FIA explore possibility of shortening DRS Zones in F1 for 2023 season

Leading people in F1 are considering whether or not to reduce the length of DRS zones at tracks in 2023 following concerns that they make overtaking “too easy”.

Introduced to improve passing in 2011, DRS (Drag Reduction System) is a flap that opens up on an F1 car’s rear wing. They are allowed to do this when within a second of the car ahead of them at select points on the circuit – typically straights.

With the DRS “open”, drivers get a 10-12 km/h speed advantage thanks to the reduced drag. Therefore, they may find overtaking a car easier with this effect in play.

In 2022’s case, the DRS system made passing other cars much easier. The new, overtaking-friendly technical regulations that came in last season also played a part, too.

Stats on passes prove that there was a significant increase. Pirelli said that there were 30% more overtakes in the 2022 season than in 2021 – a rise from 599 to 785. However, this has led to the FIA having reservations about the use of DRS in F1. They may now look at decreasing the size of DRS zones at circuits next season, per Autosport.

FIA single-seater technical director Nikolas Tombazis had this to say on the matter.

“In some races, we may well need to actually reduce DRS zones. We don’t want overtaking to be inevitable or actually easy,” he said, via Autosport. “It still has to be a fight. If it happens too quickly, if you just see a car approaching and then going by and disappearing… It’s actually worse than being at the back and fighting. We need to find the right balance there.”

Ross Brawn shared similar thoughts on the issue.

F1 managing director discusses drawbacks of DRS on racing

Clearly, ground effect aero and DRS have become too potent a combination in F1. So, Brawn has advised the FIA to look into limiting its effect.

“Fans don’t like the ‘go down the straight, pop the DRS, overtake, drive fast, pull a gap’ – all of that,” he said to “I think in an ideal world DRS is used to just get on the back of someone, so you can really have a decent attack.

“We shouldn’t be afraid to reduce the DRS in places like Monza. Because it does seem a bit ‘get on the back of them, press the button, overtake.’ It’s a bit ritualistic, isn’t it? It’s not very impressive. And  we should not be afraid to reduce the use of DRS where it’s clearly proving to be too powerful.”

But which tracks experienced the most overtakes in 2022?

The top overtaking tracks

Firstly, it must be said that overtaking statistics may vary. This is due to the fact that people’s definitions of an overtake can be different.

Nevertheless, stats from Scuderia state that the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix had the most passes in the first 18 races. The Sakhir international circuit saw drivers swap places a whopping 76 times.

Interestingly enough, though, Bahrain had three DRS zones in 2022 – compared to just two in 2021.

But r/formula 1 on Reddit says that Bahrain was not the highest throughout the whole of last season. Per a post on their page, both the USA and Abu Dhabi races saw more overtakes. The track in Austin, Texas, saw a season-high 85 passes. Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, was just behind with 79.

The FIA gave both these circuits two DRS zones. But they were on extremely long straights, thus effective passing spots.

For those wanting to know which driver made the most overtakes in 2022, look no further. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton reportedly takes home the accolade, with 56 passes.

Whether we get as many position changes in 2023 depends on what the FIA decide to do with DRS next year.

Featured image credit: Getty