Kinetic Energy Recovery System in 2009 – What is going to happen?

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

9 Comments Post a Comment
  1. DoRYNo Gravatar says:

    I never know what KERS are meant for to be useful in F1, but i know that it’s for reserving some braking energy (which means the more you brake or harder your brake) will result in you able to use that as more torque or more speed or more whatever accumulated/stored for later use at certain stage in the race. I do wonder why F1 always want to be associated with development for better & safer road cars. F1 is a sport, it’s not something of an R & D place for testing & trying different various technologies to put it on road cars. Ok, well we have paddle shifters now on those higher end road cars (Honda, BMW, Ferrari they have it, even WRC cars have it now), then we have traction control, ABS, what else on road cars you name it. Does that mean that road cars will need to have those silly winglets ears fairings whatever next time? F1, a dangerous sport, has become more & more safe, more & more of a road show that a race itself. Now they’re wasting money, resources, everything possible to make something new called KERS. I would rather run on dynamo power which makes the bicycle light lights up instead! F1 is making things sound so dumb, one hand they say reduce budget, save cost, limit this limit that; on the other hand they say build a KERS element, new car rules coming up, everyone need to change. Well, it’s not that i dislike a change, i love changes, exciting adaptation to the ever-changing world, but one thing, why did F1 change when it was already so good back in those 1990s days? Those wide cars, on fat slicks, no stupid dumbo aerodynamics, simple steering wheel with just a handful of buttons, & most of all gated shifters! Now they’ve totally thrown that classic gated shifter away, & almost all other motorsport follows suit ranging from open wheels to touring cars, all sequential or paddle shifters. Plus, F1 drivers now seems like a jet pilot to me more like steering a car itself, look at all those eye-whirling buttons on that piece of multi-million wheel, at least called a wheel but it’s not round anymore. How can one handle all those dials & switches like that. Only that i could recall an airplane pilot managing all those sequence of buttons, but hey this is F1, it’s racing. We wouldn’t want to see stupid innovations that may fancy your eyes like ‘wow, it’s a step forward in enhancement of the vision to futuristic’. If you can show us classic racing overtaking passing slipstream whatever we wouldn’t mind & would shut one eye on those innovations. Back to KERS now, simply inappropriate, definitely a waste of money, rather use it for come charitable drive or setting up another F1 team, bring back those 30 car grid! Thanks you very much.


    • KotenokNo Gravatar says:

      Anyway, for taking a turn drivers will need to brake, they use to brake hard and just in the last moment. That means a lot of energy is lost in just a single second, and they lose about a high percent of their kinetic energy in this process usually (I would like exactly how much energy is lost, I believe myself that is about a 35% in average breaking).

      What for the KERS? Well, the KERS technology is explained everywhere but not understood by anybody. What the device does is simple as recover part of this kinetic energy loss during breaking, but what for? Well, this part of movement is anyway lost during braking, so there is a way to bring it back as power to the motor and it’s an important fact, the car turns more efficient. And I’m not talking about “green”, worldwide ecology and so on. The KERS provide the technology to store energy (electric basically, that’s much faster), and bring it back in a short space of time. That means that cars will accelerate with more strength, within a shorter time, saving some fuel, and giving some relax to the demands of the driver on the motor. To the teams got interested after a while, knowing its development will be part of their success. The KERS however, isn’t solved yet, as many teams are involved in its development and investing lots of money to produce it within terms of high-performance. That’s not about designing a product for the street cars, but later could be adapted to it’s use for them.

      Why not to apply KERS? Nowadays, the restrictions are strong, teams aren’t free to design the cars because it has to be build within a strict bounds. Now says the FIA, “You’re free to design a gadget which gives you some extra HP”. It’s now a race to get the best one, not just to get the fastest car, but doing it more effective and efficient. This is the same when the first turbo’s appeared, and the super-charged ones began to disappear. And nobody believed the cars powered with turbo could win those stronger motors… But actually did :) Just depends how you use the technology to build a car which performs better (well if the turbo had longer life, we could talk about a refined technology, but the cars in that times used to have lots of problems).

      Just all my apologizes to such F1 teams which can’t afford the development of this system, like the top teams can. Anyway, the expectations are about who is the most wise to safe money by using KERS (related to the fuel and motors use), and that could be proper for the teams down in the grid. Who knows?

      I liked this explanation about the flywheel of ‘kinetic energy recovery system’; someone interested could take a look:

      PS: Sequential shifting is used in any motorbike; I do not think that this is an exclusive technology. It’s much more common than you might think, but people relate it to motorsports and to high-performance street cars. Anyway, it is possible to find Alfa Romeo Selespeed technology or a simple Opel easytronic gearbox (each company has their own design, but very similar between themselves).

    • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

      Just to justify its existence and the money it burns F1 needs to be road car relevant at least to certain extent. The problems is that these days all the developments are focused on those wings and ears and winglets and fins that are simply useless for a normal car.

      Fuel efficiency and some “green” or alternative fuels that is something that perhaps might bring some benefit to the road car productions and justify the R&D expenses on F1 cars. The problem is that now teams are forced to use certain proportion of biofuels in their fuel and that is increasing at the time when biofuels are considered one of the main culprits in sharply increasing global food prices … Then we have the KERS development, But while cost saving is FIA’s priority, teams are encouraged to burn money on a technology that many considr out of date already.

      I am not saying that KERS is wrong, but it is hard to say is right either. WHy can’t FIA give the teams the freedom to develop any technology and propulsion system they can think of … Perhaps some may come up with something far better then corn based ethanol in a fuel mix and heavy arsenic producing batteries in the car …

      Well I completely agree with the ugly aero parts :-) Let’s hope that new aero rules for 2009 will get rid of those :-)

  2. StewNo Gravatar says:

    Developing this system for an F1 car is quite an undertaking and I don’t think enough time was given to develop it safely and successfully. Give it until 2011.

    • KotenokNo Gravatar says:

      True, I see it far from being a finished work. Anyway, such manufacturers which has the power to develop that project could have it, maybe not the best system, but a beginning. I guess Qilliams will have something, they began a partnership early in the season to be prepared. How good it will be??? No one knows…

      I’m in shock about the post, tells that people finished in the hospital or needed to call the emergency services!! Well, then I thought that surely it happened, but because those who worked on the early KERS designs weren’t careful enough, and press always likes to build a scandal from anything.

      But sure, the time to create that system is short and not enough to have it for the next season, it is a risk for the teams to begin such experiments which finish with a bad result. Teams need to be fast on they development, but not that fast to begin to test unfinished products.

      • F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

        well, this is not a first time that FIA came in rushing something in. but I think the teams are not yet forced to implement KERS, they are allowed to… but as long as there is potential performance gain, they will go ahead and burn money (and hands of few mechanics :-) )

  3. KotenokNo Gravatar says:

    And that’s what for the paddles of the McLaren’s were used!! Yes, it’s used to shape the rules to their own interest, but that surprised me! Of course the gain such a profit from it, hope the other teams come out with something useful to gain traction in low gears + high revs.

  4. […] Kinetic Energy Recovery System in 2009 – What is going to happen? – F1 Wolf (tags: KERS Honda safety technology RedBullRacing BMW Ferrari McLaren) […]

  5. zblkhwkNo Gravatar says:

    I am surprised that some level of this technology wasn’t being investigated by several teams as a way to improve power to the wheels and improved fuel economy.

    Regenerative braking is simple, use the normally lost energy of braking by installing a generator in the drivetrain. Tests have shown that fuel economy of most vehicles can be improved about 15% by the use of this technology.

    The resistance caused by an alternator is removed. The result is more power is focused at the wheels.

    Assuming F1 uses some sort of generator to charge the batteries, regenerative braking should improve performance.

    Personally, I like the idea of using the elite level of technology sports to develop technologies for everyday use. It helps car companies justify the massive expense of racing at this level.

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