Michael Schumacher's Mercedes with the rear wing closed (top) and open (bottom)

Drag Reduction System (DRS) is an innovation introduced in 2011 in an effort to improve the spectacle of Formula One by increasing overtaking. The Drag Reduction System allows drivers to open a gap in the rear wing at certain points during the race weekend, thereby removing much of the drag produced by the rear wing. This allows the car to go faster, with reduced levels of downforce. This stalling effect of the rear wing is activated by the driver, and can be deactivated either manually by the driver or automatically when the brakes are applied.

Official RegulationsEdit

FIA regulations for 2013 state that no item of bodywork may be adjustable by the driver during the race, with the exception of the DRS. The following paragraph states the official regulation on this matter.[1]

3.18 - Driver adjustable bodywork :
3.18.1 The incidence of the rearmost and uppermost closed section described in :Article 3.10.2 may be varied whilst the car is in motion provided :
  • It comprises only one component that must be symmetrically arranged about the car centre line with a minimum width of 708mm.
  • With the exception of minimal parts solely associated with adjustment of the section, no parts of the section in contact with the external airstream may be located any more than 355mm from of the car centre line.
  • With the exception of any minimal parts solely associated with adjustment of the rearmost and uppermost section, two closed sections are used in the area described in Article 3.10.2.
  • Any such variation of incidence maintains compliance with all of the bodywork regulations.
  • When viewed from the side of the car at any longitudinal vertical cross section, the physical point of rotation of the rearmost and uppermost closed section must be fixed and located no more than20mm below the upper extremity and no more than 20mm forward of the rear extremity of the area described in Article 3.10.2 at all times.
  • The design is such that failure of the system will result in the uppermost closed section returning to the normal high incidence position.
  • Any alteration of the incidence of the uppermost closed section may only be commanded by direct driver input and controlled using the control electronics specified in Article 8.2.

This is further clarified by the 2013 Sporting Regulations:


Driver adjustable bodywork permitted by Article 3.18 of the F1 Technical Regulations
a) Subject to any special conditions relevant to a specific Event, details of which the FIA will provide to each competitor at least one week before the start of an Event, the adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver at any time prior to the start of the race. In conditions of poor visibility however the race director may, at his absolute discretion, disable all such systems until conditions improve.
If the adjustable bodywork is disabled in this way at the start of any of the three periods of the qualifying practice session (Q1, Q2 or Q3) it will remain disabled for the remainder of the relevant period.
b) For the sole purpose of improving overtaking opportunities during the race the adjustable bodywork may be activated by the driver after he has completed two laps after the race start or following a safety car period.
The driver may only activate the adjustable bodywork in the race when he has been notified via the control electronics (see Article 8.2 of the F1 Technical Regulations) that it is enabled. It will only be enabled if the driver is less than one second behind another at any of the pre-determined positions around each circuit. The system will be disabled by the control electronics the first time the driver uses the brakes after he has activated the system. In conditions of poor visibility, or if yellow flags are being shown in the activation zone, the race director may, at his absolute discretion, disable all such systems until conditions improve or yellow flags are withdrawn.
The FIA may, after consulting all competitors, adjust the above time proximity in order to ensure the stated purpose of the adjustable bodywork is met.
c) In the event of a failure in the system which notifies the driver that he was within one second of the car in front, and is hence authorised to use the adjustable bodywork, the team concerned may ask the race director for permission to override the system. If permission is given in this way the onus will be upon the team concerned to ensure that their driver only uses the adjustable bodywork if he is within one second of the car in front of him.
If the failure in the system is rectified the driver may no longer use this override, the race director will notify the team if and when the fault has been remedied.

Summary of regulationsEdit

From the 2013 season, during practice sessions, qualifying and the race, the DRS can be used only within a pre-determined section of the circuit (the DRS zone). In the race, a driver is also required to be within one second of the car in front at a detection point located prior to the DRS zone.

From 2011-2012, the use of DRS had been unlimited in Practice and Qualifying sessions, subject to safe conditions. However these rules were changed for the 2013 season to improve safety.

Further to these restrictions, use of the DRS is prohibited:

  • During the first two laps of the race, or the restart from a red-flag,
  • During the first two laps following the end of a Safety Car period,
  • At any point at which the Race Director deems that the conditions are unsafe.


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