KERS not powerful enough for F1?

Ross Brawn, Honda, Istanbul, 2008, 470150

Honda’s Ross Brawn has suggested F1 teams may not use the much-vaunted Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems next year as they are not sure they will improve the performance of their cars:

I think each team will be covering both options because no one knows how good KERS will be. Therefore I’m certain that each team will build a car that can drive with or without KERS.

FIA President Max Mosley has given strong backing to the legalisation of hybrid engines in Formula 1 next year, saying it will “revolutionise” the sport. It would undermine his claims of making F1 green if few of the teams chose to run the systems next year.

Brawn explained the disadvantages with KERS:

The theoratical advantage of having KERS is perhaps two or three tenths a lap, but you have to carry 20 or 30kg extra for that.

But there are other negative aspects in relation to KERS, for instance the control over the amount of braking at the rear end. KERS will be powered by the rearaxle and the brakes, but the torsional moment of the rearaxle could change as soon as the storage element is fully charged. That’s one of the difficult points you have to deal with. So you win two or three tenths, but you lose in terms of weight, packaging and torsional moment at the back. There in any case is no clear decision on KERS.

I think it will take a while before we can eliminate the disadvantages. There will be a number of versions of KERS – and perhaps there will be more versions that we haven’t thought of so far. For us the system only starts to work when we overcome the disadvantages.

It’s safe to assume that Brawn wouldn’t voice such an idea in public if he didn’t think other teams were already considering the same.

The FIA already plans to allow teams to produce more power using KERS in the future. Toyota has previously described F1’s KERS plans as “primitive”.

Mercedes’ Mario Illen created a KERS system for McLaren in 1999 that would have provided a 45bhp power boost but the FIA banned it. Next year’s system will produce a maximum of 80bhp – but how much power could F1 be generating with KERS had that original system not been banned nine years ago?

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22 comments on KERS not powerful enough for F1?

  1. M Smith said on 15th June 2008, 0:10

    A very good point from Ross Brawn, and this is from a team that is rumoured to have developed their KERS further than the other teams. The FIA would be well-advised to allow more power to be generated, as there’s no use in using a system if it doesn’t give you an advantage.

  2. frecon said on 15th June 2008, 0:39

    Is it compulsory for the teams to use KERS?

    Because it would be funny see how some teams don’t use KERS because they are faster without it. Evan faster than contenders with KERS.

  3. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th June 2008, 0:53

    Frecon – No it’s not.

  4. Keith, do you have a link or a source of Brawn comments?

    Good post.


  5. Robert McKay said on 15th June 2008, 10:48

    Mosely might be forced to invent some sort of KERS-only championship, a bit like when they were getting rid of turbos and set up a separate championship for non-turbo runners…

  6. Ray said on 15th June 2008, 11:25

    A link to the Brawn comments would be great Keith.

    Fantastic post.

  7. Sush said on 15th June 2008, 11:42

    if they use a piezoelectric element inside the wheel hub then the teams (in theory) could take the wheels off to save 40kg during the race.

    then last stop put them back on, parc femme wouldn’t know.

  8. Unfortunately we would, so it would probably lead to the first successful disqualification-by-YouTube in the history of F1.

  9. A Singh said on 15th June 2008, 12:30

    I think it’s another concoction of Mosely’s which hasn’t been given much thought and was decided to make F1 more ‘green’.

    But then again with so many problems to iron out, there might be a considerable difference in performance which may manifest in some competition.

  10. Pingguest said on 15th June 2008, 15:00

    I fear the introduction of KERS will fail due to the restrictions put on the new technology. Mosley’s hunt on high costs already made Formula 1 to become de facto the most expensive spec series, what more damage was necessary?

  11. Brar Soler said on 15th June 2008, 17:16

    Mosley put wrong restricitons again! (He loves it). Kers don´t need to be restricted. If they they prove to be pratical they will be a enviromentally and economic friendly.

  12. Robert McKay said on 15th June 2008, 17:51

    “Mosley put wrong restricitons again! (He loves it). Kers don´t need to be restricted. If they they prove to be pratical they will be a enviromentally and economic friendly.”

    Exactly. This goes back to the debate about engine restrictions…Mosely wants KERS, but he doesn’t want a situation where one manufacturer gets it right much more than the others, so he deliberately restricts the output to try and maintain the status quo. Then slowly increases the limit each year to give the teams time to catch up. Spec series without the spec…

    If he just said “do what you want – the more power you can recover and reuse the better, because of the environmental argument we can make back”, things would make at least some sense. Mosely having his cake and eating it, as per.

  13. Steven Roy said on 15th June 2008, 20:19

    I have to say I am stunned. I cannot believe after everything I have read that KERS is not compulsory. Unbelievable.

    Max is a complete moron when it comes to writing rules. All he had to do was put in a clause that said anyone not running KERS had to carry a dummy unit of a particular weight and everyone would use it. If the team that is supposedly the greenest on the grid is not going to run it who will?

    I wonder if some of Bernie’s recent meeting have been about getting the teams to agree not to run it.

  14. Sush said on 15th June 2008, 20:36

    Steven Roy, haha quality comment, “the greenest on the grid is not going the run it who will?”

  15. I too thought that the whole deal with KERS was that it was compulsory.

    If there is negligable gain, plus a 20-30 kg weight increase which will almost certainly negate any benefit (initially anyway) then why would you bother?

    And then all of this R&D and spending is done for nothing. Way to go S&Max, greener and cheaper – not.

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