• Belgian Grand Prix

Blanchimont too fast to keep DRS open - Hamilton

Laurence Edmondson at Spa-Francorchamps
August 25, 2011 « 'We have nothing to lose' - Alonso | »
Blanchimont is one of the fastest corners in Formula One © Sutton Images
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Lewis Hamilton doubts he will be able to tackle the high-speed Blanchimont corner with his Drag Reduction System (DRS) engaged at this weekend's Belgian Grand Prix as he will sacrifice too much downforce to make the exit.

Earlier this week the FIA decided to ban the use of the DRS through the famous Eau Rouge corner on safety grounds as they feared drivers might have an accident if they left it open. Under normal conditions the drivers are allowed to use it any point on the circuit during Friday and Saturday, and in qualifying it has become critical to lap times.

Both Eau Rouge and Blanchimont were corners on the original Spa-Francorchamps circuit and were feared by drivers decades until the level of downforce generated by the car's aerodynamics rendered them flat-out. Neither has been a real challenge in recent years, but on Thursday Hamilton revealed that he thought he would have to return his DRS to its full-downforce position in order to make Blanchimont.

Earlier in the day Kamui Kobayashi had jokingly wagered with journalists that he would take the corner, which is a 185mph left-hand kink along the final straight, with the DRS wide open on his first practice lap on Friday. Despite offering to provide telemetry as proof, no one took him up on the wager.

But Hamilton explained that different teams' DRS shed different levels of downforce, and because McLaren's system is particularly efficient he will have to close the wing.

"I don't think I used it in the simulator," he said. "Some people will be able to do it, some people not. If I use one of my old wings then I could do it with the DRS engaged and if I do it with my new wing then I won't be able to."

Asked what he thought of Kobayashi's comments, Hamilton joked: "He's kamikaze! I'm sure it's possible with his car as it honestly depends on how much drag the DRS drops. Some people are dropping a couple of points, some people are dropping five points, some people are dropping ten points. The top teams are dropping 20 points of drag, so it really depends. Some teams will be able to do it, some teams won't."

Earlier in the day Force India's Adrian Sutil said he would be able to use his DRS in Blanchimont, but admitted he would notice the difference.

"Probably Blanchimont you can go flat-out with the DRS. There should be some instability, but I would say it will be like it is in the rain and in the rain you can take it flat. If you risk it you can take it flat, but you feel the rear is getting loose and it will probably be like that."

As for his chances this weekend, Hamilton said he had good reason to be confident.

"The car felt good in the simulator, the team are massively motivated and we've got some new components this weekend, which is good but I'm sure every team will have," he said. "We generally go quite well here with a good strong engine and we've been competitive at the last two grands prix, so we should be very competitive this weekend and also at the next."