Ferrari hybrid plans show KERS irrelevance

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

At the end of last year Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo asserted:

There is nothing in common between F1’s KERS and road car KERS.

Vindicating those words, the same week that the FOTA teams, led by Ferrari, insisted they would not use KERS in 2010, it has been revealed that Ferrari intends to use hybrid power in its future road cars.

It’s hard to imagine Ferrari supporting the abandonment of KERS while working on a line of models which have applications for F1-derived KERS technology. The Ferrari patents show several proposals that differ greatly from the energy recovery systems used in F1.

So has KERS failed to drive development of similar green technologies in road cars? That outcome was foreseen by, among other people, Toyota, who described the FIA’s system as ‘primitive’ and hasn’t used KERS this year.

Montezemolo added:

I’m not against the principle of KERS – it’s very important to put in front of the teams research that benefits the environment – but the way it is at the moment is a mistake. It has to be a package looking ahead and we have three or four years to work on the whole engine/KERS package.

In April last year Max Mosley insisted that KERS: “is set to revolutionise F1. It will make the sport at once more environmentally friendly, road relevant, and at the cutting edge of future automotive technology.”

Instead it looks like a technological backwater destined for the scrapheap.

Update: Thanks to persempre who found this link to Ferrari’s patent submission. Interesting reading!

Read more: Problems with KERS and its impact on F1

42 comments on “Ferrari hybrid plans show KERS irrelevance”

  1. Meanwhile testing for the new 2010 budget cap car continues. Long grid wait is presumably to allow Bernie to manoevre his zimmer frame off the grid ;)

    1. wow, how rickety are those things?

      1. lol – some are great others not so good.
        Fun, though, if you`ve got the guts to pilot them.

        1. Hey, I tried a zimmer too. Wasn’t too hot, 7 laps and then I fell off the pavement…
          Been eyeing up a superlite carbon fibre model lately – not rickety at all!

    2. Maverick_232
      10th June 2009, 14:49

      Lmao. Maybe the super softs next time??

  2. again Max got it wrong and people want this guy to lead them in the future of F1.None so blind as those who will not see!

  3. Approximately how much money was wasted on this fool’s idea?

  4. as one of max’s few supporters here, even i have to back down from a couple things.

    i still firmly believe f1, lm, and other categories must deliberately introduce relevance to road cars, for the benefit of the road cars as well as the sport.

    i still think kers, and similar technologies, are the inevitable way forward and should be embraced. however, the 2009 execution of the concept was significantly flawed. i don’t think the proposed 2010 kers rules would improve the situation. introducing kers while simultaneously looking for cost cutting doesn’t make too much sense, either.

    lm has the right idea – kers as either a power boost or fuel stretcher, although they exclude flywheels and other mechanical systems.

    i have no doubt f1 needed to change, but the way change was brought about, and its pace and severity, has had the opposite of the desired effect. if there is some solace to be taken from the indy split, it has shown conclusively what not to do. it’s imperative for f1 to stabilize, with a concrete goal and steps towards that goal.

    eddie jordan, i usually enjoy your snarky comments, but when it comes to kers i just want to punch you in the face. give it a rest.

    1. I dont see the problem. “They” said you can build and run KERS, or not and heres the parameters. And guess what – at least one team did it right. Some run it some dont, but that doesn’t invalidate the approach. And one season of most teams not running it doesn’t mean its failed, it just means some *teams failed – so far. I still think having a car that might electrocute you if you touch it is just stupid, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try it.

      1. If I’m not mistaken, before it was made voluntary, KERS was mandated to be used by all teams. When the FIA belatedly realized the cost and difficulty involved, they, as per usual, reversed their first stance and made it voluntary. By this time the manufacturers had already spent so much and gone so far down the road that they had to do all they could to implement this new technology. If you recall, BMW was most insistent on running KERS, which they have now abandoned.

        1. kers was never mandatory. of course, as an opportunity to improve performance, it demanded investigation.

          1. This was something that was supposed to be the beginning of a new branch of technological exploration. It was suggested to the teams that if they begin to develop KERS, different areas of innovation would be opened up to the engineers and R&D.

            “In addition to KERS, we think it would be interesting to allow the recovery of a maximum of 20kW from the cooling system from 2011,” Mosley said in the letter. “The suggestion is that this power would feed continuously into the drive train. Heat recovery would be an entirely new, road-relevant technology. The idea is to allow it but not to require it.
            “Then, in 2013 the new engine would also allow exhaust energy recovery.”
            Mosley made it clear to the teams that the framework was not intended as a statement of policy but a starting point for discussion and hoped to have a broad direction in principle to present to the World Motor Sport Council in June.”

            So, Max opens up the door to new innovation, with a wink to the future, then slams the door shut on budgets once the Grandees have spent hundreds on millions on the development of a dead end technology. Screwed again.

          2. Maverick_232
            10th June 2009, 14:55

            Agreed. I bet Ham and Kov are more than happy with KERS at the moment. If the teams could incorporate it like Mclaren have i dont think there would be much said about it.

            Yeah they have a dodgy car, but they’ve mastered KERS where as others have not..

    2. It’s worth reminding people that Max is only the spokesperson/figurehead of a huge organisation, where decisions are made by panels of people…

      1. Very true.
        I can`t remember WMSC/FIA meetings being called for most of this, though.
        I do remember when they voted for the winner-takes-all system as Max & Bernie had told them that the teams liked the idea. They soon found out that wasn’t true.
        The workings of the FIA itself on all this remains largely a mystery. Presumably they have left it to their President to “negotiate”.

    3. Boston F1 Fan
      10th June 2009, 13:02

      KERS should not have been introduced this season. With the new aero rules, slick tires, and movable wings the teams had enough to deal with.

      Imagine if Mclaren, Ferrari, and Renault didn’t have to spend all that time or money on KERS. At the beginning of the season, Brawn would still have been ahead because those three would have been behind on development. That means by now, we would have been seeing a fight between Mclaren, Ferrari, Renault, Brawn, and Red Bull.

  5. Maurice Henry
    10th June 2009, 2:14

    2010 Budget cap chassis and engine development continues. Bernie also proposed low cost transport solution for F1 fly away races.

  6. Maurice Henry
    10th June 2009, 2:15

    The link didn’t attach

    Here it is

    1. hehehe – 85 mph. Max will be limiting that, for sure.
      I presume the plane was Red Bull`s attempt? ;)

  7. one more thing:
    the term “green” makes me want to vomit. it is purely marketing lingo, and is usually applied to things which do nothing to minimize environmental impact, reduce poisonous materials, improve fuel efficiency, et cetera. a prius is as harmful as a jeep full of elephant poachers.

    1. Random Chimp
      12th June 2009, 18:57

      I completely agree, Yankee.

  8. If you want relevant technology to road cars to come from race cars, then it should be from racing road cars (IE: Sports car racing). F1 should be the absolute pinnacle of racing technology.

  9. I think that th concept is so important, but the pace of change has been obviously too fast for most teams.

  10. KERS would be far better if the teams were allowed to do whatever they want with it. Then it may actually be road relevant it’d be pushing forward KERS technology.

  11. I am sure that when KERS was first suggested for F1, Toyota, who already build various ‘road-relevant’ KERS/Hybrid cars and SUVs said that a racing version was much harder to build than the normal version, and even Peugeot, who now have a Hybrid LMP car, say its just too costly to be ‘road-relevant’ in a major way.
    Mercedes have got it right for the F1 car, but how much money have they thrown at it? And you notice that Brawn don’t need it to win races….
    So, well done Ferrari for getting on the ‘green’ bandwaggon, now you have an excuse to charge even more for your cars and pretend you are doing the world a favour.

    1. But you still have to wonder, if McLaren took it off their car could they get a better setup in place and negate the lost power… I know it wasn’t the sole contributor, but look how much faster BMW suddenly went when they took it off their car.

  12. If the FIA really wanted to use the fast rate of F1 development to come up with new technologies which could be environmentally friendly, one suggestion which I have seen on here before is to limit the amount of energy a team has for the race and they are allowed to do whatever they want with engines, KERS etc to maximise performance, this would promote efficiency. Of course this approach wouldn’t work with a budget cap and it may not help the actual racing.

    I agree with an earlier comment that a lot of so called environmental initiatives are pure greenwash, an obvious example in F1 is the green stripe on the tyres.

  13. BIgbadderboom
    10th June 2009, 11:15

    Not being that green minded myself, i don’t feel right discussing green credentials. However I do feel obliged to comment on th hypocrisy that seems to travel in the wake of Max Mosley. To introduce an expensive device that the teams have already stated will not improve things, then make it “optional”, then talk about further “Green” developments into the future, whilst preaching that teams should be competeing for a fraction of their current budgets just stinks of a man very obviousley without a plan.
    I have also just been told by a friend that the KERS is a far from green initiative, apparantly it has a carbon footprint that belongs to godzilla or king kong!!!!

  14. Maurice Henry
    10th June 2009, 11:38

    I doubt pure set up would save McLaren if they removed the KERS. The car doesn’t generate enough downforce to be competitive. I you get a chance to see the poackage Martin Brundle did on the Mercedes KERS at the Spanish GP it is clear that they had been funding this research for some years.

  15. KERS was just another of Max` mad ideas which involved spending a fortune on completely redesigning the car as well as on the KERS itself.
    It was as bright as his speech about reducing manpower in engine development which went something along the lines of “Put the men onto working on the gearbox”.
    His own version of “Let them eat cake”.
    Max has never been concerned what things cost if it`s his idea.

  16. what was K.E.R.S in road cars meant to actually do?? give them a boost of extra 80 bhp??? so it really goes to show it was a bad idea and if budget cap is imposed and kers stayed for 2010 how will that come under the 40million aswell… clearly not very well thought out…

    1. @d
      In road cars, KERS isn’t used for horsepower boosts, it’s used for fuel economy.

      1. and to come under emission standards

  17. The point of KERS was to create a push-to-pass device—a la the late CART series. It’s promotion as environmentally relevant is pure green-washing. The story line of it being technical innovation is laughable, when there are fully hybrid road cars sitting in the parking lot. If fuel savings were at issue, it would not be limited to 6 seconds and x amount of charge—that totally undercuts the supposed green effect.

    It’s a grotesquely expensive form of push-to-pass. Now that the veil has been drawn from its greenness, and given the economic environment, it seems completely ridiculous now.

  18. Cool, with Lamborghini and now Ferrari getting in on the game maybe we will see some serious green technology being put to the pavement.

    1. Random Chimp
      12th June 2009, 19:00


  19. did kers in f1 bring that particular technology into the public arena? yes. well then part 1 has worked.

    just because the engineers in f1 arent as innovative as they once were in utilising a new technology doesnt make it bad either.

    ask yourself, what would colin chapman have done?

    if you want to slag off Max slag him off but dont use an interesting technology with plenty of scope to do it.

    1. Colin Chapman would have made his KERS out of helium and cotton wool or similar and while his drivers may have got electrocuted or burnt occasionally it would all have been in the interests of forwarding technology.

      1. :) Very true, VXR, & he`d probably have got the idea itself from someone else to start with ;)

  20. I simply think KERS was introduced too early…If the teams were just working on developing KERS this year (09) in the background as such, and KERS was implemented next year, the system,over all, would have been much more sound, and with all teams running it. Rather than having a championship where – one team has a brilliant KERS system (McLaren.Ironicly at the bottom of the constructors champ) others with reliability problems running it one race but not the next, and half the field (including Brawn who ironicly are leading the constructors champ)not running it at all.
    It seems as soon as Max gets an idea in his head, he wants it to happen overnight. And it is a good idea (KERS) but, even at the end of 08 it seemed obvious that KERS needed serious testing hours under its belt before show time, with issues concearning both performance and saftey.
    Max has some good ideas maybe, but I don’t think he fully understands how difficult it is sometimes, for the teams to turn those ideas into reality.

  21. “Green technologies” seems to be another one of those trendy new phrases that make so many things sound sweet and lovely, almost as if they frolick harmlessly alongside nature through lovely green lushes endless pastures. But when you really look more closely, things are not as they seem. I’m sure there will be a more meanigful application for kers, and with more time research and development, it will likely come to play a bigger part in motoring.

    But be wary folks, look at the detail closely of all that bare the ‘green’ label, because it may just be a ‘green ruse’…

  22. The teams spent 200 million a year to improve their engines by 25bhp. Now they whine about spending 20 million on something that is basically a very interesting technology?

    I really don’t feel sorry for the teams.

    If they want a more advanced version of KERS then let them propose it. Mosley has shown he has no problem adopting better ideas.

    KERS is fun, it adds another level to the racing and overtaking strategy and I hope FIA keep it as mandatory in the regulations for 2011 (with increased power levels).

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