Drivers divided on DRS


The impact of the new aero regulations couldn't really be judged in Australia, despite the fact that it was in the wake of last year's race - which featured just one significant pass - that the sport rushed to find a solution to the ongoing conundrum that is dirty air.

This weekend, in Bahrain, however, is a different kettle of fish, the nature of the track allowing drivers to get up close and personal and battle for position.

To give the racing added impetus officials have even added a third DRS zone, in the hope that the drivers will take full advantage.

"I think it will affect us slightly," said Lando Norris, when asked about the additional zone. "You obviously have more chances of overtaking so you would say a two-stop strategy could be a better chance than trying to do that in Australia, say.

"I think and hopefully it will cause teams to choose more different strategies," he continued, "basically, which can hopefully lead to more overtaking, more action, which is always a nice thing for a driver.

"I didn't drive last year so I don't know (how) much better or worse this aero package is compared to last year," he added. "Some people have said it's better, some people have said it's the same or worse - not worse but the same as previous years.

"I think we have to have overtaking and I think Bahrain, as a track, is definitely better than Australia to overtake anyway, even without DRS zones. But I think nowadays it's so difficult to overtake in general. DRS is one of the few ways to be able to lead to action and overtaking so I think you're going to have to have it.

"Three DRS zones is quite a bit so I'm sure you're going to see a lot of overtaking and action this weekend. It's not the most natural and the best way to do it but it's probably what we've got to do, I guess."

Indeed, earlier this week, former Sauber driver, Marcus Ericsson, now in IndyCar alongside his test driver duties for the Alfa Romeo F1 team, was highly critical of DRS, claiming that the lack of DRS in IndyCar allows for proper racing, "proper fights".

"One of the great things I’ve found in IndyCar so far is the fact we don’t have DRS (which) means there is so much more proper fights on track, wheel-to-wheel and corner-to-corner," he tweeted. "You don’t 'wait' for a DRS zone to overtake, you just go for it when you get the chance.

"DRS might produce more overtaking," he added, "but is it really producing more proper fights on track, which I believe is what we want to see? Just my two cents. And I’m not saying I have the answer. I just know that from a driver perspective (in IndyCar) you have to be more aggressive and go for it more when you get the chance, anywhere on the track. Instead of waiting to get to a DRS zone and do the pass there the 'safe' way."

As an aside, reacting to someone who asked: "When did you ever overtake in F1?", the Swede responded with a YouTube clip and the words: "That’s me overtaking 2 time world champion Fernando Alonso for 10th in Japan 2015. When did you ever overtake in F1?"


"You can afford to drop back in the standings for an extra stop and have the chance to overtake after again easier," said Leclerc of the third zone and its impact on strategy this weekend. "Already in the past I think it was quite an easy track to overtake with two DRS zones, so with one more it can only be easier. So yeah, it will change the strategy a little bit."

"Probably you can go with a more aggressive strategy," agreed Pierre Gasly, "if it's easier to overtake, but I think the more action it can give us the better it is.

"After all there are other ways to overtake; without DRS would be nice as well if we are able to follow each other and there is more action thanks to that and that will be the best way but I think immediately that's the only thing we can change, the DRS zones, so if it brings some more show, I think everybody's going to be happier."

However, elsewhere in the paddock, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen shared their opinions.

"Obviously DRS is a band-aid for the poor quality of the racing that we get with the cars that are designed," said Hamilton. "But it is what it is. You can't change the fundamental structure of how these cars are and the wake that they create, so they've got to find a way of making racing easier."

"With the DRS, that was the big positive," said Verstappen, when asked about the 2019 aero rules. "They did that well...

"But of course in a way maybe you don't want the DRS overtakes," he continued. "I would be a fan of trying to go away from DRS overtaking. But at the moment that is a good solution, I guess, on some tracks where you normally can't really get by."

In response to the suggestion that at some circuits DRS makes overtaking too easy, Verstappen replied: "You can always then make it shorter, the zones. Yeah, just shorten the zone. I think over the years we've made it longer, maybe now you can make it shorter."

Check out our Friday gallery from Sakhir, here.

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Published: 29/03/2019
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