In the world of Formula 1 the shrewdness while driving, that extra bit of cunning – perhaps at the limit of the regulations but not beyond – has always been the hallmark that differentiated champions from good drivers. An example was also had in the spectacular duels between Charles Leclerc And Max Verstappen which took place at the beginning of this championship, first in Bahrain and then above all on the very fast track in Jeddah. The tricks, on the one hand, on the other, were not lacking, but fortunately never transcending into incorrect maneuvers. However, the battle seen in Saudi Arabia raises serious questions about the functioning of the DRS – the mobile wing born in 2011 to facilitate overtaking – in contemporary F1.
For how the third DRS zone was positioned on the Saudi runway – with the Detection Point placed just before the last corner – and due to the proximity of overall performance that Leclerc and Verstappen’s cars had, in fact, it was immediately clear that it was convenient to pass over the activation point of the mobile wing in second position. In the final duel the reigning world champion sank a first pass at the last corner, but was then overtaken by Leclerc with his wing wide open on the straight. It was immediately understood that the Ferrari driver had done it parade the rival on purpose to then take advantage of having the DRS available to him.
Starting from the following lap Verstappen understood the lesson and we arrived at the paradox of two of the strongest pilots in the world who nail – complete with smoking wheels – to avoid being the first to pass on the activation line of the mobile wing. All this obviously in order to have an advantage on the straight. A situation at the limit, which will have to make the Federation stand at attention in view of the next GPs. The same decisive overtaking by Verstappen took place because the Red Bull driver was able to decelerate at the same time as Leclerc, keeping behind him and then passing him with the help of the open wing. The two drivers in this challenge were perfect, acting in a shrewd but completely regular way.
It will be up to the FIA evaluate whether this type of ‘game’ cannot become cloying in the long run or – much worse – dangerous. Looking at the calendar, there are some particular tracks on which having the use of the DRS available in a particularly balanced battle could represent a great advantage. The first that come to mind are Baku And Monza, with their very fast straights. But Austin can also be included in the list – with the very long straight between Turn 11 and Turn 12 – and also the Montreal track. The position of the detection point could tempt many to ‘nail’ all of a sudden during a duel, allowing the following to pass and then overcome it in the following extension. A risk to be avoided and which could lead to rethinking the same concept of the mobile wing.
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