It was a hair-raising moment for Daniel Ricciardo on Day 2 of 2019 pre-season testing when the main element of his DRS system dramatically parted ways with his Renault R.S.19 as he was blasting down the main straight at Barcelona.
Ricciardo lost the back end of his car and wound up in the Turn 1 gravel, before gingerly making his way back to the pits. There, Renault carried out an assessment – while ordering their drivers not to use the DRS while the problem was identified – before discovering a simple explanation for the issue.
“We had a problem with the DRS mechanism,” explained Renault’s Chassis Technical Director Nick Chester. “We lost the link bar and then that allowed the flap to rotate. Fortunately a fairly easy fix; we understood what the problem was and then we fixed it and have been running DRS today [on Day 3].”
Asked if the 2019 F1 regulations, with the cars now running bigger, more powerful rear wings, had contributed to the malfunction, Chester explained: “In a way, yes.
“It is a bigger wing, more loaded. The geometry’s changed as well for DRS – we’ve got a different line of action now for this year, so it's just a detail change we needed to make.”
Despite the scare, once Ricciardo was back up to speed and using DRS on Wednesday afternoon, he managed an encouraging third fastest time using the second softest C4 rubber. And Chester confirmed that the Australian was settling into the team well.
“[He’s been] really good,” said Chester. “He's got good feedback, he's very clear about what he wants from the car, so he's fitted in really well. He's quite similar to Nico, so it makes it easy to set the car up.”