If DRS is unsafe for Monaco, then Monaco is unsafe for F1


Rubens Barrichello, Williams, Monte-Carlo, 2010

Rubens Barrichello, Williams, Monte-Carlo, 2010

Rubens Barrichello has spoken out after the FIA did not choose to ban the use of the Drag Reduction System in the Monaco Grand Prix.

Speaking to Autosport he said: “I just think it is wrong. I would love the people at the top to sit in the car and try to do the tunnel with the DRS open.

“Do they think they can introduce overtaking through the DRS? They possibly can, but they might hurt someone. That is a voice from experience.”

It’s not the first time Barrichello has warned over the dangers of DRS.

But the logical conclusion of his latest complaint is not that DRS shouldn’t be used at Monaco. It is that Monaco is not safe enough for Grand Prix racing.

Whatever your view on the controversial DRS, it is part of the F1 technical regulations and they are the same whichever circuit the cars visit.

What’s different here is not DRS, it’s the Monte-Carlo circuit. Barrichello is actually making the case that Monaco is not safe enough for Formula 1.

There was a similar debate last year as some drivers lobbied for qualifying to be split on safety grounds. They were concerned the narrow confines of Monaco were too dangerous for 24 cars to run at once in the first part of qualifying.

But the rules stayed as they are and the session passed without incident.

The word of a driver is always compelling when it comes to matters of safety. Barrichello escaped unscathed in a huge accident at Monaco last year when he appeared to hit a drain cover which had been lifted by another car.

Anyone would sympathise with him having reservations about safety at Monte-Carlo after that.

But while exceptions are made for some circuits when it comes to things like pit lane speed limits, going so far as to run the cars in a different specification would be tantamount to an admission that Monaco is not safe enough for modern F1 cars.

The glamour of Monaco and the wealth it attracts will no doubt ensure that never happens.


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114 comments on If DRS is unsafe for Monaco, then Monaco is unsafe for F1

  1. YUTAO said on 16th May 2011, 12:48

    Indeed, Monaco is unsafe for F1. It remains on the calendar simply because of the racing traditions and the large breasts and hips of the hotties…

  2. paolo (@paolo) said on 16th May 2011, 13:08

    So should we limit Redbull and McLaren to a reduced speed as they are quicker than Lotus and HRT. No, of course not. The driver in the respective cars drive to what they perceice their limits to be. If one driver feels that they can use DRS then let them. Similarly, if another driver feels they don’t want to use it as they don’t think they can handle it then they shouldn’t. I’m sure Vettel with his superior downforce will be happy to use it. They are professionals for goodness sake

  3. Dutch_Alex said on 16th May 2011, 13:12

    The fact that Monaco if it was a new circuit it wouldn’t get FIA clearance to get onto the calendar says enough I think. That said, everyone driving an F1 car knows it is dangerous, and they all accept that risk, so they should quit whining about it.
    The best thing about monaco is that it is truly unique. There is nothing like it on the calendar. Just like Monza is the only high speed circuit left. And that should be enough reason to keep it on the calendar for another 60 years.

  4. Boost (@boost) said on 16th May 2011, 13:14

    I actually donĀ“t think that it will be such a big difference between a flying lap with or without DRS.

    The mechanical grip and aeroefficiency needed during the accelerations and breaking on the narrow circuit with sharp turns might force the driver to push the button late in the DRS zone and/or force him to brake early and perhaps render the DRS a not-so-big-advantage.

    Even if you get slightly in front of a car both the right-hand-turn after the pit-straight and the left-hander after the tunnel arenĀ“t very easy passing points.

    I like the Monaco circuit a lot but I also see it as out-dated considering the safety and they can scratch it from the season anytime. ItĀ“s like cigarettes – everyone knows itĀ“s really bad for you but a tradition and still sold and smoked by many. Driving an F1-car around Monaco is like flying a jet-fighter inside a hangar or sucking on a lollipop still with the wrap on.

    For maxthecat above – ridiculous post, honestly maxthecat I know you can do better ;)

  5. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 16th May 2011, 13:19

    Thanks for saying it Keith. DRS is a part of F1 and as with anything, the drivers will get used to it and fans alike. The worst we have seen from it was Sutil’s spin in Melbourne. Worse could happen and no doubt it will, but more often than not it’s the lump of flesh in the middle that causes the majority of accidents. Driver discretion is advised.

  6. BBT said on 16th May 2011, 13:25

    Yes Monaco is too unsafe for F1 (although I’m not saying get rid of it)

    DRS? I agree with him, no need to make it even worse even if only by a little bit. There is a choice whether to run DRS, there isn’t a choice about the run off areas or how close the barriers are. Why add risk you don’t need to when there is already too much around Monaco.

    He is also correct that if more risks are taken eventually something bad will happen, by which time it’ll be too late for people to say ‘Oh yeah, I was wrong’

  7. Circuit zolder said on 16th May 2011, 13:40

    If you compare Monaco to most of the other street circuits in the world, Monaco is still a very safe place to race.

  8. Vishy said on 16th May 2011, 14:23

    Have to agree with Barichello on this one. DRS by itself might not be bad at Monaco, but the fact that Pirellis leave marbles of rubber is an issue.

    These marbles combined with the adrenaline to overtake while they have these magic wings on is the real danger.

    Most of the drivers should quickly learn what not to do, but we are not talking about all of them, we are only talking of a the few who make a bad judgement and crash. How bad will the crash be?

    Another way to look at it is that DRS will make sure drivers don’t attempt passes at unsafe parts of race track. (Because of differing of tyre strategies we might come up with scenario where drivers have a lot of chance to overtake)

  9. Besides the glamour associated with Monaca (which is shown usually before or after the race, with diamonds, top models and stuff like that) I’ve always considered this particular race as the most boring, even more than Hungary, which last year gave some sparks at the end, with Barrichello overtaking supremely Schum… well, and if the bosses (people “at the top” as Rubens say) are planning a tragedy as a way to attract viewers, they are wrong. Instead of retiring Istambul from the calendar, why not thinking about this one? I really admire the brave pilots who run in these narrow streets at about 260 kph, but as a race is dull and only a fast parade of supercars.

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 16th May 2011, 18:29

      We don’t know how a race at Monaco will play out with the Pirelli tyres and DRS. Could turn out to be more exciting than anything Hungary ever produces. It’s not leaving the calendar as it has been on the calendar since 1950, and such a move would be akin to Indycar ditching the 500.

  10. Fixy (@fixy) said on 16th May 2011, 14:35

    I would love the people at the top to sit in the car and try to do the tunnel with the DRS open.

    But you don’t have to use it, it’s not mandatory. If you fear you’ll crash, then leave the wing as it is.

  11. SupaSix-1 said on 16th May 2011, 14:55

    Oh come on rubens, this is F1 not ballet dancing.

    If the DRS poses such a potential hazzard in monaco then why arent ALL the other drivers and teams (principles) up in arms about it? And surely if it was a major hazard then the FIA would not allow. The use/execution of DRS will be down to pure driver skill and will set the ‘average joes’ apart to the ‘skillfull-pros’.

    As much as I respect rubens for his experience – I do think he comes across as a bit of a whinger/crybaby. Well Rubens & Vitantonia Liuzzi can decide not to use their own DRS in the race if they are that opposed.

    Also Rubens’ complaint on this issue being a safety issue is a bit of a farce considering in the same race last year Rubens’ inappropriately & idioticaly threw his steering-wheel out onto the racing line in frustration which was then runover by Karun Chandhok –
    That couldve led to a catastrophic accident into the barriers. And yet he did not at all get reprimanded for it.

    -SO Im sorry Rubens but your sudden focus on safety flies in the face really.

    Monaco needs to be spiced up and if the FIA, the drivers & teams are not throwing tantrums over the use of DRS then the rest need to get on with it or look for another racing category.

  12. Nick said on 16th May 2011, 14:59

    I don’t think Monaco is a glamorous F1 event, I think it’s tacky and very ostentatious. I think that image of balding/fat/bling old millionaires who like to be seen with 20 year old enhanced “models”(a la Briatore) is totally obsolete and very naff, like the row of totty on the way to the podium. It gives F1 a bad name actually, IMO of course.
    I think Rubens point is quite valid and the it would make sense to have a race without DRS because of the very nature of the circuit.

  13. Robbie said on 16th May 2011, 15:20

    Personally I think Monaco has too rich a history to not be on the calendar…many have said in the past, including many drivers, that they are crazy to be racing in such confined quarters…that said, it adds variety to the season, conditions are the same for everybody, and I think that drivers are forced to drive to the conditions, that being there are walls everywhere with very little forgiveness for mistakes…ie. drive accordingly RB. DRS or not, all the drivers are there to go all out based on their cars’ capabilities and those of their own person…if you are afraid, RB, don’t use your DRS…

    Besides, this is a relatively low speed track and the cars are safer than they have ever been, so if I were RB I would be grateful for that and remember what the cars and tracks used to be like.

  14. MattHT (@mattht) said on 16th May 2011, 15:20

    Although I agree with the idea that DRS is a manual tool that drivers don’t have to use, I doubt a team boss is going to take “didn’t fancy it round Monaco gaffer, sorry!” as an excuse for not trying to get past someone into a potential race winning/points scoring situation. I don’t care what the individual drivers think – the teams will want everyone using DRS at every possible opportunity if it’s available.

  15. Steven said on 16th May 2011, 15:21

    If it makes it unsafe, then that’s great. Dump Monaco and go to a circuit where cars can actually race.

    • Robbie said on 16th May 2011, 15:31

      Unfortunately there are other circuits where the ‘racing’ isn’t much more than Monaco, although I suppose that is what DRS is supposed to change. Ironic then, they need DRS to promote passing because they refuse to limit aero dependancy and promote mechanical grip in other ways, yet DRS is the supposed enemy at Monaco according to RB? I suppose he would be more of a fan of DRS if he was having more success with it.

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