Lewis Hamilton critical of FIA decision to shorten DRS down Baku straight

Jamie Woodhouse
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, follows Carlos Sainz, Ferrari. Azerbaijan, April 2023.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, follows Carlos Sainz in the Ferrari. Azerbaijan, April 2023.

Lewis Hamilton cannot understand why the FIA decided to shorten the DRS zone down Baku’s start/finish straight.

As Formula 1 returned to the Baku City Circuit for the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, a major change made to the track was the shortening of the DRS zone down that monster main straight, with the drivers now having 100 meters less DRS time on that section of the track.

For Hamilton, it seemed like this decision was costing him dearly in the latter stages of the race, as while he had reeled in Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz, he could not find a way to get his Mercedes ahead, even with the aid of DRS.

Alas, Hamilton felt that the shortened DRS zone down the main straight was now not long enough to make the overtaking-aid effective.

It is a theory which would stand to reason considering the limited overtaking action which was seen throughout the Grand Prix, Hamilton crossing the line P6, his lowest finishing position of the F1 2023 campaign so far.

“They shortened the DRS this year down the straight, I don’t know why they did that, we have always had great racing the way the DRS was,” said Hamilton as per RacingNews365.com.

“By the time we turn DRS on, it was too late.”

Hamilton did though claim that Mercedes and Ferrari were not quite fighting on a level playing field in Baku when it came to straight-line speed, suggesting that Ferrari had a bit of a head start in that department, making his task more difficult still.

“They [Ferrari] are a little bit quicker on the straight than us, even with the DRS open,” Hamilton stated.

“He was fast down the straights and even just following through the mid-sector wasn’t so easy, but I gave it everything.”

PlanetF1.com recommends

Lewis Hamilton on major Mercedes upgrade: ‘I’m counting down the days’

Fernando Alonso describes his relationship with ‘lucky’ F1 rival Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton needs some Red Bull-level DRS

While overtaking even with DRS was proving rather tricky in Baku, there was an exception to the rule, that being Red Bull.

The Austrian outfit already has the strongest race package on the grid in the RB19, but as their passes on Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in Baku further demonstrated, that magic Red Bull DRS makes it look like they are competing in a different formula at times.

There may well have been 100m less DRS distance afforded on the Baku straight, but that still did not even threaten to keep Red Bull at bay on Sunday.

Red Bull then are the clear standard in Formula 1 right now, Mercedes relying on the arrival of their new-look W14, scheduled for Imola, to give them hope of returning to the fight. Hamilton, understandably, is counting down the days.