Red Bull's qualifying advantage due to DRS?

tranquility2k9

Podium Finisher
I've just read an article written by James Allen:- http://www.jamesallenonf1.com/2011/...-qualifying-but-mclaren-is-close-in-the-race/

He states that one of the reasons why McLaren are closer to Red Bull on race pace compared to qualifying is because of their respective drag reduction systems and rear wing planes. Essentially, Red Bull gains more in qualifying from their DRS than McLaren do, but then McLaren's rear wing is better in the race on straights where the DRS is not enabled, and additionally gives a little more overall downforce.

A good technical explanation of this was written in one of the comments by malcolm.strachan who said:-

"It's not so much that the RB7 has a steep upper element (or flap), it's due to being shorter. Since the rule states a maximum slot gap rather than a maximum angle, a shorter flap will obviously sweep more of an angle than the longer flap.

The result is that when the DRS is open, the Red Bull's shorter flap is almost horizontal, whereas the McLaren’s longer flap still has a relatively steep angle of attack.

But when it is closed, the RB7 suffers because that slot gap is further back in the chord, and therefore has a slightly smaller effect on generating more downforce. The longer flap of the McLaren helps generate more downforce for less drag as that slot is now closer to the front, thus speeding up the airflow under the main element that little bit more"

Another point related to this that I think is another reason why Red Bull have a big qualifying advantage is because their car generates inherently more downforce than any other car, they can naturally use their DRS more and gain further lap time. In one respect, this looks omninous for their competitors, but another way to look at it, is that, when other teams manage to add more downforce to their car, they will not only gain the lap time from that downforce, but also by being able to use their DRS earlier out of the corners. If you look at it this way, then the gap Red Bull has, isn't actually as big as it seems and I think without the DRS, the gap between Red Bull and their main rivals would be a few tenths closer in qualifying.

It will be interesting to see if McLaren move closer to Red Bull's DRS design to gain extra qualifying pace, or whether Red Bull move further towards McLaren's design to gain more race pace, whilst losing a little of its large 1 lap advantage.

Interesting stuff.
 

teabagyokel

#dejavu
Valued Member
That wouldn't explain why the same thing vis á vis the race paces was applicable last year too. Look at Silverstone as an example of that!
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
I was just reading this article on James Allen's site and it made me question why DRS use is unrestricted during qualifying?

How it has been explained could account for the large gap Red Bull has over the rest of the field in qualifying, but doesn't have the same advantage during the race.
I suspect that being fully laden with fuel also has an impact, although it must be slight otherwise we would see the Red Bull start to increase the gap per lap as the race goes on.

I'm not questioning whether its fair or not that DRS use is allowed in Qualifying as it is, just trying to understand the reasoning behind it.

Has anyone seen any comments from the FIA as to why it is like this?

I wasn't sure whether to post this in an existing thread or not, so feel free to merge Spesh if you so deem.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
Very interesting.

I remember at the start of last year there was much consternation at Red Bull being able to run their car at low ride height in qualifying despite it having to be set up for the race when a full tank of fuel was going to be added. Do we know whether that was in fact due to some clever floor dynamics, or is it still the case (I mean ride height excluding any flexing effects, of course)?

Certainly as tby points out, this isn't a new phenomenon, and perhaps DRS is only part of the story therefore.
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
I think one of the TV commentators mentioned this, though I don't know if it was Croft/Davidson or Brundle/Coulthard.

Basically, as I understand it, the FIA want the teams to set their gear ratios and rev limits up so that they've got a nice long seventh gear to make full use of DRS during the race. If DRS is restricted in practice and qualifying then it's more difficult for them to set that up accurately. There's also the question of teams checking that it's working and drivers getting used to the activation, particularly important at e.g. Melbourne where they use it on the exit of a quick corner.

Of course, you could then suggest making it unrestricted in practice and switching it off in qualifying. Other than it being a bit odd, I can't really argue with that.

As an aside, I suspect Red Bull would still have the quickest qualifying car anyway...
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
After watching 3+ hours of Onboard footage after China I was left with the distinct impression that McLaren had opted for a slightly different solution on their rear wing than the other teams. Tranquility and JA have now confirmed this.

With a majority of the teams you can see a gap between their rear wing elements, even when DRS is not activated. McLaren shows no such open space. This configuration must produce more downforce, something McLaren desperately search for, while sacrificing a bit of time in Low-Downforce sectors. And as explained in the article, it also effects the wings differently when the DRS is activated.

As for the restricted use regulations, I think it's inevitable that DRS will eventually be restriction free. Maybe not this year, as the system is obviously in its infancy, but I believe we'll see adjustable body-work become more accepted in the future.
 

Chad Stewarthill

Champion Elect
Contributor
As I posted somewhere before, the Technical regulations call for a minimum gap between the fixed and movable sections of 10mm (max 15mm) when in the 'closed' position, opening to a max 50mm gap in the open position. So Mclaren can't possibly have a completely closed junction as far as I can see.
But I do understand that Mclaren have opted for a wider, flatter movable vane than most of the other teams. I'm pretty sure I heard the commentators at one race (maybe the Radio 5 live bunch during practice for Melbourne or Sepang, but I can't remember exactly who or when to be honest). Maybe this gives the appearance to us of no gap, and it may also contribute to the car having better top speed generally, as a trade-off against the slightly reduced downforce reduction when the device is activated.
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
Technical regulations call for a minimum gap between the fixed and movable sections of 10mm (max 15mm) when in the 'closed' position

Didn't you know I can spot a difference of 5mm on a moving car through my 20" computer screen. :thinking:

Whatever is going on, it's evident from the Rearward facing Onboard camera that McLaren had their rear wing configured completely different from other teams in China, most notably Mercedes.
 

Pyrope

Podium Finisher
Supporter
Something about JA's analysis doesn't add up, but I can't put my finger on why exactly. Take, for example, this pair of paragraphs...

James Allen said:
In the race, when the DRS can only be used in one particular situation, McLaren have an advantage because their softer rear wing gives them a straightline speed advantage everywhere except for the DRS zone.
In Shanghai, for example, in the race Hamilton’s top speed in Sector 1 was 291km/h compared to Vettel’s 273 km/h. In sector 2 it was 269km/h compared to 267 km/h and in Sector 3 it was 258 km/h to 256 km/h.

So Hamilton's top speed in the DRS zone was 2 kph faster than Vettel, yet 22 kph slower than his own speed at the end of the start-finish straight? The assumption is generally that the Red Bull generates more bodywork downforce and that McLaren are short on downforce in total, yet the proviso to JA's comments is that Red Bull are relying more on their wings than McLaren. Anyone see what I'm missing here?
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
Well, let's start here. Vettel's top speed at the S1 timing line was 278.6 km/h, not 273 as James states. This would make Lewis 13 km/h faster at this point. Hamilton was easily the fastest driver heading into turn 6 (where this speed data is recorded), 7km/h faster than the third man Schumacher. (2 km/h faster than Kobayashi)

The Sector 3 speeds are actually the speed when crossing the Finish Line, not in the DRS zone. I'm not sure why he called these S3 speeds, the FIA clearly records them as "FINISH LINE". The Speed Trap figures are much more representative of terminal speed. Vettel beat Hamilton here by a slim margin, 316.8 km/h to 315.6 km/h. Petrov was the fastest at 323.2 km/h.

I'll let you and James sort out what all this means.
 

Pyrope

Podium Finisher
Supporter
Thanks Keke, that clears things up a bit. I knew something smelt funny but didn't have the time to follow it up fully!
 

tranquility2k9

Podium Finisher
That wouldn't explain why the same thing vis á vis the race paces was applicable last year too. Look at Silverstone as an example of that!

They had the qualifying advantage last year because of the blown diffuser and sending exhaust fumes through the diffuser, even when off throttle. Last year they could only do this for 1 or 2 laps max, without it overheating the car, but then towards the end of the year, Red Bull and other teams such as McLaren, were able to use exhausts off throttle throughout most of the race. It is standard now.

But yeah that was why Red Bull always found a large chunk of time in Q3 last year. This year it's different and one of their big qualifying advantages seems to be the DRS.
 

KekeTheKing

Banned
Supporter
Whatever is going on, it's evident from the Rearward facing Onboard camera that McLaren had their rear wing configured completely different from other teams in China, most notably Mercedes.

Or maybe it's Mercedes that's doing something a little differently?

From Autosport - http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/90952

Norbert Haug:
We had problems with the rear wing flap, but mainly we have sorted them out," he said. "We have a different system, but it is a clever system if it works - and we made it work in China.
 

snowy

Champion Elect
Interesting... :thinking:

This DRS device is supposed to give the car following the opportunity to overtake... And the FIA are supposed to be tweaking the zone so that it doesn't give too great an advantage to the pursuing car... And the teams are tweaking the wing and it's deployment to give them a performance advantage over their opposition...

Doesn't there appear to be a slight conflict of interests here? Surely this should be a standardised piece of kit? Surely some teams making it work better than others makes a fair and regulated DRS zone fundamentally unattainable?

Doesn't this just suck chunks?
 

Galahad

Not a Moderator
Valued Member
Interesting... :thinking:

This DRS device is supposed to give the car following the opportunity to overtake... And the FIA are supposed to be tweaking the zone so that it doesn't give too great an advantage to the pursuing car... And the teams are tweaking the wing and it's deployment to give them a performance advantage over their opposition...

Doesn't there appear to be a slight conflict of interests here? Surely this should be a standardised piece of kit? Surely some teams making it work better than others makes a fair and regulated DRS zone fundamentally unattainable?

Doesn't this just suck chunks?

I don't understand? Surely there is always a conflict of interests?
 

Brogan

🦶 Leg end
Staff Member
If Mercedes are doing something different with the rear wing then isn't that the same as Red Bull doing something different with the front wing, or McLaren doing something different with the sidepods?

As long as the rear wing passes all the FIA tests with regards to location, dimensions, flexibility, functionality, etc. then the teams can tweak it as much as they want, can't they?
 

Chad Stewarthill

Champion Elect
Contributor
Whatever 'different' thing Mercedes might be doing with teir DRS wing, it would appear that Mclaren may have designed theirs to give relatively less benefit of drag reduction when it is open than the maximum they could achieve under the rules, as a deliberate trade-off against lower drag overall when closed (i.e. for the majority of the lap). As Brogan says, this is just an example of flexibility within the rules being exploited differently by different designers.
It's also entirely possible (even probabale) that Mclaren and others might bring a completely different DRS wing configuration to specific races such as Monaco and Monza, at opposite ends of the 'downforce' spectrum, as they have done previously with the fixed wing.
 
Top Bottom