The drag reduction system on an F1 car offers an aerodynamic advantage, reducing drag as the name suggests. Permitted only in certain cases – within allocated zones on the circuit. The rear wing on the car is made up of 2 flaps, when DRS is deployed the top flap lifts opening a gap between the two wing sections.
During practice and qualifying sessions, drivers are free to use DRS in the allocated activation zones unless DRS is disabled due to poor weather or yellow flags. In the race, DRS will be disabled for the opening two laps and from then drivers are only allowed to activate the system when within a second of their rivals in the activation zones. The tool is designed to aid overtaking and improve the racing, however is controversial as many believe it makes overtaking too easy.
How does the system work?
The rear wing is a vital aerodynamic device on the F1 car, producing a large proportion of the car’s overall downforce, increasing available grip and allowing the car to travel faster around the corners. However, along with high amounts of downforce, the rear wings also produce a huge amount of drag, therefore slowing the car on the straights.
The DRS system lifts the top flap of the wing, creating a gap between the two sections. This effectively flattens the wing flap, creating a more streamlined shape and reducing drag produced – this can give a driver an advantage of up to 15km/h over their rivals.
Because activating DRS will result in a subsequent drop in overall downforce this could cause safety issues if it remains open around a corner. Due to this, the DRS will close automatically when the brakes are applied and in the case of a failure, the flap will drop down to the normal, high downforce position.