The booing of the public at the Monza circuit for the way in which the Italian Grand Prix ended under the Safety Car period is still loud in the ears of the Formula 1 and Liberty Media top management, who obviously cannot afford similar situations ‘fools’ in order to continue to take advantage of the positive image and the increased interest that Formula 1 is generating worldwide, as evidenced by the ‘sold out’ seen practically at every race weekend with record-breaking turnouts at the circuit.
Yesterday we received the confirmation that the Sprint race weekends will double in number, as compared to this year, from three to six. The World Motorsport Council – WMSC – has approved this decision through an electronic vote, but there are numerous issues taken into consideration by Liberty Media and the FIA to ensure that the public in the stands and in front of the television can experience moments of maximum entertainment in a Formula 1 race.
One of the major topics of discussion will be the Virtual Safety Car, deemed potentially unfair and advantageous for some drivers. At the same time, it has been pointed out that the VSC is an alternative solution to the Safety Car that deprives spectators of the thrill of a race restart with drivers close between them.
The big issue, however, which is under the magnifying glass in the name of the show is obviously overtaking. The introduction of the ground-effect cars was made with the hope that the new regulation would become a solid foundation for the removal of the DRS system. Drivers can chase each other more easily without excessively damaging the tires with these new cars, but the tow effect has been weakened. The DRS is still necessary to assist in overtaking, but when a ‘train’ of cars is formed with the DRS available, it becomes more difficult for drivers to overtake as long as the first car is able to keep its position.
How to fix this situation? According to what was reported by the German newspaper Auto Motor und Sport, one hypothesis is to work on the activation zones of the DRS, another one would impose a number of times the DRS is used by each driver during the race or a certain time allowed for the DRS to be used, a solution which would follow the ‘push to pass’ of Indycar: depending on the type of track, Indycar drivers have the possibility of operating a button for 150 or 200 seconds (obviously not consecutive, but in total) that increases the turbo pressure at 1650 mbar thus generating more power both for attacking and defending.
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The pursuit at all costs of an increased Formula 1 show could make things more difficult for the race leader: currently the DRS is now allowed in the first two laps of the race or after a restart, but this could also change. This means that the leader of the race would not be able to use DRS, while all opponents behind him would have the DRS activated at the start or when a Safety Car leaves the track and the race resumes.