Where would F1 be without the DRS system?
There is no question but that the vast majority of overtaking now relies on the Drag Reduction System zone to make a move stick. It is my belief that the very fact that the system is in use has reduced the competitive nature of the drivers themselves.
This may well be happening unbeknownst to them. How much easier is it when you're driving a better car to simply drive into the 1 second window and await the DRS deployment zone before dispatching the car in front. There's no real impetus to overtake anywhere else on the track - unless you are recovering from a bad grid position or a spin.
Have you noticed how much overtaking a driver in one of the front-running cars can do when he's racing through the field to get into the points? They overtake everywhere and get away with it because they catch the guy in front by surprise. Nobody overtakes around the outside of the 130R! Nobody dares to overtake going into Eau Rouge! Who would overtake you in the twiddly section of Hockenheim? Nobody, that's who!
...if he started at the back of the grid and he's trying to chase down the top 6 cars you notice that the driver's racing abilities somehow come back to him; he chases, he feints, he brakes late, accelerates early, takes different lines through the corners, and...He Passes! And then he goes haring down the road looking for the next victim and does it all over again!
The more I think of it DRS is limiting F1 drivers because it is serving as a replacement to overtaking rather than as a aide to overtaking. It limits their natural racing instincts by providing a substitute which removes their natural desire to muscle their way past the guy in front.
I thought this was illustrated perfectly, once again, in Barcelona (a circuit on which it has always been difficult to overtake) when Lewis, having come out of the pits behind Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari was told on the radio that he'd have to pass him on the track:
Lewis Hamilton's race engineer: "We're going to have to this [overtake Vettel] on track, mate." Hamilton: "I can assure you that's pretty much impossible to do, so you're going to have to come up with another plan."
It turned out that they did come up with another way to get out ahead of Sebastian, but Lewis had simply stated the truth, there was no way he would be able to overtake the Ferrari ahead of him on the track!
It was a confession that copperfastenes my belief that the sport has lost its way and is now over-reliant on gimmicks to maintain its appeal. It is the equivalent of putting sticky tape over a crack - it doesn't fix the crack, it just means you can't see it anymore. Well, unless F1 exposes the cracks and tries to fix them the whole house is going to come down on their heads.
Its time to focus the sport on speed, agility and ingenuity. Its time to tear up the rulebook and give the designers and engineers carte blanche to produce cars that can live up to the title "The Pinnacle of Motorsport".
By way of an addendum, I note that the drivers are launching a fan based discussion on social media over the Monaco Weekend on how F1 could be improved. I look forward with interest to seeing how that will be presented and how much traction it will have with the FIA, the team owners, and the sport's governing body.