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. Bäremans said on 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.

  2. Tim M said on 16th May 2011, 15:37

    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.

  3. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 16th May 2011, 15:56

    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.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 16th May 2011, 16:00

      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.

    • BBT said on 16th May 2011, 16:33

      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).

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 16th May 2011, 17:33

        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.

        • BBT said on 16th May 2011, 19:03

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

        • BBT said on 16th May 2011, 19:06

          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.

    • TdM said on 24th May 2011, 11:08

      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.

  4. 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.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 16th May 2011, 19:25

      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.

  5. charles said on 16th May 2011, 17:56

    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.

  6. quick_kill said on 16th May 2011, 17:57

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

  7. judo chop said on 16th May 2011, 18:09

    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.

  8. Rhys Coles said on 16th May 2011, 18:36

    Rubens moans about everything!!

  9. ROSSI said on 16th May 2011, 21:16

    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.

  10. Hallard said on 16th May 2011, 21:21

    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


  11. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 17th May 2011, 2:42

    I agree with him as he is right.Monaco is different then Singapore & Valencia the other two have some space but this one don’t.I want to see a race without DRS but on tyres this was a opportunity as I think the FIA should ban DRS there,if something happens in the tunnel at racing speed things will be chaotic.

  12. MacBromb said on 17th May 2011, 3:31

    After the race we will all know ….

    ps.: i go with Barrichelo, its an unnecessary risk, the tireis will do the service for the overtakes

  13. Don M. said on 17th May 2011, 11:01

    Safety at Monaco is marginal to begin with. It doesn’t make it any safer using a device that is distracting to operate, takes away grip and increases top speeds.

    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.

    DRS isn’t used when it’s wet, so using that argument we wouldn’t have wet races either.

  14. fyujj said on 17th May 2011, 15:52

    It’s set to be activated here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psxRWte4iH8

  15. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 24th May 2011, 10:08

    As much as I respect/love Rubens, I think he’s being a bit silly here. If there’s no-where on the circuit safe enough to use the DRS, no-one will use the DRS. You don’t win races when you crash your car. It’s like banning the throttle pedal. No-one’s silly enough to take Loews flat. :P

    • TdM said on 24th May 2011, 11:11

      The point is mate, they don’t know if it’s possible or not until they press the button.

      Racing is a different mentality – when you are looking through that letterbox and you want to find an extra tenth you feel that the car is stable you *will* try the button and that’s when accidents happen. That’s why they are trying to get an official ban, so they aren’t tempted.

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