Formula One Teams’ Association chairman Martin Whitmarsh defended the introduction of the controversial Drag Reduction System to F1 this year.
Speaking in a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in, Whitmarsh said the teams and FIA would alter the system during the year if necessary.
Whitmarsh said: “For some time, when we have surveyed media and fans they have questioned the amount of overtaking in Formula 1. There is a view – and not everyone accepts the view – that there is not enough overtaking.
“Overtaking in Formula 1 cars is very difficult. The standard of driving and the standard of the teams is such that it’s all very competitive, close and difficult to overtake. The technical people were given a challenge to come up with a potential solution and the Drag Reduction System was conceived.
“Of course, as you know, if you have the DRS on the leading and following car then you don’t achieve very much. So you have to prioritise the drag reduction for the car behind.
“As soon as you do that it is a complication and it may well be that it’s too complicated for all fans to appreciate. And it’ll be a trade – whether the system creates lots of overtaking and that compensates for the additional complication is something we can assess.
“I think, though, there are lots of opinions. I’ve heard people say it won’t make a difference, I’ve heard people say it will make overtaking too easy.
“But the fact is that we’ve got a device now fitted to the cars we can – that is, Formula 1, the FIA and the teams – vary the authority of that to make it easier or harder to overtake and that will undoubtedly take some tuning.
“I can understand the viewpoint that ‘an additional complication, is that what the fans and spectators want?’ All you can say is it isn’t easy to find a way to increase overtaking. This is an attempt, if it doesn’t work or it’s too confusing, then you can limit the authority, you can turn them off. What you can’t do mid-season is react to poor overtaking.
“Last year I think after the abolition of refuelling and the first race in Bahrain many of us were very concerned for the season ahead. As it transpired it turned into one of the most fascinating Formula 1 championships in history. So I think we’ve got a tool, if it isn’t working, or it’s confusing, or it’s unnecessary, then you just prevent its operation. But we have to wait and see.”
Whitmarsh said he was satisfied with the safety of the system despite some drivers raising concerns: “I think the issues are: can the teams design a system which moves the wing safely? I suspect that the teams can and I think it’s manageable, though clearly every piece of complication that you put into a car arguably decreases safety.
“And I think the other issue is driver workload. Certainly our drivers don’t see an issue. I think Ferrari’s and I’m sure Mercedes’ drivers won’t have an issue.”
However he said that some teams with less efficient systems may “have more issues with reducing driver workload.”
Image ?é?® Williams/LAT