Discussion | Is DRS still necessary in Formula 1 with the new regulations?

Discussion | Is DRS still necessary in Formula 1 with the new regulations?

5 April - 09:04 Last update: 09:19

After the Saudi Arabia Grand Prix, DRS was a major topic of discussion. Is this tool still needed in Formula 1 with the new regulations and what about the detection point for a DRS zone? We put these questions to editors of the Dutch and English editions of GPblog.

Nicole Mulder - Editor GPblog NL

I've never been a fan of DRS, especially the fact that the system is necessary for overtaking. It creates artificial overtakes that you can see coming even before drivers enter the straight. In 2022 the system will no longer play a leading role, but will function as an aid for that last bit a driver needs to overtake. As it stands now, I think it is the 'finishing touch' for the duels we have seen.

However, DRS zones do need to be looked at more creatively. If two drivers are fighting for position and want to pass each other at the detection point, it is only a matter of time before that goes wrong. A possible solution is to place the detection point not just in front of the straight, but further back. Two long straights with DRS zones right after each other are also pointless.

Conclusion: keep DRS for now, but move the detection points and hopefully work towards a solution where the system is no longer needed.

Rafael Diaz Lehmann - Editor GPblog UK

While the battle between Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc was tense and exciting with the pair of them swapping position lap after lap, it was equally stupid and artificial with the two tripping over each other and purposefully slowing down so that the other would give them DRS. It was frustrating to watch and while people were touting the battle between the Red Bull and Ferrari drivers as an instant-classic, I couldn't help but feel indifferent about it as I knew whoever was behind coming into the DRS-zone had an almost certain chance of overtaking.

Perhaps an IndyCar/Super Formula-style push-to-pass system would work better, with each driver able to use DRS for an allocated amount of time each race wherever and whenever they want, putting the strategy of overtaking back into the driver's hands. With the all-new regulations for F1 the cars can follow much better and overtake much easier, so I believe that the current DRS-system that has been used since 2011 should have a similar revamp.

Bonne Veenstra - Editor GPblog NL

DRS has never been necessary in my opinion. Formula 1 could exist without DRS for years and it is no different now. Without DRS there will be fewer overtakes per race, but the drivers' skills will be more important. An overtake becomes more special when it is placed without DRS. A fight can take place without DRS for laps, even if the second driver is faster. This ensures that as a viewer you are watching all those laps with excitement. The new cars clearly do what was asked of them: they can follow better. Therefore, there is no reason for F1 to continue using DRS.

Oliver Lewis - Editor GPblog UK

DRS nowadays isn’t as important due to the less complicated aero of the 2022 regulations, which has allowed for easier overtaking and closer racing. It adds to the racing and allows for overtakes that may of not been possible before. While the danger comes from DRS detection points which has been in recent controversy due to Saudi Arabian GP where Max Verstappen and Charles Leclerc both vastly slowed down from racing speed to try and get DRS off the other. Which again causes danger not only to the drivers but those around them. 

However as it’s been such an essential part of the racing since it’s introduction, I think overall it still adds to the racing and will continue to even as the aero regs change so should still feature on the current and future cars.

Jordi Smit - Editor GPblog NL

This year's rule changes have brought many times more excitement to Formula 1, but for now it is insufficient to abolish DRS. Since 2011, this component has provided much more excitement in the motorsport class. Of course, there are circuits imaginable where there is plenty to enjoy even without DRS, but with the system, the drivers have more options during each race. And ultimately, the spectators come to a Grand Prix to see as much overtaking and spectacle as possible.

Looking at the DRS detection point, it is important at all times to look at the current regulations in the current situation. Leclerc and Verstappen played with the rules in Saudi Arabia, but that is exactly what drivers try to do at every circuit. This could create a dangerous situation, on the other hand there is also a responsibility on the driver. Indeed, not only the FIA should have safety as a top priority, but also the drivers should take this into account. The way Verstappen and Leclerc handled it was pure class.

Matt Gretton - Editor-in-Chief GPblog UK

I’ve really enjoyed the tactical battle that DRS has added to both Bahrain and Saudi Arabian Grands Prix in the fight for the race win. Twice, we’ve seen Leclerc let Verstappen overtake to get the DRS down the subsequent straight. The Dutchman worked it out in Jeddah which created an additional duel for the DRS line. 

Was it dangerous? Probably if you add third-place or a backmarker into the mix but you have to trust the best drivers in the world to be sensible. Perhaps if closer racing continues with the new regulations, they can begin to make it less frequent and only allow 60 seconds of use throughout the race for example. This would increase the tactical stakes. F1 will continue to analyse the data and draw hard conclusions in December.

Tim Kraaij - Editor-in-Chief GPblog NL

The fact that people use the number of overtakes as an indicator of how exciting a race is, I have never understood. Breathlessly I watched the duel between Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher who seemed to be stuck to each other for laps in Imola. Any mistake would be fatal. That tension puts you on the edge of your seat and distinguishes the top drivers from the mediocrity.

These days you see less and less of these duels, because with a little bit more pace in your car with the help of DRS you can eventually pass a driver in front of you. With the new rules, this tool seems to me to be severely redundant. With the American leadership, however, I wonder if they also realise that the number of overtakes does not necessarily determine the excitement in a race.

However, if you are using DRS, I would put the detection point somewhere else. By putting it in the corner before the next straight you create a problem. This was evident in Jeddah. In my opinion, it is best to put the detection point just before the DRS-zone itself. Then drivers are already up to speed and will never hit their brakes to let the other driver pass.

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