‘It would be foolish’: Red Bull wary of DRS failure in Baku after ‘self-inflicted’ issue in Spain

Max Verstappen's DRS failed during the Spanish Grand Prix, but this did not stop him winning the race.

Red Bull’s chief engineer Paul Monaghan believes that the team have found a fix for the DRS issue that plagued Max Verstappen at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Verstappen lost his final run in Catalunya when his rear wing failed to open on the home straight, and it cost him pole as Charles Leclerc set a clutch late lap to snatch P1.

The problem hit the Dutchman again in race day, and Red Bull were in the garage working hard to fix the issue, compounding the fact that they were also working to get the fuel up to regulation temperature.

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While they were fine on the fuel front, they were unable to paper over the DRS malfunction and, having made a mistake that put him behind George Russell, Verstappen endeavoured to open the rear wing on the straights in a bid to clear the Mercedes.

Having hit the button “50 times,” the wing would either fail to open or immediately snap shut again, so the Austrian outfit needed to use strategy to clear the 24-year-old.

Verstappen would go on to beat team-mate Sergio Perez to victory, and the rear wing behaved itself a week later in Monaco as he finished third, with Perez winning the race ahead of Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz.

Monaghan has confirmed that Red Bull have learned from the mistakes that led to the DRS failure, and have now found a permanent fix to the problem.

“Our DRS problem was self-inflicted, I think if we are honest, so now we’ve learned our rather painful lessons,” he said.

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“There is a sigh of relief after the work that some very clever people did, the research and the checks. They did a phenomenal job in a very short period of time.

“The challenge has changed from circuit to circuit, the wait time changes, the speed of opening changes, the conditions change. I’m confident, much happier based upon what we learned coming out of Spain.

“I suppose the galling part is the lesson we had to be handed on a silver platter so yeah, take that one on the chin and move on.”

The rear wing on the cars will be opening amid much stronger loads in Baku given that the cars will travelling some 140kph quicker when flicking the wing open than they were in Monaco last time out.

The British engineer explains that this requires a slightly different approach to the sturdiness of the wing flap, but the Milton Keynes-based side are much better prepared this time.

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“Baku presents slightly different problems; your opening speed is 160km/h [in Monaco], in Baku it is 300km/h,” Monaghan added.

“So, it’s not really about weight on the flap, it is lifting it up against its own aero load. I think it would be foolish to rest on our laurels. 

“We know what we did wrong, it was in our remit to fix it, so thus far, we’re okay.”

Verstappen was on course to win in Baku last season before a puncture on the home straight put him into the wall.

After the subsequent red flag, Sir Lewis Hamilton looked as though he was about to take the lead from Perez, but he forgot to put the brakes back to their normal setting so went straight on at Turn One, leaving the Mexican to take victory.

It was the first time since 2013 that Hamilton had classified outside the top 10 since 2013, and he has only suffered the same fate once since at this year’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.