Horner: Double DRS 'not silver bullet'
But introducion of rear wing-stalling device thought to be central to Red Bull's improved qualy form
By James Galloway. Last Updated: 08/10/12 11:23am
Red Bull: Managed to keep their double DRS firmly under the radar
Red Bull chief Christian Horner has attempted to play down the impact the introduction of a 'Double DRS' has had on the RB8's competitiveness, despite the system being widely credited for re-establishing the World Champions' qualifying edge.
To the apparent complete surprise of the paddock, it emerged ahead of Sunday's Japanese GP that Red Bull were running their own version of the 'Double DRS' concept first pioneered at the start of the season by Mercedes. It's now understood that Red Bull's system was first run in qualifying at Singapore.
Yet despite the upgrade being the talk of the paddock in Japan after the team dominated both qualifying and the race, Horner insisted that the World Champions' return to form was down to a combination of factors.
"As with all these things there is never a silver bullet, and I think it would be very difficult to say that the car's performance here is down to a rear wing," Horner was quoted as saying by Autosport.
"I think we have made progress in all areas and it is about chipping away at the detail.
"We had the fastest pitstop in Japan for example, so it would be wrong to say our upturn in performance is about finding a few kilometres on the straight."
However Sky Sports F1's Ted Kravitz believes that the introduction of the stalling device - which provides an additional straight-line speed boost when the DRS is activated by channelling air over the rear wing lower beam - has played a major role in transforming the RB8's single-lap pace since Singapore and provided the platform from which to win the last two grands prix.
Having dominated qualifying over the previous two seasons, Red Bull surprisingly started this campaign off the pace of their rivals over a single lap and and Ted believes the decision to start developing a double DRS system was put into motion around that time of the season.
"This is really all about improving Red Bull's qualifying pace," Ted explained in his Japanese GP notebook.
"You'll remember early on in the European season it seemed Red Bull couldn't get anywhere close to the front of the grid because they were slow in qualifying for whatever reason.
"It was making their job harder in the race so what they did was get this double DRS system. We can trace this back because if it's taken them three or so months to develop that's about right; it was back when they were looking for qualifying solutions to make them quicker. As you can only use the DRS all the time in qualifying that's when this is of particular use."
Ted added that while the system was more like the original Mercedes one, rather than the more elaborate version still as yet unraced by Lotus, there was a key difference.
"It's pretty similar to the Mercedes system except for it doesn't route all the air to the front wing," he explained.
"It lets air in on the side of the rear-wing flap then the air comes down the rear-wing endplate and into the area in the middle of the rear-wing lower beam wing where they are allowed to do pretty much anything they want.
"That comes out there and actually stalls the rear wing and gives them a straight-line speed boost."
Prior to Singapore, when Red Bull showed much improved one-lap pace, one of the team's cars had suffered Q2 elimination in each of the previous three grands prix.
Asked by Ted in the post-race press conference at Suzuka on Sunday just how important the subsequent step forward in qualifying pace was proving for his title defence, race winner Vettel replied: "I think it's very important. At the beginning of the season I think there was a little bit of a trend of saying that qualifying was not that important this year because the races were very upside down.
"Some of the races changed completely in the last ten laps, but I think it still shows how important it is, to be well positioned after Saturday's qualifying for Sunday's race.
"If you then take an average of 15 races or whatever we've had so far and you see how important qualifying is still, I think it was important for us to make a step forward on Saturday."