Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Singapore, 2015

Hamilton wants closer, more “natural” racing instead of DRS

2015 United States Grand Prix

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Formula One’s Drag Reduction System has left Lewis Hamilton yearning for closer and more “natural” racing.

Speaking in Friday’s FIA press conference at the Circuit of the Americas, Hamilton admitted that “with the DRS, it doesn’t feel organic, like natural racing.”

He won last year’s United States Grand Prix after passing team mate Nico Rosberg for the lead using DRS. It was one of 22 DRS overtakes in the race, whereas 13 passes were made without it.

Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Circuit of the Americas, 2014
Hamilton used DRS to win 12 months ago
Hamilton voiced support for a planned overhaul of the technical rules for 2017, despite admitting he has “not really looked at the changes they’re proposing.”

“Whatever changes they make, I want to see closer racing,” said Hamilton. “Wheel to wheel racing. It needs to be like go-karting was. Go-karting, wheel to wheel and those guys following the train overtaking.”

“We need to make Formula One a bit more like that. Somehow. I don’t know how they’re going to do it. It needs to be a lot different to what it was in the last 20 years.”

However Hamilton doubts F1 would enjoy much success in overhauled its aerodynamic rules to help cars runs together more closely. Asked whether F1 should ‘re-vamp’ its aero rules to place more of an emphasis on underbody downforce generation instead of wings, he said “I don’t think that’s possible.”

“You get turbulence behind a plane, it’s the same thing, you get turbulence behind a car,” he said. “All these vortices that are bouncing off the car, whichever rule they change, to keep downforce, it’s always going to be like that.”

“You need to do something where when you get in close to another car… the cars always have to have the same amount of downforce however close you get. I don’t know how you achieve that. That’d be kind of neat.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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73 comments on “Hamilton wants closer, more “natural” racing instead of DRS”

  1. Amen Ham-Bro. I hope FIA was paying attention.

  2. My four point plan for a better F1:

    1) More support for the smaller teams
    2) More mechanical grip
    3) Less aerodynamic grip
    4) Less Bernie

    Simple as…

    1. 5) Less Redbullying

      1. Haha. Well said.

    2. 2 and 3 wont happen because it will mean slower cars. Formula 1’s selling point is that they are the quickest race cars in the world.

      4 will happen eventually, but could it be taken over by someone worse? be careful what you wish for :]

      1. No it couldn’t be taken over by someone worse. It could only be equally as bad.

        1. I hear Sepp Blatter’s looking for a job …

    3. or you could say: back to the seventies! (with added safety)

      1. Please no.

  3. Well he’s right…. a few years late admittedly…. but right!

  4. Yesss, would be great if they got rid of the abomination that is DRS, i hated it from day 1. I do love a nice overtake, but not these forced ones.

  5. They should keep DRS, just eliminate the rule where you need to be within one second and in the DRS zone. Either way it is marvelous piece of technology that increases top speed massively on some tracks and that is reason enough to keep it, obviously not in the way it is used right now.

    1. @xtwl but how would you stop the car in front using it all the time too?

      1. @lockup You don’t. Back when there was no DRS you didn’t have a little switch to give the car in front of you less power either? Why does one car have to be at a disadvantage, that is the entire point of DRS and is assisted/artifical overtakes which people don’t like. Just give everyone DRS all the time. The interesting bit would be that braking no longer automatically shuts DRS.

        1. @xtwl, That makes no sense at all again. The whole reason for adding DRS is because the following car is at a huge DISadvantage. DRS is specifically designed to level the playing field. Not to give an advantage to the following car.

          1. I think they just need to recalibrate the DRS. It shouldn’t give the exactly same amount of advantage on every track. Other than that I understand why it is necessary.

        2. Know what @xtwl, I fully agree. DRS should be open to use as much as a driver dares using it. It worked nicely in qualifying when they were still allowed to use it freely. I don’t buy the “it’s to scary/dangerous” story: it’s under the drivers own control, exactly like the throttle pedal. I do think braking should initiate DRS-shutdown for safety reasons though.

          1. @me4me careful what you wish for ; If DRS was used whenever a driver wanted it the designers would make wings that generated massive downforce and therefor massive turbulence when DRS was not activated, and that would make close racing even more unlikely.

        3. ColdFly F1 (@)
          23rd October 2015, 11:24

          Good point @xtwl. F1 should be all about technology, and DRS is one.

          I also like the ‘all the time’ bit; that will separate the men from the boys (Eau Rouge flat out with DRS).

          And DRS is not the problem; it’s at best a medicine with side effects.
          The problem is the dirty air cars are creating. F1 should (hopefully ‘will’ from 2017) allow cars to develop downforce and grip (i.e. speed) without creating ‘dirty air’ (thus increase close racing).

        4. maarten.f1 (@)
          23rd October 2015, 11:36

          @xtwl DRS is supposed to simulate a slip stream, like they had back in the old days. That’s why the car behind has it, and the car in front doesn’t.

          The idea is that with DRS you should be able to get in close, and to set you up for an overtake (you’d still need to do it yourself). But it shouldn’t be the overtake itself, as it often is now.

          1. @maarten-f1 The DRS passes people complain about are your typical highway passes, for example Mark Webber his overtake on Lewis Hamilton in 2013 COTA at the end of the straight was also assisted by DRS but was a brilliant overtake nonetheless. Vettel his move on Kimi in Sochi was also assisted by DRS.

            If everyone had DRS I believe we’d go back to more normal slip streaming where your exit of the corner matters and meanwhile make the braking phase much more important in the overtake itself because that’s where the overtake will have to happen.

          2. @xtwl, No that is just not how it works. If both cars have DRS then nothing happens and the lead car still has a huge advantage over the following one.

        5. Well I dunno @xtwl. It’s just movable aero then, so why limit it to DRS? At least we can see the tactic being used I guess, unlike ERS at the moment, but then it doesn’t fix the problem of following through a corner, as @patrickl says, it just reduces laptime globally.

          It won’t make it any more exciting, because they drive on the limit anyway, wherever the limit is. Movable aero will mean more downforce through corners, more grip, less drag on the straights, higher speeds, less passing.

          If they’re going to look at aero, I’d rather they got to grips with the close-following issue, that they accidentally forgot about when they raised the front wing for safety.

          1. @lockup I’m not saying this is a solution to the entire overtaking problem, however it would be to the entire ‘I hate DRS-highway-passes’ problem that drives people away from the sport. And as written above I honestly believe it would aid the show too.

          2. Hmmm @xtwl, seems to me having in effect less rear wing will give less slipstream. Istr Indy had a barn door of a rear wing at one time to help slipstreaming and it was actually too effective.

            I don’t know if DRS really drives people away. There are always people complaining it makes it too easy after races where lots of faster cars were completely unable to overtake at all. It is a kludge, but it does compensate. Before they neutralise it they need to fix the close-following issue IMO.

          3. The “highway” passes are because of other reasons. Look at when they happen and you will notice that the lead car is on much older tyres, a different compound or the front wing was broken off.

            It’s not DRS that makes it a an easy drive by.

        6. What about an aerodynamic brake? It is basically inverted DRS and easier for a driver to use

    2. DRS is good for one thing, and that’s not to ruin a faster drivers race because he can’t pass for aero reasons.

      But a tweak might be good, as in allowing x-times drs use in a race.. so play with it how you want.
      To attack, to defend. It’s up to u to use it how you want, where you want.

      1. ColdFly F1 (@)
        23rd October 2015, 12:16

        allowing x-times drs use in a race

        I don’t like that part at all! Too artificial/gimmicky!
        Next somebody comes up with an idea to let fans vote to give their favourite driver an extra advantage.

    3. @xtwl Keep DRS but limit it’s deployment to 3 times per race, for attack AND defence.

      3 times I think would make it so valuable that a driver will only deploy it when there’s nothing left to use. Once they’re consumed, that’s it. Leader could only defend against 3 separate attacks (not necessarily from the same driver.)

    4. @xtwl – not sure if keeping DRS is the right call or not but I get what you mean – why ban technology for the sake of it?

      The fact is, removing DRS without a bunch of other changes to allow cars to follow more closely would be a disaster. People only look at the negatives but even when a pass is made outside of the DRS area, it’s DRS that allowed them to keep close enough to get the move done in the first place! Above, it references that at the USGP last year, 22 overtakes were with DRS and 13 were without. I would love to know how many of those 13 would have taken place if the cars didn’t have DRS.

      Following cars closely has always been a problem – before DRS we saw cars catching other at over a second a lap but once they got to 1s behind, they couldn’t do anything. There is nothing to suggest that these issues have been addressed as the sport now relies on DRS instead so simply removing it alone would only replace one major problem with another.

      1. Following cars closely has always been a problem – before DRS we saw cars catching other at over a second a lap but once they got to 1s behind, they couldn’t do anything.

        That is exactly right! Listen to the team radio and one of the regular topics of discussion between a driver and their engineer is allowing a team mate to pass them. Faster cars get held up by slower cars. We have Blue Flags to tell the driver of a lapped car to move out of the way, there is someone “ahead” of them behind them. We don’t hear Hamilton wishing they didn’t have Blue Flags, and the reason is simple: he is the one who benefits from these the most (at least for the last two years anyway).
        Before DRS there would be long queues behind a car that was driving sufficiently fast to make overtaking very very difficult, but not fast enough to catch the race leaders, meaning that as the race progressed it would become more and more difficult for other drivers who had equally fast cars as the race leader to catch them. DRS allows those drivers to at least have more chance of trying to catch the race leader.
        If DRS simply allowed cars to pass when the cars are more or less equal and a pass wasn’t warranted, then how come you don’t see drivers constantly “leap frogging” each other? By that I mean on lap 10 car A over takes car B, then on lap 11 car B over takes Car A, then on lap 12 Car A over takes Car B again, etc. We might see it occasionally, but the usual sequence is Car A over takes Car B, and then Car A drives off into the sunset, leaving the driver of Car B moaning to their engineer about the lack of horsepower or how old their tyres are.
        DRS is simply a method of allowing a faster car to pass a slower one, just like being able to use full throttle and MGU-H is allowed to be used when passing a car. If the car behind wasn’t actually lapping faster then the one in front then the two cars would end up leap frogging each other. We don’t see that happening, so DRS is working.

        1. DRS is at the moment only trying to cover up the issue that there is too much reliance on the wings especially the front. If the cars would generate more mechanical grip (better tires) or grip with the underbody, they could finally race without the need of gimmicks. I do on the otherhand like the idea of DRS. If every driver can use it whenever we will see more drivers being able to get an advantage for taking higher risks (which is what real racing is all about), by maybe opening up their drs at the exit of a corner.

  6. Drivers, play it a la Red Bull, with a threat to quit F1 if the governing body doesn’t remove DRS…

    The thing with DRS is that it spurs drivers to wait until that particular DRS zone to overtake. So they won’t even try a move 2-3 corners before, they’ll wait, waiting for an easy move.

    1. Yeah, because in races without DRS they don’t wait for the straight to overtake.

      The only reason drivers are able to overtake on other parts of the circuit is when they are 3 seconds per lap faster than the car they are trying to overtake (old tyres vs new or different compounds). If the lap times are remotely similar they aren’t able to overtake even on the straight and with DRS.

      1. Yeap. They would probably need to find another racing line or something, or wait for the driver ahead to make mistake.

        1. No, overtakes still happen mostly at the end of the straight.

  7. I hope the FIA take heed of him, that’s all I have to say. I didn’t mind it in video games, but I absolutely hate it in real life racing.

  8. Hamilton is one of the few drivers in F1 that can overtake without DRS. So it’s understandable he wants to see it go away.

    I doubt that’s possible though. Or at least without reverting to the years when the “aero wars” peaked and as a result there was virtually no overtaking at all (95 till 2009).

    They tried all kinds of things to make overtaking possible with reasonable lap-time differences and nothing worked. At best it works in the first season after the change and then it’s rapidly “developed away” again.

    Even with DRS and the new aero regulations, the aero dependence is growing again and as a result number of overtakes is plummeting again (ie halved over the last few years).

    Ground effect seems the last thing that hasn’t been tried yet and people have high hopes, but people had high hopes for all changes that were tried as well.

    The only real way to get rid of aero dependence is to put a limit on downforce. I doubt that would be welcomed, but since the cars are now driving on eggshell tyres why not rip away the aero too?

    1. @patrickl

      Hamilton is one of the few drivers in F1 that can overtake without DRS.

      What drivers on the grid are incapable of overtaking without DRS?

      1. Most wouldn’t. or at least not unless there are huge lap time difference between the cars already.

        Only a few truly master in the art of overtaking. Like Verstappen, Alonso, Ricciardo and Hamilton. Or back in the days people like Senna and Schumacher.

        1. Hilarious.

          It’s easy for LH to pass when he’s been up to a second faster PER LAP than anyone else for years.

          1. I guess people love repeating the same old cliches. No one bothers to look at the data that will easily disprove them. Or try to watch the races with a little bit more objectivity.

          2. For years really? Pfft.

            Even “all those years”, Hamilton has overtaken Rosberg plenty of times both in the same machinery. How many times has Rosberg overtaken Hamilton?

          3. Want to see some overtaking? No DRS, no car advantage. Simple GP2 cars carving through the field:

          4. @patrickl
            GP2 doesn’t mean anything. Rosberg looked like a driving king in 2005 (sprint race, 8th to 1st).

            Also, I’m pretty sure that the likes of Vettel and Rosberg were around before 2011, and they made plenty of overtakes without DRS or even a huge car advantage

            Oh btw, do you remember Korea 2010 by any chance?

          5. Well you can clearly see the difference between the “do or die” overtakes that are Rosberg’s signature move and the way Hamilton can overtake all around the circuit.

            Korea 2010 showed the only overtake Rosberg managed on Hamilton (after a safety car restart)? Is that your point? Pretty much proves mine doesn’t it?

        2. I remember the last time Lewis make passes on a car that is not 1.5 seconds faster per lap w/o DRS is when he was banging Massa Ferrari and ended up either with a broken wing or a total retirement…

          Now that’s the master of passing…

          Remember last year when Alonso and Vettel made multiple passes in Silverstone… That is the REAL champions passes.

          1. Then perhaps you should watch his overtake of Kimi in I seem to recall Spa before DRS, tyre compound differences and in an era of maximum aero assistance… Some can and some can’t – it’s a fact of racing life and always has been.

            The issue is simple – some are racers, some are drivers and fans moaning they want to see more overtaking (cos their fav guy/team are drivers) have driven the sport to a point where you actually cannot trust very many overtakes at all. Yet it’s what you mostly wanted.

            An example – the applauds handed out to DR or MV for overtakes in the last couple of seasons say for DR in Hungary 2014. Yes they were good and the guy is a racer but they were assisted by miles by a tyre compound advantage. So have a number of MV’s recent ‘stunning’ ones.

            That’s not really a fair comparison but for the ‘yuf😛 It seems just fine.

            I am surely not alone in thinking DRS is actually the most tragic invention in F1 history other than thermally degrading tyres?

            If so – well, I am stunned. Get out there and race a bit.

          2. Actually it was Monza – apologies..

          3. Hamilton had lots of comings together with Massa in 2011, that was his worst year in racing. However, he is one of the greatest over-takers in the history of the sport. In karting, he was astonishing, in F3, for just one example, he overtook Sutil around the outside of Eau Rouge in the wet, in GP2 2006 his overtakes were legendary, including the entire field aside from the leader in Turkey.

            All of the above were done without any car advantage. It is easy to forget that now, as he is cleaning up in the best car. But funny how some folk’s memories are so short, or to be fair they could of course just be new to motorsport.

          4. That race in Silverstone where Vettel was in a much quicker car and was caught napping by Alonso after a pitstop and they took 3 laps to get the place back? Come on. That was embarassing for Vettel if anything. Sure it was close racing, but it was all down to Alonso’s great defending against a much faster car.

          5. @patrickl Threelaps? Seriously? Talking about overstating things.

            Wanna see bad passing abbilities? Abu Dhabi 2010, Alonso half a race against Petrov, one of the worst drivers of the past decade. Add the fact that he lost the championship because of that and you have a true “embarrassing” moment.

        3. You must be watching a different sport to the rest of us. Or perhaps you’re just being selective with your powers of recall to try and make a point (and failing to do so).

          I wonder how some of the drivers got into the highest echelon of motor racing if they apparently can’t overtake. Supposedly this includes four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button (who won probably one of the best races of recent years despite being 16th at one point). Frauds, the lot of them. Someone should make a complaint to the EU about these losers.

          1. Jenson Button who won probably one of the best races of recent years despite being 16th at one point

            This really has to me the worst argument to support a drivers ability to overtake. Please watch the race again, and it will be apparent why Jenson, who was actually last at one point, won the race. Then watch Lewis at Silverstone 2008 or his GP2 demolition at Turkey 2006. Then comment again.

  9. It was officially cool to hate on DRS when it cost Schumi a podium at Canada 2011.

    1. He only got that high up because he had much more downforce on his car than the other guys and it helped him massively when the track was wet. In the end it got dry and his rain setup didn’t work anymore so he lost a few places.

      That’s the only true problem with DRS. People blame DRS for completely unrelated things. DRS is an equalizer. It does not give an advantage to the driver behind. If they simply drive past the car in front they would do exactly that if there was a magical cure for the loss of downforce on the following car that Hamilton is hoping will be found. Or for that matter often even without that.

  10. Allow active aero. Set a limit on the downforce, allow active aero to achieve it. The following car can adjust to keep downforce at the level.

    I think it is possible. Just like they monitor flow rate. I’m not going to propose the technical solution because I don’t know the cars that well, but it would be worth trying. Especially in f1, where technology is part of the show.

  11. I agree that DRS, as implemented, is too much of a gimmick. I have said as much from day 1.

    It is not DRS, though, which is the problem. DRS is a neat little technical feature. The rules governing it’s use are the gimmick.

    In order to increase overtaking, you need to reduce the effect of the wake/turbulence on the following car. The main place where this affects them is on the twisty bits, rather than the straights. It stops a car from following as closely, whether because they have too little grip to go fast enough or because they will destroy their tyres.

    Two areas not affected by this are mechanical grip and ground effect. So, reduce the effect of over-the-top aero (simpler front wing, smaller and simpler rear wing, simplified upper bodywork), increase mechanical grip and allow shaped floors to exploit ground effect. Job done.

    To be honest, though, there is one tweak they could make to the current DRS rules which would make it more exciting: As soon as your front wing passes the rear of the car in front, it must be closed. You get the “boost” from it to close the gap, but have to do the passing on your own.

  12. Says the driver who wants a different weekend format. I understand the need for DRS, but I would never except a weekend format with multiple races and reverse grids or any other gimmick really.
    I guess he too got bored of Mercedes dominance.

    1. Also the driver who thinks dry races are more exciting for fans to watch than wet races.

  13. GP2 seems to have worked how to have the cars run nose to tail so it’s possible.

    1. @velocityboy Wasnt GP2 already ruined by DRS?

      1. Yes, but I believe they added it so the drivers moving up would be accustomed to using it, not because there was a lack of overtaking.

    2. @velocityboy That solution is called “spec cars”. No aero development allowed at all.

  14. DRS highway passes are easy to fix! Still the idea to reduce the disadvantage of following can be mitigated. Here’s how I think it can be done:

    Move the DRS zone to the very beginning of the straigths and limit the DRS in length (a few hundred meters).

    That way the following car can get a little closer at the beginning of the straight. The rest has do be achieved by slipstreaming and classical overtaking. No more highway passes with 20+ kph difference due to DRS!

    1. You have a point – on some tracks where it’s possible and the FIA do try to do this.

      How does it help though when someone has different tyres or is trying not to heat them up through ‘racing’ because that would ruin the strategy.

      No as ever, the rubber is the biggest issue. Remove thermally degrading tyres and we may see people push more or even attempt to race.

      Looks like a long wait

      1. and the FIA do try to do this

        I’ve never seen a DRS zone at the beginning of a straight which stops around the middle. It always goes until the very end which is why we often see highway passes.

        The idea of placing the DRS zone at the beginning of the straight would be to offset the disadvantages the following car had during the corner where it couldn’t follow too closely. Giving DRS there would improve acceleration a bit (typically in the kph range of roughly 180-280). However slipstreaming and positioning technique would be very important again, since after the DRS has closed midway through the straight the speed differential wouldn’t be great.

        The tyres are a different area of concern, I agree with you.

    2. @doublehelix Take it a step further: The FIA could use the telemetry to determine when a car is just 1 or 2 meters behind, then at that point switch off the DRS.
      This would ensure that every circuit has the “ideal” DRS effect and in theory the cars would always be side by side through the corner.

      Surely if you and I can come up with these ideas that clearly improve DRS use, the so-called experts that run F1 can do it also right? At this point after 4 years with the same system I have serious doubts.

  15. 1. Get rid of the stupid over-complicated front wings. The FIA should mandate a standard design if required. I would suggest something akin to the front-wing on the MP4/4, which is elegant in its simplicity.
    2. Get rid of the stupid tokens system and free up development, even if it’s only for a few years. That will help more teams to get towards the front of the grid.
    3. Review all the tracks. We know in advance that races like Spain are going to be dull 99% of the time, but usually Canada and Silverstone are great. So change the tracks to promote better racing.
    4. Stop rotating the stewards. They should be full-time and attend every race. This will (hopefully) make their decisions more consistent.
    5. Get rid of Charlie Whiting. He seems rather clueless and his standard modus operandi when a single drop of rain falls is to send out the safety car or red flag the race. It seems that races like Monaco 1997 or Spain 1996 wouldn’t happen nowadays. Why is this? Are the drivers scared? I doubt it.
    6. This year has seen too few pit stops in races. Change the tyres so they allow drivers to race hard from the start of a stint to its end, but they do actually wear out at some point.
    7. Get rid of position penalties for things like engine and gearbox changes. It ruins the races and makes qualifying pointless if Alonso has to take a 390 place penalty. Deduct constructor’s points instead (which might put McLaren into negative figures, but never mind).
    8. Stop talking down the sport, Bernie. Don’t you have grand-children now? Why not spend more time with them?

  16. However Hamilton doubts F1 would enjoy much success in overhauled its aerodynamic rules to help cars runs together more closely.

    I don’t know why Lewis thinks that less aero dependence will not make the race closer. Of course you get turbulence behind a car, heck you even get turbulence behind a bicycle at 30km/h. But if the car is less dependent on clean air it could bring the cars closer, wouldn’t it?
    And I totally agree with him about DRS. Get rid of it. Never liked it since the day it was proposed.

    1. His point is that they are not talking about reducing aero dependecy, but about generating it in a different way which would then not have the side effects that make following closely impossible.

  17. I have just had a stupid idea. I’ll fire it out into the world for the sake of it.

    Instead of having qualifying tyres like in the old days, why not have qualifying wings? So a percentage of the front and rear wings are detachable. They qualify with maximum downforce to see who gets on pole. At that stage they are the fastest cars on earth. For the race they take off the wing addons and that enables closer and better racing.

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