There are two DRS Zones at Circuit Zandvoort for the Dutch Grand Prix. Unusually, one of these is on a corner.
The two DRS zones increase overtaking opportunities and make the racing closer, but do they make overtaking too easy?
This article provides all the details of the Zandvoort DRS Zones and discusses whether they’re in the right place or should be moved.
What is DRS?
DRS in Formula 1 stands for Drag Reduction System. It’s a piece of technology which opens a small flap in the F1 car’s rear wing when the driver presses a button on the steering wheel.
Opening the flap in the rear wing reduces the aerodynamic drag acting on the car and in turn increases its speed.
It also has the effect of reducing downforce and the car’s cornering ability, so DRS is normally only used on straights.
When can DRS be used?
DRS can only be used in the pre-determined DRS zones on any Formula 1 track. During qualifying the DRS can be activated whenever the cars are in these zones, at any point in the session.
During the race a driver must be within 1 second of the car in front when they cross a DRS detection point for them to be able to deploy DRS when they get to an activation point at the start of the next zone.
If a driver uses DRS on their fastest lap or the race it can still be counted as an official Zandvoort lap record if it’s the fastest lap ever.
DRS Detection Point
The DRS detection point is a line that crosses the track before the start of each DRS zone.
If a following car is within one second of a car ahead when they cross this line during a race they’ll be able to use DRS at the start of the next zone.
As DRS is aimed at making the racing closer the detection points exist to allow only the chasing car to catch up.
DRS Activation Point
At the start of each DRS zone is the activation point. This is signalled by a white line crossing the track and DRS signs on either side of the circuit.
If the following driver was within 1 second of the car ahead at the detection point then they’re able to press the button on their wheel and deploy DRS when they get to the activation point.
The flap in their rear wing will stay open until they next touch the brakes.
Zandvoort DRS Zones
The Zandvoort circuit layout used for the Dutch Grand Prix has 2 DRS Zones. The first zone has a detection point at the entry to Turn 10 and an activation point after Turn 10. The second zone has a detection point after Turn 12 and an activation point after Turn 13.
The circuit map below shows the DRS Zones at Circuit Zandvoort.
The first DRS Zone at the Zandvoort has a detection point at the entry to Turn 10 and an activation point 50 metres after Turn 10.
The reason for the location of this DRS zone goes all the way back to Turn 4.
Turns 4, 5 and 6 are flat out and following in another car’s slipstream can get the driver behind very close to the one ahead.
The next corners, turns 7 and 8, are very high speed and rely on a lot of downforce to get them right. This makes it harder for cars to overtake one another as the ‘dirty air’ in the slipstream reduces the following car’s downforce through the corners.
The next opportunity a faster driver has to overtake is along the straight after Turn 10. It’s a fairly short straight, just 470m, so the DRS gives the driver behind a helping hand.
Even with the DRS we don’t often see much overtaking on the brakes in to Turn 11, because it’ such a short straight.
The second Zandvoort DRS Zone has a detection point 20 metres after Turn 12 and an activation point 40 metres after Turn 13.
The second Drag Reduction System zone comes shortly after the first. It gives those who were often on the way in to Turn 11 a chance to get back ahead.
The activation point for this zone was moved for the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix. In 2021 DRS could be activated 30 metres after Turn 14.
Now the activation point is between turns 13 and 14. This is one of the rare occasions where DRS can be enabled around a corner – Turn 14.
Turn 14 is a steeply banked corner and the cars easily take it flat out, well within their limits of grip. Even with the DRS open for this corner the F1 cars still produce more than enough downforce to take it flat out with risk of spinning.
The zone goes all the way down the start / finish straight, past the podium where the winner will lift the Dutch Grand Prix trophy, and ends at the braking point for Turn 1.
Zandvoort DRS top speeds
The fastest point on the Zandvoort circuit is at the end of the start / finish straight, just before the drivers hit the brakes for Turn 1.
There’s a speedtrap located here which measures each car’s speed.
This is at the end of the second DRS zone and the fastest speeds will be achieved during the race when drivers can benefit from DRS and a slipstream.
Below are the maximum speeds achieved at the both the 2021 and 2022 Dutch Grand Prix.
The fastest speed achieved at Zandvoort is 328.2kph / 203.9mph by Antonio Giovinazzi driving for Alfa Romeo in 2021
Interestingly, Max Verstappen achieved the lowest top speed that year despite winning the race. And the reason for that one is simple; he pretty much led the race from start to finish so never had much chance to use DRS or to be in another car’s slipstream.
That just goes to show how much difference in speed the DRS makes.
Are the Zandvoort DRS zones in the right place?
The first DRS zone at Zandvoort doesn’t really create much overtaking. The straight between turns 10 and 11 is only short and even with DRS it’s not that easy to pass. But it does make the racing closer and gives the car behind half a chance on the brakes, so it’s definitely worth having.
The second DRS zone is a little more controversial. In 2023 it was moved back to begin before Turn 14. This meant that at the 2023 Dutch Grand Prix we saw countless overtakes that were far too easy.
With the massive overspeed created by DRS, numerous times the following car was able to pass the one ahead before they even got to the braking zone for Turn 1.
DRS should make the racing closer. It shouldn’t make overtaking too easy, which currently it does. I hope they move the second DRS activation point back to where it was in 2021 when it created lots of side-by-side action in to Turn 1.