Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber has stated that he is not bothered about the new rules for DRS usage in F1 this season.
Previously, drivers could use DRS (a system which reduces drag, making a car quicker in a straight line) anywhere on the circuit during practice and qualifying, but they were limited to the designated DRS ‘zone’ for the race. For 2013, the system will be restricted to this zone across the entire race weekend.
Webber revealed that both he and teammate Sebastian Vettel had pushed for the change, and that the move makes little difference to his approach to qualifying.
“It’s not a big thing for us. I think that we have been okay in qualifying in the past, also quite strong in races so the effect of the DRS, the delta of the DRS, all those type of things which is not something that we’re having a huge eye on, we’re not disappointed that the DRS is less in qualifying.
“Sebastian and I are very happy. We pushed quite hard to have DRS dropped down in terms of volume on Saturday afternoon so we’re quite relaxed with that one.”
The ruling does mean that teams will have to set up their cars with both qualifying and the race in mind, whereas in 2012 they could use a high downforce (and therefore high drag) setup in qualifying as the drag would be reduced by DRS. Red Bull were known to be focusing on their race setups in 2012, preferring the higher downforce circuits, so the move is unlikely to cause too much trouble for the defending champions.
Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.
Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.
Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.
“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.
“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”
Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.
“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.
“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”
Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”