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Drivers show support for 'overtaking aids'

25 November 2011

Several F1 veterans have spoken out in favour of the technologies introduced to spice up the show over the past couple of championship campaigns and, while admitting that their employment may not always be perfect, they have made racing more exciting for those on either side of the catch fencing.

Asked for their impressions of the rule changes concerning KERS and adjustable rear wings, two world champions - Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button - and the sport's longest-serving driver, Rubens Barrichello, were all positive in their assessment, despite others' impressions remaining divided.

"I think it is very obvious that we have improved big time," Schumacher commented, "We have had incredible races this year. I take one particular example and I think it's pretty fresh still, and that's Korea. If you think about the fight that Mark Webber and Lewis [Hamilton] had together over there; without DRS, it would have been nowhere close, we wouldn't have seen anything. It would have just been a normal kind of old traditional kind of race. It may not always work out perfectly, there's a little room to improve the situation, but, in general, it has contributed a lot to some great racing."

For Button, who has pulled off more overtaking moves than most over the past few years, the introduction of DRS is a definite plus, particularly when combined with the availability of KERS.

"Personally, I think it's brought a lot to the racing," the Briton opined, "You obviously have races where you think it's too easy to overtake, and there are always going to be negatives to something like that, but I think the positives outweigh the negatives. I think we've had some great racing this season, and on circuits where we've never had overtaking before.

"Especially with two competitive cars, you can have a bit more of a fight now. Even if it doesn't make the pass for you, it can bring you a lot closer so that you can have a go elsewhere on the circuit. I think DRS on its own is good but, personally, I feel that having KERS has really helped us this year. I think we can really use it to our advantage, to overtake and obviously to try and block a position. That, for me, has been as big as DRS."

Button was also quick to praise the new-for-2011 Pirelli tyres for adding to the uncertainty of races, despite the rubber appearing to develop longevity over the year.

"I think that, at the start of the season, especially when we were trying to work out what the tyres were like and how many laps they would run and what the degradation was like," he commented, "I think there was a lot of overtaking. Some of it came from looking after the tyres, but also a lot of it came from people pitting, coming back out onto the circuit and being two or three seconds quicker than other cars.

"It seems a little bit different now, the degradation of the tyre doesn't seem to be as high, it doesn't seem to drop off a cliff like it did earlier this year. Maybe that's just our car, I don't know, but that's the way it seems. It seems that they are more conservative with the choice of tyres towards the end of the season, meaning that the degradation is lower and I think that that will be the case here also. I personally liked it at the start of the year when we had a lot of degradation, I thought that was more fun but, personally, I feel that Pirelli's done a great job this year. To come into F1... you know you can't hide coming into F1. I think that they've done a great job, they've definitely been a part of the action this year.

"There's been a lot of great overtaking and some of it does come down to tyres, but I think KERS, DRS and the Pirelli tyres have all worked very well together. We've just got to hope that it doesn't change too much next year."

Barrichello, meanwhile, echoed Button's feelings on both tyres and technology, even though his season at Williams has not necessarily put him in a position to make full use of either.

"If you want to have the degradation, I still have it! You can have mine," he joked, "I think it's fun, the way it is. Obviously when you give a tyre to a driver you're talking about more or less grip, you're always trying to go for more grip and the faster you go, the more pleasure you have so, at the beginning of the year, I think everyone had to adapt a little bit. It's not that the Pirelli was worse than the Bridgestone, it was just different and you had to treat the tyres differently.

"That was the special feeling about it and, when we talked about grip, in testing it seemed that it was not enough with the temperature that we had there, but then, when we went racing, there was a lot of overtaking and I think Pirelli had done a really good job to actually help that."

Barrichello was also quick to decry those that say that KERS and DRS have turned the sport on its head and made passing too easy, insisting that both technologies have added more enjoyment for the drivers.

"Together with the DRS and the KERS, I think the show has improved and let's hope that's the way F1's going to be for the long term," he noted, "I enjoy it very much. I think it's been an incredible year. It's a fact that in life that, sometimes, you can see people are never happy with that, because I heard for 20 years that there wasn't enough overtaking in F1 and, all of a sudden, I'm hearing people saying there's too much!

"It's just 18 races and they come up with numbers saying that there's been a hundred overtaking manoeuvres, so it looks a bit too easy, but I think it has been quite good. It's still difficult to follow the car in front because the cars are going fast because of their aerodynamic balance and, whenever you have something that destroys that, you basically don't follow the car, so the DRS has helped.

"It is true that sometimes it may make it too easy, sometimes it wasn't enough, so I think the FIA had all the good numbers to make the show even better for next year. I'm very much in favour of that. Obviously, the new people that come into F1 will still have to get their hands on the buttons and everything, which we were complaining about at the beginning of the year. Now it has become a much easier thing because we've got used to it, but the new guys will have to adapt to that."

With a nod to his own future, however, Barrichello added 'I hope there's not too many new guys, so that the old one are kept on. We are used to it, so it's fine'.


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