The Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) is a part of 2009 Formula 1 regulations. and the also the top topic of these days. Forget for a while about its relevance to road car development. Let’s look instead how it may affect the Formula 1 teams. Events of past few days suggest that it may affect F1 significantly.
Several teams face obvious problems. Red Bull had to call the fire brigade and evacuate their Milton Keynes factory after KERS tests resulted in smoke and steam all over the place. Few days ago a BMW Sauber mechanic felt the KERS impact himself. He received electrical shock after touching the KERS testing F1 car during the pit stop in Jerez.Yesterday John Howett, Toyota team president, expressed his doubts that the KERS technology will be ready and safe to use when 2009 season begins. He suggested that most of the teams are struggling with KERS development. There have been even reports of a potentially extremely dangerous by-product of exploded KERS batteries – the arsenic poison.
Most however does not mean all. Honda are believed to be the first team to actually have run with KERS. So far they haven’t reported any serious setbacks. They are not sure they will be ready on time but at the moment they still plan to start 2009 season with KERS. According to Stefano Domenicali in Ferrari they haven’t experienced any of the difficulties the other teams encountered.
As the regulations stand at the moment, the KERS will be allowed in 2009 but it will not be compulsory. Developing something new is often a painful process. Hick ups have to be expected. Some teams may choose to start the season without it, especially as the performance advantages are marginal at this stage of development. But the margins between heroes and zeroes are very small in Formula 1.
We can see how McLaren’s performance has improved over last few races. Their 2 extra paddles on steering wheel are thought to be the main reason behind that. Can getting the KERS right and ahaed of others result in one or two teams early dominance next year? Or will this prove to be just one big waste of resources?
Photo: BMW Motorsports