Formula 1’s experiment with allowing DRS to be used through Zandvoort’s banked final corner has become one of the biggest question marks of the Dutch Grand Prix weekend as drivers speculate on its feasibility.
The activation point for the track’s second DRS zone is now 40 metres after turn 13, having previously been located 30m after Luyendijk, the 14th and final corner of the lap. Its detection point has also moved from 15m before turn 13 (Kumho) to 20m after turn 12.
This will give drivers the opportunity to enter the final corner with the rear wing open, reducing drag and therefore increasing speed as the cars then head onto the pit straight. However the loss of downforce at the rear of the car will also make them more unstable through the corner, meaning drivers could either forgo using DRS until after the corner or choose not to take it flat-out.
“I’m going to let someone try it first,” said McLaren’s Daniel Ricciardo, aware of the risk of slamming into the outside barriers if opening DRS causes too great a loss of downforce.
“In a way I hope it’s easy because then it means it’s usable, and then we will obviously gain more. So I hope it’s totally fine. But until we do it, we don’t know. I hope it’s fine for racing purposes.”
Red Bull’s Sergio Perez added: “Certainly going there will be interesting for the first time. These cars, they lose less downforce when you’re following. Racing was difficult last year so maybe that’s something that can help this year.”
Only F1 will use the extended DRS zone. The supporting Formula 2 and Formula 3 championships, which both also have DRS, will use the zone in the same form as in 2021, when only F3 was on the support bill.
But Carlin Formula 2 driver and Red Bull reserve Liam Lawson believes the final corner should be “quite easy” flat and suggested F2 could also use the longer DRS zone for their races.
“It will be exciting no doubt from inside the car, and walking it earlier today it’s not until you actually stand on the track and realise how much banking there is,” he said.
F3 drivers were less convinced their cars have enough downforce to repeatedly take the corner flat-out, particularly with DRS open. Alpine junior Victor Martins said drivers in the series would need to watch out for “the wind, [as] we will see how it will be strong and how you will be gaining with the DRS.”
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