F1 drivers give verdict on DRS rule change: Difficulties on the horizon?

Max Verstappen believes that the new change to the activation of DRS could lead to tricky strategical decisions

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The first race of the 2024 Formula 1 season saw the F1 drivers get to grips with the latest amendment to the rules regarding the activation of DRS at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Whilst previous rules stated that two laps must be completed before drivers can activate DRS, this has since been reduced to one lap. 

Reflecting on the regulation change, Carlos Sainz, who placed third in Bahrain for Ferrari, believes it bore a significant impact on the way he ran his race — particularly in regards to tyre management. 

“I think a lot of strategy comes into play, especially with how sensitive the tyres are to pushing,” Sainz told the press. 

“On one side, you want to push to get out of the DRS or to get into the DRS. And then on the other hand, you want to save tyres because we all know how sensitive the tyres are in the first few laps to pushing. So it’s a very fine line.”

DRS change could lead to difficulties

All three Bahrain podium finishers shared the similar opinion that the new DRS rule will be highly track dependent, proving to be more disadvantageous at some circuits than others.

“I think it definitely changes the way you race, and especially with the cars around you when you are in a fight and straight away you get DRS,” said Sergio Perez, who finished second behind winner and Red Bull teammate Max Verstappen.

“Like I saw Carlos, he lost DRS early on and he was just out of contention for a while. And the car ahead going straight into the clean air, it’s basically going on his own and has to use more of his tyres, so it’s a bit of a disadvantage if you are fighting in places like Baku or even Jeddah.”

Looking ahead to how the rule might play out across the season, all three drivers agreed that it has added another layer of complexity to the way they race. 

Max Verstappen of Red Bull during the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

“[It’s about] knowing how much to push or not,” said Verstappen. “You want to push and save your tyres, so it’s making that decision.

But for sure, on some tracks, it will be quite tricky because the DRS can be very powerful. So it might create some, let’s say, interesting battles or situations.”

“It’s going to be a very tricky season going 24 races like that,” added Sainz. “We had it on the Sprints last year. It’s going to be a challenge. But another interesting thing to think about.”

Perez added that he believes it will have an overall impact on how they race: “It does create a difference to the car ahead in the first few laps. It’s going to be interesting, I think.”

“The whole first stint between Mercedes, Ferrari and myself was very racy throughout. So I think that the change in DRS is making a difference.”

Jasmine Hughes
Experienced in digital content creation, Jasmine Hughes has written for a number of online publications, joining Total Motorsport in 2024. She previously served as FormulaNerds' Formula E Editor, leading coverage of the 2023 Formula E season. She has been watching Formula 1 since the age of 4, after falling in love with Fernando Alonso's blue-yellow Renault R25.
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