Christian Horner urges F1 to change ‘cat-and-mouse’ DRS rule after Max Verstappen win

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Red Bull chief Christian Horner has called for a review of the DRS protocols despite the role it played in helping Max Verstappen to a first win of the new Formula 1 season. The Dutchman won Sunday’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix thanks to some well-timed overtaking, but Horner still feels the tactics promoted as a result of the DRS require a rethink.

The debate surrounding F1’s drag reduction system has been heightened after Verstappen and Ferrari star Charles Leclerc engaged in a chess battle at times near the death on Sunday. Both drivers were seen braking excessively approaching detection points, hoping to temporarily move just behind their opponent and maximise any potential DRS advantage.

While some argue the DRS modification makes racing more artificial, others have voiced support for what is essentially a tool to aid overtaking. Horner’s team ultimately won the battle in Jeddah, but the team principal would nonetheless like to see change in regards to where detection points are located on tracks.

“The DRS is so powerful you can see that there was a game of cat-and-mouse going on between the drivers where they’d actually brake to a point that they accelerated then to the corner,” said the Red Bull boss following Sunday’s result. “So I think maybe we should look at where that DRS detection zone is for future years. You definitely want to avoid being in that situation.”

Ferrari’s tactics at least worked for a time after Leclerc moved up to wrestle the lead from Verstappen’s team-mate, Sergio Perez. The Dutchman avenged his partner on the 46th lap, however, and put his Bahrain Grand Prix retirement behind him to secure the maiden victory of his title defence.

“I basically knew that if I was leaving Max with a DRS behind for the main straight, I will be overtaken very easily,” said Leclerc, acknowledging the overall advantages there are to be gained from giving up ground in the short term. “So I just wanted that DRS.

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“On the first lap I braked very early and I got the DRS and manage to overtake back on the run to turn one. And then the second one, obviously Max knew that I was going to do that, so we both braked quite early, but I still managed to stay in front at the end. The third time, it didn’t work out for me.”

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Contrary to Horner’s beliefs, Mercedes counterpart Toto Wolff has thrown his support behind the DRS and told RaceFans it “provides a great show.” F1’s new focus on ground-effect design should, in theory, help promote overtaking and will likely have a big role to play if the DRS was eventually filtered out of the sport.

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