KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) and DRS (Drag Reduction System) have been part of Formula One for a few seasons now to increase the competitiveness of the series, especially to increase the number of overtakes during races, although making the races more artificial. The DRS especially has splitted the opinions of people: some like the concept, while others are criticising the system a lot. In Formula One’s support series GP2 and GP3, there are no KERS and DRS in use, meanwhile World Series by Renault has taken the DRS system for use. Would it be good to bring DRS and KERS to the feeder series? A look at the pros and cons of the concept.
Positive side of DRS and KERS would be making the overtakes easier for the drivers and make the audience to see more position changes during races. Both systems could be used in the same way as they are used in F1, and using the systems in support series would be a part of the learning process and would help the drivers to take the step forward to Formula 1. KERS would make these young drivers to think smarter as they would have to plan the right time and right places to use it. KERS collects energy on braking and stores it for later usage, giving drivers 80 more horsepower for usage as long as the KERS button is pressed down. DRS meanwhile is a special system on the car’s rear wing and it’s used to get more downforce on straights, making it possible for a driver to get higher speed at that point and therefore it gives a good chance for overtaking. The DRS can be used during races only if a driver is under one second behind the car in front, and the system must be used on circuit’s specified DRS areas. In most scenarios, the driver ahead is handicapped, and is unable to defend his position and the driver behind who uses DRS will gain the position.
In theory, Does it sound good to get the KERS and DRS for the young drivers in GP2 and GP3. Or would it cause more chaos to the situation?
Both series, GP2 and GP3, are known for close head-to-head battles on the track. Sometimes the battles end badly, but sometimes the battles lead into exciting manoeuvres. This is a part of the learning process of young drivers, which will teach them the limits of racing. That is also the purpose of the two series as they are the closest ones to Formula One and they should be able to educate the drivers and make them more ready as they make a step closer to the big dream.
All this leads us to a big question, Would it really be smart to make overtaking easier in these two series?
It wouldn’t be wise to equip the artificial equipments, as all the cars are similar to each other. Every driver is driving with a similar car, meaning the difference comes from the car setup, driving skills and competitiveness of the set of tyres in use. This is very different compared to Formula 1 where there are clear differences between cars and teams. The time difference can be around 4 seconds between the fastest and the slowest car in F1, while in GP2 and GP3 there’s no big difference when comparing the pure pace between the cars.
DRS and KERS would make overtaking too easy, and the DRS would kill the proper head-to-head action which is something that the support series shouldn’t lose.
Pirelli tyres have been very good for the series, and has been one of the reason for these close battles, as the drivers have a challenge to look after their tyres . As the tyres reach the cliff, the pace will start going down and the drivers behind might be able to catch the gap in front. When drivers fight for a position they also lose time, which means more and more drivers behind can catch the gap and there can be 5 drivers fighting for a position, as seen in most races. This is something that has been great to watch in the GP2 and GP3 this year. When the battles have been fair, it has been a huge pleasure to watch the young drivers fight it out on the track. There shouldn’t be any changes made, as it’s something the fans love to see.
It would also be dangerous to bring the DRS to these two series, if the action from the stewards stays in a way similar to the current period. Penalties haven’t been consistent during the season and this has led into multiple problems. The drivers should get penalised when they go against the rules, but this hasn’t been the case in all situations so far this season. Couple of drivers have negotiated their car deliberately onto others, without getting a race ban. The maximum punishment was an exclusion from the session, where that particular incident has occurred. Imagine if two cars going head to head on a straight and other driver has the DRS open and is about to make his move on the slower car ahead. Some drivers so far seem to be fiddling with danger, as they are taking the rules for granted, and if the DRS comes into play, we might see some needless collisions.
KERS as a system was dangerous when first introduced in Formula 1 due to the vast technicalities involved, and the mechanics weren’t equipped to deal with the system, but there has been no bigger problems from KERS in Formula 1 and therefore it would be possible to take the system for GP2 and GP3 as it would give a slight boost when the driver needs it. Right now KERS would possibly be much more realistic and better choice for the Formula 1 feeder series than DRS as it can be equipped with all cars, and all drivers would be able to use it at any point of time, and the drivers would get ideal preparation for their Formula 1 debut. Equipping the cars with DRS would ensure more chaos which wouldn’t help a drivers preparation.
On the other hand, bringing the DRS and especially the KERS system to support series would also increase costs, which is another negative point. The costs should stay low as otherwise it would be very difficult to keep the teams in the series. The GP2 series already saw two big teams leaving the sport after the 2012 season, as both iSport and Ocean Racing Technology left the series due to financial issues.
Keeping the financial constraints in mind, there should be no changes made for the GP2 cars in the next three years. This also means it wouldn’t be possible to bring KERS and DRS to the series at this point of time, until the economic conditions gradually improves across the World. The same thing goes with the other feeder series, as the GP3 car regulations changed this season, meaning the cars could stay similar for at least three more seasons.
It seems to be better idea to leave the series as they are right now, as they are both bring something that are rare in Formula 1 as of today, the head to head battles. Something that real racing is about.
Written by: Sini Salminen and