Formula 1 Sporting Manager Ross Brawn hopes that the cars will sufficiently that the use of the Drag Reduction System can be eliminated from the sport, however accepted that it isn’t likely to happen soon.
Drag Reduction System, or DRS for short, was added to the sport in 2011 – the same year that KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) was dropped. DRS is an artificial aid to overtaking, allowing cars to pop open a small flap on their rear wing on selected straights, so long as they’re within one second of the car in front. Opening the small flap allows for decreased air resistance, giving the following car a small speed advantage.
The effectiveness of DRS has often been debated as, although it does increase overtaking, it’s seen as a crutch. DRS inflates numbers not through skill, but through a small speed boost, allowing one car to easily pass another (before usually being overtaken itself at the next DRS zone).
Brawn himself told Business Life that, whilst he’s no fan of the system himself, he doesn’t see it leaving F1 any time soon.
“My hope is that the cars will develop to the point that we don’t need it anymore, but in the near future that will not happen,” said Brawn.
DRS came under fresh criticism last year, following updates to the regulations. Cars for the 2017 season suddenly became much faster, with far more aggressive downforce and wider tyres. This, said drivers, made even getting into the one-second window to activate DRS difficult, and the additional speed came at the cost of the racing.
Brawn addressed this, saying that before they can make changes to improve racing, they need to know what’s happening – and that making any rash decisions could only make things worse.
“Before we can improve the racing, we need to thoroughly understand what’s going on,” he admitted. “We can follow our gut instinct, but that’s not good enough when you think about how incredibly complicated these cars are.”
Formula 1 cars are among the fastest in the world, and speed is one of the big draws for fans of the sport. Brawn acknowledges this, though said that he would be willing to make cars slower if it improved the racing.
“Speed plays an important role and the fans want to see the fastest cars,” said Brawn. “But if we see a way to make the racing better, then I would be willing to sacrifice some speed.“