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GP Week : Issue 176
F1 >>> NEWS DRS USE TO BE RESTRICTED IN 2013 MCLAREN & FORMULA E: TOGETHER IN ELECTRIC DREAMS Now that the FIA is confident that the teams have ironed out all of the creases in their drag reduction systems after two years of on-track use, the rules governing the DRS will be changed for the 2013 season. According to FIA race director Charlie Whiting, drivers will now only be able to use their DRS in the dedicated DRS zones in practice and qualifying. For the past two years, drivers have been able to use the DRS freely on Friday and Saturday, and have only been restricted to zonal use during the grands prix themselves. “We are going to prohibit the use of DRS in qualifying and practice, except at the places it is going to be used in the race,” Whiting confirmed at a specially convened press conference in the Austin paddock on Thursday. “That’s something we told the teams about the other day and it's something we are going to do for safety reasons. “We believe that there have been a number of incidents – of course one could argue that early deployment of DRS is not that different to throttle, for example, but the DRS is a sort of on/off switch and the throttle can be modulated so it's not quite the same thing. “The whole point of the DRS was to improve overtaking in the race – that’s the sole and stated reason for it – and we didn’t really want to have it used in qualifying and practice before but we were rather worried we may not have an effective DRS,” the race director explained. “Now I believe with all the information we have, we should not see any reduction in the power of the DRS. I think teams will still use because even though they’ll only be allowed to use it in say two sections, the benefit will still be there for them. I’m sure it will work just as it does now. “The point is no one really understood how effective it would be. Most of the engineers told us it would be similar in effect to KERS - so 0.2s, 0.3s or 0.4s a lap – but that clearly hasn’t been the case. What we see now is that it can be anywhere between 0.5s and 1.5s a lap depending on the circuit. So it’s massive in some cases. “There are circuits like Melbourne or Silverstone where the DRS doesn’t work particularly well because there’s not a long enough straight,” Whiting conceded. “But on other circuits if the DRS does become a little less effective then we can make the DRS zones longer. Overall it won’t really change the effectiveness of the DRS, which was not how we felt based on what the teams were telling us when we introduced it. But we want to stop it because we are concerned about the high number of incidents reported to us by the drivers.” McLaren has become the first F1 team to announce a connection with Formula E, the FIA's all-electric single-seater formula which will make its debut in 2014. But McLaren have not become the first Formula One team to enter the FIA’s new championship. Instead, McLaren Electronic Systems has announced that it will be joining forces with Spark Racing Technology to supply engines, transmissions, and associated electronics to the nascent series. “I’m a passionate believer in the role that motorsport can play in showcasing and spearheading the development of future technologies, and regard the Formula E concept as an exciting innovation for global motorsport,” McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said when the news of the partnership was announced. “McLaren has worked with Frédéric Vasseur for many years, and our association has been very successful. Working together in Formula E, McLaren's world-class technology and Spark Racing Technology’s expert knowledge will combine to allow both companies to stay at the forefront of technical innovation and hopefully open up great opportunities for the racing cars of tomorrow.” Formula E came about following a request from the European Commission to the FIA to create a race series that would promote the use of electric vehicles. Given the EU’s involvement in the concept, it came as a surprise when FIA president Jean Todt revealed that Formula E Holdings were contacting cities to pitch the concept of hosting a Formula E event – even EU member states have not been lining up to get involved in what was ostensibly the Commission’s baby. “The promoter at the moment is working on a calendar,” the FIA president told the Financial Times. “I know that a lot of big cities in Europe, in America... Big interest in America. I know that New York has been contacted, Washington DC has been contacted, Miami has been contacted, Los Angeles has been contacted. “In Canada Vancouver has been contacted. A lot of European countries. And the idea, the promoter will come with a kind of big package to implement in the cities to organise... You know, it’s a bit like the circus. They will come and build the layout in one existing part of the city. The great thing is that it’s electric power and electric power has only for me a future in the cities. I don’t believe at all in one electric car going from Paris to London.” 9 GPWEEK.com // 9 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: