In the aftermath of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, race director Niels Wittich has come under fire for enabling DRS on lap 34 of the race.
When Daniel Ricciardo took the risk on lap 17, the drivers had been on intermediates for just under 30 laps, and David Croft and Paul di Resta speculated that the permission to use the flap on the rear wing might have been granted four laps earlier when everyone was still on intermediates.
Sir Lewis Hamilton was stranded behind Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly for just over 40 laps of the race, and on lap 30 he was asking his Mercedes crew why DRS hadn’t been enabled.
DRS was finally enabled on lap 34, and it’s widely assumed that Wittich was thinking about the incident between Valtteri Bottas and George Russell last year.
Russell was attempting to pass Bottas on the way down to Tamburello in 2021 when he lost control of the vehicle on the grass and collided with the Finn, taking them both out of the race in a brutal crash that also saw Bottas transported to the medical centre for some checks.
Carlos Sainz was eliminated from the race on the first lap by Ricciardo, and he believes race control’s cautious approach was due to recollections of the terrifying occurrence last year.
“I think after what happened last year with George [and Bottas] in this main straight, they had a pretty big accident,” he told Sky Sports.
“I think it’s normal that the FIA is taking it easy with the DRS because it was a huge accident and the line is still wet so, it’s a risk/reward for the FIA and it’s normal that they are taking it easy.”
“Obviously, I don’t care that much if I am not involved.”
After Sergio Perez made a mistake at Variante Alta, Charles Leclerc was within a second of the eventual second-place finisher, but he was unable to capitalise owing to the lack of DRS.
Later in the race, he span when attempting the fastest lap, and he claims that his inability to utilise DRS to attack Perez had no bearing on his sixth-place finish, as he claims he only had the pace for third.
“Whatever happened before the spin, these are details and it’s part of racing,” he added. “I believe that the spin shouldn’t have happened today, I mean P3 was the best I could do.”
“We didn’t have the pace for much more and I was too greedy and I paid the price for it and lost seven potential points compared to my third place I was before so it is a shame.”
“It’s seven points that are valuable at the end of the championship for sure and this shouldn’t happen again.”
Later in the race, Yuki Tsunoda was able to make good use of DRS, passing Sebastian Vettel and Kevin Magnussen to take P7 at AlphaTauri’s home event.