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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Melbourne's Double DRS zone misses a trick

Melbourne features two DRS zones this year, the first along the start finish straight and the second between Turns 2 & 3.  Turn 2 comes immediately after Turn 1, meaning that from the first DRS zone you take the turns and immediately find yourself in the second DRS zone.

My first thought on what is essentially a double DRS zone was that it was brilliant because it gives the driver who gets overtaken the chance to retake the position once he's lost it.

With the DRS zones arriving on the double you could lose your place but then open your DRS and look to retake it on the next straight (slight curve).

This is not to be.  Apparently there's only one DRS activation point, just before Turn 14, three turns before the start-finish straight.  This means that if you are the car behind and are within 1 second of the car ahead you will get two chances to overtake; should you manage it on the start finish straight your rival will not have DRS at his disposal come the second DRS zone, but will instead form a barrier between you and whoever is behind.

An interesting question which I have endeavoured, but failed, to answer successfully is whether a driver can open up the DRS in the second zone if he has already overtaken in the first.  Theoretically, he will have been given licence to open in both zones thanks to the fact there's only a single activation point.

It would not appear to have been addressed in any depth in the sporting regulations, other than to be controlled under the phrase "for the sole purpose of improving overtaking opportunities during the race".

So, to be pedantic, if you were within one second of the second placed driver, but four seconds behind first place you could take second place in the first DRS zone and use the DRS in the second zone to give yourself an opportunity to try to overtake first, thereby gaining an advantage over both the person you've just overtaken and the person ahead, neither of whom have recourse to the DRS. Interesting possibility.
Driver adjustable bodywork permitted by Article 3.18 of the F1 Technical Regulations:
a) During all free practice sessions and the qualifying practice session the adjustable bodywork may only be activated by the driver in the sections of track where it will be available for use during the race. In conditions of poor visibility however the race director may, at his absolute discretion, disable all such systems until conditions improve.
If the adjustable bodywork is disabled in this way at the start of any of the three periods of the qualifying practice session (Q1, Q2 or Q3) it will remain disabled for the remainder of the relevant period.
b) For the sole purpose of improving overtaking opportunities during the race the adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver after he has completed two laps after the race start or following a safety car period.
The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics (see Article 8.2 of the F1 Technical Regulations) that it is enabled. It will only be enabled if the driver is less than one second behind another at any of the pre-determined positions around each circuit. The system will be disabled by the control electronics the first time the driver uses the brakes after he has activated the system. In conditions of poor visibility, or if yellow flags are being shown in the activation zone, the race director may, at his absolute discretion, disable all such systems until conditions improve or yellow flags are withdrawn.
The FIA may, after consulting all competitors, adjust the above time proximity in order to ensure the stated purpose of the adjustable bodywork is met.
c) In the event of a failure in the system which notifies the driver that he was within one second of the car in front, and is hence authorised to use the adjustable bodywork, the team concerned may ask the race director for permission to override the system. If permission is given in this way the onus will be upon the team concerned to ensure that their driver only uses the adjustable bodywork if he is within one second of the car in front of him.
If the failure in the system is rectified the driver may no longer use this override, the race director will notify the team if and when the fault has been remedied.