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. The other point to remember is the cost side of KERS. Although the teams have been allowed to spend as much as they want on the development side (therefore completely wiping out any ‘savings’ made elsewhere in their budget), they will want to get at least some of that back over the following season(s).
    But guess what, Customer Cars are banned! Who can buy the technology they have developed? Unless A1 cars or GP2 cars(and even IRL cars) are going to be following the same route, how will the Manufacturers get their money back? Are there any Sponsors who would be willing to pay that sort of money?
    Now, also thinking about the fact that the teams don’t have to run with KERS next year if they don’t want to, and the fact that T-Cars aren’t allowed, and the stupid engine/gearbox rules, could a team bring two cars and four engines to a race (2 normal and 2 KERS), so that if the KERS broke during practice they could swap to a normal one?
    Would the teams start by using KERS on the long races like Monaco, but use normal engines on the faster circuits like Silverstone?
    And also, I wonder if ‘Green’ Max watches Le Mans or Touring Cars? Has he seen the development of diesel engines taking place? These have had a big impact on normal road cars already, mainly as the race engines are developed from normal engines.
    Are we ever going to see a diesel F1 engine I wonder – actually a sort of diesel/KERS hybrid has already been developed in a road car by Peugeot/Citroen, but I doubt Max has seen it……

  2. Martin B said on 16th June 2008, 22:44

    “you have to carry 20 or 30kg extra for that.”

    The cars are currently underweight. They have to add ballast to bring the weight up to the minimum. Obviously the ballast is placed in the optimum position to balance the car out. If the KERS weighs less than the ballast, there will just be a balance penalty. If the KERS weighs more than the ballast, there will be an actual weight penalty as well as a balance penalty.

    Anyone know how KERS weight compares to ballast weight?

  3. Steven Roy said on 16th June 2008, 23:15

    KERS weighs 20 -30kg but I am nt sure whether that includes all the control gear and the drive train connection. Some teams are reported to carry 60 kg of ballast so the weight isn’t the problem.

    The problem is the ballast is at floor level to optimise the centre of gravity. Given the minor advantage of KERS – 6 seconds of 50 or 60bhp – the increase in the height of the centre of gravity will make the car slower through the corner. So instead of going through a corner at optimum speed and accelerating normally on the straight they would go through the all the corners more slowly then once or twice a lap be able to use the stored power to accelerate slightly better than normal. The penalty of course is that you accelerate slower than normal from every other corner.

  4. Paul Cook said on 4th July 2008, 20:27

    As Mercedes already have working KERS system. I guess as soon as the Mercedes powered McLaren wins a race comfortably Max will impose as restriction on his favorite team.

  5. F1 needs to be a technical proving ground, and KERS is a great idea. This could be where the big breakthrough in battery technology comes from that will change the world.

    Of course to make F1 green, all they would have to do is give each team a limit of “x” gallons of fuel per race, and see who can go the fastest with only that amount of fuel. all other rules could be eliminated.

    What ever happened to the KERS that was to run with no battery, just a flywheel? I would have liked to see that come out.

  6. Look i do not agree that KERS is a waste of money look at Mclaren and Ferrari they are very good now but look back during the season Ferrari were awful with KERS
    i that they would get rid of KERS for the whole season Mclaren were alful as with KERS and i that they would also get rid of KERS look you need a very good car to do well with KERS.LEWIS HAMLTON HAS GOT A WIN AND A POLE POSTION WITH KERS.KERS IS STARTING TO HANDED. FROM ADAM MC PHILLIPS 12 YEARS OLD FROM IRELAND

  7. jraybay-lewismclarenfan said on 13th January 2010, 17:38

    Mclaren made it work :D . They had the lightest one in the field. It can be done

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