2011 F1 season
Rubens Barrichello says the Drag Reduction System could lead to more crashes.
Speaking to journalists in Barcelona he warned if drivers try using the DRS through fast corners in practice or testing it could lead to big accidents.
The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association met FIA representatives yesterday to talk about the safety implications of DRS, Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems and the new Pirelli tyres.
Barrichello said: “The explanation of the race, how it’s going to be, is still not there. We have to still wait for some clarification on that. But the problem is not just testing, it’s a little bit too much.
“I’m all ears. I don’t want to put a big thing and say how we should sort it out. I have something in my mind, we heard some good ways of solving that.
“I think it should be used in a way that should help promote overtaking. But people will be tempted to do flat corners with that down.”
Asked if he could take turn nine at the Circuit de Catalunya flat out while using the DRS he said: “Not for my car, but maybe it is for Red Bull – and it could be that it’s a bit too loose.
“Eau Rouge I think is going to be, and we’re going to see crashes going on. And that’s not the purpose. You’re going to gamble. I mean, last year we had to raise the knee to make it work, and I went through Eau Rouge with one leg, and that’s not the purpose.”
“It’s becoming a nightmare”
He is also concerned about drivers being distracted while using KERS – although he has had little opportunity to test it so far: “Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of running with KERS.
“When I had both rear wing and KERS it’s a tough job. As soon as you do a lot of running you get used to the situation but every new track it will be a tough test.
“Hopefully we’re going to get a little bit more of an explanation how the rule is going to work because in the first place the rear wing should only work in straight lines for you to overtake. Now it’s basically working like the F-duct, you press it at every corner and it’s becoming a nightmare.
“With KERS, you need to look at the steering wheel to see the number going down for you to save as much as you want and use it in the right places. So you’re not looking straight ahead all the time.
“I don’t want to wait for someone to run into another driver for something to be done. So among the drivers and Charlie [Whiting] and Jean Todt we’re talking about it and hopefully we can manage something better.”
Williams “in much better shape”
Barrichello said Williams are in “much better shape” in his second year with them. “Everything is getting prepared much better.
“We manage everything, apart from KERS. KERS seems to be one day zero problems and another day 100 problems and then you don’t know where it is.
“From what you read I think people do have that sort of a problem. Everything is attached on the car, the weight and everything, but I’m running without it. It’s going to be a decision quite quickly how we’re going to develop that.”
He said he isn’t sure if the team will use KERS in Melbourne, but he hopes they will. He added: “But I think everyone is going through that question.”
He’s also concerned about the start time for the Australian Grand Prix. Barrichello said he doesn’t understand why the drivers’ wishes for the race to start earlier than 5pm, due to the hazards of low evening light, were not heeded:
“I don’t know, that’s very political. It’s very difficult to understand. Five o’clock in Melbourne is a tough time. I don’t really understand what’s going on.”
About their potential for the first race he said: “That remains, still, a question mark. I don’t know where I stand right now. I know that I’m better and I know a few teams seem to be worse than us but there are some better than us.
“You know how much of an optimist I am and you know how much I would love to say that I could do really well. But I want to be in Q3 and score really good points. I think that’s achievable.”
Sauber “have a pretty nice car”
He feels Red Bull’s fast pace in testing yesterday was down to a relatively low fuel load: I don’t know if it’s true to say Red Bull and Ferrari are so much faster. I think they are faster.
“If [Sebastian] Vettel can do 21.8 on high fuel, he’s going to disappear whatsoever, it’s going to look even worse than last year. So that’s what makes me think that he’s – not very low – but he should be in a low territory.
“Having said that, we don’t know. It was a surprise to see the Sauber running today, you run behind the Sauber on the track and you can see they have a pretty nice car.
“Some others don’t, and Sauber is one of those cars that seems to be OK.”
“Big overtaking move could ruin your race”
Speaking about the new tyres being used this year, Barrichello said it was difficult to keep life in them just by driving more slowly:
“I think it’s difficult for everyone. It depends on the balance that you have. It’s quite normal that it’s wear-related, it gets to the point where the tyre’s gone and you don’t bring it back. It’s not a question of graining or this or that.
“You look after them but it’s almost like if you go not flat out you make it survive a little bit more but you don’t make it survive the whole race – it will go, it will break, it’s not just a question of looking after them.
“You could make it survive the whole race by going ten seconds slower but it’s just not the case.”
He said it could have consequences for overtaking: “We are back into a situation where a big overtaking manoeuvre with flat-spotting and so on could ruin your whole race. So I think you’ve got to be mindful of that as well.”
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Image © Williams/LAT