What is DRS in F1?

·2 min read

In sporting events that entail racing like the Tour de France, NASCAR, and F1, the difference between first and the middle of the pack can come down to mere milliseconds. With such little margin for error, racers are required to optimize every little detail of their race strategy to ensure optimal performance. In cycling, bikers will ride in a peloton, which is just a tight pack of riders, to draft wind so that riders in the middle of the pack don’t have to put in as much work. But what is DRS in F1?

In F1, racers use the drag reduction system, or DRS, to reduce drag and increase top speed. This can be a crucial aspect of a F1 race with many races coming right down to the wire. With the recent rise in popularity in F1, you may have caught yourself watching a race and wondering what the announcers mean when they talk about DRS. Here is everything you need to know about the drag reduction system in F1.

When Can Drivers Use DRS?

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There are very strict specifications for when drivers are allowed to use DRS during an F1 race. Because DRS will increase the potential top speed, it’s crucial that F1 put boundaries in place to ensure that this system wasn’t abused. There are certain moments during an F1 race that racers are enabled to use the DRS, with multiple restrictions based on time of the race and conditions of the track.

Racers can only initiate the DRS during an F1 race if the car is within one second of the car they are attempting to overtake. Drivers will get a dashboard light notification in their car when the DRS system is enabled. When the driver releases the button or uses their brakes, the DRS will stop. The FIA can change this one second requirement based on the race, but it usually sits at one second. Cars must also be in an overtaking zone for DRS to be activated, and those zones are determined by the FIA before the race.

DRS cannot be activated on the first two laps of a race, restart, or safety car deployment. This requires the race to get into a flow before racers can begin using the DRS. The defending driver, or driver who is ahead, is not allowed to use the DRS unless there is another car less than a second in front of them. If racing conditions are deemed too dangerous, such as a slippery track due to rain, no racer will be permitted to use the DRS.