FIA bans use of DRS in Monaco tunnel


After days of dithering the FIA has finally opted to ban the use of DRS in the tunnel at Monaco.

For weeks there has been speculation as to whether the controversial device would be allowed in Monaco at all, with a number of drivers, including veteran Rubens Barrichello, expressing safety concerns.

"I would love the people at the top to sit in the car and try to do the tunnel with the DRS open," the Williams driver told reporters in Barcelona at the weekend. "In my opinion, they are waiting for something bad to happen. And when it happens, they will just say, 'oh, next year we will not have it for Monaco."

On Friday, ithe FIA's Charlie Whiting held a rare press conference telling reporters that while a majority of drivers didn't want to see DRS used in Monaco, the sport's governing body had decided that it would be allowed.

"We were made aware of drivers' concerns about using it, and I've spoken to the drivers a few times about it, and it was quite clear the majority of them would prefer to not use it in Monaco," he admitted.

"There is no evidence to support the theory it is going to be dangerous," he continued. "It was introduced as an overtaking aid, it would be somewhat perverse to not allow it in the place where you need overtaking [assistance] the most. As far as we're concerned it's a device that's open to anyone to use legally at any race. That's what it's there for."

However, he admitted that should there be any incidents the FIA could step in and ban the system. "If we think there's a problem we can stop its use," he said. "There is a clear 'dangerous construction' rule that we have, which is a blanket regulation. If there was something that we felt was dangerous, then we will stop it. We can do that with any part of the car."

Today however, Whiting has written to all the teams and the Grand Prix Drivers' Association confirming that while DRS will used in Monaco it is banned from being used in the tunnel at any point during the course of the weekend.

Speaking earlier today, Renault team boss Eric Boullier said he was not unduly worried about the use of DRS in the tunnel, claiming that drivers will build up confidence.

"The concern about DRS usage in Monaco is focussed on its potential use in the tunnel," he said. "This will not be a factor in the race, as the DRS sector will be on the main straight only. However, in Free Practice and Qualifying, DRS use is unrestricted. The teams will therefore attempt to use the wing as much as possible around the lap. There will be some places where it will be possible to use without difficulty, and other places where the drivers will not feel confident. In this respect it is identical to every other track this so far this season - the driver has to judge where he can safely activate the DRS.

"All attention is focussed on the tunnel," he continued, "as there will be a good lap time benefit for using the DRS here if the car can manage it. Some feel that the incentive to benefit will force drivers to take unnecessary risks. My own view is that the drivers will build up their confidence gradually during free practise and by the time qualifying arrives they will know in how much of the tunnel they can safely use the DRS wing.

"Often in the past the tunnel has been very tricky to take flat out at the start of the race weekend when the track is poor," he added. "This has not caused the drivers to crash, they have simply built up their pace gradually until they were confident that it could be taken flat - I think the same approach will emerge with the DRS."

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Published: 23/05/2011
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