Is it possible for two DRS (drag reduction system) zones to save the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from descending into the 100 minutes of tedium that was the 2010 Formula One season decider?
Going into the final race last year, all Fernando Alonso had to do to secure his third championship was cover Mark Webber, who was eight points down, and Sebastian Vettel, who was a further five points back.
Perhaps thinking that Vettel was too far back, Ferrari chose just to cover Webber allowing Vettel to simply drive off into the distance to secure the race win.
Webber had a horror day and the decision to cover him by Ferrari ended up seeing Alonso trapped behind Renault’s Vitaly Petrov for a stultifying 37 laps.
Alonso finished in seventh place, Vettel finished first to snatch his unlikely championship and the overwhelming impression that fans got was that it was a tedious race.
The number of on-track overtaking manoeuvres could be counted on one hand—with plenty of fingers to spare.
If it wasn’t for the championship intrigue, it could well have been the most heinously boring race in F1 history.
This year, there isn’t even the championship to hold our interest and therefore the FIA has had to dip twice into its bag of gimmicks to attempt to provide a veneer of interest to yet another unnecessary stop on the F1 world tour.
The current calendar is filled with races in countries with no F1 tradition. There is no real passion for the sport at the grass-roots level and it seems that the races are just being used as a fashion accessory for governments.
The tracks are cookie cutter creations, doled out by Hermann Tilke and the driving criteria behind them is that they look good on television, rather than exciting racing.
So we’re back to hoping that a bit of technical trickery will make up for inadequate track design and the complexities of the modern F1 car design. DRS, however, has not proven to be the consistent game changer that it was held out to be.
If the DRS zones are badly placed—again—then it will have little or no effect whatsoever.
After the 2010 debacle, the race organisers were “encouraged” to look at modifying the track to encourage overtaking. The early tentative successes of KERS, DRS and Pirelli tyres in 2011 convinced the organisers to hold off for a year.
We’ll find out soon if that was a good decision. Somehow, it doesn't seem likely.