The Melbourne circuit had three DRS zones the last time F1 raced in the city back in 2019, but since then it has undergone substantial renovation via corner changes in a bid to promote overtaking on a layout that had not changed since joining the calendar back in 1996 .
Even with those changes, overtaking is still expected to be a challenge for F1 drivers in the first Australian GP since the COVID-19 pandemic, with the reformed layout featuring four DRS zones when the new layout was officially designated by the FIA earlier this week.
But following the opening two practice sessions in Melbourne on Friday – which were topped by Ferrari pair Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc respectively – the governing body has reassessed the situation and removed one of the DRS zones.
The DRS zone that has been removed is from the sweeping Turn 8 right all the way up to the Turn 9 fast left kink, which replaced the former chicane sequence that previously stood at that part of Albert Park.
The DRS zone that follows the fast Turns 9 and 10 complex remains unchanged, with the activation point for that run moved to just before Turn 9.
Pierre Gasly, Alpha Tauri AT03
Photo by: Zak Mauger / Motorsport Images
From there, the drivers are able to open their rear wings once they have navigated Turn 10 and set off towards the curved run that leads to the Turn 11 right-hander, which had been predicted to be the best overtaking point for F1 cars on the reworked Albert Park layout.
The remaining two DRS zones and their activation points remain unchanged – with the drivers able to activate the system as they head down the main straight and on the track’s second straight that leads to the tight right of Turn 3.
In a note to the teams announcing the move, F1 race director for this event Niels Wittich said: “For safety reasons, DRS Zones will be reduced to 3 for the remainder of the event.
“DRS detection 1 will be moved to before Turn 9, DRS activation 1 will be after Turn 10, DRS detection 2 will remain unchanged, with the following activation zones will be renumbered accordingly.”