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DRS downfall of Formula 1?

The current state of Formula 1 has become somewhat questionable in recent years. The introduced of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), Drag Reduction System (DRS) and new Pirelli tyres have all created a recipe that appear to be leaving the ‘ die-hard fan’ with a sour taste in their mouths.

 

The sport has gone through a series of shake ups throughout the 2000’s. One of the main reasons was to stop the Schumacher/Ferrari era of dominance but other factors started to become apparent to the sport in terms of the show. Never has Formula 1 focussed on ‘the show’ as it has done recently.

Bridgestone were masterful with Ferrari and Schumacher, they were good across the board as a single make manufacturer, but it was not enough. Bridgestone were not interested in making high degradable tyres to spice up the racing. The Japanese manufacturer sells to a market to appealing to every day drivers and wants to showcase the tyres at the highest level.

Step up Pirelli. The Italian tyre manufacturer gained the contract in 2011 and their brief was to have tyres that degraded quickly to make racing more interesting. Quite simply put this was an intriguing move after having near bullet proof Bridgestone’s for so many years.

 

2011 was already shaping up to be a pivotal year but more was to come, welcome Drag Reduction System. A system devised to create low drag of cars in a straight line by flipping the rear wing main plate to allow easier over taking. Detection zones were created so it did not become “too easy” to use.

Finally we have KERS. The Kinetic Energy Recovery System was introduced two years prior to DRS and Pirelli tyres. It is a system designed to recover the kinetic energy that is present in the waste heat created by the car’s braking process. It stores that energy and converts it into power that can be called upon to boost acceleration. “Currently the regulations permit the systems to convey a maximum of 60kw (approximately 80bhp), while the storage capacity is limited to 400 kilojoules. This means that the 80bhp is available for anything up to 6.67s per laps, which can be released either all in one go, or at different points around the circuit. Lap time benefits range from approximately 0.1 to 0.4s.”

 

In the space of two years Formula 1 saw three fundamental additions introduced, not to mention the complete redesign of the aerodynamics of the cars. So where does that leave us on the weekend of the 2013 Spanish Grand Prix around Circuit de Catalunya? Personally, I see a false way of overtaking, tyres are that unreliable and a system hardly ever mentioned up and down the paddock.

KERS I have no issue with. It is a system that is under heavy development and we are now starting to see be introduced in to road cars and could lead to even greater technology. The potential of KERS is broad and unknown but exciting.

My biggest issue is DRS. Most people will say tyres due to the nature of the design and compound. I believe Pirelli are fighting a losing battle though. They have to create tyres for racing but when the racing comes when a small slot gap in the rear wing opens and the job is done, no tyres are even required.

The art of defending is a dying art form. It is near enough impossible to defend from DRS. Not only that but we are seeing some highly dangerous late manoeuvres to defend the perusing car coming at a much faster speed. Drivers being pinned up against the pit wall in an attempt to defend their position in the following corner. Even if completed, occasionally we are seeing a second detection zone straight after and the hunted becomes the hunter.

Formula 1 has done too much, too fast. They brought three new things in to spice up the racing all at the same time. As it stands currently, thanks to the nature of the tyres drivers do actually have to preserve them and engineers have the challenge of making a car light on its tyres. Those two combined are enough of a challenge. Without DRS drivers could still get close and try to overtake. A Ferrari may burn through tyres faster than a Lotus and we could see Fernando Alonso properly defending a position from Kimi Raikkonen. Give the driving back to the drivers, force the issue, allow them to attack and defend.

DRS is the downfall of Formula 1 for me. Pirelli are fighting a losing battle because everyone only looks at the tyres. The company has done well to adapt to every situation thrown their way. It is has reached a point now where Formula 1 cannot identify as entertainment or a sport. Blending the lines needs to happen soon.

With a completely brand new set of regulations coming for 2014, Formula 1 could be about to enter one of its bleakest periods…

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‘Easy’ win for Kimster

March 17, 2013 Leave a comment

Well it is a while since I have written a blog here but I thought I would make my grand return for 2013. I had planned to write consistently but as ever life seems to interrupt along the way and it gets broken up. Along with writing I hope to be able to bring a podcast to the site also.

It is a couple of hours after the race down under around Albert Park, Melbourne and many fans and viewers will be stepping away or back to bed with very wide smiles on their faces. I for one I am exceptionally pleased to see Kimi Raikkonen win for Lotus.

© Sutton Images

After the initial washout of qualifying before both Q2 and Q3 were run on Sunday morning prior to the race I think most people thought this would be a stroll, quite literally, in the park for Red Bull after what can only be described as a stunning pole position lap from Sebastian Vettel, such commitment in very challenging conditions.

Start of the race actually felt quite tame in some respects. Usually the season opener is drivers dusting the cobwebs away from the winter break and the race craft is not quite there but from turn one onwards it all seemed relatively clean other than new boy Chilton in the Marussia having to pit for a new front wing after contact with van der Garde’s Caterham.

The front of the field squabbling for position all the way down to turn three after negotiating the mobile chicane of Mark Webber after a software failure did not allow for a correct bite point for the clutch, the drivers escaped and the race started to unfold.

Fernando Alonso made a wonderful sweeping move around the outside of Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes around turn three and hunted down his team mate in quick smart fashion. Come the end of lap one Vettel had calmly created himself a two second advantage. That would whittle away quite sharply as both the Ferrari’s came tearing up behind him quite menacingly.

Ferrari initially appeared to show equal fairness to the drivers whereby Massa was allowed to pit first and have the luxury of strategy advantage over his team mate who was behind. Were the tables turning at Ferrari? No. Come round two of pit stops Ferrari pitted Alonso earlier to take him out of the traffic and Massa was asked to push to see if he could two stop. He could not and was left tucked up behind Adrian Sutil.

Force India have quietly gone about their business in pre-season, turning many laps and appearing to have a car capable of at least fifth in the constructors at the moment, Adrian Sutil though had other ideas. After starting from twelfth on the grid he quickly made his way up the field starting on the medium compound tyre which proved a great strategy call for the first two stints which put him right in with Vettel, Alonso and Massa. The quad group all running together for many laps as the strategies unfolded.

While this was happening Kimi Raikkonen was carefully lurking off the back of them controlling his pace and his tyre management and in doing so put himself in the window of a two stop strategy. This was quite a surprise as many had foreseen it to be a three stop race but Lotus got excellent longevity out of the super soft compound in the opening stint allowing the ‘Flying Finn’ to only stop twice in the race. It would appear Lotus have an advantage of a car that is very kind on its tyres and looks after them well.

It has to be applauded the valiant effort of Fernando Alonso though. The Spaniard setting fastest lap after fastest lap trying to bring the gap down between the two and the three stop strategies. It was not to be though and other than a moment with a Caterham he could not close the gap and Raikkonen conveniently set the fastest lap of the race with just a few laps to go just to let Alonso know he was not winning today.

Kimi has been quoted as saying “It was one of the easiest races I have done to win. Hopefully we can have many more of these races.” and quite honestly it was. He was flawless in his drive and kept the measure of his competitors when he needed to and turned the wick up just at the right times. He seems to feel at home with the Lotus and the freedom he has. His latest interviews we have even seen a more open smiling Kimi which is rather nice but his cool character approach was always a winner with those that liked him.

Raikkonen wins in Melbourne © Sutton Images

So what have we learnt from Melbourne? Kimi is up for it, Fernando wants it and Vettel is not really sure what to think. Red Bull have made improvements to what is already a good car but have they over done it and now have degradation issues? I doubt it and I think Malaysia may see Red Bull come to the front again but now more than ever they have a big challenge on their hands and it’s not just from one team it could be anything up to three teams currently.

And just to round my first piece of the season up, a word on Mercedes. Qualifying looks be a strong point for them but similar to the past few seasons, add the fuel in and the balance of the car changes. They tried their best to two stop with Hamilton but they could not and while Lewis is happy with the base clearly the overall package is missing something. Work to be done but definite promise for the Silver Arrows.

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