Jacques Villeneuve has admitted he is no fan of ‘DRS’, the moveable rear wing innovation that for the past two seasons has made passing much easier in F1.
The critics of the ‘drag reduction system’, however, say it only creates artificial racing, and indeed often deprives the sport of many genuine head-to-heads.
“Every time I see DRS I get angry,” 1997 world champion Villeneuve told Switzerland’s Motorsport Aktuell. “It destroys every good battle.
“What also annoys me is the rule about only changing your line once. That’s the worst one of all,” said the 41-year-old former Williams, BAR and BMW driver. “The rule should be that blocking is not allowed — that’s it,” added Villeneuve.
He is therefore critical of the ‘new generation’ of F1 drivers, saving particular rebuke for Romain Grosjean, who Villeneuve alleges is “totally of control”.
“Or what Maldonado did to Hamilton in Valencia,” he added.
Villeneuve blames some of that culture on the high standards of today’s circuits.
“Today, where the run-off used to be grass, now it’s paved. But that (the grass) often made you withdraw automatically. Now many are pushing without thinking. The young drivers coming into Formula One today are not ready. Playing video games all day, they’ve forgotten that motor sport is dangerous.”
Ferrari is focused on improving the rear wing of its 2012 car, as Fernando Alonso pushes to rescue his dwindling championship challenge to Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said the Italian team has acknowledged that while Red Bull is not far away in race pace, the F2012 is struggling primarily in qualifying.
“The problem is the rear wing,” read the report. “In the DRS position it is generating too little top speed.”
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo is quoted by Italy’s La Stampa: “If we always start from the third or fourth row, then everything becomes difficult, if not impossible.
“How do you recover if you are already ten seconds behind after five laps?” he asked rhetorically.
An analysis shows that Alonso was gaining less than a 4kph boost from his conventional DRS on the straights in India, compared to almost 10kph for Vettel. But Auto Motor und Sport said Ferrari has run out of time to introduce a Red Bull-like ‘double DRS’.
The team’s technical boss Pat Fry is quoted by La Gazzetta dello Sport: “We are working like crazy to bring improvements to Abu Dhabi and then all the way to Brazil. Starting higher up means we can put pressure on the Red Bulls. So far Sebastian has been driving away too easily.”
Ferrari is using a clever foot-activated switch to trigger the drag-shedding ‘DRS’ system in 2012, it has emerged.
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said drivers for most other teams trigger the rear wing flap with a button on the steering wheel. But renowned F1 technical illustrator Giorgio Piola has learned that, when Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa are between corners and therefore not braking, their left foots can trigger ‘DRS’ with a switch to the left of the brake pedal.
When they want to stop the car, their left foot is therefore automatically taken off the ‘DRS’ pedal – therefore returning the wing to its normal position – when they apply the brake.
Red Bull has called for a clarification about how the DRS overtaking system can be used whilst yellow flags are being waved.
The stewards conducted a three-hour investigation after Mark Webber spotted Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher using his ‘DRS’ inside a yellow flag zone at Valencia late last Sunday. Ultimately, the officials let Schumacher keep his first podium for more than 2000 days, Charlie Whiting arguing that “the decisive element” is not whether the DRS flap is open but “whether the driver has slowed or not”.
The FIA race director added that there is “no rule” specifically forbidding the use of DRS under yellows. But Red Bull team boss Christian Horner told Austrian Servus TV: “There was a meeting where it was said that DRS and KERS may not be used under yellow flags.
“For this reason we told Mark not to enable DRS and so I was surprised that Michael did.”
Peter Sauber admitted: “From past experience we know that the FIA applies different standards from time to time.”
The Hamburger Morgenpost newspaper wondered if the fact it was Schumacher’s first podium of his comeback, and in the presence of his friend and FIA president Jean Todt, that influenced the stewards’ ruling.
Mika Salo, one of the stewards at Valencia, said: “I am not allowed to talk about our decision.”
Horner said: “I think it is important for the teams that we clarify the situation for Silverstone.”
Charlie Whiting has defended the decision to let Michael Schumacher keep his Valencia podium.
After Mark Webber spotted the Mercedes with its DRS rear wing being deployed within a yellow flag zone, Red Bull pushed hard for Schumacher to be penalised. The stewards conducted a detailed post-race investigation but ultimately ruled that Schumacher deserved the first top-three podium finish of his comeback career.
“The stewards noted that the driver (made) a significant reduction in speed on entering the double waved flag zone,” the report read.
But Auto Motor und Sport reports that the officials found that Schumacher had indeed used his DRS amid the waving yellow flags.
“It’s not about the DRS position,” FIA race director Charlie Whiting insists. “There is no rule that says the DRS has to be open or closed under yellow flags. The decisive element is whether the driver has slowed or not. And compared to the lap before, Schumacher had taken out a lot of speed,” said the Briton.
Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport said that, in fact, Schumacher was slower at that moment than the whistle-blower Webber.
Michael Schumacher will keep his third place in the European Grand Prix. Schumacher was under investigation by the stewards over his use of the DRS whilst yellow flags were being waved for the Hamilton-Maldonado crash on the final lap of the European Grand Prix. The podium was Schumacher’s first since the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix.
Television images confirmed that Schumacher’s car did have the DRS in the open position in the middle of a yellow flag zone. However race stewards decided that the Mercedes driver had slowed sufficiently and therefore no penalty should be applied.
“The stewards considered a report that driver #7 used his DRS in a yellow flag zone and that his allegedly constituted a breach of yellow flag regulations,” said a statement from the stewards. “Having examined telemetry and video evidence, and heard from the driver and team representatives, the stewards noted that the driver did make a significant reduction in speed on entering the double waved flag zone.”
Red Bull has put the brakes on Michael Schumacher’s celebrations, after the seven time world champion on Sunday tasted podium champagne for the first time since 2006.
Mark Webber, who finished behind the Mercedes at Valencia, had radioed the pits – and therefore the listening FIA – to complain that Schumacher had deployed his overtaking rear wing ‘DRS’ system through a yellow flag zone.
“I hate to dampen the euphoria about Michael Schumacher but it is clear to see on the television images,” Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko said on German television Sky.
Team boss Christian Horner added on RTL: “The stewards have all the information and will take care of it.”
A post-race penalty would surely cost Schumacher the podium. But according to the BBC, Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn checked the data personally and found that Schumacher disengaged the DRS flap thirty metres before the yellow flag zone.