Silverstone was the tonic F1 badly needed. The race didn’t disappoint and, just as importantly, the widely-anticipated large crowd turned up to see it.
That granted Formula One some respite from the criticism it endured following a series of unspectacular events which had focused attention on the sport’s shortcomings during the buil-dup to the race.
On Wednesday the results of a survey of over 200,000 fans, run by the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, identified serious dissatisfaction with the level of competitiveness between the teams. However it also found fans “believe that the championship structure and grand prix weekends are well formatted with few changes required”.
With impeccable comic timing, two days later the Strategy Group proudly declared that “several exciting and innovative changes to the qualifying and race weekend formats have also been discussed and are being evaluated by FIA and FOM for a 2016 introduction”.
One could not ask for a plainer illustration of the fact that those running the show are wasting time trying fix things that aren’t broken.
Come Sunday evening, some viewed the vast and mostly contended crowd which departed Silvestone and took it as a sign that all is well with F1 after all. But less than 24 hours after the chequered flag fell in Northamptonshire, reality bit hard.
Lotus F1 Team Limited appeared on the daily cause list of Companies Court: a winding-up petition had been brought against the team due to unpaid debts. They are presently labouring under a two-week deadline to reach a settlement.
This was a reminder of the root cause of many of F1’s woes at present, one which the Strategy Group appears determined to ignore. While court action has thrust Lotus’s problems into view, much of the financial iceberg F1 is drifting towards remains hidden below water. Last week Max Mosley claimed six of F1’s ten constructors are in danger; at Silverstone Vijay Mallya talked about teams asking each other “are you going to be around next year?”; employees at some teams wait anxiously each month to see if their pay cheques arrive.
The latest raft of proposed changes from the Strategy Group almost entirely overlooked the precarious financial situation most teams are in. Besides a fleeting indication that the “cost of supply” of F1’s power units would be considered, it did not figure at all.
This is not to say the Strategy Group’s latest suggestions were entirely without merit. Indeed, this was a decent effort from the body which signed off such nonsense as double points (dropped after one season) and standings restarts (which thankfully never happened).
Some of the better suggestions amount to correcting past mistakes, such as the narrowing of cars in 1998 and the periodic reduction in rear wheel width. Rectifying that could improve aesthetics and performance.
The plan to reintroduce refuelling was also quietly dropped, which may disappoint the 60% of respondents to the GPDA survey who appeared to believe it enhanced rather than diminished F1 racing, a view which teams correctly pointed out is disproved by empirical evidence. That serves as a valuable reminder that doing what’s best and doing what’s popular isn’t always the same thing.
But cosmetic tweaks will not be enough to dispel the F1 malaise’. Nor will complaining about the ‘negative media’. As Mallya correctly observed, “if the stability of all participants in Formula One is addressed as a matter of priority, we will have more exciting racing and we will get a lot more positive media.” It is now beyond all doubt that the major stakeholders in the Strategy Group do not consider it in their interests to do this.
Perhaps the best hope – and it seems a naively optimistic one – is that those looking to purchase CVC’s share of Formula One have a vision for its future which involves raising revenues by growing the sport, instead of sacrificing its long-term health for short-term profit.
2015 British Grand Prix
- 44.44% vote Hamilton Driver of the Weekend
- Surprises at Silverstone enliven British GP
- Reality bites after F1’s Silverstone high
- 2015 British Grand Prix team radio transcript
- Top ten pictures from the 2015 British Grand Prix
76 comments on “Reality bites after F1’s Silverstone high”
9th July 2015, 12:04
I think we’re in a situation where it’s “worth complaining”, because a lot of it is great.
It’s time someone else took over though. The financial model for teams has been moved away from sponsorship to TV revenue and Bernie has just used that to ‘manage’ the teams. He likes teams to go bust from time to time, for the drama.
And the coverage isn’t as good as it could be, which is a waste.
9th July 2015, 12:23
TV coverege is bad.
9th July 2015, 19:57
for how much it costs to watch the sport, and the fact every car runs with cameras, it’d be nice to be able to choose the camera i want to watch the sport with – any camera. even the manor team. i’ve noticed there isn’t enough camera footage of the back markers – the incident in silverstone with the lotuses wasn’t even clearly visible from the torro rosso’s camera, and it’s incredible there isn’t footage from the lotuses or the mclaren of alonso. same with austria – no mclaren footage
9th July 2015, 13:39
I agree, Bernie did a lot of good, but it’s time the sport found someone else.
9th July 2015, 12:28
Silverstone’s high: a fantastic start by both Williams, a poor start by both Mercedes, and some rain.
In the end it all went to normal borefest with a 2015 standard podium. Some drivers did really well in the rain though, like Hamilton and Vettel.
I was disappointed by the race, and I know it’s not like the majority, but that put aside, for me that’s all external factors and it hides the fact that there were not much overtaking or wheel-to-wheel action.
Arguments against aero, DRS, tokens and pit-stop overtakes are still valid, and Silverstone remains a one-off high so far. Hope it gets better for the remaining of the season.
Vortex Motio (@vortexmotio)
9th July 2015, 19:09
We may be in the minority, but I thought Silverstone showed why F1 is in so much trouble.
The stands were full be cause because an unusual F1 track business plan to lower ticket prices (lose money) and to grow concession sales (make money). It’s unusual because Bernie’s business model with tracks is stair step their hosting fees and take all track-side advert revenue, so most tracks jack up ticket pricing to try to break even.
If there was no rain, then race was decided off the start line, then at the safety car restart, and finally during the single pit-stop.
Pirelli’s remit is to provide tires that enable 2 to 3 changes, but they failed miserably, as it was a 1 stopper.
Both Mercedes and Bottas were faster than Massa in the dry, yet none of those three cars were able to get close enough to fight for position. The aero wash is bad enough that DRS and degrading tires are required to enable on track passes, yet Silverstone both of those artifices failed.
The engines are so expensive that they are killing teams off of the grid, was made clear again in the Friday presser by Force India’s Mallya. Instead of doing the correct thing and reducing engine costs by changing engine regs to less expensive engine technology, folks are talking about capping expenditures, which is a pie in the sky solution with little chance to be implemented. Le Mans and sports car is a great place to experiment with batteries and hybrid engineering solutions, but the nature of formula car racing is to be a chassis and driver oriented series with engine regulations designed to enable multiple manufactures to supply affordable engines to various teams. Current battery and hybrid technology does not enable affordable engines, so to entice road car manufacturers with efficient and powerful racing engines it’s best to have efficient petrol engines producing similar power while using modern efficiency technology such as VVT, DFI, etc.
Silverstone showed us again how bad a state we are in now. Then the rain came and glossed over it temporarily.
10th July 2015, 0:04
The hybrid engines aren’t expensive to produce @vortexmotio, when they were talking about a 5th engine they were only €750k each.
The cost is in the development, which the tokens are supposed to control. I think the manufacturers could and should just bring the price down, since they want to develop the technology for their road cars.
Vortex Motio (@vortexmotio)
10th July 2015, 0:42
Tokens haven’t controlled the engine costs obviously.
Implementing a cost cap is the backwards way to fix the problem.
Changing engine regs by trimming away the immature expensive battery / hybrid technology is the traditional, and best way to bring the engine costs back to normal.
The emphasis of the new engine regs should be affordable efficiency, (modern petrol tech such as VVT, DFI, etc.), less weight, and lower overall costs for the engines by half of what is spent now. Power could / should be similar to what we have now, and efficiency can be a key part of the technology with restricted fuel flow.
That would keep it attractive to both road car manufacturers, and racing engine manufacturers such as Cosworth, Judd, Ilmor, etc.
10th July 2015, 10:11
@vortexmotio I think we should keep these engines. They could have been fantastic!
The problem is that the regulatory goal posts are a little too close.
Give the cars more fuel, say 120kg instead of the current maximum of 100kg, make sure every car is topped up before the start and increase maximum fuel flow by 20% also.
This would help negate lift and coast strategies and help the manufacturers get something more competitive. It will also allow for a little wastage. Exhaust ‘popping’, noisy engines, whistling turbos – we all want that. But it does waste fuel.
I realise that the top manufacturers will still have an advantage, but it might just help bridge the gap.
Also, the advantages of running your car lighter on fuel, aided with better fuel economy would be taken away as developing your engine to take advantage of lighter fuel loads is probably the most expensive way to chase lap times.
10th July 2015, 12:09
The tokens haven’t really kicked in yet @vortexmotio, but they’re going to.
The whole reason the manufacturers are in it is to showcase hybrid technology to sell in their road cars. And the efficiency comes from reusing both exhaust and kinetic energy to help propel the cars.
It would be fine if Renault and Honda hadn’t screwed up, but they’ll get there.
Vortex Motio (@vortexmotio)
10th July 2015, 20:36
@andybantam That solution doesn’t address the primary problem with these engines, which is they’re too expensive for F1.
Battery / hybrid technology is immature and therefore too expensive (and heavy) for F1. The best place for manufacturers to work on immature / expensive technology in motorsports remains LeMans, as is the historical case, and is today.
Formula car series are more driver and chassis oriented than LeMans, so the engines need to be reasonably priced. For the pinnacle formula car series, F1, this was the case prior to the current engine regs.
Using modern petrol engine technology (DFI, VVT, etc.) is more affordable, and very marketable, and would likely entice more road car manufacturers than we have now.
10th July 2015, 22:41
I don’t think this is the case at all tbh. Growing a new technology is a circular, incremental process. And F1 engines always took plenty of money, especially when they had rare metals in them and teams used 3 or more per car every weekend. 6m euros per year would be quite normal as a proportion of the budget.
11th July 2015, 18:42
@vortexmotio ditching an engine that has been invested in so heavily on cost grounds is more expensive than keeping with it. Also, making them easier to build by asking less from the hybrid and regeneration side will help make them more reliable. That also helps to cut costs.
Heskin Radiophonic (@heskin-radiophonic)
9th July 2015, 12:50
Montoya’s solution to stopping tyre data in races is one solution to getting more from races, and it can be implemented at no cost, immediately.
9th July 2015, 13:19
+1 I liked all of his ideas.
9th July 2015, 13:27
Montoya says lets stop tyre data in races, he drove on rock hard tyres that drivers could literally push all day on. there’s no way any team using these cheezy Pirelli’s would jeopardize a race outcome and value points to guessing.
9th July 2015, 14:13
So don’t let the teams have a say. It’s ridiculous that teams should have to agree and come up with the rules themselves. FIA need to get a backbone, say “this is going to be the rule, like it or lump it”. Sure you can’t do that on huge areas that are going to legitimately make teams consider leaving but stuff like this, which team is going to leave because of it? None. They’ll just get on with it, and so they should.
Eric Morman (@lethalnz)
9th July 2015, 14:28
have you seen some of the rules they have implemented?
i just read FIA have banned fake pit stops,
yet they cant prove the team is doing a fake pit stop as they could change their mind at the last minute and leave the driver out,
now Fake pit stops used to be part of the strategy in Micheal’s days so what made it illegal now???
GT Racer (@gt-racer)
9th July 2015, 19:56
there banned for safety reasons.
Its actually been against the rules for a while now, all there doing from Hungary is reminding teams that they shouldn’t be doing it.
Ian Stephens (@ians)
9th July 2015, 21:30
My 2007 copy of the sporting reg’s says that fake pit stops were banned then, so it has been for at least 9 seasons and probably longer.
The problem is that a lot of the reg’s are not applied, like the one which says trophies must be in the shape of traditional cups.
9th July 2015, 15:05
Rules like the fun killing Helmet change ban? Don’t need a backbone for that but a brain helps. Way to make the sport more dull. Only a fool uses the driver’s helmet to identify the car. Cars have numbers and a different colour on the camera at the top.
9th July 2015, 15:59
Of course the helmet rules was daft but I still stand by my point, the FIA should be making the rules, not the teams.
PS. Fake pit stops have been banned for years, for safety reasons, and makes complete sense to me. No point having more people in a potentially dangerous place than needs to be.
Ian Stephens (@ians)
9th July 2015, 21:45
Unfortunately Bernie was allowed to sign all the teams up to a 7-year contract where the Strategy Group makes the rules – and he gave himself enough votes to ensure that he only needs one or two teams to support his whacky ideas and he has a majority. It will stay that way until the end of 2020 or when the commercial rights are bought by someone else.
Teams signed up either because they were paid an incentive (Ferrari, Red Bull), promised one for results (Mercedes) or because they were promised significant cost reductions (Caterham, Marussia). Two teams were bankrupted in the first season because Bernie did not deliver on the cost reductions. One team came back this season, but another faces a winding up order.
Once Mercedes lock in their incentive with a second championship they might be happier to see changes, especially if their engine customers are the ones feeling the most pain.
But don’t expect the FIA to get control back until 2021.
9th July 2015, 22:33
Bernie will be dead by 2020.
Hopefully he will not take F1 with him.
Jordi Casademunt (@casjo)
9th July 2015, 16:26
Wait. Wait. WAIT.
An ex-F1 driver, giving sensible suggestions, and actually praising the new power units? Warning about how a quest for faster laptimes could hurt the racing? Saying the engines will get more powerful without knee-jerk regulation changes?
I’m confused, Montoya. I thought ex-F1 drivers were supposed to bash the current F1 regulations.
9th July 2015, 18:33
+100000000 I agree with Montoya completely. Good for him. Sensible guy.
9th July 2015, 22:02
I’m not sure about ideas that involve *LESS* technology in racing as being the way to go for F1.
I also would like to see Montoya take a current F1 car for a spin with his current ideas of how to improve racing– His familiarity with F1 is 9 years out of date, and significantly different from what F1 has become. I don’t think removing brake/tire telemetry is going to improve racing without changes to brakes and tires as well.
Craig Wilde (@wildfire15)
9th July 2015, 13:01
The Strategy Group and the Tories seem to have a lot in common. They’re not interested in solving real problems unless it affects them or their chums and instead come up with trumped up ideas that make it worse for those who can’t ‘fight back’ so they can keep everything for themselves. Hell, they seem to be actively listening to surveys that say ‘to fix this problem you must do this’ so they can go against the advise and make things worse.
Jules Winfield (@jules-winfield)
9th July 2015, 13:13
Reading the transcript of Friday’s press conference at the British GP confirmed to me that the people at the top of the sport are largely clueless and out-of-touch. Of the six people present, only Mallya and Kaltenborn made any sense at all. Given that, it’s no surprise that the Strategy Group is equally clueless and incompetent.
9th July 2015, 13:40
Couldn’t agree more. I’m starting to get worried about all this talk of changing the format of the weekend etc… Formula one seems to be changing from an established sport with its heritage and history to an entertainment product that changes at the the whims of the noisiest detractors. The fundamental problems with F1 are known; unfair funding for teams, slowish cars (relative to some years) and slight lack of track action (sometimes!) but now we want to change to everything else?
Why do we need a sprint race to finalise the grid? (A suggestion that seems to be gaining some traction) A car with good quality pace and poorer race pace will end up being demoted during the sprint and make ‘qualifying’ pointless, how will have the cars line up on the grid in order of race pace competitiveness help the race? This doesn’t seem to have been considered by the ‘powers that be’.
F1 needs to respect itself more, is it worth changing to DNA of the sport to pander to those who are bored? What would these same fans say if they were to watch races from the 70s/80s, a period regarded by some as the ‘golden age’ would we change everything then?
My fear is that we are becoming so convinced that F1 is broken, that the sport will ‘correct’ itself into a mediocre and ‘fake’ entertainment formula.
9th July 2015, 13:53
Eric Morman (@lethalnz)
9th July 2015, 14:49
we have Formula 5000 in the Southern Hemisphere about 5 or 6 races a year and they are out of this world, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4_tT7mODZQ
how it used to be.
10th July 2015, 0:12
@lethalnz, and others, nice link to Classic racers, but I recommend the 1979 season finale at Oran Park for real racing with F1 cars in the field.
I have said it before so bear with me, If all that is required is 1000 hp and lots of noise at much lower cost, then Chevy small blocks with a couple of turbos can do the job, but is that really F1?
9th July 2015, 14:56
Yes, I never understand the appeal of “sprint race qualifying”. Unless there’s unexpected event (rain or accidents) the “main race” result will not be much different than the sprint race result, especially if the cars are put into parc ferme conditions after the sprint race. Also if its still the same race albeit with only half the distance, with how F1 races usually goes recently, most people will probably just watch the sprint race and skip the main race.
9th July 2015, 14:09
what was so high about it?? it was only more interesting in context to the rest of the season, there was nothing great about it, what we saw was the driver in the best car make mistakes (trying to pass massa, and then going offroad in the wet), and still win the race – when he couldnt overtake in race, the pitstop and mercedes superior speed decided the race, not the driving, also we saw that rain was again one of the only thing that livens up an f1 race, as the racing is so bland. also we are still seeing the best drivers in the field not fighting for wins, they got lucky to get 10th and 3rd.
9th July 2015, 18:35
10th July 2015, 13:55
So what you saying is Silverstone was only good because it was good if it had not been good it would of been bad. Maybe time for you to watch another sport if you could not find any interest i that race.
If this did not happen if that did not happen the race would be bad but it did happen and it was good. Some people just moan and want the impossible or the complete opposite of what us actually happening.
9th July 2015, 14:09
I think your caveat that this is overly optimistic will prove to be the case. If someone(s) are willing to pay billions to get into F1, I seriously doubt they will be doing so to enhance the sport. My guess is that they will either turn a blind eye to the same problems we have now (a la CVC) and siphon off profits (ibid.). Hope that’s wrong, but not holding my breath.
9th July 2015, 14:11
“either” is unnecessary and I would delete it if I could.
ColdFly F1 (@)
9th July 2015, 15:53
It’s probably not as naïve as you claim; many businesses base their strategy on long term growing of the cake rather than picking up all the cherries in the short run.
CVC as a PE firm have a sole interest of selling their investment at a maximum profit by maximising short term profit (picking the cherries).
If other investors treat F1 based on its strategic opportunity then they might help to let the sport grow which can only be done based on a big competitive field of healthy teams.
10th July 2015, 11:28
A small observation –
Every single company I’ve worked for that has sold up to a Private Equity company has had the soul sucked out of it.
The function of a Private Equity company is to grow private equity of its shareholders, regardless of market conditions.
F1 not generating enough revenue? So what. Pay me.
Circuits losing money because the fees are too high? So what. Pay me.
CVC didn’t become this big by offering discounts and signing cheques. Each and every board member will get their forcasted return, or more. That’s just the way capitalism works at the very top.
Just in case you were wondering about the boring new races remaining on the calender, at the expense of the traditional circuits. It’s because the money is there. The high flyers can meet there in the hospitality suites and do some deals and get friendly with that area’s elite and powerful. The racing has almost become a secondary function to the running of high end business.
CVC will sell up when they can get the best price and not a moment sooner. They won’t sell up for the benefit of us, or the potential new owners.
We’ll only have our F1 back when someone comes in with a focus on attracting the motor racing consumer and is less interested in the growth of the market share of their other often unrelated business interests.
9th July 2015, 15:17
I actually do share this naive hope. Because I don’t think new owners will continue to manage the sport like Bernie/CVC have been doing the last years.
CVC sold TV rights to Skysports or other pay TV channels to optimize their income, regardless fan opinion.
They replaced good venues by others that paid them more, regardless fan opinion. (or public opinion in the case of Bahrain)
And now they want to sell.
This all looks like a well planned exit strategy to me: get the most out of it and then sell it.
Yes, they did do damage to the sport in that process which could lower the price of the product, but it’s not broken beyond repair. And I think Formula 1 is still a very solid investment for any owner, so the price of the product will still be exactly what CVC wants for it.
But I do think that the way CVC and Bernie managed the sport the last years is not sustainable much longer, so the new owners will have to do more for the sport in order to safeguard their investment.
I also suppose that this anticipated change in ownership is why the Strategy Group isn’t taking any structural measures: they want to know what the new owners’ plans are first.
So as long as CVC is part of this, I don’t think we will see much change.
GT Racer (@gt-racer)
9th July 2015, 20:05
Not 100% true.
CVC never sold the F1 rights to Sky, The BBC went to Sky & negotiated the deal to share the races & they then took that deal to Bernie who decided to accept it.
In other PayTV situations its more than the FreeTV broadcasters can no longer afford to produce the broadcast. In the BBC’s case for example they could afford to pay the contract for the F1 rights but could no longer afford to actually produce 19 live race weekends because of the cost’s involved in sending crew/equipment, buying satellite time etc…
Sport in General is moving towards PayTV, its not something unique to F1 & the main reason for this is that the FreeTV broadcasters can’t afford what it cost’s to produce live sports broadcast’s now. In 10 years I can see 98% or more of live sport no longer been on FreeTV, Its just the way things are going.
10th July 2015, 12:31
But PayTV reduces a sports income in other areas.
When you slash the live TV audience, just as it has in the UK, you automatically make it trickier for the participants to attract sponsors, because of the inevitable fall in the casual observer.
I can’t imagine the casual observer bothered to stump up the subscription fee for something they’ll not be religiously watching every time there’s a race.
Yes, they can watch on the BBC for free, but only a select amount of races.
F1, in general, doesn’t attract the same kind of fan as other sports. Look at football. I can understand how that works on PayTV. I can understand why sponsors want to get involved. Many events happening all at the same time, people flicking in between matches, matches in the morning, matches in the afternoon… etc etc. F1, at best, offers a maximum of two hours action every two weeks. By comparison to other PayTV sports, it offers poor value.
PayTV has also come in at exactly the wrong time. I’m paying Sky a load of my hard earned to watch drivel. It’s madness to think you can grow a sport under these conditions. And we’re in its home market! It’s hard to understand.
We haven’t even started on how having two broadcasters competing damages the coverage. Normally, competition is a good thing, but tabloid sensationalism runs through Sky’s blood – and it shows. Not to be out done by the factual and conservative approach by the BBC (EJ aside), Sky seem to chase rumours, which leads to correspondents asking drivers and team members questions that are just embarrassing. The anchors don’t seem to be that interested. I get the impression that some of teams aren’t happy with Sky either, with their cameramen just walking straight in to restricted areas, or filming through a tinted window of a motor home to watch people eating their dinner in private. All with the excuse that ‘the people need to know’. I feel embarrassed watching it sometimes.
It’s not an easy one to solve, this. But, this is where we are.
9th July 2015, 15:08
I am generally open to changes and I think that a lot of Strategy Group’s proposals should be considered, even the qualifying race should not be out of the question. But if there are just 14 or 16 cars on the grid, then no rule book will make F1 look exciting and spectators and sponsors will just keep voting with their feet.
Haruki Murakami has a short story called “The Elephant Vanishes” where an old elephant and his keeper disappear without a trace. The case remains unresolved but one can conclude from the narrative that the elephant’s existence was impractical and it did not fit in with a rational world that meticulously weighs pros and cons. When the animal goes missing, everyone is shocked (“How can such a large animal simply vanish?”) but the mysterious case is soon forgotten as other events grab people’s attention.
The last weekend proved that the elephant is still relevant, at least at circuits like Silverstone where fans are ready to spend far too many pounds and spite the rain just to see their heroes in action. But that is not the case in many of the places that F1 visits these days. Grandstands are getting emptier and TV audience is switching to other channels, while several rich dictators can now enjoy watching F1 in their backyard.
What if the grid keeps dwindling and rising costs make the sport even more unaffordable? Will ‘cosmetic tweaks’ really compensate for that? Or will F1 simply become too irrational for this rational 21st century? And how many people will care if it vanishes?
9th July 2015, 15:21
I think those 2 quote above are the most important thing here. The fans believe the fundamental of racing is correct albeit need a few tweaks. However, the teams financial situation is also dire and any costly changes will surely kill them in near future if not outright next year for some teams. Some of the biggest complaints is really dominant Mercedes, fake passes thanks to DRS, and weak Pirelli tires (not Pirelli fault).
Considering the DRS passes, I liked the DRS concept (as I really like active aero) so I don’t want to see it go even though I agree current implementation is bad for F1. I just have an idea how to improve it. So lets make each circuit has multiple DRS detection point (DRS point) but no specific DRS zone. Ideally before every corner (or group of flowing corners) has DRS point and exceptionally long straight may have a point in the middle of it, or we can just use timing at each sector (so 3 DRS point per circuit). Each driver can use their DRS once per lap anywhere provided they are within 1s behind another car in the last DRS point. DRS is stay opened until the driver applied any amount of brake just like how it works now. The idea is the team doesn’t have anything to change on how to develop the car (so no cost to them compared to a research on new aero regulation), making multiple DRS point itself should be fairly cheap and the cost paid by FOM/FIA. It also make DRS passes more skillful and unpredictable because it can happen anywhere especially on circuits that have multiple straights and the driver who get passed can try to repass on same lap and they wont trade the places back and forth too much because they still only have 1 activation limit per lap.
ColdFly F1 (@)
9th July 2015, 16:10
I’d rather see a DRS which is free to use any time for all drivers.
I’d rather see a DRS which delivers on creating easier following, rather than higher top speeds.
Why not create a ‘DRS’ on the front wing which increases (!) downforce. This way it enables close following in the corners and does not create a benefit for unless you are closely behind another car.