Formula 1 Insight

A Brief Ponder on KERS

For those who are interested in the KERS systems due to be introduced on the cars next season, Reghardware has a good article on McLaren's latest tie-up regarding their system, plus educated guesses at what the other teams are doing.

Williams FW30
Williams FW30 with 2009 wings but no KERS as yet

As readers of this blog will know, I am somewhat cynical on the subject of KERS and its relevance to F1, so my delight in the quoted comment from Toyota engine expert, Luca Marmorini, can be imagined. When asked if the company's experience of KERS for road-going cars was useful in designing a system for F1, he said: "No". Now there is a man after my own heart, straight to the point, no nonsense, brief in the extreme.

Oh, I know that the article is summarizing his reply but it suits me to imagine him giving such a straightforward answer. If only all F1 team spokespersons were so succinct.

I like the tone of the article too. After going into some detail about what type of system each team is likely to use, the writer becomes as dubious as I am regarding implementation of KERS. "That's the theory," he writes and then points out that no one knows how many of the teams will actually have a system ready to be used at the first GP of the year. Most of the teams are asking the FIA to delay the introduction of KERS until 2010, with only Honda and BMW happy to proceed with it in the coming season. That is because these two are furthest ahead in its development, of course, but I wonder at the wisdom of their breaking FOTA ranks even so.

Mosley's stated intention is to have a standard KERS system for 2010 - and that makes it a waste of money for each team to design its own for next year, especially if the systems have no relevance for road cars. Considering how much hot air is given to the subject of cost-cutting in the sport at present, it seems insane to spend money on the development of something that will have to be thrown away after a year's use.

But that is how things are in Max and Bernie's F1 - plenty of lip service but not a great deal of reality. KERS and the push-to-pass button are anathema to the spirit of F1 and the teams should cut their losses now by refusing to have anything to do with it. If Max is so set upon the sport appearing green, let him come up with something less expensive and a bit more relevant to competition.


Steven Roy
I really don't get the standard KERS thing. What is the point to it? The original idea behind KERS was that the F1 teams in their rush to be competitive would spend obscene amounts of money on it and as a result produce something road relevant. For me the link between racing and the road is ephemeral at best. There are probably as many examples of road technology being picked up by the racing community as vice versa. You can immediately think of ABS, traction control etc which were standard equipment on fairly mundane road cars before they were ever used in any serious form of racing.

Standard KERS will have either no development or to use Alianora's phrase will be subject to a development sorbet and will therefore do nothing to advance the technology or make it road relevant. It therefore becomes another in the long list of pointless window dressing items that Max favours.

It goes without saying that while 99.999% of the vehicles on the road a powered by fossil fuels KERS is a complete irrelevance. If the vast majority of the road vehicles on the planet were powered by electric motors it would make perfect sense but they are not and are unlikely to be so powered for a few decades at least. So instead of developing something road relevant F1 is to be hamstrung by not developing something which may be road relevant for one car in 100,000.
Date Added: 13/11/2008

Why?, springs to my mind. It`s the pinnacle etc etc, then it outlaws it for being to `pinnacle`, ground effect, turbo`s, active suspension, rear brake control etc,etc. Why is Max so determined to introduce KERS, the only thing I can think of is that he has a vestige interest in it, and by introducing it he`s pension will be secure, there`s money flying around and none of it in my direction ;-). To think your carrying up to 60kW of power in a 30+Kg unit to give you a boost between a fraction and 2 seconds on a push to pass basis is nothing but showboating, pointless and down right dangerous. Even though you have a Army Helicopter bullet proof grade fueltank, a 60kW short circuit is a whole different ball game when you throw in Ohms Law........( Endeavour looking good for Friday.. Good Luck and God Speed)
Date Added: 13/11/2008

Nick Goodspeed
KERS is one more complexity to necessitate rules, justifying the rule makers jobs. It is also a dangerous addition to a 200mph projectile. The possibilities for disaster are so obvious one wonders who came up with the idea. This is nothing like the CART system that adds boost but needs a completely separate and parallel system to take advantage of the current and engage at 200mph without any problems, unless I've missed something and they are allowed to use the current to power an electric supercharger, of which I doubt.
It would probably be safer in the long run to allow mini JATO rockets.
I suspect there is some devious reason in the back of Mosley's mind for this but as far as I can see it is sheer lunacy.
Date Added: 13/11/2008

Nobody says that KERS should be an electric supercharger.
It can also be a mechanical solution using f.ex. a spinning flywheel to store kinetic energi.

The KERS idea is good, but forget about standard KERS.
The teams developments should be used for years.

F1 should always be the place to show the latest technology.
And when the engine designs are frozen then this actually a good idea.
But why reduce the powerlimit to only a few Kw? There should be no limit. The teams should also be able to use the exhaust heat.
Many teams want a delay, but who cares if Ferrari and McLaren sees the back of f.ex Honda or Williams in next season. OK, I am a Kimi fan and wants to see him win again, but in general there should be no delay just because some teams have problems with the development
Date Added: 14/11/2008

Steven: You don't see the point of a standardised KERS system and neither do I. But isn't that par for the course where Mosley's concerned? He introduces things in a fit of temper then makes things worse by tampering with them afterwards.
Date Added: 14/11/2008

Gusto: Why indeed? Your guess is as good as mine, mate. ;)
Date Added: 14/11/2008

Nick: Nope, no supercharging - just extra power fed into the drivetrain. But you're right that the electric storage answer seems a bit dangerous. My objection is purely a racing one, however - I think the push-to-pass button runs counter to the whole idea of racing and once again rewards something other than driver skill.
Date Added: 14/11/2008

Hezla: F1 should be a sport of advanced technology, yes, but not all technology is relevant. KERS seems to me to belong on road cars but should not be on race cars. If we are serious about the sport becoming green, let's talk alternative fuels and engines, rather than introducing technology designed to make the gasoline engine survive a bit longer.

I agree that there should be no delay in the introduction of KERS merely because some teams are not ready, however. It is not a requirement that every team must have KERS for 2009 so let the slower ones do without for as long as they need; if they suffer a performance deficit as a result, it is their tough luck.
Date Added: 14/11/2008

Nick Goodspeed
Hezla: My suggestion of an electric supercharger was not a serious proposal. The problem with the flywheel is getting it engaged and disengaged reliably.
Date Added: 15/11/2008

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