George Russell , a Mercedes driver, has expressed his frustration at the decision taken by the FIA not to consult drivers about the shortening of the main DRS area on the Baku City Circuit. Russell claims that the FIA does not listen to drivers and is unaware of how difficult it is to overtake. This minor change is indicative of an issue that goes beyond the driver’s opinion.
“I believe the overtaking this year is more difficult than last year. I think that as the cars have evolved from the original regulations that F1 implemented, overtaking has been made more difficult,” stated George Russell, ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix. George Russell is the only director of the Grand Prix Drivers Association in the current F1 grid, following Sebastian Vettel retirement.
Russell said, “I’m a little disappointed that we weren’t included in the loop to hear this. I’m not sure if the FIA is aware of the fact that we think the overtaking to be harder. They’re still basing DRS on historical information. It’s been changed again this weekend. It will be difficult to surpass .”
George Russell calls for greater inclusion of driver’s opinions
George Russell in front of Lewis Hamilton during the Saudi GP.
The Brit believes that the Friday briefings, where drivers are allowed to comment, do not allow drivers to express their opinion on important issues such as DRS zones or safety. The Mercedes driver stated that they wanted to be in the loop when decisions were being made and share their thoughts or opinions.
George Russell, in addition to criticizing DRS’s latest rule change emphasized that drivers must be involved in the strengthening of sport safety procedures. He gave an example from the Formula Regional European Championship in Imola, where a driver suffered serious injuries after hitting a curb which had been previously identified by other drivers as a potential safety risk. Russell stated that drivers have a unique perspective on track safety, and their feedback is crucial in increasing the sport’s excitement and safety.
F1 is experimenting this season with DRS zones. Melbourne had four DRS zones. Bahrain reduced one zone. And now the Azerbaijan Grand Prix also has a reduced DRS zone.
Russell’s criticism of the DRS modification in Baku does not only focus on the 100-meter cut, but also the lack of participation of drivers in these decisions. Russell acknowledges that the FIA is busy, but he believes that drivers’ opinions should be taken into consideration more often because they are familiar with what it’s really like to race on these circuits. Both the FIA, and the drivers, want to improve the sport.