F1 drivers raise worries over key aspect of racing as new cars develop

Henry Valantine
Carlos Sainz alongside Max Verstappen at Monza. F1 results

Carlos Sainz defends from Max Verstappen into the Rettifilo Chicane during the Italian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz agreed that F1 cars still need DRS in order to overtake, and aerodynamic developments are making it harder for drivers to follow one another again.

Drivers complained that the previous generation of F1 cars was tough to follow another in so-called ‘dirty air’ while in close proximity to another driver, which in part prompted the move to ground effect aerodynamics in 2022 and the biggest single shift in technical regulations in a generation.

The focus on the ‘raceability’ of the 2022 cars was well-received, but aerodynamic improvements to the cars and developments in downforce have seen the cars become tougher to follow again this year, according to the drivers.

F1 drivers raise following concerns as downforce increases on 2023 cars

Additional reporting by Thomas Maher

The switch to ground effect aerodynamics, among other areas, was brought about to try and help drivers race more closely together, with drivers having complained in the past at their tyres overheating and pace dropping off as soon as they get into the turbulent wake of a rival in front.

Initially, if F1 drivers could follow more ‘naturally’ and pull off overtakes without DRS assistance, the future of the overtaking aid could potentially have been pulled into doubt – but last weekend’s top three insist that the moveable rear wing is still needed in the sport.

On top of that, they believe it’s becoming tougher to follow rivals again due to the improvements being made to the cars since the start of last season.

“I think in most tracks, we still struggle to follow or pass,” Verstappen told media including PlanetF1.com at Monza.

“I mean, at the beginning of the year, a lot of people were complaining about passing. Of course, we had the luxury being a quick car, we could still pass like in Miami.

“I think the cars are getting more and more efficient and they have more downforce, so it’s harder to follow and then they’re more efficient on the straight… But I think it really depends on which track.”

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Sergio Perez added: “Yeah, I really agree. I think, definitely less DRS is not the way forward.

“I remember we were discussing to actually increase the effect because the cars are getting harder to follow.

“I think [at Monza] the DRS effect like Max says is really, really small. So, I don’t think in other places we can race with less DRS.

“If anything, we needed the DRS more in some places to be able to have better racing.”

Carlos Sainz had the benefit of being able to keep Verstappen behind him for 14 laps at Monza through his straight-line speed, something which he labelled a “coincidence” before adding: “In 99% of the tracks, I think we’re going to need DRS and we’re going to need a powerful DRS because these cars from the beginning of the year, like Max said, it’s starting to become a bit like 2021 or 2020 where it is difficult to follow.

“Obviously Monza is a special case because you don’t only have the DRS, you also have very long straights of slipstreaming, which helps a bit more the car behind but I think in the rest of the tracks, we’re going to need the DRS.”

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