Formula 1 DRS: How It Works

Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport, where speed, skill and strategy are pushed to the limit. But what if you could go even faster, with a simple push of a button – enter DRS F1?

That’s the power of DRS, or Drag Reduction System, a device that can boost your speed by up to 12 km/h on the straights and give you an edge over your rivals.

But how does DRS work, and what are its benefits and drawbacks? In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about DRS, from its history and development to its future and controversy.

You will discover how DRS has changed the face of Formula 1 racing, and why it is one of the most innovative and influential features of the sport. Read on to find out more about DRS, the ultimate overtaking aid in Formula 1.

What Is DRS In F1?

Formula 1 DRS: How It Works and Why It Matters

One of the key factors that affects the performance of the cars is the aerodynamic drag, which is the resistance that the air exerts on the moving vehicle. Drag reduces the top speed and acceleration of the car, and also increases the fuel consumption.

To overcome this problem, Formula 1 introduced a device called the Drag Reduction System (DRS F1) in 2011.

DRS is a flap on the rear wing of the F1 car that can be opened and closed by the driver to reduce or increase the drag effect.

By opening the flap, the driver can gain more speed on the straights and have a better chance of overtaking the car in front. By closing the flap, the driver can restore the downforce and stability of the car in the corners.

History of DRS In F1

Manually operated F1 wings

The idea of using a movable rear wing to adjust the drag level of a racing car is not new. In fact, it dates back to the 1960s, when some cars experimented with manually operated wings that could be tilted by the driver.

However, these wings proved to be dangerous and unreliable, and were soon banned by the regulations.

In 2009, Formula 1 introduced another device called the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). This allowed drivers to store and release electrical energy from braking to boost their speed.

KERS was intended to improve overtaking, but it had limited effect and was not widely adopted by all teams.

In 2010, Formula 1 faced a problem of lack of overtaking and exciting racing. It was partly due to the aerodynamic design of the cars. This made it difficult for them to follow each other closely.

To address this issue, Formula 1 decided to introduce DRS as a new overtaking aid for 2011.

Adoption and Development of DRS In F1

2011 Australian Grand Prix

DRS F1 was first used in the 2011 Australian Grand Prix. It was initially met with mixed reactions from drivers, teams and fans.

Some praised it for creating more overtaking opportunities and making races more exciting. Others criticized it for being artificial and unfair.

The rules for using DRS have been tweaked over the years to balance its effectiveness and safety. The main rules are:

  • DRS can only be used in designated zones on each track, which are marked by detection and activation points.
  • DRS can only be activated when a driver is within one second of another car at the detection point.
  • DRS can only be used during a race, not during qualifying or practice sessions.
  • DRS is automatically deactivated when a driver brakes or lifts off the throttle.

The FIA monitors and adjusts the length and location of the DRS zones for each race. They depend on factors such as track layout, weather conditions and safety concerns.

According to Formula 1’s official website, DRS has increased overtaking by an average of 35% per race since its introduction.

Teams Behind DRS

DRS is a standardized system that is supplied by Formula 1’s technical partner McLaren Applied Technologies. However, each team has some freedom to design their own rear wing and DRS mechanism within certain parameters.

Some teams have been more innovative than others in developing their DRS systems over the years. For example:

Mercedes introduced a double-DRS system in 2012
  • Mercedes introduced a double-DRS system in 2012. It linked the rear wing flap with a duct in the front wing that also reduced drag when DRS was activated.
  • Lotus developed a passive-DRS system in 2013, which aimed to open and close the rear wing flap automatically. It was based on speed and airflow, without requiring driver input.
  • Ferrari experimented with a drag reduction device (DRD) in 2013. It used a periscope-like structure on top of the engine cover. This channeled air to the rear wing and reduce drag when DRS was activated.

However, none of these systems proved to be consistently effective or reliable. They were eventually abandoned or banned by the regulations.

Future of DRS

DRS remains in Formula 1 for at least another season, as part of the new technical regulations that came into force in 2022.

The new rules aimed to make the cars more aerodynamically efficient and less sensitive to turbulent air. This was intended to allow them to race closer together and overtake more naturally.

However, Formula 1’s sporting boss Ross Brawn has stated that he hopes to phase out DRS in the future. This will be done when the new cars prove to be capable of producing exciting racing without it.

DRS has been a controversial but influential feature of Formula 1 for the past decade. It has helped to create more overtaking and spectacle, but it has also raised questions about the purity and fairness of the sport. Whether it will stay or go, DRS has certainly left its mark on the history of Formula 1.


What Is DRS