We call it the DRS, because that’s all it is. The purpose of the DRS is to improve overtaking and that’s what we’re trying to do.
2012 Mercedes W03 wing system has became a hot debate since before the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne last month. Rivals like Red Bull and Lotus have been objecting to the design and requested clarification from FIA race director Charlie Whiting. Mercedes claimed that the system is part of the DRS and it complies with the rules and regulations of Formula 1. Currently, at least 5 teams are considering the design illegal, with Red Bull and Lotus leading the objections. FIA will be reassessing the wing system of Mercedes W03 this week.
Article 3.15 and 3.18 of technical regulations states that any system except DRS that is controlled by drivers and alters the aerodynamics of cars is prohibited and only the upper flap of the rear wing may be varied. Rivals believed the system is driver operated and since it falls outside the boundaries and cannot be considered part of DRS, hence the system is illegal.
Let’s look deeper into the DRS system.
When DRS flap is opened, it reveals a duct and air is sucked and channeled via thin pipes all the way through the chassis to the nosecone. Then it is channeled down to the front wing flaps, stalling the wing, reducing drag and raising top speed. When DRS is enabled, the loss of drag at the rear will cause the car to be imbalance in terms of downforce at the front and at the rear and stalling the front wing flap can reduce the drag and downforce at the front of the car, bringing the car back to balance. And, when the DRS is not operating, the front and rear wing is not stalled and both front and rear downforce can be restored.
The question to be considered is whether the operation of the system is passive or driver operated and this secondary function of the DRS can be accepted. Response from FIA is expected before the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai at 13-15 April 2012.
***UPDATE*** Lotus has filed a protest against Mercedes’s rear wing on Thursday ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix and on the same night, the stewards had agreed to reject the protest because they believe the system was completely passive. (Click here to read the full decision by FIA)