Why Leclerc And Verstappen’s Fight Could Decide The Future Of DRS – WTF1
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Why Leclerc And Verstappen’s Fight Could Decide The Future Of DRS

The Saudi Arabian Grand Prix turned out to be an absolute banger with a battle for the victory in the closing laps and fantastic midfield overtakes. However, there was one glaring problem that we saw during the race around the Jeddah Corniche Circuit – the use of DRS.

The way in which this very strange game of ‘you go first, no, you go first’ unfolded left me feeling slightly strange. It’s not the first time we’ve seen something like this happen, either. 

Last year at Jeddah’s debut, we had ‘the incident’ between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton where Max tried to let Lewis through before the DRS detection point, and Lewis, well, drove straight into the back of him.

WHAT ARE THE DRIVERS TRYING TO ACHIEVE WITH ‘DRS CHICKEN’?

There were three DRS zones in Saudi Arabia, the second of which is on the run down to the last corner, giving the attacking driver a fantastic opportunity to send one to the inside.

However, with the pit straight being so long and there being another DRS zone running all the way towards Turn 1, there really is no point in making a move until then. This is because the benefit of the slipstream and the use of DRS is greater than being marginally ahead after the last corner. You’re just going to lose the position anyway.

Leclerc, in this example, knew this and tried to bait Verstappen into taking the position into the last corner with the Red Bull’s massive overspeed. They then both slammed on the brakes, trying not to cross the DRS detection point first, which dramatically saw both of them lock up. Leclerc then decided to go full beans on the accelerator and catch Max out.

Now, I’m all for unpredictable things happening in F1, but these kinds of games aren’t really what the spirit of the sport is all about.

This didn’t happen all the way up and down the field, and it is more than likely only a problem when it’s a two-car battle for the lead, and they’re clear of the chasing pack. The midfield are never going to bother losing a handful of seconds as their races are always about maximising their result against all the cars around them.

HOW TO SOLVE IT?

One option F1 could take would be reducing DRS usage to once per lap in races or even a certain amount of usage throughout an entire race. Max could rock up so easily because there were three DRS zones, and with his straight-line speed advantage anyway, he could easily pick his moments.

I still 100% believe that the cars need some sort of assistance, such as the Drag Reduction System, to allow them to battle cars ahead of similar pace. In fact, I think the DRS worked incredibly well for the most part during the Saudi GP.

But the fact that the win was decided with bizarre tactics may well mean F1 will want to intervene to stop this kind of gamesmanship determining a victory in the future and ensuring these tactics don’t lead to dangerous outcomes. 

It’s not the safest thing ever to have two drivers trying desperately to go slower than the other into a detection zone.

Another route could be to move the DRS detection point to after the corner and put it on the straight so the drivers are less inclined to get out of the throttle into a braking zone.

I think that last idea is actually pretty solid. So F1, I think you should take notes and implement that if you can.

Should the FIA clamp down on this kind of strategic DRS battling? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

11 thoughts on “Why Leclerc And Verstappen’s Fight Could Decide The Future Of DRS

  • Rodrigo Carmona says:

    I’m not ok with this: “but these kinds of games aren’t really what the spirit of the sport is all about.
    If the DRS exists, and is a tool used for racing, as Max says “it is smart racing” at the post race interview.
    I don’t see the issue of taking the right advantage of the DRS and the detection zones. I can compare with the box undercut or box to overtake or even going to boxes when there race us under SC or VSC.
    Taking advantage from situations like those are Smart Racing, and should be considered part of “motor racing spirit“.

  • Go the IndyCar way, give each car say, 300s of drs or bonus power, free to use whenever and wherever they want during the race, but when the time is up there is no more

    • Isn’t that what is used in DTM too? But instead of a certain duration, you are only allowed to use it a specific number of times

  • Joseph Odinga says:

    Lewis didn’t “drive into the back of Max”. Max brake tested Lewis: stop whitewashing history

    • John Hatherly says:

      He did drive into the back of Max he even said after the fact “Yeah I don’t know what I was thinking driving into the back of Max.”

  • Kevin Laing says:

    I like the Formula E system.
    Make the DRS Detection zone off the racing line where drivers are forced to lose position.
    You want DRS? Work for it.
    You think your fast enough stick to the faster line and suffer the loss

  • Sander Schröder says:

    If you’re passed, you’re not allowed to use the DRS in the first DRS zone after being passed. In that case you always take your first chance to overtake and have at least a few corners to create the gap. Also, lapped cars shouldn’t be allowed to use DRS to unlap themselves (Ocon Brasil 2019? on Max).

  • Just do away with it or give drivers control. DRS was introduced as a patch because the old cars could not follow eachother closely. This has now been solved.

  • What, this is exactly what DRS is for. Max made a couple of passes early, got caught and passed on the straight and learned his lesson, saving his final pass for later. Brilliant racing and a fine show of patience. I want clean wheel to wheel racing and that’s what we saw.

  • Nyy-anonymouse says:

    I dont think once per lap is any better, basically it would have same effect because in this case max wouldn’t want to take position in first straight because leclerc would get drs on next one. Most straight forward rule would be that
    consecutive straight have same detection zone, so whoever has drs on first gets it also to second. Other would be that after being passed drs would be disabled for few corners. This would also resolve issue when someone gives place back.

    Personally I dont think this needs a fix, at least not yet. It would be better that consecutive straights do not have drs zones and that would fix the issue, by not creating the issue in the first place

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