Drivers confirm key difference in racing to come after F1 2024 rule change

Oliver Harden
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, leads the field at the start of the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix

Max Verstappen leads the field at the start of the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix

Bahrain Grand Prix podium finishers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz have given their thumbs up to the F1 2024 rule change permitting the use of DRS after the first racing lap.

Since its introduction back in 2011, the DRS overtaking aid has only been available after two racing laps have been completed, both at the start of the race and following restarts.

F1 2024 DRS changes given thumbs in Bahrain

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

However, a tweak to the procedure for 2024 allows drivers to open their rear wings straight after the opening lap, potentially before the leader has established an advantage of more than one second.

Speaking to media including PlanetF1.com’s Thomas Maher after the race, the three drivers on the podium in Bahrain offered their initial verdicts on the change, admitting that it will change the way drivers approach the opening laps.

Second-placed Perez said:” I think it definitely changes the way you race, and especially with the cars around you when you are in a fight and straight away you get DRS.

“I saw Carlos, he lost DRS early on and he was just out of contention for a while. And the car ahead going straight into the clean air, it’s basically going on his own, has to use more of his tyres, so it’s a bit of a disadvantage if you are fighting.

“I think, in [high-speed] places like Baku or even Jeddah, I think the racing is going to be different.

“It does create a difference to the car ahead in the first few laps so it’s going to be interesting, I think.

“The whole first stint between Mercedes, Ferrari and myself was very racy throughout. So I think that the change in DRS is making a difference.”

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Sainz feels drivers now face a dilemma between pushing in the early laps to capitalise on the DRS availability and choosing to protect their tyres in the opening phase of the first stint.

He said: “I think a lot of strategy comes into play, especially with how sensitive the tyres are to pushing.

“So on one side, you want to push to get out of the DRS or to get into the DRS. And then on the other hand, you want to save tyres because we all know how sensitive the tyres are in the first few laps to pushing. So it’s a very fine line.

“As soon as I saw I didn’t have pressure from behind, I decided to manage my tyres and it paid off instead of getting into the DRS battle, so then I could overtake them. No problem.

“It’s going to be track dependent. It’s going to be, I think, a very tricky season going 24 races like that. We had it in the sprints last year.

“So it’s going to be a challenge, but another interesting thing to think about.”

Verstappen, who has now won 45 of the last 67 races after converting pole position into victory in Bahrain, added: “From my side, [it’s about] knowing how much to push or not.

“I think on the first lap, Charles was in the DRS [range] at least once.

“But you want to push and save your tyres, so it’s making that decision, but for sure on some tracks it will be quite tricky because the DRS can be very powerful, so it might create some interesting battles or situations.”

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