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The Racing Line - DRS

Drag Reduction System was widely welcomed into F1 in 2011. With Pirelli’s rubber contributing greatly to the spectacle, does F1 still need DRS? | by Gary Marshall |
Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gary Marshall has racing in his blood. He has followed racing of any kind from an early age and works in the UK motorsports industry. Gary writes about his work and his views on F1 on his blog, MarshallGP and on twitter @marshallgp

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July 18th, 2012 (F1plus / Gary Marshall).- On the 3rd July, I, along with 200 other F1 fans descended on the Williams factory in Grove Oxfordshire to take part in the FOTA fans’ forum. First introduced in 2011, the fans’ forum gives fans the chance to put their questions to the great and good of F1. During the evening, there were some very good questions from a very educated and enthusiastic crowd on all subjects from racing incidents to the complex politics that surrounds the sport.

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To my surprise, several people spoke up to question the role of DRS in F1 this year. I say to my surprise because I have never been a fan of the drag reduction system and always found myself in the minority in this debate. During the 2011 season, I ran several head to head discussions with a poll to gauge public opinion with two thirds of people voting in favour of DRS.

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DRS was brought in to F1 after extensive research and discussion between the FIA and F1s technical working group (TWG) in a bid to spice up the racing. The advancement of aerodynamics meant that the cars were finding it more and more difficult to follow the car ahead through the corners. Subsequently, they were too far behind on the straights to benefit from the tow or hole in the air.

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DRS were introduced for the start of the 2011 season, at the same time as McLarens innovative f-duct was banned by the FIA. The f-duct essentially was another way around the same problem. McLaren introduced this technology at the beginning of 2010 and could achieve an extra 6mph on the straights.

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The f-duct was banned by the FIA after it was deemed too dangerous to operate as it required the driver to take his hand off the steering wheel to operate. McLaren’s MP4-25 of 2010 wasn’t on the pace of the all conquering Red Bull’s and the effectiveness of the f-duct was never fully exploited.

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The introduction of DRS was accompanied by the arrival of Pirelli as the new sole tyre supplier, taking over from Japanese manufacture, Bridgestone. Pirelli had been given a specific brief for the FIA to make the different tyre compounds less durable in another attempt to spice up the spectacle.

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During the 2011 season, I often ran poll’s and debates on my own site to gauge public opinion on the new rules. My view was, and still is that DRS is an artificial means of overtaking where the defending driver is powerless to defend his position. All the way through 2011, I was in the minority. Everyone, it seemed welcomed the addition of DRS.

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When the topic of DRS was first raised at the fans’ forum, I hung my head and thought to myself ‘here we go again’. It didn’t take long however, for my hung head to start nodding in agreement as more people asked the panel if DRS was needed at all?

With seven different winners out of the nine races we’ve seen so far, there is no doubt in my mind that the resulting excitement is down to the rubber supplied by Pirelli. The Grand Prix’s at Bahrain and Valencia have had a reputation for producing dull races. That trend was bucked in 2012, with Valencia in particular providing some great entertainment.

This entertainment, and the true cause of it, hasn’t been lost on the millions of fans watching from the grandstands and on TV. With another major shift in the technical regulations due in 2014 with the reintroduction of turbo power, could we see the end end of DRS? I for one, hope so.

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