Rubens Barrichello, Williams, Monte-Carlo, 2010

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

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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”

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  1. 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’

  2. Circuit zolder
    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.

  3. 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)

  4. 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.

    1. 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.

  5. 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.

    1. What control over your own safety do you have against as a driver using it and wiping you out… its just not as simple as if you don’t like it down use it.
      What would the effect of a Sutil type incident have at Monaco?

      1. One extra safety car?

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

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

    1. 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.

  11. Bäremans
    16th May 2011, 15:21

    No fan of the race either. I agree that it’s a unique event. But unique is still not a synonym for “good”.

    Yes, losing the venue would erase yet again a piece of history of F1. But the reason why that is a concern to most, is because Bahrein and Abu Dhabi are so disappointing. We don’t want to lose any of the “historical” circuits, because God knows what kind of boredom Bernie has in store for us to replace them.

    Had the new circuits been more interesting, we’d maybe be a bit less conservative in this.

  12. No, Monaco isn’t really safe for F1, infact if it didn’t already have a race there people would probably say that’s it was just about the most unsuitable location for F1 imaginable! I think you have to go to the race to appreciate just how narrow it really is and also how steep. For sure the TV pictures just don’t do it justice. However over the years there have been very few serious accidents at the race and with all the history and glamour it would be a tragedy to see it go so I very much hope it stays around for a long time to come.

  13. Ploughing straight onto the third page, so apologies if I’m repeating stuff already said.

    The most interesting dimension of DRS in Monaco will be that it’s being used on a curved part of the circuit. Part of the problem with Valencia is that curved acceleration zones inhibit the ability to slipstream past an opponent. Monaco will be a mini-taste of the independent effectiveness of DRS as opposed to the slipstream + DRS that we’ve seen so far.

    Back to the topic at hand. It’s obvious to anyone that Monaco is the least safe of all the venues. But barring a freak accident (say, A Webber flip in the tunnel) it’s hard to see how the consequences would be any worse than an inconvenient blocking of the circuit. The last big smash, Kubica in 2007, happened in what was practically a street circuit section of a race track.

    As long as there’s stuff to prevent cars and tyres launching into houses or over barriers into the sea, I have no problem with going to Monaco. I know you’re not arguing that we shouldn’t, but I wouldn’t agree Monaco was unsafe anyway.

    1. But they seriously need to sort out the tunnel lighting and the contrast with the exterior light level. That’s not a pure challenge of a racing driver, it’s plain neglectful of safety.

    2. But barring a freak accident (say, A Webber flip in the tunnel) it’s hard to see how the consequences would be any worse than an inconvenient blocking of the circuit.

      But that what people always say before it all goes horribly wrong.

      Its still an added risk to an already very dangerous place to race, they could chose to avoid the added risk (be it large or small in peoples opinions).

      1. And that’s what people always say when someone says something is mostly safe: “what happens when it all goes wrong?”

        When was the last time serious injury occurred to an F1 driver because a track wasn’t safe enough? The fact that it’s been so long is a testimony to the lack of complacency about the safety of F1 cars. Kubica might as well have been at Monaco in 2007 when he hit the wall and thankfully missed only one race.

        So long as everyone is protected from accidents, drivers, marshalls and fans alike, circuit design is of minimal consequence against the vast majority of accidents. Obviously in Monaco we have a higher chance of someone going upside down and their head landing on top of a wall, but can we really legislate against such a freak occurrence? Other circuits have run-offs but that’s an extra safety feature because you can’t be too careful. One race out of 19 is a perfectly acceptable roll of the massively loaded dice.

        1. It an added risk they don’t need to take, simple.

        2. and we are increasing hearing about how safe F1 has become, the last time I frequently heard such comments two drivers died. I still remember that weekend like it was yesterday, the point there is not need for the added risk no matter how small.

    3. Actually flipping cars in the tunnel is another danger point of DRS – sudden acceleration behind a car that doesn’t have it open around a basically blind curve you could end up with some serious closing speeds and cars flipping into the roof of the tunnel in the case of a collision – I really agree with ban through the tunnel.

      I also believe there is not need to run it in Monaco though. It’s not going to help anything.

  14. Yes, Monaco is more dangerous than any other circuit on the calendar, but isn’t the ever-presence of danger the reason we all got fascinated with the high-speed world of Formula 1 to begin with? “Those daring men in their racing machines, inches from death but always on the limit”; that’s what got me interested in Formula 1 and no other track epitomises that as much as the streets of Monte Carlo.

    1. This whole argument made me remember that video of Kubica’s rally car going through the alleys and narrow roads just before the accident.

      I bet that if we would ask Robert if he would want to try Monaco with the DRS activated he would say yes wholeheartedly.

  15. i agree that f1 should be save but to lose the Monaco GP, the best ever in my opinion ,would be the worst possible thing that could happen to the sport even worse than losing silverstone. especially as Monaco is always the highlight of my season, as there is no circuit like it.

  16. f duct was on mclaren’s last year right.. did they use it? if so, was it effective then? dont use it on Monaco..

  17. Apart from it’s current unfair usage, the FIA proscribing DRS use is no different than Pirelli proscribing whichever tires are available. Besides which, some time ago, you were singing the praises of oval racing in IndyCar in which they have different regulations from the road courses.

  18. Rubens moans about everything!!

  19. the track officials need to create a bit more run off thats all……. a RAMP – at the chicane should do it,then if anyone overshoots it, cos o the extra speed of drs through the tunnel, they will simply just fly harmlessly through the air,until they have a nice soft landing in the swimming pool(or sea)! ;) lol. but nah,seriously,hope its a safe wk end for every one.

    1. Quiet, Bernie might be reading this ;)

  20. I’d like to present a pointless pseudo-mathematical argument here…

    Rubens Says F1 + DRS + Monaco = unsafe racing

    Keith says that DRS is part of F1, and therefore should be removed from the equation, meaning that
    F1 + Monaco = unsafe racing

    I, on the other hand, would like to argue that Monaco is more part F1 than DRS is. After all, DRS has been around for 4 races, and Monaco has been around for approximately a billion. So if we turn Keith’s logic on its head, we get
    F1 + DRS = unsafe racing


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