Grid penalties and DRS on chopping block

Ross Brawn has revealed that discussions are taking place in order to find a better solution to grid penalties and the use of DRS in Formula 1.

With the increasing regularity of grid penalties, there is a constant criticism that a driver should not be punished for technical issues which are completely out of their control and that it only hurts the racing spectacle on a Sunday.

Brawn conceded that grid penalties are “massively unpopular” with teams and fans alike, and that system needs to be changed.

“I hate the fact that we’re having to affect the racing because of the technical issues,” Brawn said in an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com.

“I know you can say if a car breaks down in a race that’s a technical issue and you’ve affected the race, but I think the fans understand that.

“For a fan to stomach that his hero is on the back of the grid because he had to change the engine, that’s not great sport.

“We’ve got to find a solution to that, either through a different form of penalty or to remove the penalty altogether and just live with the problem that it was trying to fix.”

Brawn said that the owners and the FIA are now engaged in an open dialogue to try and implement a better system.

“We are working with the FIA now to try and see if there is a better solution in the future, and certainly hope with a new engine and new rules we’ll definitely have a better solution,” Brawn added.

“Maybe we’ll be able to implement a better solution before then, because it’s a massively unpopular aspect of Formula 1 at the moment.

“One of the things that has been suggested is loss of constructors points. There could be other more discrete penalties.

“We used to have the token system for the engine, and that wasn’t bad actually. It got a little bit complicated, but you could remove the tokens for a while.

“I think it needs a lateral think about. The grid penalties are very unpopular, and we should be finding a better solution.”

The use of DRS is also frowned upon by many as it promotes artificial racing in what is supposed to be pinnacle of motosport.

And again, Brawn has said this is another system currently under review.

“It’s a compromise,” said Brawn.

“I think we have it, and what we should do is find a better solution. Because it is an enhancement to aid overtaking, and what we really want is the cars to be able to slipstream one another properly and overtake.

“So for me the solution, which we’ve now started a program on, is to develop the cars, design the cars, so that they can race each other in close proximity.

“A current Formula 1 car is totally optimised around running by itself. The teams, when they go in the wind tunnel and create their CFD programmes to develop the car, it’s all done in isolation. So when you put another car around it, the car doesn’t work as well.

“What we are working on is generating the capacity to look at cars that are racing each other in close proximity, and what sort of designs we need to enable that to happen.

“And I think when we do that, which is our ambition for 2021, then we will have cars that don’t need DRS.

“There may be other solutions that are needed to achieve that, but they won’t have the artificiality of DRS. Because it is mixed opinion.

“I think fans want to see a great overtaking manoeuvre, they don’t want to see a push-the-button overtake and get back in and carry on.”

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