Technical What effect will the DRS rule changes have on qualifying in 2013?


Podium Finisher
Most of the rule changes for 2013 are fairly subtle and therefore the pecking order is predicted to largely stay the same. This said, I believe one of the most intriguing changes is that the DRS will be restricted in qualifying to the designed area(s). This is likely to benefit some teams and take an advantage away from others.

The obvious benefit of the DRS is to aid overtaking and increase optimum top speed - this should largely stay the same, as the designated DRS zones are usually placed on the longest straight(s). The area where the DRS becomes much more complex and which was especially useful in qualifying was how it would be used through corners. Some teams seemed to optimise this and others notably struggled.

An obvious recent example of a team struggling in qualifying due to their use of DRS through corners, whether this be entry, mid-corner or exit, is that of Ferrari in 2012. They spent the whole of the 2nd half of the season consistently altering their rear wing and DRS and as Gary Anderson kept on saying, this was an area that they could not get the car working as efficiently as others, which therefore caused instability and ultimately meant they couldn't use their DRS as much as other teams. In the race where DRS use was limited, Ferrari was often much closer to its main rivals. Therefore, surely Ferrari will be a team who will benefit from this rule change for 2013.

A team who will likely lose a little advantage due to the rule change is Red Bull. Right from the word go, when the DRS was first introduced, they had a notably more aggressive DRS with a smaller flap. The reason they could get away with this was quite simple - their car had much more down force. In 2011, their already far superior downforce, gave them an additional advantage, which on a fair few occasions led to them having huge gaps to those behind them in qualifying. A good example is Barcelona 2011. They were 1 second clear of Hamilton in 3rd, yet in the race, Lewis was a match for Vettel - so how is this possible? There were several reasons, one being that RB could apparently never drive flat out in the races in 2011 as they had so much downforce, they would destroy the tyres. The second reason was their DRS - compared to McLaren they had a more aggressive DRS, which meant they could use it more in qualifying, whereas, McLaren's at the time was optimised more for the race. This lead to a pattern throughout most of the first half of 2011. The final reason, which many analysts at the time said counted for a fair amount of the gap, was that RB were able to activate their DRS through corners or on corner-exit, where others could not. Vettel for example, would have the DRS open half way round the final corner, where no other car could do so. So in essence, a car that has a lot of downforce, will likely have an even greater advantage in qualifying as their greater downforce also allowed them to use the DRS more and gain further lap time, where other cars with less downforce could not.

Whilst we're on the topic of Red Bull, it's also worth noting that their up-rise in form from Singapore onwards in 2012 was largely due to their introduction of a double DRS device, similar in broad concept to Mercedes, but solely focusing on the rear of the car. This opened up a whole new "box of tricks" for them, that allowed them to iron out their weaknesses and run their car in an even more optimised way. As much as this was a great, and worthwhile innovation for the latter part of 2012, it will be outlawed this year and therefore, if you take that whole concept away, you'd say McLaren would be without doubt, the fastest car at the end of 2012.

So onto McLaren - there have been many rumours and even some images that suggest McLaren possibly had some kind of double DRS device in 2012 - nothing major but something that gave them a subtle advantage. If they indeed did, then it will likely come out at some point in the near future now the concept is banned. Either way, McLaren certainly had a very good DRS system in 2012 and this was one of their main weapons in qualifying that seemed to give them more of an advantage in comparison to the race. They could notably use their DRS more often in qualifying than some other teams and again this was likely mostly due to them having superior downforce, in combination with an aggressive and efficient DRS. Some of the reason as to why McLaren were always faster in qualifying than in the race in 2012 was said to be due to them having to start the race with more fuel than some of their engine rivals such as Renault, but undoubtedly, one would feel McLaren will lose out a little compared to others in qualifying due to the DRS rule change.

The final team of interest worth mentioning is Mercedes - they most likely optimised the DRS after its initial introduction into the sport, quicker than any other team. In 2011, they generally were looked at as having the best DRS system. In 2012, it was harder to tell, especially as the season went on as they were struggling so much - it would be interesting to know how much better or worse they were in qualifying compared to the race. Either way, these statistics would be largely influenced by their terrible tyre management, which was ironically also related to the DRS - although the double DRS in this case. The other thing to note about Mercedes DRS is that it was widely accepted to give one of the greatest top speed gains, but compared to some other teams, its corner efficiency in qualifying was harder to tell. There have been rumours that Mercedes will get rid of their DRS design that uses the end plates to store the hydraulic activator and go over to that used by most other teams - therefore Mercedes will most likely be changing their DRS more than other teams for 2013.

Now onto the rest of the field - it may be there are a few mid - small teams that actually went a little unnoticed in having a very good DRS system, but one would feel most of these teams would only gain from the DRS rule changes. Firstly, this due to the fact that they all have less downforce than the top 3 or 4 teams and therefore could make use DRS less in qualifying. There are also many teams, such as Williams for example, who consistently complained (at least on the driver front) that they had a poor DRS in comparison to their rivals.

There is a final point to make, which is that teams may find the development of the DRS will go more into making it an efficient device that can gain the most top speed, whilst also being optimal when it is not being used, now in both the majority of qualifying and the race and therefore those teams who optimised their DRS and rear wing flaps in order to use it mid-corner in qualifying, will likely alter their design, possibly even reverting back to earlier versions of their DRS in the case of teams such as McLaren.

Whatever the specific changes in the pecking order may be from the 2013 DRS changes, one thing is for sure - it can only make the field even tighter in qualifying and make things even exciting!
Different tracks will have different reactions to this as well, one would imagine. Not using DRS all the way round may require a return to the traditional skinny set-up at Monza, for example. The effect you describe will take its toll on the circuits with the high speed corners - Barcelona, Suzuka, Silverstone etc. far more than at Montreal, Monza etc.

Of course, it may as well not be used at Monaco! LOL
It will be interesting to see what happens in qualifying this year. It could be that Vettel does not have the runaway success that he has had in the past, this could have a knock-on effect if he is not on the front row of the grid. RBR do seem to need a different setup if they are in dirty air. Will they go all out for pole or be more conservative and go for race speed?
At least I am not reading those coments about how much safer it will be because, lest I'm mistaken, that is the official argument being used. This was the work of Ferrari International Assistance bureaucrats, (Todt et al) same as the ever more demanding load tests on the front wings was. To help those burocrats Alma Mater team. How exactly do sport fans benefit from cars that will be slower and easier to drive in qualifying? If Ferrari cannot do a proper car with existing regulations let regulations do of Ferrari a proper car. The good thing is that with every new regulation their excuses became more complex, inextricable and funny. Can hardly wait to hear them again. Or maybe there problem is their choice of 1st driver, but they cannot afford to sack him?
Mansell4Ever. Ferrari aside, I think the main reason for the changes in the load tests was to stop teams from circumnavigating very clear rules about flexible bodywork, which they were unable to enforce. Something that was very clearly the case for at least one team in particular. With regards to the DRS changes, if we assume it's not really for safety, it is the sensible thing to do for the good of the motor-racing spectacle. If one or a couple of teams are able to have a significant advantage over the field that others cannot replicate then it needs to be levelled in the interests of competition. Not many people want to watch the cars go round two-by-two and so these changes are most certainly positive for the sport. The previous DRS rules regarding qualifying were a nonsense anyway and the biggest question is how such nonsense came to find it's way into the rulebook.

I say this with no bias to any driver or team who may or may not be disadvantaged or advantaged, but with competition in mind. I have no doubt in my mind that race weekends will be better for these changes and that the biggest beneficiaries will be the fans.
Having DRS available for the whole lap during qualifying has always been an anomaly.
Why have different conditions for qualifying and the race?

It would be no different to being able to utilise KERS to its full potential for a qualifying lap, as much and as often as a driver wanted but still only having a few seconds of a fraction of the total power available during the race.
Because cars can actually go faster? Because of the beauty of drivers having to let their downforce go mid curve? Because if cars have different behaviours in qualy and race that means some will try to come forth while other try to avoid going back? Meaning more overtaking oportunities? Because there F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport and we actually want to see creativity at work, not go-kart? Because in F1, as in life itself, when we hear someone saying that stricter rules are necessary to guarantee competition it is always to protect the vested interests of the privileged ones?

I do not mind when they change rules 2/3 years ahead, like with with the new engines, but these midseason decisions to the next should only be taken unanimously by the teams. And if this happens to benefit Ferrari at a given point I will not change my opinion. But apparently they never do.
The rule has been in place for two years now. that is more than long enough for one team to enjoy that advantage. Sure, some teams to their credit have taken better advantage, to their credit, and they have enjoyed the spoils. So let's say Red Bull have won that particular development race and let's praise them for it. Now let's move the goalposts and introduce a new challenge. this will help with competition both on the circuit and in the design departments. Everyone is a winner.

[Edit] Unless of course you are a fan of stagnation. Please excuse my flippancy.
I was of the understanding that the teams already had to agree to the rules. The technical working group and overtaking working group include team representatives, and I believe that before regs are made they need to be agreed by all the teams, both those in FOTA and those not, with the FIA and Ferrari having a veto.

As such, I think it wrong to assume that the teams are hard done by with regards to regulatory changes.
Red Bull have been the team that runs high downforce foresaken straightline speed.

This was okay when the team were in front because their aerodynamics were not disturbed.

The team seems to be the one most reliant on the DRs to gain extra downforce into high speed corners.

I suspect they will not risk running this strategy with the risk of having to pass more cars in the race
high downforce to gain grid position ie pole whilst sacrificing straightline speed

The DRS on the Red Bull seems to help compensate some of the lost straightline speed whilst they still have the high rear downforce on the car

I am sure we're not going to see Red Bull cars amongst the slowest in the speed traps like last year
I'm glad to read that everybody acknowledges that this is done because Red Bull I winning. That being settled, it makes no sense of talking of a development race that was already won. Benefits from a given technology became marginal and, since competitors are free to copy, if the rules are kept other teams will narrow the gap, all else being the same. Ironically, according to tranquility 2k9, that developement race was won by Red Bull in 2011 and McLaren in 2012. So, so much for your theory. There is another team who clearly does not feel comfortable with releasing the downforce at mid-curve for whatever reason, clearly gave-up on trying and changed the rules to suit their car. And some people here are trying to make us believe that this is in the interest of the show...for those who want to see Ferrari win whatever I defenitelly think so. The good thing is that organizations that get a better treatment than their competitors (such as Ferrari with regulation and prize money for "historical reasons") tend to get slopy and waste resources. If the enviroment is competitive enough their advantages are leveled out by their own incompetence.

"So, so much for your theory".

Well, there is no need to be rude and I stand by my statements.

A few of the teams did catch up and most notably McLaren until the last part of 2012 when Red Bull made a leap ahead again with their extremely efficient double DRS and went back to the dominating form that they had enjoyed in 2012. Rather than bemoan the rule changes, could you tell me why you would prefer that DRS may be used for the entirety of qualifying, rather than in the restricted DRS zones used in the race, as has been agreed by the teams for next year?

What do you think would be better for next year if things stayed the same and how do you think the sport would benefit? I would like to see if you can convince me with some reasoning. It is entirely possible that you could.
I apologize if it sounded rude. It was not my intention. I have already placed my arguments upthere somewhere. In a nutshell it benefits the spectator.

As for RB highly dominating device (a couple of thents domination) the double DRS is out for next year and rightly so. Red Bull knew in advance it would not be legal. I believe that ban was decided at the beggining of the season. If so, it is not perfect but acceptable that it will not be allowed in 2013. So, RB made some gains on their system but going into 2013, McLaren is the one with most to loose from the change in rules.

Brogan, I fail to see why qualifying conditions have to be the same as race conditions. Qualifying is an entertainement on its own nowadays. If we want to duplicate race conditions shouldn't driver be allowed 60 odd laps? Or at least shouldn't they have a full tank? Wasn't that ridiculous? When they had to decide on fuel loads for qualifying? We want to see drivers on the limit on those laps, or not? Why is free use of DRS in qualy an anomally? Isn't that more demanding on the pilots? To go faster, they have an extra variable to manage, it is not like the car goes faster by itself.

On the other hand, to make your argument solid, why use DRS at all? It is not like they are going to overtake during a flying lap. Or are drivers going to be allowed to open their DRS on those places every single lap? It should either be banned at all or unrestricted, the middle way is ridiculous and it smells like a rat a mile away.

The Pits: I'm sure Extreme Ninja and Il_leone (what an absolutly fantastic name) did.
It is anomalous because despite all the fuel and tyre qualifying regulations that have been bandied around since 2003, never before has a permanent part of the car' s bodywork been regulated differently in qualifying and the race.

It did seem unfair that by mastering the DRS you got a competitive disadvantage because all having a good DRS guaranteed was that your car would be falling backward on Sundays. At least this way, qualifying results will be reasonably proportional to the potential of the cars in race trim rather than adding team's caught up in false positions due to a performance advantage they can't replicate.
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