Welcome back overtaking in F1: Brawn opens to modifications of the DRS – Formula 1

Welcome back overtaking. Better: welcome back fight. Two GPs in the archive, e this Formula 1 seems to be back in color, at least compared to many episodes of a past that is just behind them. A Ferrari returned to a victory orbit, or at least a fight for, undoubtedly helps: audience and a very clearly perceptible general feeling indicate that something has changed. Verstappen and Leclerc also admitted it, protagonists in cross-scripts in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia where, in their words, they not only faced each other for the victory but also had fun. And usually, when the drivers have fun, the same happens in the stands and in front of the TV. Thanks to the new single-seaters, without a doubt. The F1 2022, built around an innovative technical project especially in aerodynamics, seem more open to the possibility of driving it on the attack.

“Two Grands Prix are little for an overall balance – says Ross Brawn, general manager and sports manager of the F1 project -, but from the indications of Sakhir and Jeddah I believe that we are on the right path. The new aerodynamics definitely contributes to what was our main goal: to make the aerodynamic wakes less problematic for the chasers. The duels between Leclerc and Verstappen, repeated attacks and repeated overtaking show that getting closer is now easier. The attacking pilot can get closer, suffering from clearly less load disturbances than before. Planning a pass is now possible while maintaining much greater control of the car. And this was not only demonstrated by the duels for the first position: the long fight between the two Renaults in Jeddah was also significant for an important change, and the same for other episodes in the rear ”.

Objective achieved, therefore, for a project that the former director of Benetton, Ferrari and Brawn GP practically drew on paper. A less disruptive rear wing and a fund capable of greater ground effect (just to simplify) are drawing a new picture. But there are other elements that contribute to the positive turnaround.

“What we saw on the track in the first two GPs this also happened thanks to the new Pirelli tires. The transition from 14 to 18 inches seems to me to be handled quite well by the pilots. There was talk of the potential danger of F1 being much stiffer and heavier, but it seems to me that critical aspects are not showing up. The degradation of the tires, on the other hand, is different. It always exists, and in some conditions even to a significant extent. But this degradation affects the effectiveness of the tire less than before: continuity of performance benefits a lot. Pirelli has done and is doing a great job “ Brawn added.

When he presented himself in the new F1 Liberty guise, at Melbourne 2017, Brawn summed up the goal admirably: ‘We need to go back to races in which the human element stands out more and the technical one limits less’. But on the track the overtaking, or in any case that fight that precedes them, even in this beginning of 2022 are taking place above all thanks to the DRS. Artificial overtaking, he complains, with the attacker being greatly favored over the defender, thanks to a gigantic increased speed following the zeroing of the rear wing load.

“It’s true – confirms Brawn – the DRS continues to have an important weight in the dynamics of the majority of overtaking on the track. But beware: except for some overtaking where the difference in maximum speed between two F1 cars is very large, the DRS now allows you to get closer to it faster than it would happen without a difference in load to the rear wing. But then overtaking is still to be planned, to be achieved. Having said that, and having acknowledged that the overall aerodynamic configuration is now less complicated from an overtaking point of view, a change in the DRS regime is possible and, if decided, it can be tackled very quickly. A reduction of DRS zones, in number or length, would be sufficient. We await the readings from the teams and drivers: as F1 we ​​are open to refinements and the dialogue is continuous ”.

Another point called into question: braking. With photocopies of slowdowns as a result of the sensational effectiveness of today’s systems, between Hamilton and a rookie, between the most effective and the slowest F1, the braking point differs very little. What is missing is that space within which, Jackie Stewart once said, there was even time to invent diversionary maneuvers, trajectories, reactions. Are changes in this sense also conceivable? Not immediately, at least according to Brawn: “For now we don’t feel the need. Reducing the effectiveness of braking would be simple, it would be enough to act on the materials, or on certain dimensions of the braking systems. But in reality, this would not change things very much: a real tweaking of braking effectiveness, that is, an increase in braking distances, should include changes in aerodynamic efficiency. And in this direction we have just made important changes, a new change would mean once again unbalancing an overall picture that seems good to us today. Maybe in the future we will be able to talk about it, but only if we have a request and indications from the teams. Today, frankly, we do not notice this request ”.

FP | By the editorial staff


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