There can be no doubt that the on track action this year has been superb! We are seeing more overtaking action in a single race than we’re used to seeing in a whole year thanks in no small part to the brilliant job Pirelli have done. KERS also has played it’s part this year, proving to be a great handicap for the teams without it. That leaves us with DRS! It’s fair to say that it too has made an impact this year but is it a good one?
The Case For
Love it or hate it the new DRS rear wing has changed the way drivers overtake in Formula 1.
Gone are the days of the “Trulli Train” and when a driver qualifies out of position and is not able to make his way back into the fight. DRS now gives the drivers a zone where overtaking the slower car in front is possible.
So how easy is it to overtake with DRS? Well it all depends on how the FIA have set up the zones. The FIA have said they are still on a steep learning curve as to how to set up the DRS zones and sometimes, it shows. We have had some cracking races; like China and Canada, where the zones worked perfectly and some poor ones; like Spain, where the DRS zone was set to far up the straight to give the attacking car any opportunity to make a pass.
But has DRS taken the skill out of overtaking? I don’t think so. There are still plenty of other spots on the track to hone your overtaking skills, and if you’re slow enough to let the car behind you get within that 1 second zone, I hope you know how to cover your line. We have seen Sebastian Vettel successfully defend against a DRS Enabled Lewis Hamilton in Spain and it had us all on the edge of our seats . Watching a car under attack and defending is much more exciting than watching a car effected by the wake of the car in front and unable to make a pass.
F1 has always been dynamic and exciting , and now DRS is adding to that by giving the fans what they ultimately crave; Epic battles with plenty of overtaking.
The Case Against
When I first heard that DRS was going to be introduced this year it was fair to say I was sceptical, and after the first seven races I feel that my misgiving’s about this artificial overtaking system have been justified.
The point of no return for me was at Istanbul, seeing manoeuvres completed way before turn twelve lap after lap didn’t get me anywhere near the edge of my seat and that is how I want to be as one car lines up another! Canada was by far and away the biggest DRS let down for me. Firstly we saw the FIA introduce two activation zones (double the pain for me) and secondly when the track dried out and the DRS was activated by race control it spoiled the fascinating battle between Schumacher, Webber and Button which saw the German getting mugged in the first DRS zone (the zone designed to close the cars up enough to enable a pass in the second one).
One of the magical aspects of F1 for the fans is finding out about what ingenious technical devices the team have hidden beneath the body of the car. DRS isn’t hidden, you can see it working and you know exactly when and where it will be activated!
In 2013 the FIA, FOM and FOTA have a great opportunity (one they missed in 2009) to bring in new rules that effectively reduce the aero dependency of the cars so they can follow each other in closer quarters, reducing the level of ‘dirty air’ the chasing car has to drive through.
DRS isn’t an innovation, it’s a gimmick that promotes artificial overtaking. Given the fantastic job that Pirelli has done with its tyre compounds and the continued KERS development (with its relevance on road cars) F1 doesn’t need this gimmick to spice up the show and I hope we see the back of it by 2013.