With three main new features arriving in Formula One in 2011, there was a lot of attention on them. Here's my analysis.
After thirteen years of Bridgestone making tyres for Formula One, the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix was their last of doing so. Everyone wanted more degrading tyres, tyres which would need changing during the race, causing multiple pit stops, and creating strategy battles. And Pirelli didn't disappoint. The Italian company made the season opener in Melbourne exciting, and that Grand Prix proved that you could do well by managing your tyres, Sergio Perez executing a one-stop strategy on his way to seventh place. Then Pirelli created so much excitement in Monaco, with Sebastian Vettel's incredible strategy guiding him to victory in the Principality. The excitement Pirelli's rapidly degrading tyres had created continued into the next part of the season, with things like the very late stops for the medium compound tyres in Germany thrilling us all. The difference between the option and prime compound was so great that drivers would rather make an extra pit stop so that they could spend less time on the slower, prime tyre. Sadly, Pirelli got quite conservative towards the end of the season, and sort of lost the excitement at the start of the year. This didn't however detract from their brilliant first season, in which they really helped the racing.
VERDICT: Really really good, made the season even more enjoyable, but a bit conservative at the end.
DRAG REDUCTION SYSTEM (DRS)
Definitely the most controversial of the three new features, DRS allowed drivers one second or less behind another driver to open their rear wing, reducing drag and giving them a chance of overtaking. The innovation was designed to increase overtaking in Formula One, without it being too easy. This is where the controversy and mixed opinions came about. Some F1 fans believed that DRS made overtaking too easy, and it can't be denied that at some tracks this was the case, in particular at Canada and Belgium. Sometimes the FIA experimented with two DRS zones, at Canada, Europe, Italy, India and Abu Dhabi. Italy worked really well out of these, and in some ways, so did Valencia, as they created an oppurtunity without making it easy. However, when there was a double detection and double activation zone at Abu Dhabi, overtaking in the first DRS zone was pointless, as you would be re-passed in the second DRS zone. This was a shame for drivers overtaking in the first one. However, at places like Germany, Japan and Korea, DRS worked brilliantly, helping the racing and creating battles. Despite being a supporter of the system, there have being mistakes this season, sometimes the zones haven't being right, or not the right length etc.
VERDICT: A great system which certainly has its flaws and needs improving for this upcoming season, but I hope it is here to stay.
KINETIC ENERGY RECOVERY SYSTEM (KERS)
After its indifferent debut year in 2009, KERS returned to Formula One in 2011. Some didn't think it would make much effect, and it probably was overshadowed somewhat by DRS. However, KERS was responsible for some very good overtakes in the season. Furthermore, it was crucial at the start of the races, with Fernando Alonso's brilliant start from fourth to lead at Spain being largely down to KERS. It came in very useful when overtaking as well though, with Lewis Hamilton's crafty overtake on Sebastian Vettel for the lead of the Chinese Grand Prix being largely down to his clever deployal of KERS in an unusual place. KERS was really exciting in qualifying, with drivers using the weekend to try and find the best place to use it, and gain that vital 0.1-0.3 seconds per lap, which is what KERS was worth.
VERDICT: KERS is brilliant. A fun and very technologically advanced system which contributed well to the racing, even if it was a bit overshadowed by DRS.
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