FIA race director Charlie Whiting re-ignites DRS debate
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Jan 2014   |  8:13 pm GMT  |  177 comments

The man in charge of managing the F1 Grands Prix on the circuit, Charlie Whiting, has said that the Drag Reduction System (DRS) has been a boost to F1 and is here to stay.

Giving the Watkins Memorial lecture at Autosport International show in Birmingham, Whiting said that he had listed to some of the criticism from fans, who felt that DRS has made overtaking too easy at many events and downgraded the skill of the driver. But he is still of the opinion that it requires great skill to use the system properly. DRS is a switch that drivers can operate when under a second behind the car in front in prescribed locations on the circuit, which cuts drag by lifting the top element of the rear wing and giving a speed boost of around 12km/h for a few hundred metres.

“Some people are opposed to it and really think it is not pure enough. I completely disagree with that view, “he said. “It still requires extreme skill from the driver. It is not as if it’s turn on, overtake, go, done.

“If the cars are at an equal speed, a driver will have to be within 0.3s of the car in front which is no mean feat in itself.

“But if they are at the same speed at the beginning of the DRS zone, they will be alongside at the braking point. That’s the whole theory of the DRS.”

Whiting: "Big fan" of DRS in F1

DRS was introduced at the same time as Pirelli entered the sport as sole tyre supplier, with a mission to produce fast degrading tyres which increased the strategy options and also increased overtaking between cars on different age tyres. Some insiders have argued that one of those two “artificial” elements might have been sufficient and that the purity of the racing has suffered from introducing both. It would have been interesting to see the response to DRS with the Bridgestone tyres up to 2010. Fernando Alonso might well have won the 2010 championship if he had been able to pass Petrov and Rosberg, behind whom he was otherwise stuck in the final round in Abu Dhabi.

Both DRS and Pirelli have certainly had a mixed reception from fans, particularly as the combination has contributed to a feeling that the drivers’ skill at driving on the limit is not being tested a thoroughly as in the past.

Back in 2011, the first year of DRS, McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh reacted to some early criticism of the system by saying,

“FOTA (F1 Teams Association) did the most extensive fan survey and .. the fans wanted more overtaking and if you have done the survey and the fans tell you that is what they want, then I think you are fairly arrogant if you ignore it. So we responded.”

DRS was developed by a working group comprising some of the leading engineers in the F1 teams and refined in conjunction with the FIA. Analysis by the Mercedes F1 team that first year concluded that DRS had significantly improved the amount of overtaking but that in overall percentage terms, DRS-assisted passes accounted for 45% of all overtakes throughout that season. The number of clean overtakes was significantly higher than the 2010 season due to the arrival of the fast degrading Pirelli tyres compared with the ultra-conservative Bridgestones.

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James, what if you are at full speed in a NO-DRS Zone, and activate the DRS Wing, but it is programmed to open 30% only, and not the full 100%, how could you police that, just imposible…. 1 or 2 milimmiters difference between a closed DRS and a cheating one, is impossible to detect.

DRS is just a window for teams to cheat, although anything can be built to cheat, yea, just remember, flexy front wing, flexy car, flexy rear wing, etc…. bah, all we want is just cleat rules, so no one is cheating, and we can see the best driver at work, and not the I won because I am a better cheater than you situation.


I think people overestimate the difference DRS is making. DRS assisted overtakes can look too easy, but often in races you see a queue of cars on a straight with DRS seemingly making no difference at all. The “easy” DRS overtakes are down to better cornering speed and/or traction, which in turn is probably down to tyres as much as skill.

Martin Brundle’s comment was that DRS “opens up the possibility of overtaking” – and I think that’s completely right. Whereas in the past we’d just hear the “impossible to overtake in F1” excuse time and time again, the fact that DRS might help the driver finish the move if he can get alongside means he’s more likely to try. And that can only be good.

There’s a lot of rose tinting amongst F1 fans. To me the last few years have seen more close racing than ever before, certainly more than the refuelling years. Whatever the reason the current regulations have revitalised the racing; it’s just a shame little of it is for the lead.


The racing is non-existent… DRS just adds to the boredom.

DRS is just an aid, that allows a driver to avoid the need for skill to get past a slower car. Sure helps the well-financed teams get their sponsors on TV, and thats about it…

F1 has fallen so far, even the selected highlights are boring…

The modern track battle is equivalent to watching ducks in a pond.


i like kers and drs. it’s the rules limiting them that i don’t like. i think drivers should be allowed to use them at will. or even better teams should be allowed to use ecu’s to control the use of kers and drs throughout the race and get rid of the blue flag rule.


I think drs should just stay. Has everybody forgotten the discussion of a couple of years ago? Everyone was complaining about the lack of action on circuit. Might not be the best solution, but it’s better then watching a train for 2 hours, no?


There’s a lot of “bring back the good ol’ days” around.

I was watching yesterday Monaco 2013 and 1986. In 1986 (turbo)they did lap-times at 1.27 – 1.28, with basically no degradation at all.

In 2013 VET sat 1.16,5 in his penultimate lap. That’s 10+ seconds difference. I know that Monaco might not be the most interesting race per se, but 2013 was seriously quicker and with more possibilities to overtake.


The main bugbear I have with DRS is when they have multiple DRS zones. A driver can use DRS to pass but when the second DRS zone is entered, they are a sitting duck to be re-passed by the car they overtook. It’s just silly. Limit it to one zone per race. I still don’t like it but I guess we’re stuck with it.


The “wooden plank”, which is now a step in the floor, was the biggest single mistake in the rule book of grand prix history, it is why we had stupid rules like refueling, movable front wings, no-tire-change and now DRS. All these rule changes tried to deal with the consequences of the stepped floor: Bad air got too important. Refuelling was pathetic, it devalued pit stop work, it devalued race craft to a tactical time trial. “No tire stops” should take back overtaking from the pits to the race track, but causes pit works to be worthless alltogether and caused whole new problems, like Hamilton destroying his car with a flat spot. The overtaking working group once planned to have a split rear wing to get rid less bad air, they were also thinking of getting rid of the diffuser for the same purpose, which was a pathetic idea, because it would have killed the drafting one needs get into an overtaking position. The movable front wing tried to tackle the same problem, but then all it did was giving pilots the measures to alter the balance of the car and it was useless for overtaking, plus it had this pathetic “only change the balance twice per lap” constraint. Then they tried wider front wings, which caused havoc because cars touched and ripped tires apart, spreading carbon debris on the track.

Now DRS tries to deal with the consequences. It is no better solution. Since cars are losing too much downforce in dirty air, they lose time in the bends following each other. DRS causes a huge speed difference in order to make up the time lost in the corner, plus the time needed to pass. Big speed differences are dangerous. Even worse: Because DRS severely destabilizes a car aerodynamically, you can’t give drivers a fixed time budget and drop all the DRS detection point and DRS-zone nonsense, so it only solves the problems in certain “DRS-zones”, it will not be of any help in other sections of the track. DRS is a stupid solution for a problem that could be solved once and forever, if people were willing to take a step back and questioning the design of the floor.

We need to restrict wings to a much more simple design and we need to make the floor of the car create more downforce again.

The floor is far less sensitive to bad air than the wings, so less downforce from the wings and more from the floor, will cause cars that are less sensitive to bad air, even if the downforce levels stay similar.

When teams were discussing the rule changes for 2014, they were discussing ground effect cars and decided they could not imagine the levels of downforce the designers would create and thought it was a step that was too risky. Fine, I’m okay with that, but why didn’t they shift the downforce from wings to floor just a little more by getting rid of the stepped floor and simplifying the wings? That would have been a step into the right direction.


The plank was put there in the aftermath of the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger to control ride heights. Ride heights had been an issue for years and there was a valid safety concern around them. At one point in the 80s teams were running cars with trick suspension systems that meant that the car was legal in the pits when it was stationary and could be measure but illegal when it at race speeds.

The plank, introduced after the first two driver deaths for over a decade, was a low-tech but effective solution to the problem because it wears away if the ride height is too low. It forced ride heights up.

Remember that in F1 teams are to be presumed to be maximising every rule to their advantage. You obviously can’t have a “no tyre stop” rule because tyres may wear or may be damaged. So teams would pit and claim that they had a sidewall damaged by a curb or something, and, of course, they had to change all four tyres so that the car didn’t become seriously unbalanced. So then you need to have a way of deciding if a tyre really was damaged to the point of being dangerous. A ration of tyres is not the most attractive solution, but it’s easy to administer in real time.


Only it didn’t change the ride height at all, because whether you hit the floor with the plank or the sidepods doesn’t matter: You go off, if the tires lose contact and if they hit a puddle in the rain it’s the same effect – floor raised or not.

They effectively used the plank to slow the cars down in the corners, because the raised floor meant less downforce from ground effect and they also raised the front wing and made the diffuser shallower after these accidents.

If you remember; Senna himself had raised concerns that the cars had become so quick that running them without driver aids would be dangerous. But these cars had less downforce than today’s cars and we don’t have driver aids today and it works so well because todays cars are mechanically much more sophisticated (just think of the J-Damper / Inerter that didn’t exist these days and interlinked suspensions) and they’re aerodynamically more sophisticated, which also means they are much more predictable. So I guess it would work today.


Well, yes. They wanted to reduce downforce in corners and so used the plank to force the body higher to reduce the downforce. So we’re talking about similar things I think 🙂

They wanted cornering speeds down and there’d been concern about downforce for some time because if it was disturbed the car could become unstable.

The other thing about the plank is that it wears. So if you try to run your car so that at race speeds it is pushing down a little too close to the track then the plank wears and the scrutineers will detect the wear and conclude you were running too low.

Of course a laminate plank on the bottom of an f1 car is a bit odd, out of place. But FIA knew the game the teams would play with trick suspension and cars that were only legal when stationary, and Imola had just happened so they came up with an ugly but enforceable solution.


Remember DRS back in Turkey? “Well that was easy” It shouldn’t be banned, but the effect of it should be seriously reduced.


I’d rather they get rid of DRS altogether but change the rev limit in the race and allow the drivers a set number of times that they can press the button to allow more speed to get closer

For example in qualifying the cars can all use the maximum 15k rpm limit so all the cars are geared properly but in the races they lower the limit by 1k. When the drivers exit the previous corner they can press the button and allow an extra 1k rpm through all the gears until the next time they lift the throttle. This method also allows the driver who is in front to deploy too if he wants to defend (if they realise they guy behind is using it – this means they would lose one of there chances too ) or try and hold out and save his for a later stage in the race

The other idea would be to have so many of these attempts allowed per segment of a drivers race dictated by each time they visit the pits – so start the race with say 10 uses but for every pitstop they gain 5 more. We can get rid of the cheese tyres then and drivers can push harder and then choose if they think an extra stop might help gain track position etc thanks to extra push to pass attempts


To me, F1 is moving in the direction of Indy Car (DRS vs “push to pass” and two tire compounds per race)and NASCAR (pace cars, silly penalties for meaningless “infractions”; and double points for the final race which will be the equivalent of the late cautions and green-white checkers of NASCAR). The financial health of those two series and their teams and the quality of the result has not helped either attendence or TV numbers. F1 is surprisingly behind the trend rather than leading with its own innovations for making the racing both interesting and genuinely competitive.


“push to pass” can be used anytime and is often used to keep from being passed.


Lots of rose tinted rubbish about the past. Thierry Boutsen in an inferior car held Senna off to the end of a race because overtaking was too hard even for the master. I remember GPs where, following the start, there was ONE on track overtaking move in the whole race.

When overtaking DID happen, it was helped by the fact that cars were also vastly different in performance down the grid. Check out the gaps between the grid spots, often there was seconds between the top 4.

It’s about sterile now sure but at least they can RACE.


Races like Imola 2005 and then 2006 should be an acute reminder of why DRS is needed. 2005 saw Schumacher unable to pass Alonso. Nail biting stuff on that occasion, but the same thing happened the following year (rolls reversed) and it was plain to see that overtaking was absolutely impossible at a majority of circuits.

These were two of the greatest drivers of their era, and if neither were able to pass, it calls into question the legitimacy of the “sport”. In a way, Imola 05 and 06 were just as artificial as DRS is claimed to be.

The tyres are a much bigger concern.


I thought the AbuDhabi 2010 example from the article was inappropriate, but this one is simply confusing.

Could you explain how “it calls into question the legitimacy of the sport” when the drivers don’t find a way to overtake?

Imola is at least 5 car widths wide, there was room, theoretically. There were pitstops for overtaking as well. If you don’t find a place to overtake, it calls into the legitimacy of your skills, tactics or setup choices. Moreover, why should a driver like Alonso or Schuey let somebody by? Why should Schumacher benefit from DRS, if he made a mistake in qualy?

“In a way, Imola 05 and 06 were just as artificial as DRS is claimed to be.”

Pardon, but what made these races artificial? The track was purpose built, of course, but so were Nürburgring, Suzuka and reopened Spa…


What other options did the technical group on over taking come up with? I guess DRS was the option that they could sell to all the teams. It does its job, if a car is quick enough to catch the car ahead it should have a reasonable opportunity to pass it, but I agree DRS makes that too easy.

Personally I’d like to see tyres that don’t cover the track with marbles, so the tracks don’t become one car width single racing line within the first 5 laps, this might give some of the chargers a chance to find a way past (much as they can in the opening laps).


DRS? Okay. It ended the parade and dealt with some of the “dirty air” issues that made passing near impossible, or unsafe.

However, the tire issue is contrary to the spirit of the sport. We now have drivers who are not rewarded for getting the most from a car, nor teams that are encouraged to take design to the bleeding edge. Instead we have managers, trying to be most successful at 7/10ths of capacity.

Our current repeat champion is not the best driver, nor is his car the fastest design. They are both the best managers of the tires, and hence the collective yawn.

Not exactly the thrill of Senna making the MP4/4 dance, is it?


On the whole it’s not a bad idea, actually a good one, in my view. However, I think the FIA could do better at determining where exactly and for how long it is allowed at certain circuits.

I’d love to see what would happen if the DRS use limited to 10 times per race.


Whiting sure is entitled to voice an opinion. More so than the most, in fact.

And yet, I can’t agree with him and his argument about following what the fans want.

Too much listening to fans will inevitably dumb the sport down.

Most fans don’t understand what is it what makes the F1 spectacle great, and without much thinking will ask for the most obvious thrills: and overtaking (of course) comes first.

They have got it now, and what was once a proof of the mastery over car, conditions and the opponent, is now reduced to one simple push on a button.

Those very fans who asked for it (without ever understanding why) still can feel that even with all this additional overtaking something is missing. So, new thrills are required.

And here they come: double points race (perhaps races, later on).

And so on.

F1 leaders really are at a crossroads now. The current road is gradually declining into the WWF abyss. F1 needs to stay elitist sport, something others aspire to.

It doesn’t matter if some vocal minority is screaming for shorter races, reversed grids, medals, and what not. They will go on complaining – and watching every race.


Let’s have big Venturi tunnels and fat slicks. And while we’re at it, manual gearboxes and steel brake disks… Maybe get Nigel Mansell back in a Williams… Oh wait, that’s the 1980’s again, isn’t it?


What exactly is your point?


If we are okay with gimmicks like DRS than why do people oppose double points in the last race, which is just as gimmicky ?


Not everyone is okay with DRS – I wouldn’t even push it to say a majority are okay – but the thing is that every driver has DRS available for every race (weather permitting), so like it or hate it at least it’s consistent.

The double points thing is just for one race which sort of undermines the integrity of every other race and the championship itself.

Things change over time – that’s natural – and you could say that a certain driver might have won a championship it had been five years earlier with a different set of regulations / points systems / teams / circuits / whatever, but can you imagine the reaction if a driver wins the 2014 WDC only because of the double points while the driver that would have won it misses out?

I won’t presume to speak for everyone, but I can tell you right now I’ll be seriously disappointed.


I am not a big fan of the DRS. Someone like Vettel, who, while exceptionally fast, but at the same time an average wheel-to-wheel racer, has benefited immensely from the use of DRS when coming from the back of the field (Abu Dhabi 2012 springs to mind).

For me, Alonso and Button, are and will remain the best racers when it comes to racecraft and overtaking. They have pulled off some of the most brilliant, and at the same time, clean overtaking moves in F1 in the last 10 years.

I may raise a few eyebrows with the mention of Button, but I am true fan of his racing ability since 2005, when I started watching Formula 1.




Eyebrow very raised. You failed to mention the best overtaker. If you started watching F1 in 2005- who was it that came from 17th to 1st. Passing Alonso and then passing Jean Alesi around the outside of 130R on the last lap..


By definition anyone coming from the back of the field benefits from having an overtaking aid. These days that very rarely includes Vettel, who (much to the annoyance of many) has this habit of qualifying on the front row and streaking off into the distance, sans any DRS assistance.

In spite of your suggestion, Vettel had numerous come from behind races in the pre DRS days, such as China 2007 (17 to 4th), Monaco 2008 (15th to 5th), and Brazil 2009 (15th to 4th). The “He can’t pass” charge was always bunkum.

You do indirectly raise an interesting point though – many of people in the “Modern F1 is terrible” camp feel that way simply because they don’t like the results of the last few years. If Hamilton or Alonso wins the 2014 WDC a lot of this carping will subside.


“Abu Dhabi 2012 springs to mind”

And what other race springs to mind, you do understand that most people seem to find F1 boring these days because Vettel sticks it on pole and then drives away at the front without an opportunity to use DRS like everyone behind him.


Renault and Ferrari had the F-duct in 2010, which served the same purpose as the DRS; however, Fernando could not seize an advantage over Petrov because there were no utilization rules on the f-duct. I would have preferred for F1 to not have banned the f-duct rather than implement drs.


Before DRS, overtaking was less frequent, but when a good one happened it was something you would remember for the rest of your life. I always felt that this was part of the strange and compulsive appeal of the sport as it used to be — ie the tension between long periods of boredom and moments of ecstasy.

I suspect that the effect DRS has had on racing is the reason why, in spite of the races being superficially more appealing, I haven’t watched a complete one for more than two years. I don’t think I’m alone.


its not the same anymore.


DRS was the number one thing that turned off my passion for F1… it’s unfair, it distorts the results, it devalues drivers and is incredibly sleep-inducing…

DRS is one of the main things that devalue Vettel’s efforts… he does not have to battle anyone… just drive-by in Newey’s excess aero car.

The worst DRS side-effect is the lack of effort driver put in to get past… just wait for the cheat zone, and take the candy from the baby.


You do realise what you’re typing don’t you?


I’d say keep the DRS, but shortern the distances that it can be used significantly, especially at some of the faster circuits.

Toughen up the tyres and lets get back to some proper racing again.


Hear hear!


Firstly, I completely agree that overtaking still needs “great skill to use the system properly”. But Mr Whiting overlooks the conflict of penalising the leading car. What for, too good performance in qualifying? Excessively fast pit stop during the race?

“Fernando Alonso might well have won the 2010 championship if he had been able to pass Petrov and Rosberg…”

This is the most common example that people come up with, but I really don’t think it’s appropriate. Watch the race again. There were moments when Fernando was close to Petrov at the beginning of the straight, but could not make up the ground for the braking area, even in the tow(!). That means Ferrari was slow on the straights, it was their choice of setup. Also, the circuit cannot be blamed, it is an overtaking paradise(slow corner, long straight, slow corner). Additionally, Fernando went off several times, giving some breath for Petrov. The fact that Alonso could not get by that day is not a good justification for such a twisted “solution” like DRS.

There is so much talk about overtaking. Fans should understand that overtaking does not necessarily belong to racing. Naturally, faster cars drive away from the slower ones, creating a gap…and that’s it.

“Charlie Whiting, has said that the Drag Reduction System (DRS) has been a boost to F1 and is here to stay.”

Well, why not. It has some unused potential. Time-limit the DRS, just like KERS and it becomes purely a tactical weapon. Or make it available for the whole race, it is million times smarter and greener than to produce and carry along KERS battery…


I admit, I was initially against DRS when it was first introduced, since I thought it would make overtaking too easy. To some extent, those sentiments of mine were held true; although, I think there are times when the presence of an “abundant no. of easy overtaking maneuvers due to DRS” was mainly down to the activation point being placed on a very long straight of a circuit. I think, what the FIA should do in those instances (especially in circuits w/ extremely long straights) is to reduce the distance of the straight in which DRS can be activated. In those instances, DRS will also mainly become a means to (just) keep the racing close by enabling a following driver to make up for lost ground he may have had to cede to avoid dirty air, rather than a means for a very easy overtake. I think, this was most evident in circuits like Albert Park, wherein the DRS activation zone was placed in the main straight – which wasn’t very long; on occasion, it allowed a driver close enough to make a move, but most of the time, I noticed it just allowed them to make up for lost ground and to keep the racing close. Although, one thing that will always keep me slightly inclined to oppose DRS is its tendency to malfunction (by failing to close and/or open) – clearly something that already makes racing somewhat artificial, shouldn’t add any more controversy by being the source of a car’s uncompetitiveness during a race.


Hi james,

The problem with the introduction of 2 variables makes any subsequent analysis difficult, with all the clever people in F1 im suprises me the knee jerk reactions take the double points idea. In terms of drs and degrading tyres to see which aided racing, doing one one year analyse the findings and then see if other is needed is surely a more sensible approach isnt it?


I think it’s great that new things are being tried in Formula 1. So now we have a little experience with the current formula and have found some things we don’t like.

What I pine for more than anything else is a championship battle like 2010. I consider myself blessed for having followed that season in its entirety.

The uncertainty of F1 is what makes it so thrilling, even last year in 2013. Lewis wins Hungary and says he feels he can win all the remaining races (when the evidence wasn’t there) and then Seb goes and wins all of them. Love it.


Anti DRS is not about purism. Its about fairness. DRS leaves the guy in front a sitting duck. That is insulting to, well, every fibre of F1, or even racing. How anyone who loves racing can support DRS, as implemented, is utterly beyond me. DRS has devalued overtaking. No doubt whatsoever, its just fact. I do not understand why any one cannot see this.

As for a fast car stuck behind a slow car, well, that’s the driver’s job. If not, then the driver had no other job than to essentially run a test program.

All this childish stuff about who would have won what if DRS had been there is absurd. People are just picking on one race and forgetting that DRS would have been there all year for all races. The whole result could have been totally different. Alonso might have not even been behind Petrov at all. Total nonsense.


I guess DRS is the only way Red Bull could get Vettel past drivers of skill… so they would definitely want it…

As bad as Whiting is, I think it’s the top teams that want to avoid the real fix and stick with gimmicks like DRS, as it is to there direct benefit (and they don’t need a driver of skill to get to the front)…

I have not watched a full race for a long time now… I guess the blessing is that I waste less time on F1 these days.


Your bitterness is clouding your judgement; how anyone could even think to spin DRS to be present because it supposedly favours Vettel beggars belief, and he has proven perfectly capable of passing without the use of DRS, so I think you are still stuck watching Belgium 2010 on repeat.



And I guess the sooner Hamilton starts winning the better? or is it Alonso?


Incorrect – my response is about the culprits behind the boredom of modern F1… the top teams want more aero and DRS to lock out the other other teams…

Vettel just happens to be a benefactor… the booing and lack of respect is just a symptom of this terrible direction that F1 is going.


“I guess the blessing is that I waste less time on F1 these days.”

It would be better if you spent even less time on it.


DRS may be imperfect but it attempts to compensate for the inherent disadvantage of the car behind running in dirty air, and therefore somewhat level the playing field between the two cars.

DRS may be flawed, but until there’s a better solution, I’m a supporter of it.

Some have suggested we remove wings from F1 cars – just like the cars in the 1950’s of earlier. But others have argued that the wings expand the advertising space on the cars and therefore revenues. I don’t know enough to tell which arguments are valid.


Very good point about the advertising. Maybe they should make the cars big carbon fibre boxes with a little bubble on the top for the driver to see out of: Plenty of space for sponsors and no aero effects whatsoever 🙂


Ah – that sounds like a . . . . . Volvo 240 Turbo.

Those were good times.


Nah, I’m still thinking more boxy less aerodynamiccy 🙂


Plus they wouldn’t have to worry about breaking silly front wings 🙂


Have to add -we have KERS/ ERS also which already create enough variables!


Whilst I understand that F1 is a very expensive show. I first and foremost view it as a sport. Is DRS sporting- not on your life. Its no coincidence that drivers who entered F1 before it existed have that little more fight in them as a result and I wonder if Charlie & Bernie will ever see drivers with that dogged determination ever again. With all that is at stake in F1 why would rookies risk their seat if they can just wait for the zone and then summon up all that courage just at one point. Then what happens after 2 seasons of doing that ?- we are just training drivers to be careful and effectively taking skill and innovation out of it. I wont talk about tyres because they are a constant variable and not singular. It does look silly when you have a Ferrari made to look like its standing still when a Sauber on new rubber and DRS activated wave good bye.

Perfect contrast of a racer is Raikkonen – he doesnt care where you are when he wants to pass -he just does it. If you look at unassisted passes he would be the man. I just fear we are gradually “training” the tenacity and courage out of F1 & putting it into thinking and engineering and not just with DRS.


The most ridiculous thing that have ever happened to F1.


No, surely the double points idea is more ridiculous?


Both DRS and KERS have been a breath of fresh air to F1, the first for racing, and the second for technology and future

This nem double points rule tough, is like a weasel stink attack!!!

Let’s hope the people lho created it, ease of from the trips to Amsterdam and realize the craziness and lack of respect for the sport before the season starts


I do agree it was a breath of fresh air, in that without it F1 had become an unwatchable bore. But DRS is artificial overtaking, that probably satisfied some people for a while but in reality is still a bore, just not quite as boring as before. I watched the highlights of about 100 overtakes from this season and literally one was actually a classic skilful pass. But I don’t thing that DRS fixes the underlying problem of aero dependence. Watching a race from the 80’s (or even better 60’s or 70’s) shows that there can be regular overtaking, with skill every time from the driver. There were more passes in the first lap of a 1980’s race than in one season today, sad but true.


(K)ERS is fine. It’s the same for everybody, and with the increased maximum output from it next year, do we really need DRS?

I really can’t see how you can consider that DRS has been a breath of fresh air for racing? We don’t have racing any more because of it.


Ideally, we’d like to see close racing where one car can come up right behind another all around the track, looking for the best place to get alongside, taking advantage of any small mistake. This would be real, tense, exciting, strategic racing.

However, due to F1’s dependence on aerodynamic downforce for cornering, cars cannot follow one another closely through fast corners. The lead car has a ‘buffer zone’ behind them that is very tough for a following driver to get through without a huge equipment advantage.

Instead of fixing the real underlying cause of the problem, what we have instead is a number of ‘hacks’ or work-arounds, band-aids to fix it. So instead of classic high-speed circuits, we have long straights followed by hairpins, to give drivers a chance to pass under braking even if they aren’t that close behind. We have fast-degrading tyres, so that under some circumstances the driver behind with fresh tyres has enough extra grip to overcome the disadvantage of driving in disturbed air. And finally we have DRS, a specific advantage to the following driver to allow them to close a larger gap on the straight and get in position to pass.

These devices sort-of work – they allow overtaking, but without the close following and tension of ‘natural’ racing. Thus I feel they are better than nothing, but nowhere near as a good as a series with very strictly limited downforce could become.


Yeah, everyone says this but it’s still wrong. Overtaking is not difficult in the modern era due to “dependence on aerodynamic downforce”, it is difficult due to the cars all being so closely matched in performance. And your proposed solution to the cars all being almost identical in performance is to make them even *more* identical in performance.

A lot of F1 fans seem determined to see the whole thing transformed into a spec car series.


I wouldn’t quite say Tom is wrong, but he is missing a large part of the problem, which as you suggest here and I did in an earlier reply to you, that the characteristics of the cars are too close to each other to allow variations to appear during the races.

If the cars are identical, then the drivers most suited to that style of car will win. Qualifying allows them consistently start at the front, then they will win consistently.

Hopefully the post V6-turbo era has more open powertrain rules, with some kind of cap on energy or environmental impact and the rest is less controlled. The way the rules are now, it wouldn’t be that difficult for Lotus to switch engine suppliers as the engine block is essentially a fixed spec piece with known crankshaft position and bore spacings.


No – if you make cars which are still closely matched but can actually follow closely, you give the drivers a chance to do something different, perform a daring move. If they are so far behind, they don’t have a hope. Why do you the drivers they all finish a race looking completely bored? Because they can’t actually race.


How can a driver perform a daring move if his car is no faster than the one in front of him? It’s a physical impossibility. If I’m doing 100MPH in a car with a top speed of 100MPH, and you’re behind me in another car with a top speed of 100MPH, no amount of “daring” will see you pass me. That’s a simplistic example but it applies in general. Modern F1 cars are essentially identical in performance and have been made that way by increasingly narrow technical specs.


Totally agree.


To me DRS is an emergency measure, required because the powers that be seem unable to create rules which allows the cars to follow closely enough to allow “natural” overtaking, and hence a proper race.

In saying that, the occasional “real” overtake (eg Alonso on Webber at Monza) was probably only possible due to DRS, as Alonso may never have got close enough without it.

And DRS allows a variation on strategy which teams would never try, as without it overtaking would be impossible.

However, 99% of overtakes are now meaningless, it has become almost impossible to follow a race due to all the pointless and unnecessarily easy overtaking.

DRS is a solution for the problem F1 can’t fix – allowing cars to travel close and allow a chance of overtaking.

My view is that F1 needs to find a way to allow the cars to follow each other closely, hence allowing some natural overtaking. Until that time, F1 will be a poor shadow of what it could be, and true heroes like the Senna/Prost/Mansell era will not be created, no matter how good they are.

The sport of the 80’s and 90’s was ok, but brilliant when something good happened. That suspense was what made it great.

The sport today is still ok, but by not solving the core problem, they’ve taken away the opportunity to make anything truly great happen.


Did the cars driven by Senna/Prost/Mansell and their competitors really not produce air turbulence? Of course they did. But when you have a car which is technically quite superior to the rest (as those gentlemen did in their glory days) a little air turbulence is not a big obstacle to overcome.


What you write is true, and brings to my mind a few points. The great majority of Senna’s pole positions came from when he had the most powerful car in qualifying trim. That power allowed for more downforce than anyone else and new tyres and driver skill can compensate over one lap for any handling deficiencies.

With the recent near equality of engines, the car with the most downforce through smart engineering (rather than just bigger wings) has been on pole. The only impediment to that same car going on to win the race is that the tyre wear is greater when cars have more downforce.

Back in the early 1990s, the more powerful cars with their bigger wings would go off into the distance but have to make an additional stop for tyres, giving the V8s some hope during the race.

More engine power meant more fuel to carry at the start of the race (pre-1994) so the slower cars had a compensation in the early laps of the race and possibly a payback at the end of the race on tyre life.

Now we have the situation where there’s little difference in the order of merit in qualifying and the race. Mercedes and the Toro Rossos were the only real exceptions to this. By my interpretation of the 2014 rules, there are two main hopes for the racing:

1: getting good corner exits is quite tricky and creates some variation in the grid.

2: there is just enough variation in the fuel conservation strategies that there are hare and tortoise approaches that allow a chase at the end without it being ridiculous.


The problem is today’s cars are so dependant on aero that the turbulence means they don’t work when following another car, and drop back


If that were true we’d never see any non-DRS overtakes, and yet I can think of many just from the past season.

This past seasons tyres were incredibly fragile and sensitive to any change in downforce. That was a tyre problem though and not a downforce problem. We saw the same tyres be very sensitive to the amount of fuel in the car, but again that was a tyre problem and not a “weight problem”.


Personally I believe F1 has already seen the solution to the problem of being unable to follow closely enough: the 1978 Brabham fan car. Using suction removes all the wake problems while allowing slipstreaming. One problem would be the loss of advertising space if the cars don’t have wings.


Barred for being unsafe.

Should never be introduced now,

as FIA would see no road-car usage.


There was the argument that it was throwing up stones, but the view of Gordon Murray was that it was any excuse to ban it. Safety has been used that way a few times to get things banned. I don’t have clear memory of the banning process, so it could have been more about the description of the primary purpose of the fan and the ban on movable aerodynamics.

As far a road cars go, it is no less useless as wings on a road car. Gordon Murray had a fan on the McLaren F1, so it has been used on road cars already. Unlike wings it has the potential to be dual purpose in being able to be part of the cooling system.


Fan car – interesting. Would allow closer following perhaps, but corner speeds would still be very high and hence shorter braking distances and perhaps still hard to overtake.

I wonder if standard wings (or even a regulated wing cross section) could be issued, that create very little or no downforce. Then the ad space is still there and the cars look the same…


My view is that the braking distances aren’t really the problem. The consistency and reliability of the brake pads these days is much better than it was in 1980s before carbon-carbon brakes came along, so returning to steel rotors wouldn’t change the braking distances that much and drives could still brake at the limit all the time, and so following driver still has to brake later than the fastest line to make a pass. Longer distances will help in that there is more time to execute the manoeuvre and the percentage difference is less, but the cars still need to be close.

With the fan car downforce can be limited by the rules – e.g. a power limit on the fan motor, and controls over the floor of the car – the suction surface – and any skirts. With the fan car concept there’s nothing stopping the nose of the following car being 1 mm from the gearbox of the car in front while both cars take exactly the same line through the corner. The lead car will get on the throttle earlier and that may be enough to stay ahead with the slipstream. It would the same as with Formula Ford today or GP racing in the 1960s, just that with more corner speed, more skill will be required. A key part of passing would probably be to get a driver to take a defensive line through a corner and that would allow the following driver to take a different line to allow earlier use of the throttle, enhancing the sliptstream.

Adding wings with minimal angle of attack and a controlled cross section would allow the advertising spaces to be retained. A pretext could be to allow the driver to fine tune the aerodynamic balance to compensate for tyre wear.


“The sport of the 80′s and 90′s was ok, but brilliant when something good happened. That suspense was what made it great.”

Unfortunately it’s also what made it tremendously dull more often than not.


Note Whiting’s argument: it’s not that DRS is worth it in spite of its artifice, it’s that DRS isn’t really artificial.

The assumption is that the “artificial” turbulence while following another car and that driver’s access to DRS cancel each other out. I think there’s a qualitative difference between a haphazard impediment like disturbed air and a custom device appropriate for the car behind. It engenders a philosophy that two wrongs make a right.

The rule makers seemed to give up on countering the disturbed airflow and punted to DRS. I wish they persisted with finding a solution to the former, maybe adjusting the balance (further developing the idea trialled in 09) or something else.

The thrill in overtaking is not seeing one car pass another but the meaning that attends it. To degrade the meaning just creates an empty showpiece.


I’m not against the DRS concept, nor against the degrading Pirellis as long as the balance is correct and applied conservatively if anything.

They needed to deal with the overtaking killing aero issue where the rear driver was faster and caught up to the driver in front then couldn’t do anything because of the dirty air. Of course it would have been interesting to see if a less aero dependant F1 could have solved it as well!

For me, DRS to assist someone on similar tyre deg to be able to have a go into a braking zone is fine. As long as they still have to work for the overtake, not just blast past with no effort, and particularly not just blast past at another DRS zone straight after the overtake.

The thing that bugs me more though is there are tracks built, like Abu Dhabi, that are dire for overtaking or action. Then there are tracks like Brazil or Spa that don’t need DRS at all. If some of the tracks were better in the first place, or could have sections improved that would be more ideal.

Next year could be interesting if there are greater engine power differences between cars. There could be more ‘trains’ with a faster engine car out front then everyone else glued to each other behind, all with their DRS wings open.


F1 rulemakers do double glazing – fit plywood instead of glass and paint a lovely view on it – call it the ‘Landscape Visualisation System’ and claim it results in a more consistent view 100% of the time.

F1 rulemakers do hiking boots – boots will fall apart after 3 miles of walking (often spectacularly with the carbon sole seperating from the main structure of the shoe) – however when you buy a new pair of boots you will be able to walk very fast for the first three metres before having to manage your pace.

F1 rulemakers do supermarket checkouts – All checkouts will be video monitored by a ‘spotter’ who will monitor transaction progress to ensure all customers leaving the checkout do so in a safe, non-interference pattern. Checkout staff will be fitted with earpieces where their individual spotters will constantly be providing them with instructions regarding their scanning speed and when they can release customers safely.


Thanks all. I could have just written another post about aero and mechanical grip, but that’s all been covered already. I apologise if my surrealist rant unsettled anyone!


No, on the contrary it’s good to see someone trying something different 🙂




Funny… You get some points for that.. 😉


Okey dokey then.


My fascination that began in midd sixty’s with motor

racing, my family owned a Alfa Romeo and Lancia franchaise,in 1975 on behalf of Alfa Romeo all the dealers were invited to attend A Group 5 Sports Car event with the revised (33-tt-12),till the day I die I will never forget sound or the speed of Alfa.

Yes I am a purest,Engine/manual flaps at the rear wings.

However we must accept we live in the mordern times,

we knew of the Supercharges/and Turbocharges in the early fities,lately is a DRS and KERS and much more to be bolt it on.

Charlie Whiting is right ,today F1 demands it and I salute him for the vision.


I love F1 for all the “what ifs” that it gives us. The amount of comments James must archive on what ifs.

What if we had DRS in 2010? What if Senna? What if we had double points since 1980 for last race? What if pigs had DRS wings?


Would the second pig have be to be less than a second behind the first pig to use his DRS wings?


We fry them up way before they can get DRS activated.


So they’re Mercedes powered pigs then? 😉


@Random 79

Hehehe.. good one! Thanks for the laughs.


Yes, but only after a can of Red Bull.


I’m not against DRS. I understand why it’s here, and why it’s here to stay. I’m not angry at it’s existance.

I also understand those who say they don’t like it. I understand that it makes the pass easier and quicker. Looks that way, feels that way to mee too. I undertand skill in operating the system is not the same as working for the pass. I understand that 2006 Imola will never be possible with DRS.

Looks like we have ourselves a pickle.


There is a middle ground. The aerodynamic problems regarding overtaking weren’t much of an issue until the 90s, so revise the technical regulations accordingly, as suggested above.


Can’t unlearn what we’ve learned about aero. I don’t think anyone would watch flattened tubes race around?


Whilst the “purists” might not like it, I have been following an evolving F1 since the late 70’s and am a fan of DRS. Sure, there were some early teething problems and it may still be a case of trial and error at a new circuit, but overall, I think it has worked well.


“Sure, there were some early teething problems and it may still be a case of trial and error at a new circuit”

Early teething problems?? It’s steadily gotten worse as time has gone on. In it’s first year they didn’t mess it up to bad but by 2013 they were putting double drs zones in tracks that didn’t need it, making activation zones waay too long so cars would simply sale past, and still not having any impact on tracks that you might argue actually needed it.


I know it’s pedantic, but “sail past”.


…then try to get it right next time.


Yes, it is.


I’ll take DRS over the fast degrading tires any day.

DRS has given some great dicing between drivers in the “pack” over the last couple of seasons. The “purists” would prefer to see a well balanced and handling car behind a car that is only quicker in a straight line. That’s the US muscle car approach- point and squirt along the straights. Or put another way, a well handling Mini stuck behind a powerful SUV that is only fast in a straight line but has to be carried around corners.


I started laughing when I read that it requires great skill. The fact that the driver has to be close to the car in front has nothing to do with operating the DRS. The F1 drivers are used to the overtaking maneuvres since karting..this has not been a skill needed after DRS was invented.

Charlie is talking a lot of rubbish to put it bluntly.

The thing with the DRS is that because the drivers have it..they just wait for the DRS zone..instead of pushing and trying to overtake all over the circuit. On some circuits the DRS has been balanced, while on other it has been way way too easy.


Let’s see you do it


“The thing with the DRS is that because the drivers have it..they just wait for the DRS zone..instead of pushing and trying to overtake all over the circuit.”

Very well put, MISTER. Gosh, I miss the 80’s…

Robert in San Diego

I introduced my Marine brother-in-law to F1 in the late 80’s. Whenever I see him now he still says “Where is our boy racing?” Meaning “Our Nige”. When I tell him that Nige has retired, and deserved it, he says that the racing is nothing like it used to be. This is from someone who had never seen it before. I have been following F1 since the mid sixties and saw Jimmy, Graham, Jackie, Jochen, Emmerson, and of course “Our Nige” and James and Nicki.

Maybe I have fond memories of the past, but to me those were real racing days with little or no gimmicks used today to “improve” the show. The sport is going in the wrong direction, trying to manufacture the spectacle rather than rely on pure skill. I bet ALO and VET would have been good in the past, maybe even WEB and HAM.

Robert in San Diego

And of course KIMI.


Because the 80’s were an overtaking fest?, not that overtaking is the be and end of it all, at least in my opinion, but the 80’s shouldn’t necessarily be held up as a beacon of excitement, there were a lot of very boring races.

Still, at least they had the option of turning up the boost, but then there was the danger of turning it up too much for too long and running out of fuel.


I feel that DRS has been a positive addition to the sport.

One of the problems we have today is that the performance differences between teams are much smaller than in that past. If you compare the top teams with the mid-pack teams (and even the tail-enders) they are relatively close compared to cars back in ‘the old days’. And if the cars have very similar performance then it is, naturally, extremely difficult to overtake safely. You might be a few tenths quicker than the car in front – but without DRS you might be stuck behind them for many laps.

I don’t think we’ve seen any situations were DRS has helped a slower car *stay* ahead of a faster car. Sure, sometimes after a RBR has used DRS to pass a slower car, the slower car may be able re-pass in the next DRS zone, but, within a lap or two, everything has settled down and the faster car is able to pull ahead enough to prevent the slower car using DRS.

I think DRS just makes passing a little safer; it helps the drivers complete a safe overtake in a reasonable period of time without being stuck behind a marginally slower car for many laps.

It would, however, be nice if we could reduce the incidents where the Pole guy opens up a 1 second gap before DRS is enabled. Maybe enable it earlier, like at the start of the 2nd lap?


“One of the problems we have today is that the performance differences between teams are much smaller than in that past.”

That’s because the rules are too rigid, it’s becoming a spec formula.



Isn’t anyone in F1 able to see things in context? Coming from 2010, of course the fans said they wanted to see more overtaking. But that doesn’t mean something stupid as DRS. How about less aero dependency? That would do the trick…more mechanical grip, less downforce and there you go.

DRS however is inherently unfair, as it punishes the driver in front for no reason other than to improve the “show”. But for me and for many fans, F1 should first and foremost be a SPORT, not a SHOW!


The teams are not resistant to technical rule changes, but because they start designing next year’s car THIS year they would not take kindly to late rule changes. DRS was probably the best compromise – it would have the desired effect but would not require major revision of already designed cars. FIA could have insisted on a new aero package, but they’d have to give the teams plenty of lead time and so at least one season would have passed without a change to try to give the fans what they asked for.


Agreed. I took that survey and frankly it was rigged. There was no option to express opinions other than the choices offered. I didn’t agree with any of the responses for some of the questions, but to submit the form you had to answer all of them. At the time I thought it was a very biased survey. There was no place to offer suggestions or make comments; they heard what they wanted to hear. Frankly, I am getting bored with F1 and may stop watching; I’ll give this season with the new regs a chance, but am not hopeful – especially with the double points BS.


Alonso might well have won the 2010

championship if he had been able to pass Petrov and Rosberg


Actually I don’t think so.

There are some tracks that are technically very difficult to overtake on such as Abu-Dhabi and Korea (the drivers say so) and so with DRS or no DRS, Alonso still wouldn’t have won more so because Prost too lost the title at the last race in his first year at Ferrari.


That goes to the heart of the problems with DRS. On those circuits where it could be said to be most “needed” (Korea, Abu Dhabi, Hungary, Monaco, the Nürburgring) it actually has very limited usefulness. It has a bigger impact on circuits where it is not really needed to allow passing, such as Spa, Monza, Silverstone, etc. A compromise would be to retain it for the former tracks but scrap it at the latter.


@ SteveS

I would agree with the possible exception of Monza.

Yes, due to it’s high speed nature and rev limiter limitation, it’s infact quite tricky to overtake there.


I’d like to see what it would be like

to allow the pilotes to run the DRS

whenever and where-ever they wish, at

any time during the race meeting.


I’m suprised they haven’t fine tuned it a bit more yet. Even if you don’t cut it out altogether at the faster tracks, at least shortern the distance DRS is available to use.


I’m in favour of DRS and the Pirelli tyres. Does it make racing a bit artificial, maybe, so does semi automatic gearboxes, carbon brakes, under fuelling cars.

Drivers no longer miss a gear, suffer from brake fade, nor do drivers ever drive a race flat out, as fans seem to want (tyres permitting), as the teams don’t put enough fuel in anyway.

The role of the strategist has evolved, sometimes to the detriment of the driver.

Picking their gear ratios this year will be a key factor, get it wrong and they can change once. Red Bull could be said to be at a disadvantage, they have relied on their superior aero to not bother too much about straight line speed. 2014 is different, I wouldn’t put a bet on Vettel winning a 5th.


I agree that one set of tyres should not last for the whole race and there should be lap time difference in prime n option tyres. However, what pirreli creacted was jst awful. Hate to see the tyres dictate the result of the race rather than the whole driver/car package.


Also. Tires are part of the driver/car package.


So the fastest car is the best tyre saver? Dont think any other motorsports would have to be that case. Jst getting fed up with tyre saving strategies which should defnitely not dictate the fastest car/driver package in F1.


See also the bobster comment below. Its not just about tire saving, its how the whole package works together, tires, chassis, aero, engine, driver, included. On top of the package aspect, teams work the stratagy and car setup to mazimize the positive aspects of a given package and mnimize the weakness. F1 has always been this way. 2014 will take it to a new level since more demanding fuel and powertrain management will come in to play on top of the tire management and everything else.


It’s always been necessary to look after tyres. Jackie Stewart was particularly good at it in an era when tyres were not pre-warmed and could be wrecked in the opening laps of the race. Stirling Moss famously scored the first win for a mid-engine car by nursing his tyres and saving a pit stop.


Please be reminded that Pirelli did not create the current tire situation. They fulfilled a contract to provide tires built to a specification asked for by F1 teams and regulators and they did as required. The blame should not be on Pirelli but on the people/organization that specified the tires


That’s not entirely true

There was a brief, but they struggled to get the recipe right


Pirelli had no real option or power to play with the recipe, test, and and work to improve the tires. Too many roadblocks from teams and regulations. They have done a pretty good job despite all the handicaps inflicted on them, and yet they shoulder most of the public outcry. Surprised they have not just walked away.


I agree with Charlie Whiting, DRS has been a God sent for gone are the days of the Trulli train for now the fans have something to look forward to in terms of overtaking.

To be honest, overtaking is a very difficult skill that not everyone naturally possesses and so if we can help the less gifted so be it.

Now, the problem that hampered DRS’ enjoyment is the Pirellis in that with the tyres shot to shreds add to that DRS, then this becomes a pretty foregone conclusion.

So with better tyres, I think the fans would enjoy DRS more for if you recall, the drivers complaints have always been about the tyres and never about DRS.

So all in all, the fans are thankful for DRS though at some tracks with long straights such as Spa and Montreal, DRS really needs to get trimmed.


On the flip side, if a driver can keep a faster car behind even with DRS available then his defensive skills will be heralded e.g. Jenson and Vettel at Hungary 2013 or Kimi and Alonso at Abu-Dhabi 2012 or Vettel and Lewis at Barcelona 2011.


“To be honest, overtaking is a very difficult skill that not everyone naturally possesses and so if we can help the less gifted so be it.”

Er… isn’t this supposed to be the best 20-odd drivers in the world? I would have thought overtaking skills were a given. Next thing, people will be suggesting that drivers are only getting their seats because of the money they bring…


No it’s not.

It’s supposed to be the best 10-ish drivers in the world along with some of the most wealthy 10-ish drivers in the world.

Somebody’s gotta pay the bills…

I would vote to put an end to that if it could be traced. But on the opposite side, many teams would be gone if it weren’t for those pay-bill-drivers…


Or Vettel and Lewis at Austin 2012.


“It’s not as if it’s turn it on, overtake, go, done.” Is it not? I think thats a fairly accurate assessment to be honest. It either works too well or not at all (i.e. Hungary, Monaco). Get rid.


I thought it was within a second ? Or is that changing ?


Mr Whiting mentioned .3 of a second as a measure of how close you need to be, generally, for a successful pass. Attempts are still made based on 1 second.


cheers guys , i read it the wrong way 🙂


The following car has to be within 1.0 seconds of the lead car to activate DRS. What Charie is saying is that the following car needs to be within .3 seconds to actually make the pass.


Within a second to deploy it. But 0.3 seconds for it to guarantee a pass.


DRS has nothing to do with Fans desire for track battles…

It is wholly about getting the big players back to the front of the grid quickly – even if the driver is mediocre.

The real fix, is wider chassis, less aero, more mechanical grip and more BHP… anything else is waste of time.

F1 is overrun by corporations… and profit is the only real driver on the grid.


A wider chassis isn’t going to be much help. It is similar to having tyres with more grip – it just allows the car to corner slightly faster in all situations that aren’t limited by track width. To improve the ability to follow the downforce to weight ratio needs to change, e.g. make the cars heavier.

Making the chassis wider increases the effective area of the floor, allowing the cars to generate more downforce.

If you give an engineer more engine power, the way to improve lap times is to crank on more downforce. The higher torque engines for next year will be a bigger issue in terms of drivers having to manage the throttle and getting excellent corner exits.


F1 is overrun by corporations… and profit is the only real driver on the grid..

Good line 🙂

Bring back V12's !!!

“The real fix, is wider chassis, less aero, more mechanical grip and more BHP… anything else is waste of time.”

This is exactly right mate! This is what literally all the F1 fans have been saying for years now but for some reason the governing bodies/FIA don’t seem to care what the fans want.

They will see when the sport inevitably disintegrates the way it is heading currently.


All the F1 fans?

Many yes, but all is a bit of a stretch.


You thing having more horsepower and a wider chassis is the solution? What would you rather try and overtake: A truck or a Honda Jazz?

All your suggestions could be summed up in five words: Go back to the eighties.


I write this words without having all the information because I just started watching F1 since 1998 and I was just a kid by then, but according to what I’ve seen, in the last half of the 80’s the McLarens were the dominant machines by far, I’ve just watched the Senna documentary and call my attention that race that he won (then disqualified) even after crashing with Prost, having to be helped to go back to the track and and then go to pits to change the nose, of course Senna was great, but I’m not sure he could do that today in a RedBull, so, many people here claim about the 80’s, that decade was really good because of the cars or because the Senna-Prost battle? I have had that question since I started reading this blog.


It was a little before I started watching too, but I’m sure it was good for both reasons.

The thing is though that for some people once you get to a certain age you start thinking that everything was better when you were younger because you tend to only remember the good parts. For myself I kind of think the eighties were better generally, but then I think of all the stuff we have now that we didn’t have back then and realise that every decade has it good points and bad points, just like everything else (F1 included).

In twenty or thirty years time you might well end up being one of these old farts saying how good F1 used to be in the early 2000s 🙂


Are you going to cover the cost of your dream Formula?

We feel like it’s ours, but it isn’t.


Whiting is one of the reasons F1 is becoming extremely boring… if he doesn’t realize the difference in buzz from a true slip-streaming overtake vs a DRS overfake, F1 has no hope for the future…

RIP F1… one day something better may grow from the ashes.


Totally agree slight bit of rain, out comes the safety car, a car crashes in a part of the track that is not a danger at all he brings out a safety car, all done to artificially bunch up the field.

Bring back V12's !!!

Agreed, I have hated the way the sport is heading in the last few years. Cars getting slower, engines getting smaller, gimmicks everywhere, half a grid of pay drivers, massive aero influence (redbull), ridiculous over analysis/penalties of everything on track.

The sport is literally just a breath of its former self but I’m clinging on to some thread of hope that something might happen in the future.


I’m not a big fan of DRS, but the fast degrading Pirelli tyres have ruined the show far more than DRS. With the drivers running to a lap time and unable to push the limits of adhesion, even Lewis’estimate of 20% driver contribution versus 80% car may be optimistic.

My suggestions would be

1. Increase the length of the braking zones by banning carbon brakes and mandating only a few, more conventional brake disc material options.

2. Decrease the Aero effect by mandating minimum areas of vertical, flat, forward facing surface of the rear wing, so that the cars make a bigger hole in the air on the straights, and are less dependent upon Aero in the corners.

3. Go back to real tyres that the drivers can actually push for more than half a lap.

4. Finally mandate a maximum amount of money that each team can spend each year, before half the field go bust and we have races with less cars than that infamous Indy USGP.

5. Continue to decrease the maximum size of the front and rear wings, and decrease the allowed complexity of those surfaces.

I like the idea of increased hybrid power. 160hp extra for up to 30 seconds should increase the overtaking and make DRS less relevant, particularly if the cars aren’t able to recover that much energy in one lap. A driver who can conserve his energy will be able to get past a driver who had been pushing the limits to stay ahead of a faster car and driver combo.

The fuel limitation, however, has the danger of resulting in processional races when one team dominating, which would hurt formula one’s standing and popularity even more.

Moving the exhaust to the back of the car to remove the blown diffuser effect has been long overdue, though whether that cancels out the Newey effect remains to be seen.


GP 2 is already nearly as fast as F1, if we keep cutting back on engine size, aero, tyres etc. F1 will soon be slower. The aero argument could be relevant as regards slipstreaming but if you reduce this you then need to increase elsewhere to keep F1 at number one( or do we slow down all the lower formulae instead?). Got to say F1 is in serious danger of destroying itself through it’s desire to be PC and please all of the people all of the time.


Hi Jeff,

Carbon brakes don’t reduce absolute stopping distances, just increase the reliability of the brakes. Damon Hill tried steel brakes in 1995 to see if he could get better feel and it was a viable solution, but it does increase the weight of the car and the inertia in the wheels, so they have secondary performance disadvantages.

Your second point sounds a lot like the Handford device used in Champ Car around 2000. Including parts that actively make the car slower aren’t really in the F1 ethos. But reducing downforce will be the most significant way of increasing the braking distances. It will also make the lap times a lot slower, which could be an image issue for F1 if other series are faster around a track.


Increasing breaking zones won’t achieve much, as it effects all cars the same, Aero change is what is needed, but people have been saying that for years and nothing has happened


Genuine slip-streaming overtakes are very very difficult in contemporary Formula 1. This is due to the aerodynamic efficiency of the cars (high down-force with low drag).

In order to pass on a straight via drafting a car must be close enough to the next car on the exit of the turn onto the straightaway. In mid to high speed turns the disturbed air behind the leading car severely hampers the down-force (reducing grip) on the following car. So even if a driver has the pace to close the gap he will be physically prevented from doing so by the ‘dirty air’ generated by the lead car. The following car cannot get close enough to truly capitalize on the slipstream and is therefore unable to make a pass.

Unless the lead driver makes a significant mistake (which is very rare at this level of racing) passes are extremely difficult to make happen and rarely seen amongst the top drivers in the top teams. DRS brings some justice to the situation.

I would love to see battles like Arnoux vs Villenueve at Dijon in 1979 but drastic changes would have to happen to the technical regulations concerning aerodynamics for such spectacles to be seen again. This is extremely unlikely to occur as such changes would be considered backwards steps. It would also mean that you or I could design the cars, rendering the likes of Adrian Newey way overqualified. 🙂


You realize that the battle of Villeneuve vs Arnoux was fought with ground effect cars that have two really interesting aerodynamic properties?

A: They create a lot of bad air (i.e: rip big holes in the air)

B: do not depend on clean air, because clean air is of almost no importance for the ground effect to work.

Which means: A) they let you draft like hell and B) allow you to follow closely through the bends.


Well, these cars had massive tires and a fairly large and simple rear wing and of course a diffuser causes a lot of turbulences, even today you can pretty much see it in this picture, where it’s not the rear wing, but the diffuser causing a giant stir:

Without being an expert, I figure this is not just the wing’s fault, but actually the low pressure, highly accellerated and upwashed air from the diffuser must be equalized by the surrounding pressure, which should cause a pretty good stir. With the rear wing being rather narrow and in a pretty high position today, I think, will be less dramatic on a car that is following; the following car will rather hit the upwash coming from the diffuser that the wing’s wake.

I imagine that what Dernie said must be seen in the context of the times, where aerodynamics were rather crude. Im mean, just look at this giant but simple rear wing:

The downforce to drag ratio of it must have been hideous compared to the venturi pipes. And of course with the ground effect being much more effective in terms of downforce-creation the downforce to drag ratio must have been enourmously better, even if its drag had been higher than a simple wing’s.

At least that’s what I am thinking in my naive mind.

Well, this is what Patrick head found:

So yes, you can have the same downforce like today with less drag (i.e. wake) using ground effects, and it will still work in dirty air, which is what we’d like in the corners. Mate that with a pair of simple wings huge enough to cause enough wake and just enough downforce to be beneficial and we have a recipe for overtaking.


An interesting point Wanja, that might make me get my old engineering texts out. In terms of lift to drag, Frank Dernie has said the 1982 cars were much more efficient than anything since. For low drag you want high pressure behind the car, which is what a perfect venturi would do. So by nature I understood that the venturi ground effect car created much less turbulence than the equivalent downforce car that relied on wings as the wings work via conservation of momentum – sending a large mass of air upwards results in the car being pushed down. The resultant low pressure behind the wing due to the absence of air created lots if turbulence.

Also my long past studies would suggest that the mass flow rate through the venturi was important, and so running in turbulent low pressure air would reduce the potential for the venturi to create a pressure drop.

But you may be right.Either way the FIA is just tinkering with the current rules, rather than changing the game.


Decades ago; yes kiddies, decades, there was

talk of banning the front and rear wings.

I believe this was ’82 or ’83, as reported

in MotorSport. The major argument against

was that the teams rather enjoyed selling

the primo advertising space of the front

and rear wings.

I wrote a letter to the editor, espousing

my opinion. It was not printed. Probably

because my sub was surface mail. 😉

I said then, that there should be standard

wings or wing design issued to the teams.

“Here you go. Advertise all you want. Mind,

the wings are crap. Don’t do much.”


Hi Wade,

Your point on slipstreaming is fine, but today’s F1 cars are not particularly efficient aerodynamically. The lift to drag ratio is a lot worse than it was in the early 1980s. Due to the exposed tyres the aerodynamic efficiency isn’t particularly good even compared to DTM cars.

One of the keys to Dijon 1979 was that due to the performance limitations of the car the drivers couldn’t afford to be flat out all the time. The tyres generally weren’t changed in the race and the brakes (especially the pads) couldn’t cope in the way they do now. So that created opportunities for true out-braking. Today an out-braking move is more about carrying greater speed into the apex and finding a way to make it stick than a faster rate of deceleration.

There would be ways, such as with a return of the fan concept used in one race in 1978 by Brabham. I’ve read that it was discussed, but the FIA tends not to be bold enough when it tries to change aerodynamic rules. An extension of the energy recovery rules could be that the power can be used to run fan for downforce purposes and greater cornering speed, to boost straight line speed or remove turbo lag.

The homogeneity of the engines doesn’t help the racing. Historically the cars with the most powerful engines were fastest in qualifying. New tyres and the ability to run more downforce overcame any handling deficiencies. In the race greater tyre wear allowed variety in the races.


The fan might create other problems. One of the objections to it in ’78 was that it sucked rubbish off of the track and blew it in the face of whoever was following. So there’s a safety concern there.


IMHO you nailed it.

A “rules” change would not suffice. We would have to force teams to run with the technology of those times and drivers would need to be as bold as those guys.

It would be a delight watching the likes of Kimi Raikkonen storming through the field. And they would need to watch out for Banzai-Maldonado.

Since I know FIA will never allow for that I would at least vote for plastic-like ruber tyres and manual gearboxes. 😛


Excellent commentary. IMO you nailed it.


Problem is modern cars can’t follow through corners, so can’t get into a slipstream position,


Then fix the root cause… reduce the dimensions of the aero surfaces – let the teams make the best of the limited area.

DRS is like painting over a rust patch… its dumb, to be polite.


Absolutely right. I’ve read where Stirling Moss said in his day, before aero, you would slip stream to within inches of the lead car then pull out and pass. Can’t be done with today’s aero. DRS I believe, returns that element to racing.


…and modern brakes decrease braking distances and modern gearboxes make it impossible to miss a gear…


“Fernando Alonso might well have won the 2010 championship if he had been able to pass Petrov and Rosberg.”

Petrov, Rosberg, and Kubica. That’s a large “if”.

Given Ferrari’s outsized influence in F1, I do think we ended up with DRS in large part because of Alonso’s failure in Abu Dhabi in 2010. I don’t think that’s a very sound basis for making such a rule change though.


Also Vettel would have gone past Alonso as well at Singapore instead of having to follow him through the race!


“Fernando Alonso might well have won the 2010 championship if he had been able to pass Petrov and Rosberg.”

Which is a reason for introducing DRS?




It was discussed MUCH earlier than Abu Dhabi. I remember after Bahrain which was terrible, Ross Brawn said it was being discussed as a cheap f-duct replacement.

Nothing to do with that one race at Abu Dhabi.


I was one who thought that only one of DRS or degrading tires was needed and still think that way. I’m not bothered by either one on it’s own but both being introduced at the same time wasn’t the ideal approach.

On the one hand DRS increases on track passing even if it isn’t as breath taking as baking late or early apex passes are, but still avoids faster cars being stuck behind slower ones.

Degrading tires brings overall race strategy into play similar to refueling use to, but with refueling the passing was mainly done in the pits while these tires allow some of that but also fresher tire being able to get past older tires on track.

I feel they should have chosen one or the other and gave it a couple of seasons to see if it gave the desired effect and if not then bring in the other.


They couldn’t know how things would play out. But I do think that NOW they can do away with DRS. The last couple of seasons we’ve seen plenty of overtakes outside of DRS zones.

OK… maybe they should hang onto DRS this season because the aero package is very different and Pirelli might go more conservative on tyres. If it becomes clear that these new cars can overtake without DRS then the matter can be reconsidered.


I think drs in 2012 was probably about right. In 2013, far too many drs zones offered a massive advantage in that the car being overtaken had no chance to defend, and this massively took away from the sport.

A drs zone that allows the chasing car to just come along side is as far as it should go. Last season too many times the overtake was complete half way through the drs zone.


The problem is: Aerodynamics change each year and you can’t ever get it right.


I agree with this; 2011 was ok, 2012 was great (for the most part) in DRS usage, but 2013 was horrible.

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