A red and white car drives through the middle of a steeply banked right-hander with an orange and white kerb to the bottom and a Tecpro barrier and catchfencing at the top. The weather is partly cloudy.

F2 and F3 drivers on DRS in Zandvoort’s banked corner: ‘I don’t think we could make it’

The second of two drag reduction system (DRS) activation zones for Formula 2 and Formula 3 at Zandvoort this year begins after the heavily banked Turn 14 and ends before Turn 1, covering the same regions as last year. But there has been a change this year in Formula 1, which will have its DRS activation point after the slower right-hander at Turn 13. This means that F1 drivers will be able to use it through the flat-out Turn 14.

By Michael McClure

The primary difference is that the slower F2 and F3 cars generate less downforce through corners, which makes them more unstable than F1 cars through high-speed corners like Turn 14, which is banked at 18 degrees. That increases the possibility for dangerous accidents even if it enhances overtaking opportunities, which are harder to create around the winding Circuit Zandvoort.

More overtaking

F1 Feeder Series asked several F3 drivers in the Zandvoort paddock about what they made of the difference in DRS zones. Jenzer Motorsport’s William Alatalo understood the safety concerns but acknowledged that it would have improved the racing product.

“I would have hoped that it’s before the banking. It creates more overtaking for the main straight,” Alatalo said. “Rules are rules. I would have hoped it would be before, but [there’s] nothing I can do.”

Alatalo’s Jenzer teammate Federico Malvestiti agreed. “Formula 1 is better because it gives to them more chance of overtaking on the straight into the first corner. Also for us, it would have been nice to have it because more opportunities and more speed in the end of the straight.”

More risk of crashes

Other drivers told F1 Feeder Series that the safety concerns outweighed the benefits that it might bring while also mentioning that the challenges of driving with DRS might be too great to attempt an overtake.

“It’s better this way because I don’t think we could make it,” Charouz’s Francesco Pizzi said. “A few metres later, it will be harder to overtake, but … we have to deal with it.”

Carlin’s Brad Benavides, who took his first points last time out in Spa, said that while using DRS could work for F3, the faster and heavier F2 cars would have a high risk of accidents if they were to use it in Turn 14.

“We wouldn’t be able to open the DRS before that corner otherwise. F2 would have crashed. F3 can possibly be able to do it, but [they don’t] for safety reasons. We don’t have the same amount of downforce as [F1 cars].

“I honestly think in F1, they do it because it’s in banking, so they can still make it, but we on the other hand, not so sure about that, especially the F2,” Benavides explained. “They have less lateral traction in reality and they just weigh so much and have so much power, so they’re always sliding around everywhere.”

Header photo credit: Dutch Photo Agency / Red Bull Content Pool

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