Ferrari among teams exploring Mercedes-style DDRS
Ferrari is among the teams likely to develop a Mercedes-style Double DRS (DDRS) now that the system has been declared legal by the FIA.
The Mercedes device improves top speed by stalling the front wing when the DRS is activated, providing a specific advantage in qualifying when DRS use is unrestricted. Lotus protested the DDRS, which works by channelling air from inlets in the rear wing endplates to the car's front wing, but had its argument rejected by the FIA at the Chinese Grand Prix.
Lotus technical director James Allison led the unsuccessful protest, but after the FIA ruling he admitted the rest of the paddock would have to consider introducing a similar system.
"Well they'll certainly need to decide whether or not the opportunity-cost of doing that system is higher than developing the things they had in mind otherwise. And that's exactly the same choice we'll face in our team."
Ferrari technical director Pat Fry, who currently has several problems to solve with the F2012, said his team had been considering the system for some time and is likely to push forward following the FIA ruling.
"We've been looking at it for a while," he said. "I think it's just a case of weighing up what the performance is on our car. It's bound to vary differently from car to car and particularly if you've had that system in mind and developed your car to work around it, you're further up the development curve.
"It's not just a case of applying it to our current aerodynamic characteristic, it's then trying to exploit it further after that, so I expect there will be a two-fold thing: we will know instantly - or we know instantly - what it's worth in terms of lap time and we can weigh that up in the cost performance and the effort needed. And then we also need to look at what's the ultimate potential of that device. We've been looking at it for a month or two. Now it's clear we can at least start working for sure, weighing up everything properly."
McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe said one major consideration is that the DDRS has limited use in the race.
"In these days of really very limited capacity - whether that's people or time in wind tunnels - to develop aerodynamics, you do have to carefully select where you put your effort to make the most profit in performance, so this will fall into that camp," Lowe said. "We have to decide how much we can get from it, how it ranks compared to other areas we may work on. It does have the immediate downside that it really is only a qualifying benefit as far as we can see, so immediately it has to earn quite a lot to make that worthwhile."
Meanwhile, Sauber, which has made a strong start to the season, is not likely to throw its resources at the system.
"We're looking into the system to try and assess it fully, to work out the lap time, or qualifying lap time gain, versus costs," chief designer Matt Morris said. "I think at the moment for us it doesn't balance out. We're probably better off spending our money on more conventional lap time."