Are tyres and DRS ruining ‘real’ racing?

A quick circumnavigation of the World Wide Web this morning leads us to the conclusion that F1 fans are a tricky bunch to keep happy. Do you Sunday Afternooners also believe yesterday’s Canadian Grand Prix was somehow a bit… phoney? That, far from making the race, the tyres and the DRS actually spoiled it? There are many out there that do, believe us.

They must have short memories. Before DRS there was no certainty whatsoever that a faster car could pass a slower car. All the races were like those last few laps at Monaco a fortnight ago; it didn’t matter how close a car was to the car in front, getting by was another thing altogether. And it was dull. And frustrating. And we didn’t like and complained.

Now, with DRS there is every certainty that a car will get by, even if it is only marginally faster. And when the margin is tight, there is every certainty the move will be reversed next time around. Lewis Hamilton didn’t disappear over the horizon once he’d passed Vettel and Alonso because of DRS, but because his car was faster. Isn’t that how it should be?

Certainly, his car was faster because Lewis and McLaren had put in the hours and worked out exactly how fast Lewis needed to be on every lap in and around his two pit stops, just as Red Bull and Ferrari had put in the hours (only McLaren did its sums better and Lewis was on fire yesterday). Yesterday, McLaren did the best job for Lewis; they worked for that win. Every team has the same opportunities when it sets out to engineer a car to race on 20 different circuits, hence the freaky statistic of seven different winners (five different chassis’) in seven races.

What has changed this year is that the rules have been so effectively developed that the margin between getting it right and getting it not-quite-so-right is infinitesimal. It’s why practice and indeed qualifying this year regularly sees ten or more cars divided by fractions of a second. And that’s why after 70 laps Hamilton’s margin was less than 2.6secs over Romain Grosjean who raced to a different strategy in a car we can only assume was developed on a significantly smaller budget. Do the maths: 2.513secs divided by 70. That’s the difference between winning and not winning. And that’s got to be a good thing.

Strategy and tactics, whether planned or responsive, are part of F1. As they are in every form of motorsport, and none more so than the sport F1 snobs love to deride for it’s apparent lack of sophistication: NASCAR. We’re minded to say that if all you want is to witness an expression of pure speed then it’s the LSR that you need. But then again the need to repeat the run inside a specified time frame is an engineering constraint. And as much as we’d like to see LSR cars racing, we fear it might prove a little risky.

So relax and enjoy F1 for what it is; a heady mix of rocket-grade technology mixed with the all the failings and frailty of the human condition. There is nothing like it, and after two hours on the edge of the Sunday Afternoon Sofa yesterday we would not want to change it one little bit.

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I think the tyres are an extra challenge that doesn’t detract much from the racing. The DRS, however, in its current form, did. We could have seen many good battles for position instead of DRS-passes.

This isn’t a circuit where overtaking is that difficult, and the position on the DRS detection just made no sense at all, as we saw many times during the race. A driver that was passed beautifully and cleanly in the hairpin before the DRS detection always regained the position in the straight.

I don’t think DRS should be “banned”, however, but the rules on it do need revision. Why not make DRS use free in the race, as it is in qualifying?

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I think Perez’ excellent pass on Rosberg more than proves that DRS really isn’t the only thing that can make one car go past another, and that driver skill still matters.

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I think each driver should be given say 15 seconds of DRS usage per race and have it as an additional pawn in strategy making. The idea of DRS being “enabled” and “disabled” from outside the car does make it a little unappealing. However, I for one love the fact that we see overtaking in F1 now.

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I think a non-artificial ‘push-to-pass’ button will eventually replace DRS. In the turbo days, you could turn the wick up to blaze past another car whenever you like, but you risked a) Engine detonation in a spectacular and amusing way and b) Buggered your fuel economy – so it couldn’t be used all the time. Having a system such as that that isn’t as stupidly regulated as DRS will help. Seeing as Macca can’t / won’t deliver such a system on their F1-wide ECU (and presuming fuel map changes aren’t quite as impressive compared to old-school boost changes), it hopefully will be a feature of the next-gen turbo engines. Tyres have been a difficult area in F1 for years – from Bridgestones’ Ferrari-only spec through to today’s cliff-edged Pirelli’s. Personally I’d offer two compounds – one that lasts 125% of a race so it can be utterly abused with impunity and one that lasts say 30% of a race, but is substantially quicker. No mandatory pit stops and refuelling is allowed. This opens up the strategy enormously without adding artificial gubbins such as mandatory stops. F1 was at its best when the regs were looser than today, moving back to that freedom would be fantastic.

Oh and last thing, Stop Bernie chasing the $$ and secure the future of the best spectator tracks such as Spa, Silverstone, Canada (yesterday notwithstanding), Suzuka and Monza. Valencia, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi should all just go!

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One more thing: “Do the maths: 2.513secs divided by 70. That’s the difference between winning and not winning. And that’s got to be a good thing.” – That is flawed logic. no doubt Himilton was doing what Vettle has been so utterly superb at over the last year or so and was only going ‘fast enough’. Tyre fear / management means that once out of DRS range, even in the closing laps there is no reason to keep going flat out. Your 2.5 second split is meaningless as it has no reflection on how far it could have been.

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what a bunch of mclaren/british-biased nonsense….

why aren’t you so protective of the winners when they aren’t british, bloody hell, if that was alonso’s or vetel’s victory you would have been going on and on about how the rules did this and that and how poor little hamilton did a superb job but just was out of luck and/or got bashed by the racing stewards

i doubt you’ll read this, but please – try to be more non-biased when the winner of a grand prix is your very own Prince Lewis…. and give credit every time to every winner, not just the ones you like – that’s poor and unethical!

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I don’t think it is; everyone can use DRS, but always has to be in 1 second of other person. Yes, it is a bit unfair if the DRS is already used, but everyone has it, and for tyres, they are still OK

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agree with hmmm

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The race was absolutely phoney. DRS should always be “open” or the regs should go back to unlimited aero packages. Also, we desperately need to sack Pirelli and go back to Bridgestone’s. Or, hell, even Michelin’s…

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i believe alonso would have won the race has ferrari pitted 1 lap after hamilton. anotha note……massa drove well but messed his chances of a podium and did not back alonso

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I was there

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These comments about DRS should be free for us all the time… No its shouldnt! It would make the use of DRS completely pointless like they found out with KERS before DRS was introduced. Before DRS whenever a driver used KERS to overtake the defender would use KERS to block it making it pointless. If everyone has free DRS we would be back to no overtaking as a defence would just use DRS to counter the speed advantage. Leave it as it is, this season has been the most entertaining for years.

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The tyres are not the problem, it the hole
in the floor blowing extra air at the brakes
causing more downforce.

Both DRS and the tryes, have added to
the show.
it made the drivers, think more and stragety
guy like Ross Brawn are worth there weight
in gold.

You can use DRS, to defend as well
as overtake.
Fernado Alonso showed, that if the
team get the call wrong about the
tyres major points can be losed.

Alonso did well, to get fifth on
the race plan Ferrari had.
shame, as it rob us off a great
race between Alonso and Hamilton.

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hamilton did a brilliant job to day, just people cant stand it like when therye precious little vettel doesnt sodding win,it was strategy and that was what top gear were pointing out you mindless person,i bet u didnt even read what they frickin said. vettel and his weird fanboys need to learn that they cant win every flaming race.its like u want the race to be boring with your darling vettel miles out in the lead,so because that isnt happening theres action everywhere not just at the flipping back.just go back to wucf and stop complaining because u hate him and u hate people who like hamilton.

button still having no luck ay,oh well,he’ll have it come back to him.bad call from ferrari,a bit late from red bull.perez on the podium again,shows how well the sauber looks after its tyres,same with grosjean.schumacher still with only two points still 18th in the drivers,not good for him

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Thirty years ago drivers didn’t need DRS to pass. Thirty years ago they just let the DFV sing and did it sideways. And then the guy behind them did it again. And then this repeated for the whole damn race.

Twenty years ago they just let the turbos scream. Same effect. And then when they were banned the V12s handled the sideways shenanigans.

Modern F1 cars are so dependent on Aero, however, that you just can’t do that. They either grip or they’re in the ditch. There’s no powersliding. There’s no room for the drivers to try anything. And if they try anyway? Well they just screwed their waaaaaay too sticky tires over, gotta pit to get new ones.

If I’m perfectly honest I’d like to see the engine and aero rules rolled back 20 or 30 years. Put the cars back into an era where they looked awesome and it was possible to use driver’s skill to pass someone without destroying your tires.

Also, get this green crap out of Formula 1. This isn’t a motor show, this is a motor race, we’re focused on going fast not saving the penguins. Screw the penguins, they don’t have V8s.

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good point,nearly every corner on silverstone you could drift on if you had a clarkson and an AMG tuned merc.but because there is like two tonnes of downforce they cant do anything but stick and go

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I think it is at the best possible for our community, yet they had to learn a bit n adjusting as habit, I got a little bit silly idea, that the tyre manufacturer should be back in to two brand, with primary brand and option brand, so if the team find it is better to use option option maybe they can buy it with point, such as to minimize overlapped car, or like Q1 contender scoring

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