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NOVEMBER 16, 2012

DRS to go in practice and qualifying

By Tony Dodgins (@TonyDodgins)

The FIA is to outlaw the use of drag reduction systems (DRS) in practice and qualifying during grands prix from next year, FIA race director Charlie Whiting anounced in Austin. The move is being made on safety grounds.

From next year, DRS will only be deployable in the specific zones in which it is ueable in the race, rather than over the whole lap, which has been the case in practice and qualifying.

"We didn't want to have it in practice and qualifying before but we were worried we would not have effective DRS systems," Whiting said. "Now, all the information we have is that we will not see any reduction in the power of DRS."

The other initial concern among the teams was that with parc ferme conditions operative between qualifying and race, DRS would need to be operative in qualifying and race as gearing could not be changed. Once that was accepted, it was decided to allow it to be operative for the whole lap.

Whiting, however, said in Texas: "We're doing it for safety reasons. We believe that there have been a number of incidents and drivers have told me it is becoming increasingly prevalent.

"One could argue that the early deployment of DRS is not much different to the early deployment of the throttle, but the DRS is an on/off switch whereas the throttle can be moderated, so it's not quite the same thing, and the sole point of DRS was to improve overtaking in the race."

Whiting said that initial estimates of the value of using DRS everywhere in a qualifying lap was around half a second, whereas the reality is more like a second and a half at some venues.

Also new for 2013 will be yet more stringent tests applied to flexible front wings and, in the interest of cost saving, a reduction in the head count for race teams at a grand prix.

Currently, teams limit operational staff to 48 voluntarily, but with a number of exceptions. From next year, the number will increase to 60 but with no exceptions which, it is believed will reduce the overall head count by around five.