Barrichello warns over rear wing crash danger

2011 F1 season

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Rubens Barrichello, Williams, Barcelona, 2011

Rubens Barrichello says the Drag Reduction System could lead to more crashes.

Speaking to journalists in Barcelona he warned if drivers try using the DRS through fast corners in practice or testing it could lead to big accidents.

The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association met FIA representatives yesterday to talk about the safety implications of DRS, Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems and the new Pirelli tyres.

Barrichello said: “The explanation of the race, how it’s going to be, is still not there. We have to still wait for some clarification on that. But the problem is not just testing, it’s a little bit too much.

“I’m all ears. I don’t want to put a big thing and say how we should sort it out. I have something in my mind, we heard some good ways of solving that.

“I think it should be used in a way that should help promote overtaking. But people will be tempted to do flat corners with that down.”

Asked if he could take turn nine at the Circuit de Catalunya flat out while using the DRS he said: “Not for my car, but maybe it is for Red Bull – and it could be that it’s a bit too loose.

“Eau Rouge I think is going to be, and we’re going to see crashes going on. And that’s not the purpose. You’re going to gamble. I mean, last year we had to raise the knee to make it work, and I went through Eau Rouge with one leg, and that’s not the purpose.”

“It’s becoming a nightmare”

He is also concerned about drivers being distracted while using KERS – although he has had little opportunity to test it so far: “Unfortunately I didn’t have a lot of running with KERS.

“When I had both rear wing and KERS it’s a tough job. As soon as you do a lot of running you get used to the situation but every new track it will be a tough test.

“Hopefully we’re going to get a little bit more of an explanation how the rule is going to work because in the first place the rear wing should only work in straight lines for you to overtake. Now it’s basically working like the F-duct, you press it at every corner and it’s becoming a nightmare.

“With KERS, you need to look at the steering wheel to see the number going down for you to save as much as you want and use it in the right places. So you’re not looking straight ahead all the time.

“I don’t want to wait for someone to run into another driver for something to be done. So among the drivers and Charlie [Whiting] and Jean Todt we’re talking about it and hopefully we can manage something better.”

Williams “in much better shape”

Rubens Barrichello, Williams, Barcelona, 2011

Barrichello said Williams are in “much better shape” in his second year with them. “Everything is getting prepared much better.

“We manage everything, apart from KERS. KERS seems to be one day zero problems and another day 100 problems and then you don’t know where it is.

“From what you read I think people do have that sort of a problem. Everything is attached on the car, the weight and everything, but I’m running without it. It’s going to be a decision quite quickly how we’re going to develop that.”

He said he isn’t sure if the team will use KERS in Melbourne, but he hopes they will. He added: “But I think everyone is going through that question.”

He’s also concerned about the start time for the Australian Grand Prix. Barrichello said he doesn’t understand why the drivers’ wishes for the race to start earlier than 5pm, due to the hazards of low evening light, were not heeded:

“I don’t know, that’s very political. It’s very difficult to understand. Five o’clock in Melbourne is a tough time. I don’t really understand what’s going on.”

About their potential for the first race he said: “That remains, still, a question mark. I don’t know where I stand right now. I know that I’m better and I know a few teams seem to be worse than us but there are some better than us.

“You know how much of an optimist I am and you know how much I would love to say that I could do really well. But I want to be in Q3 and score really good points. I think that’s achievable.”

Sauber “have a pretty nice car”

He feels Red Bull’s fast pace in testing yesterday was down to a relatively low fuel load: I don’t know if it’s true to say Red Bull and Ferrari are so much faster. I think they are faster.

“If [Sebastian] Vettel can do 21.8 on high fuel, he’s going to disappear whatsoever, it’s going to look even worse than last year. So that’s what makes me think that he’s – not very low – but he should be in a low territory.

“Having said that, we don’t know. It was a surprise to see the Sauber running today, you run behind the Sauber on the track and you can see they have a pretty nice car.

“Some others don’t, and Sauber is one of those cars that seems to be OK.”

“Big overtaking move could ruin your race”

Speaking about the new tyres being used this year, Barrichello said it was difficult to keep life in them just by driving more slowly:

“I think it’s difficult for everyone. It depends on the balance that you have. It’s quite normal that it’s wear-related, it gets to the point where the tyre’s gone and you don’t bring it back. It’s not a question of graining or this or that.

“You look after them but it’s almost like if you go not flat out you make it survive a little bit more but you don’t make it survive the whole race – it will go, it will break, it’s not just a question of looking after them.

“You could make it survive the whole race by going ten seconds slower but it’s just not the case.”

He said it could have consequences for overtaking: “We are back into a situation where a big overtaking manoeuvre with flat-spotting and so on could ruin your whole race. So I think you’ve got to be mindful of that as well.”

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Keith Collantine
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69 comments on “Barrichello warns over rear wing crash danger”

  1. Honestly, this is where I wish we had more drivers like Jaques Villeneuve in the sport.

    I respect Barrichello tremendously, but if its a drivers choice as to whether they open the rear wing (which, will only be opened on somewhere like Eau Rouge during qualifying/practice) then I can’t see the problem here. If the driver wants to try it, then I don’t see why they shouldn’t. If its not working, then they will have to slow down. That is an oversimplification of course, but these guys are the best in the world.

    And back to my original comment, JV would have loved the risk [even if he might not like the concept of the adjustable rear wing].

    The more restrictions that are placed on the rear wing during qualifying or during the wet, the less we can see the drivers talent in using the device.

    1. IMHO, using the DRS not only for overtaking but also as a enhancer of top speed could be very dangerous. If FIA had concerns about F-Duct, this is gonna be quite the same issue. Ok, they won’t have to take away a hand from the steering wheel, but the chance of losing control are still higher than in the ‘standard’ situation.

    2. Well put. Things like F duct, KERS, movable rear wing, and the like are tools that an individual driver can choose from. As you said they are supposedly the best in the world so they must have the situational awareness necessary for the proper application of these tools. Let them decide according to their particular driving style.

    3. I can’t stand JV personally. I generally dislike the outspoken types, and prefer the quiet drivers who just get on with their racing – like Nico Rosberg!!

      1. Yeah but we really aren’t commenting on JV’s personality, but more on his racing aggression and risk taking. And I gotta agree with sw on this .. JV would have been the 1st on the grid to try this during a race.

    4. I honestly belive Jaques would’ve hated both the Kers and the DRS!

      Jacques doesn’t like electronic stuff attached to the car, he hated the traction control, and he’d also hate this artificial stuff.

      I’m with Rubens here. All he said sounds too logical for me!

      1. The answer is, and always has been, less dependency on aero, far more on mechanical grip. All these gizmos add cost and complexity to something that does not need it.

    5. I remember he had a huge shunt at Eau Rouge at Spa, and came out in the press as saying, that was a good one.

      I quite liked him, but I think he overstayed in F1 when he wasnt really that interested any more, or not quite as sharp as he was.

    6. Exactly. What utter rubbish it is to say that ‘it wasn’t intended for this’. Drivers should use anything they can for their advantage.

      1. But it wasn’t. It was designed to aid overtaking, not potentially create dangerous situations.

    7. F1 is a dangerious sport is it not? I realise the need for driver safety but like in my job danger is incumbant. We have a saying in my profession that if you dont like it get out, and however much i respect rubens as a driver you must always remeber there are people stacking up to take his place.

      1. Yes, but there’s a point where that becomes unreasonable. In the ’70s you had guys lining up to drive – you always will – even though drivers were dying (horribly, usually) at a very high rate.

        Drivers will always do everything they can to get speed, even if they know it’s terribly dangerous. You can’t rely on drivers to say, “This is too dangerous; I won’t do it”.

        An analogy – even at a stupidly low level, I was driving some quickish gokarts, the kind that have metal around them… The circuit was indoors and had shiny metal around the edge of the track. So I found that on one corner I could go full at full throttle if I just drive straight into the wall and bounced the kart off; there was so little friction that I barely lost any speed.

        It hurt like an absolute ******* – ripped me against the belts, whipped my neck to the side, damn near took my glasses off – once every 40 seconds, but it was quicker. I’m a very cautious person in normal life, but you put me in a race vehicle of some type and I’ll go as fast as possible no matter what.

        In the ’70s, guys would drive with aluminum fuel tanks wrapped all around them – sidepods, under their knees, etc. They knew that guys tended to die in fires, that the safety systems were inadequate, and that, if it matters, it’s quite possibly the worst way to be killed. But they drove as fast as possible anyway. I don’t know if I would ever get into one of those cars, but that’s partly because I’m sure that if I did, I’d push at 10/10ths anyway.

        These guys are no different, I’m absolutely sure. So putting them in a position you know is particularly dangerous, for no benefit (or in the case of ARWs, a drastic negative in the form of making the sport a laughingstock) just isn’t cool.

        Suggesting that opposing it is due to a lack of manliness or bravery is absurd; the whole reason this kind of thing needs to be opposed is because drivers will never, ever back off.

  2. Looks like the fragility of the tyres could lead to less overtaking, given the risk of ruining your tyres for the whole race.

    1. I hope that doesn’t mean we see less bold overtaking moves from the likes of Kobayashi and Hamilton…

  3. Aye, I watched the BBC website preview thing before and Coulthard said Charlie Whiting always says “if you’re not comfortable with it, don’t use it”.

    Draw your own conclusions about the oldest driver being most concerned with having to do too much at once… ;)

    1. James Williams
      10th March 2011, 18:35

      Interesting, you can make connections between Barrichello & the comments made by Jenson Button about getting married & having kids.

      “if you start feeling fearful of pushing the car to the limit, you have got to stop … [as it is] not worth the risk”.

      1. Well, you could however argue that a normal father wouldn’t let himself be nearly squeezed into a pitwall. ;-)

        1. Some family fathers I see on the highway do pretty bizar stunts as well. Especially loaded with the whole family.

          I think that is not really the point. Schumi also has children and he rather got better with them. Rubens as well.

          1. As a father, I see it as a balancing act: You have a responsibility to your family – a huge responsibility to your child to be there for him or her. It’s something that’s utterly impossible to comprehend until you’re in the situation, like trying to explain color to a blind person.

            But part of that responsibility is teaching (for me) my son that to live a real life, you have to take risks and push the limits. I don’t want my son to see his dad put himself in a bubble and avoid doing anything dangerous, because I don’t want him to live like that.

            I own my own business, which in the scheme of things probably places my child at more overall risk than Jenson racing; if I fail, I run the risk of his not having a stable home or a good education. Jenson’s future child will at the very least be assured of those things. And the chances of him being killed are far less than the chances of my losing my business.

            My dad did both – he raced GT1 cars (monstrous 675hp V8s for the win!) and had his own company. And as his son, I was, and am, immensely proud to have him as my father. Even at the amateur level, there’s no feeling like seeing your dad start a heavy rain race in 12th place, and pass three people before the first corner.

            And two minutes later, see him come ripping down the pit straight, the side pipes shattering the air at full throttle, and a solid wall of spray behind him – so far in front of the field that people start asking what happened before the second place car shows up, tentatively feeling its way down the road.

            Dangerous, to an extent? Sure. But did it teach me something about pushing the boundaries in life that I never could have learned if he’d sat at home? Did the memory burn itself into my mind so I’ll be able to close my eyes and see it again 50 years from now? You’re damn right it did.

          2. (And, for those of you talking about Rubens’ age – my dad was in his fifties when that story happened, with a 12 year old kid – and racing for nothing more than the joy of it. Age has nothing to do with anything.)

    2. Rubens aint the oldest, your forgetting a little somebody, nobody important really

      1. Well, when Schumi tried to force Rubens to back up and pushed his Williams against the pit wall I knew one thing for sure:
        Yes, baby, he’s still the same. >:-D

  4. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    10th March 2011, 18:38

    In the past but not so long ago, the cars had mechanical gearbox and drivers had to do the change in the same difficult conditions that Barrichello has said, but with the difference that a mistake could end in disater those days. Now cars are safer, and even when the lack of overtaking can make a race completely boring, these Turbo stuff like the F-duct last year, and now the DRS and the KERS are going to create an artificial racing where the DRS is going to compensate even terrible pilots. You will probably see a race with lots of overtaking, but you won’t probably know if the best pilot got the points. Or it probably goes all the opposite way and then the DRS will be so common will developp into some rear devices intended to dirty the air of the chaser. We’ll se it pretty soon.

    1. but you won’t probably know if the best pilot got the points.

      Don’t be ridiculous.
      F1 always has and always will have gadgets.
      Wings weren’t always just part of the car you know. :D

  5. I agree with the comment about Jacques, he did enjoy the riskier moments (eau rouge bit him a few times for sure) and to be honnest, a lot of this comes off as whining from barichello. I hugely respect the guy, but holy smokes! Just get on with it. If a driver wants to take the risk, isn’t that what it’s all about really?

    Formula 1 needs things like this where the brave are rewarded. Talent is great, so is bravery, but both together are magic.

    1. If a driver wants to take the risk, isn’t that what it’s all about really?

      Formula 1 needs things like this where the brave are rewarded. Talent is great, so is bravery, but both together are magic.

      No. A F1 driver wants to win. If that means taking a corner with no rear wing, that’s what he’s gonna do. And if one guy does it, the rest HAVE to do it as well – otherwise they won’t win. They will utilize every opportunity to go faster – and if the methods are unsafe, somebody, some time, is going to crash, and it’s probably going to be nasty.

      1. My definition of a true driver is one that pushes his car to the absolute limits, the fine line between all four wheels firmly glued to the tarmack and all four tires joining their relatives in the tire barrier. If the HRT drivers feel they HAVE to open their wings up during a turn because the RB and Ferrari can do it, then that HRT driver is a fool and deserves the wall.
        There have always been fast turns on tracks that some cars could take flat out and others had to lift. It wold have been horrible if the FIA had mandated that the ‘flat out’ cars had to lift during the turn because not all the cars were capable of doing so.

        Either Rubens is whining because his car can’t take the fast turns with the wing open, or he’s a scaredey cat. I hope it’s the former.

        1. If the HRT drivers feel they HAVE to open their wings up during a turn because the RB and Ferrari can do it, then that HRT driver is a fool and deserves the wall.

          I guess you have something to learn about racing…

    2. I agree on that JV point as well, I would even say it is something the Kubicas, Hamiltons, Alonsos and Vettels will all do to get faster.
      DC said it like that in the BBC season preview, when he compared it to the brake steering. Did they like it? NO, but the driver uses every trick that makes him go faster.
      As Petrov stated in the recent interview, he waits for the light to go on, pushes the button, then when he brakes, he looks weather it goes out. You get used to it after a while.

      But I think Rubens says this partly as the GDPA representative wanting to discuss matters and guidlines with the officials, not whining.

      1. I thought the same about Rubens talking for GDPA.

        I had the same feeling with the Trulli interview on autosport: he is very clearly not whining (Trulli? really? Hard to believe these days, but true) but instead talking about how to make the tyres better and sounding convinced it will be sorted by all concerned over the season.

        Refreshing to see Trulli like that, I almost liked him. He even managed to not sound too sour about having only about 10 laps in the car so far this test, even though he has every right to be worried about that.

        Back to Barrichello – I do agree that it is good to discuss if the rules about the DRS can be made better, as long as it isn’t made to be a disaster waiting to happen.

  6. He’s got 99 problems and KERS is one ;)

  7. I was both amused and frightened at the idea of Eau Rouge one-legged…

    Regarding Melbourne, to be honest it leaves me feeling just as wrecked having to get up at 6 as it would staying up until 2 in the morning. I guess it’s just about manageable for those on CET when the race will start at 7. It’s a nightmare for North and South Americans too, though I guess it stops it from clashing with hockey and basketball.

    1. jsw11984 (@jarred-walmsley)
      10th March 2011, 19:34

      Yes, but it is one of only 2 or 3 races in the year that aren’t on at midnight or thereabouts for those of us that live in Aussie or NZ. So, getting up at 6 for one race isn’t as bad as getting up at midnight for 17 races is it?

      1. Exactly. I struggle to drag myself into work on a Monday morning after being up till 1am watching a race

      2. The worst is when the Brazilian or North American races and the race starts at 3 or 4 in the morning. Too late to stay up and too early to get a decent sleep and wake up. I’m a total zombie after those races.

    2. Yeah, I think the time was OK before in CET. It was to early to be comfortable, but well worth it each time with Melbourne (esp. as season start).
      But it is pretty bad for America.

    3. Getting up at 4am of Sunday morning to see the beginning of the season… that was part of the ‘magic’ surrounding Melbourne.

      1. Exactly!

  8. I think we can safely say they won’t be putting the zone for the wing through Eau Rouge will they, unless they want a demolition derby.

    The danger with producing a zone is that it will predominantly end up being on straights.

    I actually want them to put the zone so they arent all on the straights, perhaps a fast corner leading onto the straight would be on the zone too, so someone going really close under breaking and taking a risk at the speed they carry through the corner can get a good toe.

    If its just mid way down the straight, it will produce a scoring zone (why dont we have cheerleaders down the side and glitter fireworks when you get a pass) ;-)

    1. Can’t they use the device at any point on the track in qualifying?

      1. Yes, but that might sort the men from the boys.

        If you dont want to risk it, dont risk it. :-)

        I’m worried about the zonal approach for racing. I think it will create sterile overtaking. Does that mean a premium for grandstand seats in the overtaking zone.

    2. “If its just mid way down the straight, it will produce a scoring zone…”

      Presumably they’ll hew to standard practice and put >> >> >> >> >> marks along the road so you know where to activate the powerup…

  9. I can see a problem with the amount of buttons drivers have to fiddle with, I understand that issue.

    If a driver wants to mess with an open wing it’s their prerogative to do so. If the car/driver can’t handle it don’t use it.

    Can’t get a good quali time without it? Hope your team finds a way to make up that time.

  10. Is it just me or is he just whining about everything?

    1. It’s Rubens.

      If he stopped moaning we’d have to assume there was something wrong with him.

    2. Senna: Racing is in my blood
      Rubens: Whining is in my blood

      1. Or put as Schumacher “But we know certain drivers have certain views and then there’s Rubens.” xD

      2. Spa Race
        Team Radio: “Rubens you are a few tenths slower than the car in front, use the DRS and go flat out at Eau Rouge”
        Rubens: ” please don’t make me do this, i will use the DRS but can’t go flat out…”
        Team Radio: Do it or this will be your last race with this team”
        Rubens: “…i’m begging here…please”
        Team Radio: “…are you scare?”
        Rubens: “…..yes i’m scare”
        Team Radio: “you shouldn’t be! You’re on scare tactics”
        Rubens: “OMG OMG…@#$@#$”
        Team Radio: “muahahahaha”
        Rubens: “hahaha(relieved) I’m about to find a way to puncture the tyre so i don’t have to continue the race”
        Team Radio: “??? you are fired”

        1. He is the head of the GPDA you morons.

          1. That was just a joke, sorry if you are offended cause you are so in love with Rubens. You airhead

        2. I didn’t like the last couple of lines.. but the rest of your script was pretty damn funny.

    3. Rubens career has been about whining. Like when they held a gun to his head to be Schumachers team mate all those years.

      1. “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse”

  11. How is this different from the F-duct really? They could have tried Eau Rouge with the F-duct activated too.

    Wonder if they tried actually.

    1. They did. Flat. No problem.

      1. Tom M in Australia
        11th March 2011, 0:45

        I remember Heikki saying it was flat, but certainly not easy flat, in the Lotus!

        1. And that was without the F-duct!

          But the teams from Red Bull down to Sauber all took it flat with the F-duct.

          1. But the down force loss from the F-Duct was significantly lower.

            People are getting so upset over this.

            Rubens has a good point, it is possible that drivers will try to use it to eek out that extra time, or try to emulate people in cars with more down force. This, rather obviously, isn’t necessary a safe situation.

            As the head of the GPDA it would be irresponsible of him not to bring this up as a consideration.

  12. I’m sure they will try it but they will know by the end of FP3 whether or not it’s worth the risk. I can’t see collisions with other drivers being an issue, it can only be used competitively in qualifying and these drivers do like their clean air.

    1. But they can use it in clean air during qualifying, the one second restriction is only for the race.

  13. There’s a major difference between F-Duct and ARW. The F-Duct was banned for the fact that the driver was using physical movement (e.g. leg, arm etc) to activate it, whereas the ARW is at the push of a button.

    The F-Duct wasn’t banned for speed reasons for those of you who have said that.

    1. I believe there was an Italian article in recent round up which indicated that Ferrari may be trying a moveable rear wing that is activated by a foot pedal. If they wanted to ban the driver from physical movement, they should have banned physical movement – not the F-duct.

      1. But still the pedal is pushed only once to activate and once to deactivate (or just deactivated with braking), so that is a big difference from keeping the leg on the F-duct opening.

        1. Actually it makes perfect sense to activate by foot,good thinking. As it is deactivated by braking, this makes all movements with it done by leg. And it helps taking away buttons from the steering wheel.

  14. The rear wing will be the big talking point among the drivers about safety,with too many buttons in the steering wheel it will be a new challenge among the drivers to driver in a race.Williams needs to perform well this season.Like him after yesterday I too think that Sauber do have something in their bag.

  15. I still don’t understand why the F duct was not adopted instead of the Mickey Mouse rear wing…with an off season to perfect the tech, they could have been able to come up with activation system that did not require to use a hand or a knee… and the system could have been standardized for all teams to implement in their chassis so no one benefits through loopholes.

    1. system could have been standardized for all teams to implement in their chassis so no one benefits through loopholes.

      Ahh, the spirit of F1 is still alive… *rolls eyes*

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