The single-seaters that have been born under the new regulations for the 2022 Formula 1 season have shown in just four races that it is now easier to closely follow another car, although this reduced slipstream effect has placed greater emphasis on the benefits to be gained. get from the DRS.
The length of some DRS zones, such as those in Saudi Arabia, has also led to a situation where overtaking can be virtually guaranteed to the car behind. This makes it obvious to use it for overtaking, reducing the risk of the maneuver.
Vettel, who watched the Bahrain and Saudi Arabia weekends from home after testing positive for COVID-19, believes F1 needs to be careful about reliance on DRS.
With its introduction, the aim was to give drivers a better opportunity to overtake, but now the four-time world champion fears the series finds itself in a situation of dependency on DRS as it has become the only way to overtake.
Reflecting on the switch to the 2022 cars, Vettel said: “I think you can follow [other cars] more closely. But there is also less drag and we probably rely on DRS more than in the past, to some extent.
“The interesting thing would be to remove the DRS and see what a race is really like, and if you are able to overtake much better than, say, in the past.
“I’m just a bit averse to DRS, because it was introduced as an assist to help overtaking, but now it seems like sometimes it’s the only thing that allows you to overtake.
Vettel believes F1’s directors should steer it towards cars that don’t need the help of DRS to overtake.
“The ideal would be to have a regulation that allows us to follow [other cars] and compete without DRS,” added the German. “DRS hasn’t been around for 70 years, it was introduced 10 years ago to help, as an experiment.”
“I think overtaking should always be a driver effort and not be dictated by having or not having DRS.
“The Jeddah race, where the leaders braked to get to the DRS line behind to get that lead, is a different kind of race. I don’t think we should go in that direction.”
“But we are still at the beginning of the project. Clearly you can watch more closely. Overtaking is still difficult, but it should be an effort and it should be a reward when you do get overtaking.”
Although the new F1 cars have been created to help improve racing, it was clear to the series bosses that, at least initially, they wanted to keep DRS in order to better understand how the new cars behaved during on-track battles.
However, F1 CEO Ross Brawn has long made it clear that the long-term goal is to get rid of him.
“I’d like to think we could get to a stage where DRS doesn’t become so critical,” he said during the initial presentation of the new regulations.
“But it’s a very easy thing to have or not have if we see that the cars are capable of fighting each other.”
“Overtaking is the culmination of course, but having a great battle is essential, and when you have cars that can’t follow each other consistently because of tire degradation and loss of performance, then these battles aren’t that spectacular. “.
“You can have a great battle where the driver in the lead is still leading at the end, but you’ve had a great battle.
“We’ve made an effort to make sure we know the difference between overtaking and racing,” concluded Brawn.