Formula 1 Racing

F1 drivers blame shortened DRS zone for Baku procession · RaceFans

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Baku City Circuit, 2023

Formula 1 drivers questioned the decision to shorten the DRS zone on the main straight after struggling to overtake each other during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

The FIA announced at the beginning of the year it would review the configuration of the zones used at the first five rounds on the 2023 F1 calendar. It did so based on overtaking data it obtained last year, when it introduced new technical regulations devised by F1 aimed at making it easier for drivers to follow each other.

The DRS zone on the start-finish straight in Baku was shortened by 100 metres compared to last year. However following last weekend’s grand prix and sprint race several drivers said overtaking had been too difficult.

“They shortened the DRS this year down the straight,” said Lewis Hamilton. “I don’t quite know why they did that, we’ve always had great racing with where the DRS was. But by the time you switch the DRS, it was too late.”

Lando Norris said he found it “pretty much impossible to overtake” during the race. “Especially with our straight-line speed. It’s not helped by how much shorter the DRS is now compared to where it was last year.”

The decision to shorten the DRS zone was a point of discussion before the race began, said Norris. “All the drivers questioned it in the drivers’ briefing.”

Some drivers said overtaking has become more difficult in the second year since F1’s new aerodynamic regulations were introduced. “It certainly didn’t make any sense that they made it shorter, because the cars are harder to follow this year with the rule changes,” said Kevin Magnussen.

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“Also just the cars getting more complex and the involvement in aerodynamics is causing it to be harder to follow. So if anything, it should be the same or even longer.”

Logan Sargeant also believes F1 and the FIA should rethink the decision to shorten DRS zones.

“You can’t do much,” said the Williams drivers. “You get stuck behind the cars in front. It’s really difficult to overtake and get close enough. I just kind of had to settle in and just race my race – it was a pretty lonely one unfortunately.”

“For starters [they should], extend the DRS zones as they were last year. We’ve been making them shorter and shorter, 100 metres shorter this year compared to last year in Baku and just makes it too difficult to make a move at the end of the straight.”

Not everyone was convinced the change to the DRS…

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