Red Bull have fixed the DRS problem that held back Max Verstappen at the Spanish Grand Prix ahead of this weekend’s race in Azerbaijan, according to chief engineer Paul Monaghan. Verstappen was left frustrated at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya when his DRS flap would only work intermittently before the issue eventually subsided, allowing him to take the chequered flag after Charles Leclerc’s retirement.
Red Bull’s engineers worked hard to find a permanent solution to the problem ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix, which proved to be conclusive over the course of the weekend. However, the lack of high-speed straights at the iconic circuit prevented Red Bull from taking a proper look in advance of the next Grand Prix of the year on the streets of Baku.
“Our DRS problem was self-inflicted, I think if we are honest, so now we’ve learned our rather painful lessons,” Monaghan told f1i.com when quizzed on the issue.
“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 Baku City Circuit in Azerbaijan is well known for its 2.2 kilometre home stretch, which makes up almost the entirety of the third sector and is currently the longest straight on the F1 calendar. It will be hugely important for Verstappen to be able to take advantage of his DRS flap in order to stand any chance of snatching pole position or winning the race, with Leclerc still breathing down his neck in the Drivers’ Championship standings.
“Baku presents slightly different problems,” added Monaghan. “Your opening speed is 160km/h [in Monaco], in Baku it is 300km/h.
“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.”
Red Bull managed to win last year’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix through Sergio Perez, who capitalised on Lewis Hamilton’s costly mistake after a late red-flag restart to clinch the honours in Baku. It remains to be seen whether the Austrian team will be able to steer clear of any further reliability issues to challenge for victory once again when the five red lights go out on Sunday.