F1 Wants to Make DRS Available Earlier in 2023 Sprint Races
DRS isn’t available until at least two laps after the start of the race. Now F1 wants to reduce that to one lap.
Formula 1 wants to make changes to next year’s sprint race format, but not with the race length or qualifying format. It actually intends to change the DRS rules to make it available to drivers earlier in sprint races in an attempt to encourage more early overtakes.
If modern F1 has a constant focal point, it’s overtaking. Much of the 2022 rule structure was designed and crafted specifically to improve overtaking and close racing because for much of the history of F1, overtaking was a difficult strategy game. In 2011, F1 introduced DRS which can only be activated in pre-determined zones and if certain conditions are met. DRS is the reason for most of the spectacular overtakes we’ve seen in the last 11 years. According to Motorsport.com, F1 intends to make DRS available one lap earlier for sprint races.
The existence of DRS has also been something of a thorn in the side of F1 fans. Folks complain about the device making the racing too synthetic and argue that the fundamental issue of overtaking still exists in F1. The truth of the matter is that F1 cars manipulate and energize air in such a way that it is almost impossible to avoid the effect of dirty air, which is why overtaking doesn’t happen very often. Cars leave a wake that could be seconds long and can reduce the downforce of the following car by 50% at its maximum.
DRS being available in one lap presents some challenges. To be frank, I think this could be an interesting twist on sprint races, but this could be another dilution of the main race on Sunday. The primary issue here is that activating DRS early actually puts the polesitter at a significant disadvantage if they don’t open a gap of more than one second to the car behind within a lap. This is a situation where second and third-placed drivers can really benefit early in the race, and save their tires in the clean air.
It looks like DRS isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future. For what it’s worth, the system works and fans are used to it. With the 2022 cars able to race each other so aggressively, things are looking up for folks who like to watch F1, and sprint weekends like the one in Brazil are only going to become more common.