Racers have communicated astonishment over the decision to not add a fourth DRS zone to the altered back straight of the Marina Bay circuit. The amended circuit layout, a result of ongoing construction in the final sector, sees the distinctive 90-degree curves at Turns 16-19 make way for a long straight segment with a speedy slant.
Questions around overtaking ability have been raised and drivers intend to address the issue with the FIA during their Friday meeting. However, the possibility of trialing a supplementary DRS zone during FP1 is scarce due to apprehensions over the last-minute nature and safety concerns linked with the modification.
Despite initial openness to changes, the FIA has stated that there was a lack of “clear consensus” amongst teams during pre-race discussions. An official statement provided to F1 Initiative read, “We won’t be assessing any additional DRS zones for the Singapore Grand Prix.” The conversation around alterations was instigated well in advance, and whilst the FIA approached all teams for their feedback, not everyone responded.
Esteban Ocon of Alpine perceived that circuit simulations may have overplayed the seriousness of an uneven spot in the track near Turn 15, which might be a reason for not including an extra DRS zone. Ocon articulated, “The FIA is concerned about safety in that little left kink. I reckon personally, and the other drivers too, that it’s not going to be an issue.”
Certain that the racers can handle the changed layout, he added, “We are pushing at the moment to be able to try it at least in FP1, see how it feels and if it’s OK, potentially keep it. There’s no reason why we would not be able to keep it.” Despite simulators registering a significant bump at the left slant, Ocon believes it doesn’t exist in reality.
He reinforced his point by saying, “But even if we want to be really safe, we just put [the DRS zone after the T15 kink].” Adding, “We are going to be in fifth gear, so really the drag effect comes after that kink so we can put it after.”