When the sauce is more important than the roast – Gianluca Calvaresi

It is well known that Easter Monday is often celebrated with the traditional grilled meat. For the success of the lunch, the quality of the meat has a decisive importance in addition to the skill of the grilled cook. However, if the meat is not of the highest quality, the infallible solution to save the lunch is to cover the flavor with a strong and tasty sauce, in order to immediately satisfy the palate of all the diners by spreading a “greedy veil” on the not memorable quality of the purchased meat. In doing so it is also difficult for the taste to be educated to recognize good meat from less good but education costs time and patience and there is always a scarcity of both of these elements.
This culinary metaphor could serve us for a reflection on real state of the show in Formula 1. There is no doubt that the 2021 season was one of the most vibrant due to the very long duel Hamilton vs Verstappen which ended with the much discussed final in Abu Dhabi. The 2022 season kicked off with an equally thrilling duel between Verstappen and Leclerc which promises to attract even more spectators in the 2021 world championship, if only for the fact that one of the two contenders leads one Ferrari.
On the eve of Imola Grand Prix the edition of 2005characterized by the memorable duel for victory between Renault’s Fernando Alonso and the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher. An exciting fight between the Spanish driver who put in place a rocky but sporty perfect defense and the German driver who threatened him in every braking of the Romagna circuit, thanks to the fact that he had fresh tires and a Ferrari that had a level of performance superior to Renault. . A film library showwhich kept everyone in suspense and that seeing it again today on YouTube, has the same effect. At that time the DRS in Formula 1 was not yet there and the sequence of variations and straights of Imola did not allow for easy overtaking. Throughout this duel Schumacher was unable to overtake Alonso even for a corner, yet it was, as we have remembered, a memorable and superfine of driving technique on the part of both. If the DRS had been there, there is no doubt that Schumacher would have overtaken Alonso’s Renault almost immediately, although he was having some difficulties in managing an engine that was not at its peak that day. In short, we would have had in exchange a further victory for Schumacher at Imola in front of his audience. Not an epic event since Schumacher has won seven times at Imola, six of which with the Cavallino. Beyond the euphoria of the Ferrari party that was to be born, the race would perhaps have filled the glorious encyclopedia of the successes of the Schumacher-Ferrari duo in a somewhat anonymous way.
But the DRS, as mentioned, was not there and that suffered duel allowed everyone to appreciate the crystalline class of the two pilots who were competing on every meter of the track making use of all the skills they had, one to attack and other to defend themselves.

When motor sport becomes a challenge between men, it manages to give its best to the public. Unfortunately this rarely happens mainly due to the mechanical means that always makes the difference but when the weather or technical conditions allow a prolonged duel between two drivers then that’s where you really get passionate and suffer with them.
The introduction of the DRS in 2011, following the very bitter championship final 2010 lost by Alonso in a Ferrari unable to overtake the slow Renault of the Russian Petrov, has solved the problem of difficult overtaking on slower drivers but has also debased the quality of the fight between two drivers who are competing in the real race. It is certainly not a new reflection. Already in the past many former pilots, Jacques Villeneuve above all, they argued that the DRS is an artifice that creates overtaking as easy as it is false.
However, the new generation of single-seaters 2022 could have represented an opportunity to do without the DRS, and in fact the maintenance of this technical solution had been uncertain until a few months before the presentations of the cars. In fact, thanks to the aerodynamics based on the return of the ground effect generated by the bottom of the car, the single-seaters have shown in fact, after these first races, to be much less sensitive to the wake effect and therefore to allow the drivers to follow closely and for many turn opponent. Exactly as thought by the FIA ​​when it wanted to rewrite the technical regulation. The adoption then of the 18-inch tires it allows pilots a less careful handling of wear and therefore more suitable for close competition. In short, the ingredients for a show for fine palates would seem to be all there. However, the DRS has remained, just like a condiment that we no longer know how to give up at the table, which allows “easy” and multiple overtaking and it is probably causing us to miss other memorable episodes of struggle to the limit between two opponents for the final victory. It also stands also by modifying the DNA of the pilots forcing them to reflect on the disadvantage of being in front (incredible to say in a car race), which is demonstrated in a plastic way by the “minuet” between Verstappen and Leclerc at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix both worried about passing the track area that enabled the use of the DRS in too unfavorable conditions.

Moreover, those who have been leading the grand prix lately have something to worry about because the extensive use of Safety Car by the race management to each car stopped along the track. The entry of the safety car on the track often leads to the “destruction” of the leader’s race strategy, since the pursuers often take advantage of it first to make an early pit stop that always pays off. Furthermore, at the restart of the race, the DRS returns to play a decisive advantage for those who follow since with the gaps reset to zero it is enough to wait for the two laps provided for by the regulation while remaining in the second gap, to return to exploit this device, obtaining an easy overtaking on the driver in front. Pilot who also has to stay firm and straight in order not to hinder with unsportsmanlike zigzags the overtaking of the opponent who arrives behind him launched like a train thanks to the lower aerodynamic resistance with DRS open. This device has also gained by now a venerability and a central sacredness in Formula 1. Just think of the diatribe of Brazil 2021 generated by Max Verstappen offender and fined for allowing himself to touch the rear wing of the Mercedes of Hamilton at the end of qualifying, the opening allowed by the DRS was found beyond the regulations by an infinitesimal amount, costing the first position in qualifying to the English driver. An event in summary that led to the total alteration of the race weekend.

How many film library duels has the DRS canceled in these more than eleven years of effective permanent service? We have had many more overtakes, this is beyond doubt, but is the figure of a good race given by the number of overtaking or by the quality and quantity of the confrontation on the track between the riders? The list of memorable duels that we remember and pass on and that without DRS would never have been born is very long.. From the Pironi-Villeneuve duel at Imola ’82, to the Mansell-Senna duel on the Barcelona ’91 straight, to the triple overtaking of Montoya of Canada 2002 just to name a few. A close duel Verstappen-Leclerc on the Imola track would be splendid today to be enjoyed if the conditions allow it. Without the DRS it would probably be another film library duel to be enjoyed for several laps. It would be a successful dish of traditional Formula 1 cuisine, the one that does not need sauces to enrich its taste.

FP | Gianluca Calvaresi

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