Frustration Mounts as FIA Adjusts DRS Zones Without Consulting F1 Drivers
George Russell has sparked a debate over the FIA’s decision-making process as he criticizes the organization for its lack of driver input on recent DRS zone adjustments. With overtaking becoming increasingly challenging due to car evolutions and DRS zone changes, Russell is calling for greater driver involvement in key discussions to improve the sport’s excitement and safety.
Mercedes Formula 1 driver Russell has expressed his frustration over the FIA’s decision to shorten the main DRS zone on the Baku circuit by 100 meters without consulting the drivers. This year, F1 has been experimenting with DRS zones, including having four zones in Melbourne, shortening a zone in Bahrain, and now making adjustments for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.
The DRS activation point in Baku will now be 100 meters later on the main straight. Russell admits that it is a minor change, but he believes it highlights a broader issue of how little driver input is being considered.
Russell, who is currently the only Grand Prix Drivers Association director on the F1 grid following Sebastian Vettel’s retirement, mentioned that overtaking has become more challenging due to car evolutions and DRS zone shortening. He added that drivers were not consulted on these changes, and he doubts that the FIA is aware of the drivers’ concerns about the increased difficulty in overtaking.
The Mercedes driver mentioned that the topic will be brought up at the Friday drivers’ briefing. Although the 100-meter change may not have a significant impact, Russell feels that it indicates a wrong direction. He emphasized that drivers want to be involved in the decision-making process and contribute their thoughts for the betterment of the sport, and this is an area that needs improvement.
Russell shared his concerns about F1 weekends being heavily influenced by what he called “rogue” race control decisions, although he acknowledged that the FIA has a lot to manage and is “not stupid.” He noted that the Friday briefing is often not the best forum for drivers to provide input on broader issues.
Russell emphasized the need for a more collaborative approach when it comes to circuit changes or safety concerns, as seen in a recent incident during the Formula Regional European Championship at Imola, where a young driver, Adam Fitzgerald, suffered a broken back due to a sausage kerb. Drivers have been voicing their concerns about these for years, and the FIA is aware.
He believes that drivers, who are the ones actually operating the cars, can provide valuable feedback to improve both the excitement and safety aspects of the sport. Regarding the unity among drivers, Russell explained that the GPDA leadership, including himself, Anastasia Fowle, and chairman Alex Wurz, consistently communicate their positions and seek further input.
Russell emphasized that many of the issues are common sense and not overly complicated. He reiterated the drivers’ desire to be involved in relevant discussions.
Mercedes is anticipated to once again contend with Aston Martin and Ferrari. Russell shares his belief that Ferrari will be a strong contender in Baku.
Fierce Baku Battle Looms
The British driver, who has earned 18 points in this season’s world championship, believes that Ferrari has a good chance to perform well in Azerbaijan. He told Sky Sports during a press conference,
“Ferrari has typically been fast here, so they usually have some kind of strategy when it comes to soft tires. This might make them more competitive than what we’ve seen in recent races.”
The 25-year-old driver is uncertain about what to expect in Baku since half of the circuit’s corners have been resurfaced. “It’s uncharted territory, but it’s the same for all of us. We’ll approach it with an open mind and try to make the most of it. The track will be dirty during practice, making it somewhat insignificant,” Russell added.
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