Speeds are not always representative of true performance but with the current Formula 1 rules allowing DRS use when within one second of the car in front of, you need to make sure you are not a sitting duck if someone is breathing down your neck.
Looking at the speed trap figures from qualifying on the main straight, where the DRS could be used freely within the activation zone, gives a reasonable indication of who has the speed on the straight to attempt an overtake. In the past, the DRS was worth somewhere in the region of 15km/h, so if we assume it will be similar this year that’s the disadvantage against a car with DRS if you are defending.
Below is a table that includes the speed trap figure at the finish line and at the main speed trap 158 metres before Turn 1. The final column shows the speed increase between those two points, both of which are in the DRS activation zone.
Engine power and drag will be the prime mover in all three of these columns. But engine power is a little more important accelerating out of the last corner to the finish line and car drag a little more important going through the speed trap.
|FINISH SPEED (KM/H)||TRAP SPEED (KM/H)||DELTA (KM/H)|
As you can see from all of the columns, both Red Bulls with their Honda power units head the field. Surprisingly close behind are the two Alpine cars, who are the only Renault engine users – so perhaps at last Renault has joined the club as far as PU performance is concerned.
After that, it becomes a bit of a mishmash except when you head down to the bottom of the columns. With the exception of the two Williams cars, who we can assume are lacking downforce and hence drag, there is a lot of uncertainty there. That doesn’t speak well of the Mercedes-engined cars.
They are not great off the last corner, they are not great through the speed trap and their speed delta is also not too impressive. We can confidently say they will be burning the midnight oil in Brixworth.