Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 Team AMR22 Mercedes-AMG F1 M13 during the F1 Rolex Gran Premio Del Made in Italy e Dell'Emilia-Romagna on April 22-24, 2022 in Imola, Italy. (Photo by Alessio Morgese/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Sebastian Vettel has warned Formula One of the dangers of relying too much on DRS for overtaking.
2022 is the beginning of a new generation of cars and regulations for Formula One. The new cars are designed with the purpose of promoting close racing, making it easier for drivers to follow each other, and thus overtake, during a race.
We have seen that objective reached in the first four rounds of the season. However, we have also seen the effects of having, and not having, DRS available.
What is DRS?
DRS is the Drag Reduction System. When a driver is less than one second behind the car in front of them, DRS can help them overtake.
It occurs when the driver behind deploys their car’s rear wing. This means the flap is lifted, reducing aerodynamic drag. In turn, the car is then able to accelerate faster, increasing in speed, to overtake.
DRS was introduced in 2011. A lot of drivers see it as a tool, whilst others are sceptical about it and its effect on making overtaking artificial. Vettel is one of these drivers who is worried about relying on DRS too much.
Vettel did not have a great start to the season, after contracting Covid and missing the first two rounds. Consequently, his 2022 campaign began in Australia – a track with four DRS zones.
He has warned F1 of the reliance on DRS becoming too much. The German understands that drivers “do rely on the DRS probably more than in the past”. He admitted that he thinks it would be “interesting” to see “how the racing really is” with the new cars without DRS being enabled.
We saw a bit of this in Imola at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix. Lewis Hamilton was in P14, behind Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon. When DRS was eventually enabled due to the weather, Hamilton struggled to overtake Gasly with DRS because Gasly also had DRS on Albon.
Vettel said he is “cautious” when it comes to DRS “because it was brought in as an assistance to help overtaking, but now it feels a bit like it’s the only thing that allows you to overtake at times.”
Instead of using DRS all the time, Vettel feels that the sport should aim for cars that do not need the extra boost to overtake. He said “ideally, we have set of regulation that allows us to follow and race without DRS.”
The German reflected on the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix to help explain his point.
“The race in Jeddah, where you had the leaders braking for the DRS line to try and be the second one to cross that line, that’s a different type of racing. I don’t think we should go that way.”
The new cars are promoting closer racing, but “overtaking is still hard.” Vettel feels that when a driver goes to overtake another, “it should be an effort and it should be a reward.”