d bet anything that if Norman Foster was given the task of designing a new track with his brief being to exude excitement we’d have one heck of a track.

RE the Renault engineer – I’m not so sure he was trying to be funny, sometimes iI think these people need to take a step back.


Sorry Dale my sarcasm re the Renault engineer comment on Webber didn’t come across how I intended – he was trying to be too smart for his own good – and went out of his way to disrespect Webber’s DRS comments – uncalled for and not really what the forum was about I would think.

I figure F1 has this constant fight between:

1 – Being a traveling circus and making lots of money by appealing to a greater audience that sponsors aim to be exposed to and,

2 – Trying to maintain an image of a real sport with all the dangers and risks while making it as safe as possible

As has been discussed on this site previously the constraints that the track designers have to work within mean we end up with boring tracks with miles of run off and little feel of a real race. Compare new tracks with the old and there’s a trend.

Combine the above with car designs that make it impossible to follow closely in order to execute a pass and we end up with follow the leader races.

Throwing DRS and KERS at engineers to play with makes it more of an casual audience pleaser – as one engineer said in the audio feed his wife is happy to watch F1 now with all the overtaking – and it’s great to see overtakes – but are they real? These toys only make the rich teams that can afford them win more.

Would be interested to know how much environmental brownie points are achieved by running V6 engines while producing and disposing of all those KERS batteries.

The decisions for F1 just seem to have made things very complicated when a far smarter result could have been achieved while keeping all with vested interest happy.

End of rant


Thoroughly enjoyed the sound feeds – this adds to the F1 enjoyment. Great initiative. Well done to all involved.



much much better forum than the one organized in Canada. Great questions and very good answers, kudos to everyone FOTA, McLaren & the MC of course.

Yet another proof of the depth of knowledge of Brit fans. Only Tunisians understand more F1 😉

P.S : we miss the videos, it’s better IMO if you upload videos of the conference rather than audio files (I know I always complain about sthg)


The form in Canada could have been better if the fans were made better aware of its location as well as given easier access. You talk like us Canadians don’t know our F1 and I myself take offense to that. I have been to 18 Canadian GP’s and 2 over seas and feel I can talk F1 with anyone from anywhere in the world.

You should be ashamed to speak of F1 fans in that manner because we are not as few around the world as you may think.


Hey James, this is completely off-topic, but last tuesday on the One HD channel here is Australia on the RPM show that you have contributed on previously, Tom Clarkson made an interesting comment.

He said that he has heard quite reliably that if Lewis could leave his contract from McLaren, he would so immediately.

Can you confirm whether there is any truth in this?

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