Johnny Herbert rallies against DRS criticism with Lewis Hamilton among frustrated drivers

Michelle Foster
Max Verstappen uses DRS to fly past Lewis Hamilton. Australia April 2023

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen opens his DRS to fly past Lewis Hamilton. Australia April 2023

As the likes of Lewis Hamilton and George Russell blame shorted DRS zones for boring races, Johnny Herbert says the powers-that-be can’t win as “it’s wrong when it works but it’s wrong when it doesn’t”.

Last season the Formula 1 drivers complained that DRS was making overtaking too easy, the lead driver a sitting duck when his chaser got within the 1 second margin required to activate DRS.

That prompted the powers-that-think to shorten the DRS zones in this year’s championship.

Their decision, though, has come at a time when the drivers collectively feel this year’s cars with their tweaked floor regulation are struggling to follow.

Speaking about the Miami Grand Prix, Hamilton said “just being in a DRS train with a bunch of cars and trying to get past a Williams was not so easy” while his team-mate George Russell said the shortened DRS zones in Baku and Miami and made for “boring” races.

Three-time grand prix winner Herbert reckons the FIA is in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

He told Express Sport: “DRS is a very, very hard thing to control. The difference between the fastest car and at the moment it’s Red Bull that has an advantage anyway.

“Then you’ve got the Ferrari, then you’ve got the Aston, then the Merc, the McLaren, all the other cars. They are not all the same so the DRS does effectively vary from car to car, team to team. recommends

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“You look at what happened in Baku, the racing didn’t quite happen in the race when they’re were a lot of expectations of it. So I know it got blamed that it was the DRS. But isn’t it interesting when the DRS is working, everybody sort of goes well overtakes are too easy.

“When it gets to where actually it’s a little bit more difficult then it’s wrong. So it’s wrong when it works but it’s wrong when it doesn’t work.”

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko recently alleged the DRS changes have been made in order to negate Red Bull’s straight-line speed advantage.

According to rivals, Red Bull’s DRS is two to three tenths more powerful than the rest.

Marko blames Mercedes for the FIA shortening the DRS zones, telling “Overtaking has always been difficult. Then when you also shorten the DRS zone, the reason seems obvious to me.

“You have to stop intervening in such a manipulative way.”

He added: “It is amazing that Mercedes is angry. They have had a superior engine for years. When you build a car that’s a flop two years in a row, you should focus more on that.”

Herbert, though, believes this is purely an FIA call.

“Who makes the call?” he added. “Well, it has to be the FIA.

“If you leave it to the drivers and the teams as I see it they will try and influence it so it benefits them maybe. That’s not what the FIA are trying to achieve. They are trying to achieve that the overtake is not like the Red Bull.

“It’s trying to find a balance and over the years they have always tried to move it.”