If you’ve followed us on The Parc Fermé for very long, you’ll know we are not the biggest fans of DRS. Today’s news from Autosport was encouraging with regards to the new aerodynamic changes for 2022 and the impact of DRS.
According to McLaren’s technical director, James Key, the impact that DRS will have may be much less given the focus on crafting regulations that would allow cars to follow closer together in 2022.
“I think if the plans work, it will be less influential,” said Key. “I think it will still be necessary. Overtaking is really what these regs are based around, ultimately.
“But what you find is that it’s not just cars, it’s also circuit-led as well. F1 cars are so quick around tracks, there’s only a few opportunities where you can get some kind of differential in performance good enough to overtake.
“Obviously braking is the primary one, and that is where DRS helps. You look at some tracks, Spa maybe, where overtaking is possible in a number of places, and Bahrain is very similar. You do see it happening, it’s not like it’s impossible.
“I think what the new regs will encourage is closer racing at some of the more tricky tracks, so you take Silverstone or Suzuka, maybe Hungary even, where it’s difficult to follow, and if you can get that to work and you can close up, you can generally race in situ instead of having to wait for a straight.
“But the DRS will probably still play a role in making sure you can guarantee an overtake as it stands. Its authority would be less, I tend to agree with that.”
One of the interesting parts of the article is Key’s commentary around the regulation changes and how teams will focus on curing their aero deficiencies. Sure, they have lots of data on their current cars but much of that will not apply while other portions will. How will teams approach this change and apply the data they do have and fill in the gaps with data they do not have?
“There’s various types of knowledge,” he said. “Obviously, pure aerodynamic knowledge in terms of the details of how these things work, it’s not really relevant at all.
“But what you’re trying to achieve by using those devices that we have freedom on now is exactly what you want to achieve in ’22, you’ve just got to find different ways to do it.
“So the kind of understanding of how the ideal aero would work around the car, for example, which is easy to derive and very difficult to do, still stands for ’22.
“You’re going to have the same aerodynamic problems, the same limitations, probably very similar sensitivities that you have to deal with as well. So you’ve got to refresh your aerodynamic knowledge in that respect, but the knowledge you supply to it in terms of what you’re trying to achieve is actually quite similar to what we know now.
“It’s a case of adaption in terms of knowledge, what we’re trying to achieve, and it’s very much a fresh start in terms of aerodynamic knowledge of what does what.”
Encasing the aero limitation in the 2022 regulations will be essential and how teams react to claw back that loss of downforce will be where the black art of aerodynamics exist. James is no stranger to designing good cars with his history at Torro Rosso and now at McLaren.
Ultimately I would have been happier if DRS was removed altogether as I was hoping the new regulations would solve for the need of a construct such as DRS. I am not a fan of any construct that isn’t the same for everyone.
The trailing car has an advantage the leading car does not and while the Mercedes power unit has made that irrelevant, if the field was closer in power output, it would be a different story.
I was hoping that Ross Brawn would have found a way to eliminate DRS with the new regulations but much of the initial talk two years ago seems to have all been put through the compromise machine.