George Russell hits out at trend for shorter DRS zones, Baku ‘speaks for itself’

Michelle Foster
George Russell speaking seriously in a press conference. Miami May 2023

Mercedes driver George Russell speaking seriously in a press conference. Miami May 2023

A boring Azerbaijan Grand Prix with its shortened main DRS zone “speaks for itself” says George Russell, the driver hitting out at the FIA for not consulting the drivers.

This season, the second under Formula 1’s new technical regulations, rules that were designed to make it easier for the cars to follow and pass have left the drivers finding it to be the exact opposite.

And Russell fears the FIA are not listening to their complaints.

That led to a decision to shorten the main DRS stretch at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix as last season it was said to have made passing too easy. This year that call resulted in a boring race with few overtakes.

“I think all of us didn’t really understand why they’ve been shortened,” he said.

“None of us were consulted about it or asked our opinion on it and I think the race speaks for itself in Baku.

“I don’t know whether we’re going to keep it the same for this weekend. DRS is there to aid overtaking and it’s always exciting when you’ve got these big DRS advantages and it gives you the opportunity to fight and clearly in Baku it was way too short.” recommends

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Despite that the FIA have again opted to shorten DRS zones for this weekend’s Miami Grand Prix, reducing the two DRS sectors by 75 metres with the activation points moved further up the road.

Charles Leclerc is perplexed by the decision.

“I don’t think it’s the right direction,” he said of the trend to shorten DRS zones. “I think with the cars that we have at the moment, it’s still quite difficult to follow.

“It’s better than the previous generation cars but still not good enough to actually have less DRS, so hopefully in the future races we won’t shorten them.”

Russell was pressed as to what he felt the FIA could do negate the drivers struggles with slipstreaming which ultimately means less overtaking.

“I think at the end of day, we all want the best races, the most exciting races,” he said. “And there’s probably a few easier ways to achieve this in the short term like with tyre degradation, you know, it’s been easy one-stops in the last couple of races.

“And when everybody’s pushing flat out, there are less exciting races, obviously the DRS has gone in the wrong direction. So there’s a couple of small things.

“But you know for sure we’re going to speak with the FIA and F1 about this because, you know, we want to be able to race, we want to be able to fight, as we all did in in go-karts, where there was no aerodynamics. So that’s the ultimate dream.

“And I think the sport took a really good turn for the better when these new cars were introduced, but we need to take it to the next step now.”

Asked if he wanted FIA to avoid a ‘knee-jerk reaction’, the driver says the sport is already past that point.

“I think it’s well for a couple of races now it’s been challenging to overtake,” he said. “For sure, Baku wasn’t the most exciting race in the world but there are a number of factors for that.

“But there should never be a knee-jerk reaction but we were all talking about this issue prior to the race in Baku, and then the race obviously went on to be as dull as we all expected. And it’s challenging for everybody.

“Obviously, we’re pushing Pirelli to deliver a good tyre, a consistent tyre and when it is difficult, you know, the drivers, myself included, we don’t like it.

“But in an ideal world, you have a very strong tyre, which at a certain point falls off the cliff and means you have to do a few more pit stops and gives it some different opportunities in the races. But yeah, I’m not too sure really.”