DRS might provide headaches once again

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Formula One drivers will have to pay extra attention to the way they use their DRS on the start-finish line in the wake of heavy crashes during the previous British Grand Prix weekend. That is the view of Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo.

In a bid to spice up the action, FIA mandated three DRS zones at the Hockenheimring. The first zone has a detection point at the exit of Turn 4 and an activation point 140m after Turn 4. The second and third zones share a detection point, 20m after Turn 16. The second activation point is located 60m after Turn 17, while the third is located 60m after Turn 1.

This DRS configuration follows the Austrian and British GP where FIA went for a very aggressive DRS configuration. At Spielberg, there were three DRS zones which prompted Kimi Räikkönen to claim that “half of the track is DRS”. At Silverstone a fortnight ago, the first DRS zone started after the last turn and went through the first two high-speed turns. Because cars with less rear downforce were unable to maintain rear stability, the DRS zone through the Abbey bend led to multiple heavy crashes.

The first corner of the Hockenheimring is a high-speed turn. During yesteday’s second practice, it was taken at a mesmerizing 270kph by the quickest drivers. However, it cannot be taken at full throttle, drivers have to lift off a bit approaching that bend. If DRS caused problems in the full-throttle Abbey corner of the Silverstone circuit, then the first corner of the German race track can be an issue even for the top car with the highest downforce. On top of that, the run-off zone around the first bend is much smaller than that at Silverstone, so it could end in a nasty crash for drivers failing to close their DRS in time.

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo said every driver has to make sure that DRS switches off before the initial turn-in and he ruled out that anyone will attempt to go through the first corner with the DRS open.

"It's a lot harder than Turn 1 in Silverstone, it's a serious corner. So make sure the off switch works. It's cool, it's fine, but I don't think anyone's going to try keeping it open through there, I don't think it's going to happen."

Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson revealed that his team modified the way their DRS operates. At Silverstone, the former GP2 driver lost his car while chasing Sergio Perez. After the race, he admitted that he could not deactivate the drag-reduction-system on the bumpy track.

“I have the button behind my steering wheel and it’s quite bumpy on entry and you go on the kerb, and I think I slipped and didn’t hit it,” he said after the accident.

Following the heavy crash, Sauber changed the system for Germany which should shut the flap as soon as the drivers lift off.