FIA confirms Eau Rouge DRS ban at Spa

2011 Belgian Grand Prix

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2010

Drivers can't activate DRS until they've passed through Eau Rouge

The FIA has confirmed drivers will not be allowed to use the Drag Reductions System through Eau Rouge during the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.

The teams were told on Monday the use of DRS through the corner will not be allowed at any time on safety grounds.

The DRS zone for the race will be positioned beyond the exit of Eau Rouge.

The FIA previously banned the use of DRS through the tunnel at Monaco.

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127 comments on FIA confirms Eau Rouge DRS ban at Spa

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  1. They haven’t banned it at La Source, what if someone uses it there during practice/qualifying and then spins off the exit into the walls? Dangerous!

    The idea of banning DRS at certain corners is ridiculous. It’s application is exactly the same as throttle and anything else associated with driving, and not crashing, or dying in a ball of fire.

    • Victor. said on 22nd August 2011, 17:43

      Exactly. I fail to see how using DRS through Pouhon or Blanchimont is any less dangerous.

    • Ragerod said on 22nd August 2011, 18:10

      I totally agree.

      They’ve effectively called all of the drivers irresponsible idiots that don’t know the limits of their cars.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd August 2011, 18:31

        In which case Rubens’ mutterings essentially confirm he thinks that of himself.

        • F1andy83 said on 22nd August 2011, 23:03

          rubens is one of the drivers who whines like girls and is afraid of pushing to the limit. If it was up to him he would drive a 1.0 v4 because he is afraid of the car. Webber said it right the other day we need the big engines and turbos back and less complaining about racing incidents.

          • And if it was up to people like you we’d have drivers lifespans lasting like they did in the 70’s.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 23rd August 2011, 13:31

            Not at all. I like watching racing without a constant fear that I’m going to witness a death. I just think that if the other drivers think they can handle it then they should be allowed to.

            It doesn’t help that if spa was a new circuit being designed today then eau rouge wouldn’t be allowed. But it is in F1 and should be treated the same as every other corner. I’d be swayed if we were hearing this as advice from the entire GPDA, but it seems to be only one driver. The others may well have been up to it.

          • I doubt the FIA acted on the back of just one drivers opinion.

          • It’s dangerous to keep accelerating at a hairpin too. By and large drivers are sensible enough not to do that though.

            As a driver you are only going to do what will get you around the track quickest. If opening the wing means you are likely to spear off the track, then you’re not going to do that.

        • Ragerod said on 23rd August 2011, 7:49

          Considering the Williams is one of worst cars on the grid and would lose time on everyone except the new teams through Eau Rouge, Raidillion and Hemmel Straight I think it’s in Rubens’ best interests to have DRS banned.

          If 5 or 6 drivers all said the same thing, fair enough, because they know best but Rubens comments have come before he has driven it. DRS is a new system and Eau Rouge is a unique corner, at the very least a decision should be made once the drivers have had the opportunity to evaluate it after FP1 & FP2.

          They’ve raced Eau Rouge in the wet as recently as last year so I’m not buying the whole down force argument. Perhaps there is a case for an unbalanced car but F1 is all about compromise so even that shouldn’t be an issue. If a team is having a lot of trouble it’s not an obligation to use DRS.

          Last year guys were driving through with one hand off the wheel activating a F-duct and there wasn’t any trouble.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 23rd August 2011, 13:04

            Exactly. If it does look to be dangerous, or if quite a few other drivers have reservations then fair enough, but if Rubens is in the minority and the other drivers try the corner and find it okay then he just accept that he isn’t up to it and he can drive it how he wants without using DRS and let everybody else race.

            He may be right but he moans like this quite often and it’s hard to take him seriously.

    • Well, I’d imagine it’s because Eau Rouge is uphill and has limited run off. In terms of safety, its the clear hotspot.

      It wouldn’t take much for a serious incident there.

      • bertie said on 22nd August 2011, 19:01

        Indeed, just look at the historic crashes there.

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd August 2011, 19:10

          There were historic crashes at virtually every corner in F1, and they were always dangerous because the cars and barriers themselves were dangerous.

          • Mike said on 23rd August 2011, 3:40

            Look at Eau Rouge. How much run off is there?

            Very, very little considering the speed the cars are going at that point.

      • Kimster said on 22nd August 2011, 20:39

        Eau Rouge is not uphill !!
        Eau Rouge is the kink to the left, Raidillion is the uphill part (take a guess what Raidillion means in french) ;)

        So to make it clear, they can not use it in the kink to the left but they can use it if they want in the uphill part

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 22nd August 2011, 21:17

        If someone were to crash, they certainly wouldn’t be injured by hitting the tyre barriers, considering how safe the cars and walls are supposed to be compared with 1999, and it’s not likely that the debris will block a significant portion of the track, as was the case with the Monaco tunnel. The FIA should have allowed drivers the choice of whether to use DRS at Eau Rouge or not.

    • Actually they have banned it from the entry to La Source to the top of the hill past Eau Rouge.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 22nd August 2011, 23:54

      Well given that F1 cars are the only vehicles in the world that can take that corner flat out it would suggest that downforce is a huge contributing factor. You lose drag by dropping the wing, you also lose downforce. You lose downforce, you lose grip.

      • Snow Donkey said on 23rd August 2011, 4:51

        Sorry, not buying it. Eau rouge used to be the domain of the brave. Now everyone takes it flat. This would have been THE talking point of qualifying. Instead we get the watered down safety first shtick. There was a well written article on this very site recently which talked about Villeneuve and Zonta daring each other to take it flat, both crashing, and having a laugh over it. Safety is well and good, but it gets taken too far.

        • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 23rd August 2011, 7:08

          So, I should want to watch drivers take unnecessary risks?

          • Ragerod said on 23rd August 2011, 7:26

            Motorsport is an unnecessary risk.

          • Albert said on 23rd August 2011, 7:36

            Isn’t that what they do all the time? In every corner?

            Racing to me is the never ending battle of balance; not brake to late nor brake to early, not carry too much speed into a corner nor too little.

            I think without the DRS at Eau Rough, that section will just be a dull full throttle thing.

            I wonder what Sir Stirling Moss thinks about all this :-)

          • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 23rd August 2011, 7:48

            I think it’s important to remember that even with DRS allowed, all the cars will be taking Eau Rouge full throttle; those without enough grip will take it full throttle, with DRS closed. those with enough grip will take it with DRS opened.

            It’s just a question of how much grip you have. Drivers will only ever deploy DRS when they have more than enough grip.

            It’s faster to go full throttle with DRS closed than part throttle with DRS open

          • Nick.UK (@) said on 23rd August 2011, 17:53

            Seriously? The cars are as safe as ever. If Webber can land on his head, Kubica can have a crash like in Montreal 2007 and Massa can take a high speed inpact to the head from a heavy spring. Then ***! Why can’t the FIA just let the drivers get on with it. The entire Monaco circuit is more dangerous than Eau Rouge! The drivers should be trusted to know what the car’s limits are. For the ones with the bottle to try and use DRS there, good luck! If your wrong, you score no points. Play safe, maybe you only score 5th or lower. Maybe you only use it on lower fuel loads and fresher tyres late in the race, and you take the win as a result.

            Little details and driver decisions like these are the reason i tune in. You can go on and on about safety, but when it is dragging down the core characteristics of a sport then STOP, please! Said characteristics, being (IMO) Speed, Guts, Race skills and a cool head. If you have those four traits and a competitive car then you are gonna do well.

            Stop watering it down!

          • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 23rd August 2011, 22:52

            @Nick.UK – All the examples of accidents you mentioned were results of freak accidents. The difference here is that DRS is something specifically sanctioned by the FIA and as a result they have a responsibility to ensure its deployment is as safe as possible.

  2. Victor. said on 22nd August 2011, 17:39

    This is disappointing.

  3. Whats next? Are they going to ban throttles because if too much is applied on certain corners it could be dangerous?

  4. Just get rid of DRS already. If it works it makes overtaking contrived, if it doesn’t work there’s no reason to have it. Incidents like this one and Monaco just make the system even less credible as a viable F1 solution.

    I’m wondering though, how this is regulated. Will the DRS feature be disabled in the same way it is enabled during the race (presumably GPS-based or a detection point) or will the drivers simply have to abstain from using it themselves?

    • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd August 2011, 18:37

      If the lack of a second detection point in cases when they’ve had a second DRS zone is anything to go by, I doubt the technology behind it is any more advanced than apes using sticks as basic foraging tools.

  5. bsnaylor (@bsnaylor) said on 22nd August 2011, 17:49

    Incredibly disappointing. These are supposed to be the best drivers in the world, they know the risks associated with motor racing. Eau Rouge has been taken flat out for years, not that that’s not challenging anyway, but give them another challenge, like it used to be.

  6. It’s not about taking Radillion flat. It’s about the difference that the DRS makes to the ‘balance’ of the car.
    One half of the car has got vastly more down-force than the other half has, and that’s not something that any driver wants when he’s least expecting it. It’ll break away without warning. Chances are that it’ll be faster through there without the DRS being deployed anyway.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 22nd August 2011, 18:26

      One half of the car has got vastly more down-force than the other half has, and that’s not something that any driver wants when he’s least expecting it.

      If they’re not expecting the balance to change when they consciously hit the DRS by this point in the season…

      Besides, the DRS will have been open since La Source – it’s not like everything will suddenly change at the turn-in. The drivers will have ample time to prepare for a situation they’ll have experienced umpteen times before.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd August 2011, 18:42

        If drivers were worried about balance, couldn’t the settings be changed anyway to allow a slightly higher downforce/drag version for when when the DRS is enabled? Over a whole lap it would probably be worth having a higher drag DRS than a low drag one that the drivers weren’t able to use at all through eau rouge (assuming they didn’t have the balls, which I believe most actually do).

        • leadfoot (@leadfoot) said on 22nd August 2011, 21:23

          I suppose you could do that but the flip side is would you really want to set your car up for one corner which in reality will not provide a lot of potential to gain time on your rivals. Virtually everyone takes this corner flat these days. You may end up quicker here but slower over the whole lap. I agree with you though the drivers are professionals who are capable of deciding whether or not it is safe to use.

  7. Paul A (@paul-a) said on 22nd August 2011, 18:12

    Part of the art of going fast is knowing if and when to lift off or brake; part of the art of winning (what the drivers are paid to try and do) is to stay on the track — “to finish first, first you have to finish.”

    This is just another example of the FIA changing the rules mid-season and kowtowing to the crybabies. What a bunch of wimps …

  8. Tiomkin said on 22nd August 2011, 18:21

    Yet another reason why F1 is fake. I thought it was the driver’s job to drive the car, and up to him how to use the throttle, brake, etc. Bring on the sprinklers.

    Kind of makes me glad I won’t be following F1 next season.

  9. matt88 said on 22nd August 2011, 18:21

    i think that in these unique cases safety should be Concern #1, so i agree with FIA decision. We’ve got used to dangerous accidents where the driver goes out of the car unhurt, but taking Eau Rouge flat without downforce on the rear can be quite dangerous.

    • Snow Donkey said on 23rd August 2011, 4:59

      Totally disagree. Cars, barriers, and general safety has been hugely improved. You’re saying that because a driver error could occur with regards to a driver operated system, that system should be unusable to everyone. Totally ridiculous.

      “oh god, won’t someone please think of the children!”

      This thing has not even happened yet, but someone has divined in their crystal ball that the potential is there. Adrian Sutil spun out IN the drs zone in Australia. Maybe it should have been banned there on safety grounds too.

  10. Their seems to be some concern amongst the engineers as well as the drivers, that due to the unique nature of Au Rouge, the DRS may not function correctly again on the rest of the lap after going through there.

  11. Damon said on 22nd August 2011, 18:30

    They should also put speed limits for all the turns, so that every driver is safe from going too fast and spinning out of the track.

    • MVEilenstein said on 22nd August 2011, 19:36

      The safest solution is to simply choose the final positions by lottery, followed by a subdued trophy presentation. Careful, though, not to lift the trophy above the head; it could drop!

      On to Monza!

  12. Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 22nd August 2011, 18:31

    So for the second time in the same season F1 has banned something which is actually a safer version of something the drivers had no problem coping with the previous year.

    The logical conclusion then is that they were negligent in allowing the F-Duct to be used at these same places last year.

    Either way you look at it, it’s yet more joke governance. At least in Monaco the drivers made them do it, what excuse do they have now?

    • Err…there seems to be some concern amongst the engineers that the DRS may not work correctly if deployed before Au Rouge.

      From Autosport:

      “A failsafe system on the cars, which closes the DRS wing on the cars when the driver hits the brakes, would not work at Eau Rouge because of its high-speed nature.”

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 22nd August 2011, 18:51

        Yet there are other high-speed corners where the DRS hasn’t been banned.

        • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 22nd August 2011, 18:54

          And that’s before we even consider exactly how big a drop there is in the ability to decelerate when the DRS is still open. The rear wing is only one component of the aerodynamics, let alone all the effort the brakes themselves put into slowing the car down.

          With every justification I hear it seems that the only real problem seems to be that this is Eau Rouge, in which case, DRS is not the issue

          • MVEilenstein said on 22nd August 2011, 19:38

            To mirror what Keith said, if DRS is too dangerous for Eau Rouge, Spa-Francorchamps is too dangerous for F1.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd August 2011, 19:00

        What about turn 8 in Turkey? And any one of a number of corners at Silverstone, Malaysia etc.

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 22nd August 2011, 18:48

      And thinking about it, earlier when I said the only silver lining was a tiny reduction in the effect that allowing the DRS in qualifying has, it really won’t make any difference except between the very top and very bottom teams (Kovalainen said last year it was a struggle for him to go through Eau Rouge flat, but I doubt anyone he’d be directly competing against in qualifying would be able to deploy the DRS and he wouldn’t).

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 22nd August 2011, 18:54

      The same, its by request from (some) drivers.

      I agree with you. Monaco at least had the extra argument, that the tunnel would be bad for access (supporting Keiths argument that in that case the track should not be used at all). Here its just “not being sure” and doing something they did in the past as well – trying to go Eau Rouge flat out with little downforce.

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 22nd August 2011, 18:56

        Yeh I read, but in Monaco it was all but Schumacher and Hamilton who wanted it banned. We already have had Liuzzi say he didn’t want it banned here, precisely for the reasons you just mentioned.

      • Radillion is not so much a corner as a dip in a roller coaster. Apparently the DRS wing cannot return to its full down-force position if the driver should require the use of his brakes in that area. This may then lead to other problems with the wing not returning to full down-force position during the rest of the lap. IT IS A TECHNICAL ISSUE.

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd August 2011, 19:27

          I don’t understand this. On many straights DRS is used and the cars go 200mph+ and as soon as they touch the brakes the wing returns to normal. What is so special about eau rouge?

          • It’s because of the unique nature of Eau Rouge. You get a lot of down force taken off the car as it settles into the dip and then loads put back on it as you come out of the dip. It’s in that area, if the driver needs to use the brakes, that the wing could malfunction.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd August 2011, 20:16

            I expect the chance of it malfunctioning isn’t for all the teams. I imagine some of the engineers are a bit miffed after actually going to the effort to design a competent system. I can understand that difficulties might be caused, but if a team hasn’t designed their wing well enough why should all teams be banned from using it? If a team haven’t done their job they should instruct their drivers no to use it for safety concerns and let the other teams race as it was intended.

          • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 23rd August 2011, 2:40

            because you don’t use the brakes entering Eau Rouge

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 23rd August 2011, 13:13

            @raymondu999 I don’t understand your point.

        • Cacarella said on 22nd August 2011, 20:25

          Agreeing with Matt90 on this one.
          If DRS didn’t exist, and Mclaren wasn’t able to take Eau Rouge flat because their diffuser sucked (or didn’t suck enough as it were), would it be fair for the FIA to force Redbull to remove their diffuser because it was well engineered?

          In case your wondering the answer to my question is NO, it wouldn’t be fair. A diffuser is a specific part of the car while the FIA has now proved that the DRS is simply a ‘for the show’ gadget.

        • BasCB (@bascb) said on 23rd August 2011, 6:33

          Its not that the DRS cannot return to its base position.

          The DRS has basically 2 ways of doing that.
          1st is the default shutting it when hitting the brakes. This doesn’t apply (what you call cannot return …), as its a fast corner where they do not brake.

          2nd is by using the button to oparate it (either letting go of it or pushing it a second time, depending on the system used). This will work, but apparently some drivers are not sure this one works immediately and without problems. If so, these teams should just ditch DRS or redesign it to work properly.

          • bosyber said on 23rd August 2011, 11:07

            Having now read the BBC piece on it, I have to say:
            Exactly.

            Even in a relatively recent case where the majority of the teams couldn’t safely take the fastest corner flat out without risking their tyres, the FIA didn’t change things for safety, resulting in that farcical indianapolis race.

            This is the same, but with a lot less impact, not guaranteed lack of safety, just a worry that some teams might not have gotten the device designed well enough.

            Tough luck for those teams, they aren’t required to use it, just like Williams didn’t use KERS for a few races, and Red Bull had to shut off their KERS at quite a few races. I am sure they would have liked a KERS ban for those too, but did it happen, was it even discussed? Of course not.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 23rd August 2011, 13:22

            Indy was ridiculous- at the least they should have come up with an alternative but only allowed the 3 teams to be eligible for points. To some degree they were right to say to the Michelin teams ‘well it’s you’re fault, if you can’t race it’s up to you.’ They should have intervened for the fans sake, but it was right that those teams were at fault and had to accept that race being a write-off for them. It should have happened in a different way, but it is right that they left the circuit without points.

            In this case if a team is unsure of the safety of their system then they shouldn’t get a dispensation in the rules, they should just not use what could be dangerous and face that if their system had been designed properly then they might have actually had a chance at scoring points. The other teams- and I’m sure there are some who are fully confident that they made a competent job of designing their DRS- shouldn’t be penalised.

  13. can we just get rid of it altogether please?

    • MVEilenstein said on 22nd August 2011, 19:42

      That’s where this discussion is leading, I think. If an FIA-mandated moveable aerodynamic device (oh, the irony) is deemed unsafe for certain tracks, or certain parts of a track, you’re left with the only logical conclusion: that it’s an unsafe technology and inappropriate for F1.

  14. This made me sad. If its not safe through the Monaco tunnel or Eau Rouge, then it’s not safe for F1. Personally I would have enjoyed watching the drivers fighting the car through Eau Rouge with the DRS, whoever could have done it would have been in with the chance of a better grid slot. Could have been a chance for a Petrov or Di Resta maybe to get in the front 3 rows and shake up the grid. I was willing to give DRS a chance and it does make the racing look more exciting, but this is the final straw for me, DRS should go unless you can use it everywhere in practice and qualifying.

  15. 3v3r10n9 (@3v3r10n9) said on 22nd August 2011, 19:47

    The decision to use DRS or not should be in the hands of the driver. Fortune favors the brave!

    • But not the stupid.

      • bsnaylor (@bsnaylor) said on 22nd August 2011, 20:38

        How on earth can you say it’s stupid?
        These drivers are the best in the world, they race within 10th’s of seconds of each other, they are fully aware of what will stick and what won’t. It’s called finding the limits. the limit of Eau Rouge has been outdone by downforce, hence they have taken it flat out for years. This is supposed to be a challenging sport at the top of it’s game, not a walk in the park. Sad times.

        • leadfoot (@leadfoot) said on 22nd August 2011, 21:30

          I don’t think he is saying that it is stupid. I think he is saying that there is a fine line between bravery and stupidity. Ironically like genius and insanity it tends to be measured by success.

    • Cacarella said on 22nd August 2011, 20:04

      Unless your first name is Rubens…
      Then fortune favors the Whiny!

      I’m sorry, I had to, I’m sure he wasn’t the only one… :)

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 22nd August 2011, 21:28

        If it is as unsafe as he says, why did he drive in the days when F1 was far more unsafe, eau rouge is particular? Surely he would have refused to drive in the past if he had been as whiny as he is now.

    • sato113 said on 22nd August 2011, 23:35

      plus one!

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