Verstappen: F1 still needs DRS to avoid driving in a train

Michelle Foster
Red Bull rear wing in testing. Spain February 2022

Red Bull rear wing in testing, RB18 in the pits surrounded by mechanics. Spain February 2022

Although it was hoped that this year’s car would be able to overtake under their own steam, Max Verstappen says the opening races have shown that F1 still needs DRS.

The first few races on this year’s calendar showed the power of DRS as Verstappen and Leclerc traded P1s as the two used the drag reduction system to fight for the race wins.

It was so powerful at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix that Red Bull team boss Christian Horner complained that “there was a game of cat-and-mouse going on between the drivers where they’d actually brake to a point that they accelerated then to the corner.”

Fast forward two races to the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, a rain-affected race in which DRS was only enabled midway through, and there were complaints about the lack of action and the difficulty in overtaking.

Verstappen had more of that two races later in Spain when his DRS failed during the grand prix, leaving him stuck behind the Mercedes of George Russell as he raged at Red Bull for being unable to make the “f***ing DRS work”.

The driver says this year’s early races prove that Formula 1 and its all-new cars still need DRS to help create the excitement.

Mercedes' George Russell defends against Red Bull's Max Verstappen during the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, May 2022.

“Well, if it’s not [on the car] anymore then we are just driving in a train,” said the reigning World Champion.

“I think I demonstrated that it’s really frustrating, so you need DRS at the moment with the cars.

“We can follow a little bit easier but once you’re behind, I do think the drag is a little bit less, like you don’t have that slipstream effect like last year, for example.

“And then you still need a DRS to be able to have a go into Turn 1.”

The good news for both Verstappen and his team-mate Sergio Perez, the two separated by 15 points in the Drivers’ Championship, is that chief engineer Paul Monaghan believes they have fixed the DRS problem that plagued them early in the season.

“Our DRS problem was self-inflicted if we’re honest,” the Briton told The Race in Monaco. “Now we’ve learned our rather painful lessons.

“At the moment, it’s absolutely fine, but I think it would be foolish to rest on our laurels.

“We know what we did wrong. It was in our remit to fix it, so thus far we’re okay.

“Baku presents slightly different problems, opening speeds of 300km/h, so it’s not really about weight on the flap, it’s lifting it up against its own aero load.

“So I’m happy here and it worked, and there’s a sigh of relief.”

With Baku’s long straight over 2.2km, the drivers reach a top speed of 340km/h putting a lot more aero load on both the rear wing and the DRS.


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