It was recently confirmed that the Double-DRS system will be banned for the 2013 season. The system was pioneered by Mercedes AMG Petronas team at the onset of the 2012 season, and another Double-DRS system is currently being developed by Lotus. Lotus originally protested against the system at the Chinese Grand Prix, only to have their protest rejected. They are currently the only other team besides Mercedes who have developed a Double-DRS.
Cost-cutting is the root cause of the ban of any Double-DRS mechanism; for several years now Formula 1 has been looking for any unnecessary expenses that can be removed from the sport. Formula 1 wants to avoid situations which may put teams in a ‘development race,’ and increase the cost of racing. For instance, the blown exhausts of 2011 were deemed a necessity up and down the pit lane, and millions of pounds were spent to find the perfect positioning of the exhaust pipes on the floor of the cars. This is the sort of engineering war that can raise the cost of racing for every team on the grid.
The F1 Technical Working Group has decided that the Double-DRS system is too expensive a path for Formula 1 teams to take, and the majority of teams agreed that it should be banned for the 2013 season. Ross Brawn disagreed by stating, “People talk about the huge cost, but there isn’t really a huge cost. You all know that there are a couple of carbon pipes running down the car, and the man on the street will tell you that they cost a few thousands pounds – they are not millions of pounds.” Are the majority of teams really agreeing in order to cut costs?
Mercedes and Lotus have spent an unspecified amount of time and money developing their systems, and should now have the right to use these systems throughout the season. I completely agree with the fact that F1 costs are too high, and there are solutions to solving the cost problem. However, clever and (according to Ross Brawn) relatively inexpensive technological advancements should not be put to waste so quickly.
The money that Lotus and Mercedes have spent developing their systems has effectively gone down the drain, and they are now left spending more of their money on other areas of the car, without any advantage given to them. Furthermore, the “majority” of other teams who voted to ban the device from F1 in 2013 now gain a relative advantage over Mercedes and Lotus, considering that they have spent less money and will share the same benefits brought by the original DRS system. Where is the sense in that? It must be noted that this is not an FIA decision. This decision was agreed upon by the majority of F1 teams, and I get the sense that several teams vote to ban the system in order to hold Mercedes and Lotus back. It is the logical thing to do in such a competitive sport, but it ruins some of the development and innovation in F1.
Costs in F1 can be reduced in other areas. Everywhere we look in F1, there are massive cost-cutting opportunities. In the pits, the motor homes, the garages. By reducing several smaller factors in F1, one could significantly reduce the cost of racing all while keeping the development of the cars razor sharp. Without any room for development, eventually all F1 cars will approach identical aerodynamic designs, ruining the uniqueness of a multi-make series. F1 fans across the globe can only hope that reductions in cost are found elsewhere, and F1 engineers can be free to design new, exciting solutions.