The FIA is set to extend the DRS overtaking zone in time for the Malaysian GP, after analysing the knowledge gained in Australia.
Melbourne was always going to be a tricky debut for the DRS, given the short nature of the pit straight. Nevertheless rather than stick with the 600m and see what happens at Sepang the FIA is likely to allow drivers longer at full throttle. No figure has been confirmed by my FIA source, but 700m appears to be the logical choice, although it’s possible that an interim number could be chosen.
Following the Barcelona tests the zone was initially finalised at 600m at full throttle for Melbourne, a distance that represents a ‘virtual’ zone measured back from the start of the braking area.
The actual zone in which the DRS can be operated starts a lot earlier and allows for acceleration up to full throttle. It was 867m in Australia.
In Sepang the DRS zone will be on the pit straight rather than the approach to the final corner, which the FIA believes is already a clear overtaking opportunity.
For the same reasons it is likely to be on the pit straight again in Shanghai, rather than the back straight, which had been mentioned as the likely spot.
Before the race in Australia the FIA’s Charlie Whiting gave an insight into how the original distance was arrived at: “With all the teams the sort of thing we were looking at was a 600m section of the straight in question. From the simulations we thought that would be enough.
“We didn’t want to do the whole straight, because depending on the length of the straight, it would vary the effect of the wing, and the last thing we want is to have an easy overtaking. We felt 600m was about the right time on full throttle, ie 600m before the braking point.
“We always indicated that this would be varied depending on the circuit and the speed at the beginning of the relevant sector. To that end we did more simulations after Barcelona, and then we came up with what we felt was appropriate for here, and last week we made a map that we sent to the teams.”
Whiting also confirmed that later in the season the FIA might add more than one DRS opportunity at some circuits.
“It’s something we’re certainly going to consider. But it’s quite a complex matter to get a detection point, notification point and activation point for one straight. We want to make sure that all the things are working first, and if that looks promising then there’s no reason that we couldn’t use it in other places.
“We are also looking towards a more GPS-based system, which could give us far more proximity detection opportunities without having to go from one loop to another one to another one. We’re looking at other ways of doing it. But we really ought to see how it goes first – we don’t want to run before we can walk.”