What is Formula 1 DRS? | F1 DRS Rules | What is DRS? (2023)

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In Formula 1 DRS is an overtaking aid known as ‘Drag Reduction System’ and is a tool used by drivers to increase their top speed, which promotes more overtaking and therefore more entertaining races.

DRS was first introduced to the rear wing of Formula 1 cars in 2011 to promote overtaking during a grand prix and to mitigate the effects of driving in dirty air. DRS is now also used in Formula 2, Formula 3, Formula Renault 3.5, Super Formula, and Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters to help facilitate overtaking in those categories.

What is Formula 1 DRS?

In Formula 1 DRS opens a flap on the cars rear wing to reduce aerodynamic drag, and gives the trailing car in the turbulent air a speed advantage of 10-12km/h to make an overtaking move on the leading car who is in clean air.

A Formula 1 wing is made up of horizontal elements including the main plane and a flap and is a marvel of motorsport technology. When activated, DRS allows the wing flaps to lift a maximum of 50mm to reduce drag, resulting in less downforce.

Less downforce means faster acceleration, and depending on the car and its setup, a higher top speed.

When DRS was first implemented it was monitored to ensure overtaking could be made easier, but without reducing the skill level needed from the driver.

The effectiveness of DRS varies from track to track, and can be dependent on elements such as the maximum downforce of each circuit, the track surface, the length of each DRS zone, where each detection point is situated, and track characteristics at the end of the DRS zone.

There are two DRS zones at most circuits, however, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Austria, Singapore and Mexico all have three DRS zones.

What are the F1 DRS rules?

There are several rules governing the use of the drag reduction system DRS in Formula 1.

1)The pursuing car is within one second of the lead car.
2)The following car is in a DRS zone as pre-determined by the FIA.
3)The DRS system may not be deployed until two racing laps have been completed after the grand prix start, a restart, or a safety car period.
4)The DRS system can not be used by the driver in front to defend their position, unless they are within one second of a car in front of them.
5)The DRS system may not be enabled if the Race Director deems racing conditions are unsafe, such as in a race being held in the rain.

(Video) How the DRS (Drag Reduction System) works in Formula 1

What is a Formula 1 DRS zone?

A drag reduction system zone, or DRS zone, is an overtaking zone where drivers are permitted to deploy the system, if they (the pursuing car) are within one second of the car ahead.

It is marked by a line on the track to signify the start of the zone, known as a detection point, followed by a second line known as the activation point.

There is also a sign marked ‘DRS’ where the DRS zone begins.

Does DRS open automatically?

A light on the car’s steering wheel lets the driver know when the DRS system is enabled (the driver can also see the rear wing system deploy in his wing mirrors). The system is deactivated the moment the driver starts braking.

The detection of the one-second gap between cars is fully automated via sensors in the cars as they enter the detection zone on the race track, however, the actual deployment of the DRS system is completed manually by the driver pressing a button on the steering wheel.

(Video) What is DRS and Why is it So Important in Formula 1?
(Video) The Strange Rules Behind DRS

Formula 1 DRS Official Regulations

FIA regulations state that no item of bodywork may be adjustable by the driver during the race, with the exception of the DRS. The following paragraph states the official regulation on this matter.

3.18 – Driver adjustable bodywork :

3.18.1 The incidence of the rearmost and uppermost closed section described in :Article 3.10.2 may be varied whilst the car is in motion provided :

  • It comprises only one component that must be symmetrically arranged about the car centre line with a minimum width of 708mm.
  • With the exception of minimal parts solely associated with adjustment of the section, no parts of the section in contact with the external airstream may be located any more than 355mm from of the car centre line.
  • With the exception of any minimal parts solely associated with adjustment of the rearmost and uppermost section, two closed sections are used in the area described in Article 3.10.2.
  • Any such variation of incidence maintains compliance with all of the bodywork regulations.
  • When viewed from the side of the car at any longitudinal vertical cross section, the physical point of rotation of the rearmost and uppermost closed section must be fixed and located no more than20mm below the upper extremity and no more than 20mm forward of the rear extremity of the area described in Article 3.10.2 at all times.
  • The design is such that failure of the system will result in the uppermost closed section returning to the normal high incidence position.
  • Any alteration of the incidence of the uppermost closed section may only be commanded by direct driver input and controlled using the control electronics specified in Article 8.2.

This is further clarified by the Sporting Regulations:


Driver adjustable bodywork permitted by Article 3.18 of the F1 Technical Regulations

(Video) F1 RULES for BEGINNERS in HINDI || 2021

a) Subject to any special conditions relevant to a specific Event, details of which the FIA will provide to each competitor at least one week before the start of an Event, the adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver at any time prior to the start of the race. In conditions of poor visibility however the race director may, at his absolute discretion, disable all such systems until conditions improve.

If the adjustable bodywork is disabled in this way at the start of any of the three periods of the qualifying practice session (Q1, Q2 or Q3) it will remain disabled for the remainder of the relevant period.

b) For the sole purpose of improving overtaking opportunities during the race the adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver after he has completed two laps after the race start or following a safety car period.

The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics (see Article 8.2 of the F1 Technical Regulations) that it is enabled. It will only be enabled if the driver is less than one second behind another at any of the pre-determined positions around each circuit. The system will be disabled by the control electronics the first time the driver uses the brakes after he has activated the system. In conditions of poor visibility, or if yellow flags are being shown in the activation zone, the race director may, at his absolute discretion, disable all such systems until conditions improve or yellow flags are withdrawn.

The FIA may, after consulting all competitors, adjust the above time proximity in order to ensure the stated purpose of the adjustable bodywork is met.

c) In the event of a failure in the system which notifies the driver that he was within one second of the car in front, and is hence authorised to use the adjustable bodywork, the team concerned may ask the race director for permission to override the system. If permission is given in this way the onus will be upon the team concerned to ensure that their driver only uses the adjustable bodywork if he is within one second of the car in front of him.

If the failure in the system is rectified the driver may no longer use this override, the race director will notify the team if and when the fault has been remedied.

How DRS Works

This video from Race Fans has Sebastian Vettel talking us through you how the drag reduction system works in F1.


Can F1 drivers use DRS all the time? ›

The DRS is an overtaking aid, but drivers can only use it in designated DRS zones that are set before the start of a race weekend. Most tracks have one DRS zone, although some have two. The DRS can only be used once a driver has closed to within a second of the car ahead at a specified 'detection point' on the circuit.

How does an F1 driver know they have DRS? ›

A light on the car's steering wheel lets the driver know when the DRS system is enabled (the driver can also see the rear wing system deploy in his wing mirrors). The system is deactivated the moment the driver starts braking.

Who controls the DRS on a F1 car? ›

DRS zones. DRS zones are decided by the FIA ahead of the race weekend. Each track has a different amount of DRS zones depending on its track configuration. For example, Bahrain has three DRS zones, while Monaco has just one.

How many times can DRS be used in a race? ›

DRS can only be used in the designated activation zones when a car passes within one second of the car in front. As long as it meets this condition, it can be used as many times as desired in a race.

How much faster is an F1 car with DRS? ›

Following its introduction in 2011, DRS has become a vital part of the sport. It stands for Drag Reduction System and is an adjustable part of the rear wing which, when opened, improves speed by 10-12 kmph.

How much speed does an F1 car gain with DRS? ›

The way a DRS works is pretty simple: when activated, it opens up a flap on the rear wing of the car, which increases its downforce and reduces drag. This gives the cars more velocity on the straights but less grip in corners. Enabling DRS provides around 6.2-7.5 mph top-speed advantage to the car behind.

Why can't DRS be used all the time? ›

During the actual race, the DRS cannot be used anytime. “There are timing loops embedded in the tarmac and the system calculates the gap between all cars.

Does the DRS wing open automatically? ›

It does not become active until lap three of the race, however, and it will only function if a driver is within one second of a car in front; so a driver in clean air, with no cars nearby, can't simply blast down a straight with DRS open recording record top speeds!

How close do you need to be for DRS F1? ›

The drivers can only use the DRS during designated activation zones. To ensure that overtaking is not too easy, the length and location of the zones are carefully controlled. They must be within one second of a car in front to be able to use the DRS.

Can first place in F1 use DRS? ›

Use of DRS is restricted by the F1 rules; it is permitted only when both: The following car is within one second of the car to be overtaken, which may be a car being lapped. The FIA may alter this parameter, race by race.

How long can a DRS zone be? ›

They must be within one second of the car they wish to overtake. The car to be overtaken must be within a designated DRS zone. Race directors reserve the right to suspend DRS based on track conditions.

Can DRS be used in last lap? ›

The system can only be used in the designated are (typically called the DRS zone) The system can only be used 2 laps after the race start, or re-start or after the safety car has been deployed. The race condition is not deemed to be dangerous by the race director.

How many DRS are allowed? ›

How many DRS is allowed in ODI cricket? According to the ICC rules, each team is allowed to use 1 DRS review per innings. A successful review allows teams to retain a DRS review at any point.

How fast does a F1 car go from 0 to 60? ›

Formula 1. F1 cars accelerate from 0 – 60mph in roughly 2.6 seconds. This might seem slow given their top speed, however as a lot of their speed comes from the aerodynamics (which works better the quicker the car is going), they can't unleash full power from a standing start.

How long does it take an F1 car to reach 100mph? ›

Formula One race cars have been recorded to reach 0-60 as fast as 1.6 seconds, however the typical range for modern day F1 cars is between 2.1 to 2.7 seconds. The 2007 Honda RA107 f1 race car goes 0-100 mph in a blistering 4 seconds flat.

Would an F1 car beat a NASCAR? ›

F1 cars are open cockpit machines, while NASCAR vehicles are closed cockpit machines. However, if we're just comparing speed, an F1 car's average speed is 233 MPH, while a NASCAR vehicle reaches 200 MPH. In other words, a point for the F1 cars.

What is the fastest speed a F1 car can travel at? ›

F1 cars can accelerate from 0 – 60mph in just 2.6 seconds and clock up to 360kmph or 223.6mph. The formula one car reaches high speeds because of its carefully engineered aerodynamics. Also, the aerodynamics works better when the car goes fast.

Is anything faster than an F1 car? ›

Porsche's new 919 Hybrid Evo Le Mans Car is Faster than an F1 Car​ After retiring from the top tier of the World Endurance Championship (WEC) last year, Porsche have released their LMP1 car of any regulations and made it faster than an F1 car.

How much fuel does an F1 car burn per lap? ›

The average race fuel consumption of a F1 car is 75 liters per 100 Kilometers (or 4 mpg). The average length of a lap is 5 km and the number of laps is usually around 60. That gives an average total race distance of 300 km. Does fuel/petrol make a difference in an F1 race?

How long can a driver use DRS? ›

When it was first introduced to FIA F3 in 2017 – when the series was known as GP3 – drivers could only activate and use the system on a maximum of six laps per feature race and four laps for sprint events. Since 2019, DRS usage in F3 has been run in line with F1 rules.

Why DRS is not allowed in first over? ›

A BCCI source said that "short-circuit" happened in one of the power supply outlets which was directly linked to the DRS system and hence it could not be set up initially. "The DRS system had to be reset after normalcy was restored and it became available after the first 10 balls," the source informed.

Why is F1 getting rid of DRS? ›

Remove DRS completely.

DRS is there to help overtaking, so completely removing it will have an impact on the amount of overtakes that are seen during a race. Also, removing DRS will expose how well the F1 2022 regulation cars actually follow each other.

Can the race leader use DRS? ›

This includes lapping backmarkers so even the race leader can get DRS. This limitation is so that DRS can offset the the dirty air penalty the following car gets when it gets too close to the defending car in the corners.

Do F1 cars have an overtake button? ›

Since F1 2020, the in-game ERS system has been simplified and replaced with a single push-to-pass button ("Overtake"). If you press "Overtake" now, the highest ERS level is automatically activated. You can use this to drive a fast lap, to defend yourself against other drivers, or to overtake another car more easily.

Which team used DRS first? ›

It was first used in One Day Internationals (ODI) in January 2011 during England's tour of Australia. The ICC initially made the UDRS mandatory in all international matches, but later made its use optional, so that the system would only be used if both teams agree.

How many times F1 driver can use DRS? ›

The DRS zone between Turns 8 and 9 at the 2022 Albert Park layout was removed on safety grounds ahead of final practice following lobbying from certain teams. This meant the highest number of DRS zones used in an F1 qualifying or race session remains three.

Is DRS unlimited? ›

Over time DRS has been altered, with its unlimited use in practice and qualifying being limited to the race activation zones while the size of the flap has been increased.

Does DRS close automatically? ›

As soon as he touches the brakes, the wing flap automatically returns to its 'closed' position, giving maximum downforce and grip under braking. The mechanics of DRS typically rely on hydraulic or electro-mechanical 'actuators' that operate screw-drives which 'push' and 'pull' the wing-flap 'open' and 'closed'.

How much does the DRS system cost? ›

Logically, the DRS, which has been used in Test cricket since 2008, is a gift. But it isn't quite easy on the pocket. The cost to use the DRS is approximately $56,000 per match day.

Why are F1 drivers weighed? ›

F1 drivers are weighed after races for two reasons. The first reason is to see how much weight the driver has lost during the race. The second is to make sure themselves and the car are above the minimum weight mentioned in the rules. All of the drivers are weighed immediately after a race.

Has DRS been removed for 2022? ›

Before the start of the season, F1 teams had discussed the option of getting rid of DRS should the new cars prove successful. But there are no signs from the FIA, from Formula 1 or the ten teams that there are plans to phase out the controversial system.

How many DRS zones does Albert Park have? ›

2022 Australian Grand Prix

The Albert Park track map on the official Formula 1 website has been updated to show that the circuit now features four DRS zones to aid overtaking. This will be the first time a grand prix has been held with four separate DRS activation points around the circuit.


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