Formula 1 has reverted to using three DRS zones for the rest of the Australian Grand Prix weekend, with the one on the flat-out run to Turn 9 dropped for what are described as “safety reasons”.
Following changes to the Albert Park circuit ahead of this year’s race that included removing the old Turn 9/10 right/left, the DRS zone on the run to Turn 9 was added as part of a push to improve the quality of racing at the Australian GP venue.
Having trialled this fourth DRS zone during practice on Friday, and following discussion in the Friday evening drivers’ briefing, the decision has been made to drop it.
“For safety reasons, DRS zones will be reduced to three for the remainder of the event,” said a note issued to teams by race director Niels Wittich.
“DRS detection one will be moved to before Turn 9, DRS activation one will be after Turn 10. DRS detection two will remain unchanged, with the following activation zones renumbered accordingly.”
While the FIA has not expressly stated what the safety concerns were, it was obvious during Friday’s running that the cars worst affected by proposing – notably the Mercedes – were suffering from significant bouncing on the run to Turn 9.
Prior to the start of practice, Haas driver Kevin Magnussen had also questioned the wisdom of the DRS zone on this straight, both because of the difficulty of overtaking into Turn 9 and the fact the car would be “quite loose” in this section.
This is because while Turn 9 is effectively a straight given the cars are at 100% throttle, it is a left-hand kink.
“Into Turn 9 I don’t think you are going to overtake. You may do but I’m not sure,” said Magnussen. “The bend before Turn 9 is going to be pretty full-on with DRS on. The cars are going to be quite loose there.”
Prior to the changes, this was set to be the first time since the DRS was introduced in F1 in 2011 that a grand prix was held with four zones.