Formula One team Red Bull Racing had a fairly disastrous DRS failure on their number 1 car in Barcelona. Not only did it cost Max Verstappen time early in the race but a chance at pole position was also lost as the Dutchman started his final flying lap at the Circuit de Catalunya. Could this disaster be repeated this weekend in Baku?
The failure in the race saw for lap after lap, the world champion fail to pass the slower Mercedes of George Russell after a gust of wind cause Verstappen to spin and allow the Mercedes driver through.
It looked for certain that the Red Bull driver’s main competition was heading for an easy win as LeClerc in the Ferrari was building a 10 second back while Verstappen was floundering.
Yet this wasn’t the first time Red Bull have had DRS flag failures. In 2021 the DRS was flapping around down the straight in Zanndvoort, Qatar and Brazil.
Red Bull’s chief engineer believes the team have re-engineered a permanent fix for the problem. Paul Monaghan reveals the issue was to do with the effort to reduce the weight of the car.
“Our DRS problem was self-inflicted, I think if we are honest, so now we’ve learned our rather painful lessons.”
“There is a sigh of relief after the work that some very clever people did, the research and the checks. They did a phenomenal job in a very short period of time.
“The challenge has changed from circuit to circuit, the wait time changes, the speed of opening changes, the conditions change.
“I’m confident, much happier based upon what we learned coming out of Spain. I suppose the galling part is the lesson we had to be handed on a silver platter so yeah, take that one on the chin and move on.”
Yet the fix was only tested in Monaco where the DRS is only briefly open and at a much lower speed with a lower aero load.
The upcoming street circuit of Baku has a huge 2.2km straight where the cars a travelling over twice the speed they manage in the Principality.
“Baku presents slightly different problems,” admits Monghan speaking to Autosport. “Your opening speed is 160km/h [in Monaco], in Baku it is 300km/h.
“So, it’s not really about weight on the flap, it is lifting it up against its own aero load.
“I think it would be foolish to rest on our laurels. We know what we did wrong. It was in our remit to fix it, so thus far, we’re okay.”
Even if Red Bull Racing have tested the new DRS mechanism in the wind tunnel, the wind speeds
In the modelling are restricted to 50 meters per second (180kph) and the model car components are a maximum size of 60% of the on track car version.
It will only be in Baku when the RB18 hurtles down the never ending front straight that Red Bull will really know whether their DRS problems are over.