F1 should not be too hasty to drop KERS

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Ferrari is the only team to score a podium with KERS so far
Ferrari is the only team to score a podium with KERS so far

A waste of money. Pointless greenwash. White elephant. Just a few of the criticisms levelled at the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems that were introduced into F1 this year amid much fanfare.

Nine races in, no KERS-equipped car has won a race or even set a pole position. Of the four teams that began the year with the technology, only two used it at the last race.

The F1 teams? association are now eager to drop the technology for 2009. It?s not hard to see the reasons why. But in their eagerness to correct one mistake they might be about to make another one.

An expensive failure?

Over the winter an engine technician from one of the teams using KERS told me the sums being invested in the technology were comparable to those being spent on engines before the development freeze. Again, it’s not difficult to understand the teams’ frustration at the venture at a time when costs are supposed to be cut.

Added to that, the teams which haven’t gone to the expense of putting KERS on their cars have found it by far the quicker way to go racing in 2009.

This has understandably soured people’s attitudes towards energy recovery technology in Formula 1. And it’s manna for those who always thought ‘green’ technologies have no place in motor sport.

Regulation limitations

But we shouldn’t lose sight of how seriously limited F1’s 2009-specification KERS devices are. The present systems can only produce a maximum of 400kJ per lap (around 80bhp for 6.6s).

That is not a limitation of the technology, it is a limitation imposed by the rules. (Technical Regulations article 5.2.3).

No team has bothered to create a system that produces less charge but weighs less. But there have been a lot of complaints about how ineffective KERS is for its weight. When the proposals were first announced Toyota engine boss Luca Marmorini said:

The adoption of energy recovery leaves me rather perplexed because the system chosen by the FIA is really primitive.

Instead of simply throwing KERS in the bin next year – along with the countless millions spent developing it – why not give some thought to relaxing the rules and making it more powerful?

This was originally part of the plan for KERS – its total power was going to be doubled in 2011 and doubled again in 2013. Offered a KERS four times as powerful as the one we have today, would any team consider not using one?

Let’s not forget that KERS in its current forum has brought an interesting extra dimension to races – particularly at starts and in wheel-to-wheel racing between differently-equipped cars. A more powerful version could enhance that. And the improved form of Ferrari and McLaren in recent races suggests KERS-equipped cars can be competitive.

I think there’s a solid case in principle for keeping KERS and making it more powerful. So what real-world problems might work against it?

Practical problems

Cost is clearly one. But chucking KERS now won’t bring back the millions already spent on it. Still, the teams understandably fear increased development of KERS will cause the costs to mount ever higher.

A second problem could be the other major technical change planned for next year – banning refuelling. This will require teams to carry bigger fuel tanks, increasing the weight of their cars at the start of races.

Faced with that, designers may find the further weight penalty of KERS even less attractive. But again, a more powerful KERS (or a higher minimum weight limit) could alleviate those concerns.

Tainted by association

Although I can see why a lot of people want to get rid of KERS next year, I don’t think it’s a decision to rush into. KERS has allowed for a degree of difference in car performance which has made for some enjoyable racing.

I think it has suffered from being poorly implemented with too tight restrictions on its performance.

And I think many people automatically oppose it just because it was Max Mosley’s pet project.

Let’s consider the technology on its own merits before rashly consigning it to the junk heap.

More on KERS

72 comments on “F1 should not be too hasty to drop KERS”

  1. I agree entirely with this line outside the budget issue. So can it be absorbed within the cost limits of economic viability for the sport? The development path for manufacturers is also in question so the question is whether the F1 technology will be the spearhead of KERS development. For that to occur you can’t go half pregnant and have a standard KERS system because it is the competition that creates the innovation, and then like the Toyota guy says you can’t restrict the output or technology too readily.
    The Williams guys really had the bit between the teeth going after the flywheel version chasing the the ability to prove it and then on sell the technology. Funny isn’t it that it was the manufacturers that started running the other way?

    1. This is purely my opinion. Kers in the first place is “NOT” green technology as its been suggested & in no way is it relevant to road cars. Kers as the name suggests is kinetic energy recovery system i.e. energy recovered from a physical body in motion. we all know this famous equation, E =(1/2) mv² where E is the kinetic energy, so if meaningful quantity of energy is to be reclaimed from the physical body i.e. the car in this case the velocity(v) has to be substantially high. now that we know the basic idea behind kers & the equation governing the system, i pose this simple question. tell me whats the top speed a car reaches on the roads of say london or rome :) ? 40kmph? or max 50kmph. is this speed enough to generate enough K.E for later use? again we are assuming we get 100% output yield which is not the case, there are so many losses eg frictional,bearing,losses associated with torque,thermodynamic losses etc. so in order to get a decent output yield the only parameter that can be varied is the velocity , since we cannot do anything about the mass(M).the only way to increase the output is by overspeeding. since i’m not european, tell me whether its possible to overspeed the european roads & getaway with it ? i think its pretty difficult since the euro cops have electronic sensors wired all over europe, by doing so u’ll only be attracting a very heavy fine & possibly even cancellation of your driving licence :) .even if ur reclaiming some energy,whats the use of it? unless you want to use it exactly as the f1 cars do, to boost your car past traffic or something? endangering fellow drivers in the process? the FIA is indirectly encouraging road rage by falsely propagandizing the fact that kers is road car relevant. infact the reason why they allow kers to be fully charged at the start of the race is because the speeds reached by f1 cars during the warmup lap is insufficient to fully charge it! although i must admit kers is good for racing, it is however not road car relevant.

      1. Well, there is no speed limit on german autobahns for example…

      2. mp4-19b: You seem to be forgetting the simple fact that energy recovered and its usefulness is proportional to the energy requirement. Of course there is less kinetic energy at 70mph than at 150mph. But a regular road car doesn’t need to get up to 150mph, so the energy requirement is the inverse square less.

        There is nothing fundamentally wrong with a KERS. It’s as good as common sense to conserve energy normally thrown away as waste heat.

        KERS’s are about as purist a green technology you can get. It’s pure recycling on the fly.

        Is it the right thing for F1? I think yes but only if it is required by all with a similar set of rules and limits applied as those that are applied to engines. And it should be a permanent system – not a silly ‘turbo boost’ function as it is now.

  2. i agree with keith here. kers has been made to look dumb cuz the cars currently employing the system are not competitive. just imagine a kers equipped brawn. it’ll be unbeatable if they get their weight distribution right, same goes for red bull. the true potential of kers will be seen at belgium & monza imo. mclaren seem to have made a step forward in their aero-package. if they manage to get atleast 75% downforce as red bull or brawn along with their kers they’ll be a force to reckon, the same goes for ferrari. the idea behind kers is good , but the way it was incorporated into to sport was not correct. that rule of using it for only 6sec & the boost limiter is absolute nonsense.kers is still in its infancy & every possible attempt must be made to develop it further. doing away with it will serve no purpose. i dunno why people like mario, who at the outset so vocally supported this idea have just dumped kers. have they accepted defeat? if they had just produced a decent aerodynamically friendly car, with about say 85% the downforce of brawn or red bull , along with their kers would have been a lethal combination, same goes for renault. kers technology is good for F1 & it must stay.

  3. It should either by thrown out and forgotten, or the teams should be allowed to develop it freely as they see fit. Only then will it improve and improve future systems for road cars.

  4. The adoption of energy recovery leaves me rather perplexed because the system chosen by the FIA is really primitive.

    There you have it!

    I think Luca is absolutely right.

    The problem with KERS (the same for other issues) is that technology cannot be agreed by all teams.

    You have to give the teams FREEDOM to use what they think can give them an advantage in front of the other competitors.

    I’m pretty sure Honda wouldn’t have left F1 if there where a remote possibility of building hybrid engines for their cars.

  5. PrisonerMonkeys
    17th July 2009, 8:31

    My problem with KERS is that only a handful of drivers actually have it fitted at all. All Hamilton, Kovalainen, Massa and Raikkonen have to do is push the button and they’re nigh on untouchable. It’s counter-productive to passing; either all the teams should have it, or none of them.

    1. @ PrisonerMonkeys

      That is EXACTLY what I was going to say in my post….now I don’t have to.

  6. It’s too late to keep it around for next year, but I could see it coming back in 2011. KERS will need a high-profile backer inside the FIA though–Mosley filled that role over the last few years, but he won’t be around to ram it through in the future.

    If KERS comes back though, it will need to be more powerful, so much so that all the teams will have to run it or be at a serious disadvantage. In 2011 or 2012, this could be the decisive factor separating the field (since the cars will have gone through 2-3 years of aero development with stable rules, making aero gains harder to come by).

    The downside is that while 4 engine makers have KERS systems, Toyota and Cosworth don’t, and Renault and BMW might not want to spend the costs to bring their systems up to the level of Mercedes and Ferrari.

  7. Personally, I’ve always been against a ‘push to pass’ system, just because it’s a phony way to create overtaking IMHO. (i.e. if Massa gets a good start, it is ALWAYS going to be down to KERS and not his skill).

    For that reason, I’m actually happy to see KERS dropped. If it was a standardised system for all teams, I would be more happy… the technology does not need developing in F1 as the car manufacturers are already well ahead for general car use.

  8. I never liked the principle of kers as I could never get my head around how its weight and the energy used to move the car with the increased weight penalty could improve energy efficiency? – there have been some great explanations/justifications within these columns but as Spock would say – it is not logical!! – colin chapman a great engineer who did take things at times close to the limits beleived in one major principle – lightness + power = speed and wins races – and it did.
    Every rule since has increased weight so more power has had to be applied to keep speeds up – using more fuel more pressure on brakes etc – ditch kers and trim some weight – obviously not losing the safety factor and maybe save some money as well?

  9. I see KERS as being an opportunity to research and develop the technologies (the plural is important). Battery / Supercapacitor technology needs improvment – reduction in weight and increase in stored power.

    In a road car harvesting the energy normally lost to braking to the accelerate the car currently faces some issues. A current generation hybrid doesn’t achive a better consumption than a comparable diesel, as it has all this extra weight to carry, and inefficiencies. Develop better technology and these road cars can then benefit from it.

    Allowing F1 teams freedom to innovate in reducing fuel usage, while increasing power to me seems logical. With no refuelling, having to carry less fuel with the same power/aero would mean an advantage. Having more power with the same weight/aero also means an advantage.

  10. KERS is only useful for starts and more often straight line speed. But on the other hand the cars with KERS create a train procession as witnessed in many races. Non-KERS cars are performing much better for the overall pace. Until prime development has been achieved and used by all F1 cars, it should be held back.

  11. KERs is one of the most fustrating things about the racing this year. All the times quick cars have been stuck behind KERs cars. Its soo annoying to watch and even worse for the drivers. Very good on starts though.

  12. I agree with the article. For me one of the main reason KERS has been deemed to be a failure is the limits placed on it from the start. There is no point claiming the pace of F1 development will advance the technology for the benefit of road cars and then place such restrictions on the system.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Ferrari or McLaren manage to achieve a win this year with a KERS equipped car, although I think there will have to be mitigating circumstances such as problems for Brawn and Red Bull or rain. Given stability of rules and raising the performance limits on KERS it could be seen as necessary for any F1 team to have it.

  13. Patrick Head said in one interview that weight issues of KERS would be less prominent if rear wheels indeed get wider as was planed for next year. IMHO, it is a good idea that needs to be developed further – it is just that FIA has restriced it so much that its usefullness was severley limited. Williams had to limit its flywheel system from the start as they allready had maximum power output well over the imposed limit for example…

    1. i’ve seen a video of that williams flywheel based kers. the flywheel is located just behind the drivers head! isn’t that dangerous. just imagine what would happen if the flywheel were to break loose from the connecting shaft? it would almost certainly severe the drivers head!!Wont a Mechanical Flywheel KERS create some gyroscopic effects on the F1 cars, since they’re so sensitive to any little adjustment.Although two flywheels could cancel out the total inertia when turning, the stresses between the gyroscopes would be tremendous when turning. I think we will still need a gimbal system. what about using two discs spinning in opposite directions?? as the engine itself creates gyroscopic effect,KERS can be used to reduce it. correct me if i’m wrong.


      1. As far as I know, safety issues are one of the reasons why they have delayed the system for so long – they are developed a reinforced casing and redesigned flywheel discs to turn into carbon dust in case of accident and puncture in casing.
        However, what I found most astonishing is that they are designing the unit to last whole season, not just one race… That really isn’t something you see often in Formula 1…

        1. *are developling

  14. William Wilgus
    17th July 2009, 11:00

    KERS only makes sense in hybrid or all-electric cars, and here’s why: no electric, mechanical, or electro-mechanical device is 100 percent efficient. Therefore, there are input and output energy losses, meaning that KERS represents a net energy loss, regardless of how large a `burst’ of energy it provides.

    Hybrid / electric vehicles are propelled by electric motors; using motor-generators instead of electric motors is a simple, effective way to provide energy recovery: the motor becomes a generator under braking.

    But in a combustion-powered vehicle, the energy recovery / delivery system must be added as an `extra’—meaning more weight. In Formula 1, this means that less ballast is available to fine-tune the cars’ handling. So what you gain in acceleration, you lose in handling—which is why no KERS equipped cars are winning races this year.

    All of the above remains true regardless of how sophisticated or primitive the KERS system is. Q.E.D.

    1. Q.E.D = Quantum Electro-Dynamics?? plz explain in detail please. very interesting. never knew quantum mechanics has anything to do with kers.

      1. Quod Erat Demonstrandum (Latin)means that which was to be demonstrated. Used in mathematical proofs to show that what was to be proven has been proven.

  15. F**k the global economic recession! It is because of this virus that innovation has taken a back step. We mustn’t allow this recession to deter us in the quest for the perfect electro-mechanical energy recovery system. mark my words, F1 cars 75 years down the lane will be powered by electricity, not petrol. oil fields of iraq,arab & latin america is drying up. Long live michael faraday,nikola tesla & the electric motor. hybrid is the only way forward.

    1. Mark mine: In 200 years F1 cars will fly.
      If not, I’ll pay you a quid.

      1. shut up aa!

    2. Cars, and most powered things will be nuclear.
      But I probably won’t be alive to see it.

      1. But I probably won’t be alive to see it

        Probably !?!?

        1. I’m working on pocketable Nuclear Fusion and the Fountain of Youth. You never know, I’m on the brink of a break through…

          1. I think you’ve answered your own ‘probably’ here :)

  16. KERS represents a net energy loss, regardless of how large a `burst’ of energy it provides.

    Well, engines represents a net energy loss also (dissipated in form of heat)… I don’t see where you want to go with this.

    KERS is not a bad solution by itself; What is bad is the KERS solution established by the FIA. From the moment it has not been adopted by all teams, KERS is having the opposite effect, allowing Ferrari or McLaren to become the new “trulli train” during GPs.

  17. Totally agree. KERS should be de-neutered: way more power, and more available time per lap. Optimally, the limit would be set in terms of horsepower-seconds, so drivers could choose to have a big short boost, or a smaller longer boost. Only then could it have an actual effect on fuel loads, which would add some much-needed variability to team strategies. It would be really interesting to see how teams choose to balance the permanent weight of a KERS system with a variable fuel load weight.

    However, I don’t think it’s going to solve all the overtaking problems. That’s much more a factor of aero than power. Since the problem with overtaking is dirty air behind the cars, then the Overtaking Working Group needs to figure out sensible ways to measure (and then limit) the dirty air behind cars.

  18. On a related note McLaren have confirmed they will be using KERS for the rest of the season but are dropping it next year as agreed by FOTA even though the regulations will still allow it.


  19. Wat I think is KERS was only a failure because it was not made madatory for all the teams.If it was , then we would would have seen a different championship for sure.

    Keith also “The F1 teams’ association are now eager to drop the technology for 2009” shud it be 2010…???

  20. Robert McKay
    17th July 2009, 12:43

    If they’d actually just said “build KERS” and not restricted the maximum power output or length of burst then that would have been interesting. Especially under a budget cap formula, which we won’t be seeing anyway, but the tradeoffs of developing a “basic”, “standard” or “excellent” system versus spending money on aero or whatever would have been interesting.

    But clearly the FIA took it’s “neither here not there” approach to modern Formula 1. They wanted the teams to develop it but were afraid one or two would do a much better job than the others and so limited its use functionally to make certain the system would not be a defining factor in the pecking order. A bit like everyone spending their own money to build their own engines which they then had to homologate to be close to everyone elses.

    As it is its clear that although the systems are promising and potentially extremely useful, the benefits under the current rules are fairly marginal – and that is made irrelevant by the fact we are in a new aerodynamics cycle (given the 2009 rules), which means potentially larger gains are much easier to find there.

    Even if they did incrementally increase the limits of the system the problem is still fundamentally the same, for me: if there’s going to be this semi-homologation then either have a standard system, so that noone’s wasting massive amounts of money on it, or don’t have it at all.

  21. can we not just have a nitro tank on the car? I know it would be dangerous but how awesome would it be!? much better than KERS!

  22. Hello Keith and all,

    In general, I do understand the point where you came from. But for the sake of cost cutting (or a budget cap), further development of the KERS system might not be of a economic choice.

    The 2009 KERS development spending, which started from late 2008 to early 2009, should be considered as sunk cost. Since that past spending cannot be reversed if the KERS teams decided to continue with it or just ditch the KERS project all aside.

    So I view the KERS spending issue with a different view than what the articles suggests. I do believe if FIA, FOTA and other parties want to stay parallel to the aim of cost reduction, I think KERS should be dropped.

    From a racing standpoint, with no doubt, it gives more thrilling races (especially at starts). But if we give KERS too much power, then the emphasis on the harmony between driver, chassis, engine and the team might be overshadowed by the ‘boost button’. And that harmony, is what make the likes of Ayrton Senna, Keke Rosberg, Alain Prost such great masters of the sport.

    From 1998-2004, we have seen quite a bit of overtaking with cars not using KERS, and those new 2009 aero parts. Interestingly, I think Formula 1 should consider what is different between the cars of 1998-2004 to the new 2009 ones in terms of overtaking, because apparently, there were more overtaking during those years, in my opinion- of course.

    And thanks for all the articles on f1fanatic.co.uk, I am a big fan of this website. Keep up the great work!!

  23. To me the best way to develop KERS whilst maintaining costs would be to say that the teams aren’t allowed to build it themselves, rather they have to buy it from a third party supplier and impose a limit on the price.

    Then it would be down to the suppliers to ensure that they kept costs down whilst also developing the best system…

  24. I don’t see why the teams should give up on KERS now, if more powerful devices are on the way. Teams like Mclaren and Ferrari should then have a huge advantage as their cars have already been developed around KERS and the non-KERS teams will have to make drastic changes to their weight distribution etc. if using KERS is the competitive option.

  25. KERS only works when not everybody has it: preferably only when the generally slower cars have it. If everybody had it, everybody would use it in pretty much the same way; ergo, it would be pointless. One guy would use it to attack the guy in front, who would then use it to defend: pointless (and artificial). The onlt ‘interest’ would then be who saved up more of his charge…

    The best thing to do is to properly analyse the aero and make it easier to overtake in F1. I want to see real racing. Admiring a KERS-enabled pass is just like admiring a great start – that came from launch control. Let the drivers themselves do the work and show their skill. Lewis Hamilton showed that it was possible to overtake in 2008. He didn’t need KERS. Nor do we.

  26. For me I think that kers is possibly a good idea, but not the present system. Most of the braking effort is done on the front brakes, and this system uses energy recovered from the engine at the rear of the car.
    There was an interview by autosport with Toyota team principal Tadashi Yamashina, who said:

    Q. Toyota are the pioneers of hybrid technology. How sensitive a subject is it for you, and can you afford not to run it?

    TY: Honestly speaking KERS in F1 is very different from current production cars. From the beginning, I was against this idea for KERS, just on cost grounds. There are development costs, and learning costs, so even if Toyota are not the first team to utilise KERS in F1, I am sure we will not be blamed. We are confident that KERS and the hybrid system are very different, and I am proud of the production car first

    Some people have mentioned that through the development of F1 KERS, in the future production cars will have the same type of KERS. But I don’t believe that.

    Most of the F1 cars need weight added at the front of the car, not at the back where the kers system has to be fitted. Have you noticed it takes two people to lift and fit most front wings, that are made from composites. Where do you think the ballast is fitted?

    1. The front wheels are at the front of the car and i’m sure they weigh something. Maybe that’s why it takes two men?

      1. The front wheels are at the front of the car and i’m sure they weigh something.

        By far the most memorable statement in this discussion thread ;-)

  27. Again, I agree with you, Keith.

    But don’t you think we’ve seen good racing just becausefew teams use the system? What would happen if all of them use it?.

    Maybe the system will have less effect then. We’ve seen faster cars stuck behind KERS-powered cars. Again, what would happen if both had KERS?

    First of all, those incredible starts by Lewis, Alonso, Kimi, Massa when they push the KERS button would not have place again, as all the others would also push the button.

    So… in my opinion, KERS should not be there next season.

  28. great article keith but i do not think KERS is good in a sporting sense. as Martin Brundle said on BBC commentary (think it was turkish gp?) he thought KERS produced fake racing, with drivers only having to push a button to get past someone else.
    of course if everyone had it then I guess it’d be better… maybe.

  29. Lower the weight minimum for a KERS car. A major inherent trade off of a new powertrain spec under an existing design formula is non-ideal weight distribution. Lowering the weight minimum could allow a KERS car to have the same distribution or flexbility in distribution as the others.

    Some will say its not fair, that if KERs were really a technical benefit in its own terms, it should compete with IC-only cars on a level field. But if the point of KERS is to initiate a technological movement toward hybrid powertrains over 3-5 years, its no good to snuff it out in the beginning by forcing teams to use it under a design specification that potentially (and certainly on certain tracks) completely negates its advantage. And remember that the KER System effect has been capped, in part, to allow gradual, economical development of the concept, toward a state where all teams are able to access and use an extremely powerful system.

    Keith, a small point:we shouldn’t say KERS has a “weight penalty.” This confuses a lot of readers who are led to believe KERS cars have more mass than others, who conclude that the penalty is there to counteract the benefit of the system, or that it is extraordinarily heavy.

  30. Sorry to double dip, I have to add that from a competitiveness point of view, the fact that everyone will have a “button” in the future is irrelevant.

    If KERS were fully developed without restriction, there would be no button—the software, set and adjusted by team or driver—would deploy the power in an optimal manner. The competition would be to refine the system, just as teams have competed to refine engines and aerodynamics for generations.

    As far as the nullifcation of the “boost”, a “boost” can come from extra revs, a turbo, fuel mixture changes, etc., and has nothing to do with whether KERS is a benefit to Good Racing.

    A state-of-the-art road-going performance hybrid has no “button” you must mash to get the benefit of the system. Battery power is deployed by software to maximize the benefits of performance and efficiency, depending on driver demands and conditions. This is what the Toyota engineer meant when he said the existing KERs system is “primitive,” rather than a complaint about the overall power limit.

  31. Max should resign now!!!
    17th July 2009, 15:14

    KERS makes F1 look like Mario Kart 64…you know when you get the little mushroom…

  32. Casino Square
    17th July 2009, 15:48

    Keith you say Ferrari are the only KERS team to have finished on the podium this season. But what about Nick Heidfeld’s 2nd place at Malaysia? I think BMW were still using KERS back then.

  33. No refuelling. Raise the weight limit from 620 to 650kg, limit the amount of gas each car can use to an amount just enough to finish the race and let the teams develop kers freely.

  34. F1Outsider,

    Your system sounds similar to FIA Group C, pre 92 or so. Except the teams developed turbo technology to manage the performance vs. efficiency curve. And its important to recall the comparison because, though Group C produced pretty good racing with some of the most advanced cars ever to race in compeittion, this freedom bore the seeds of its demise.

    Four-digit horesepower, efficiency gains, and obscene downforce figures eventually required draconian ad hoc constraints on the cars, and the shocking expense of development meant the 91-92 global recession fatally wounded the series. (The late, hasty switch to 3.5L semi-spec engines still costed too much and thus failed.) It was not until 2000s that we saw again deep fields of advanced cars at Le Mans.

  35. 1994fanatic
    17th July 2009, 16:26

    Leave kers in, it slows the cars down what everybody cries about and will make future roadcars greener than what they are now even though we could be totally green already with no emissions did you ever hear of tesla? He created an electric car that ran in the early 1900s with no plugs and didn’t need recharged but oddly enough the us government has this technology in hiding, you could also have a dvd player that doesn’t need plugged into the wall as well as nitrating the farmland w/out using fertilizer and not pollute the earth. I guess making that electricity also abuses the earth… we’re doooommmeed lets face it.

    1. Robert McKay
      17th July 2009, 16:48

      The US Government, almost entirely dependent on oil from less-than-stable and less-than-friendly middle East states, is sitting on an electric car that doesn’t need recharging…interesting.

    2. Are you certain about that? From what I know of Nikolai Tesla’s work, as well as physiscs and chemistry, you cant just pull electrical current out of empty space. Do you have any more info about this, or can you elaborate further?

      1. 1994fanatic
        18th July 2009, 16:20

        Yep, tesla could use the earth to transmit power thru his “tesla coil” the original was in colorado or new york he had a bunch of great ideas but a sad story of others taking advantage and the us government saying no because who elects oil billionairs as presidents? ie the bush toolbags and a vpres that can’t hunt without shooting others what, a fun country

    3. I heard of this car, It has a hamsterwheel under the bonnet. The waste produced is used to fertilize fields. The government won’t allow it ’cause it’s cruel to (furry) animals.

  36. Ahh Keith, provoking thought all over the planet again (well done).
    A few thoughts of my own.
    1.Yes, KERS has been a crazy debacle
    2.A debacle based on it’s limitations (energy capacity/innovation) so that it comes down to who can make the lightest electric motor/battery combo for the measly power amount allowable.
    3.Yes, developing KERS is expensive, and the returns on that money are minuscule (unless you’re rolling in a great car with a double diffusor,,,, )
    4.The way to promote KERS and “hybridizing” race cars (is there a better word?) is to eliminate the “power limitations” (the yearly stepping concept is ludicrous) and to gradually reduce displacement and increase engine longevity requirements. Even more interesting if cylinder numbers could vary (not require 8) to see if stroke/cylinder count would change, or even simply have a horsepower output limitation, (main electric motor without gears and small turbine anyone?) Vehicle innovation could come back to playing a part (though, yes, development costs would go up if this was the case)

    5.Since the current design is a weight battle why hasn’t anyone gone the pneumatic route (compressed air cylinder) it would be lightweight (the key issue all year), reasonably efficient (for the power ratio mandated), and simple.

    Keep up the thought provoking stuff Keith!

  37. Ahh, finally, people are beginning to see that KERS is a flop. I am tempted to say “I told you so” ;)

    By no means is KERS road relevant. Although, looking into the details, one can summarise the following managerial decisions that are causing the demise of a technology.
    1. Restrictions of 400kJ per lap, most KERS systems I believe can save more than this amount.
    2. Co-introduction with slicks. Slicks have made this year’s cars massively quick, had KERS been introduced with grooved tyres, surely, KERS cars wouldn’t have suffered so much.
    3. Limitation of extraction of energy from rear wheels only. There is definitely half the braking energy of the front wheels going waste there.

    I know that most fans wouldn’t want the re-introduction of grooves (neither do I). But if the 1st and 3rd rules are overturned, KERS might survive in F1.

  38. I think KERS was put as a rule to focus teams spending at one point which can be pin-pointed and showcased as Formula 1’s great new improvement to everyday life. If they didn’t have KERS available they would develop lightweight driver pedals or something that would bring 0,01s in race…

  39. What with no traction control, no launch control, drivers actually driving, it was getting better.

    Now we have another artificial aid – we’re going backwards again.

    Take the electronics off the car and just let the drivers drive.

  40. Whether they have no KERS in the future or they have no restriction of the power it can produce.

  41. Does F1 need green technology? Yes. Is KERS the solution? No.

    Main problem with KERS is as others already pointed out, it’s artificial. A genuine great overtaking move could potentially be watered down if KERS is seen to do part of the magic. F1 is already too blatantly obvious (rightly or wrongly) to casual fans that it’s “all about the cars and not the drivers”. KERS will only add fuel to fire to this argument.

    Practical “green” solutions would be:
    – No refueling
    – Bio fuel / Hydrogen fuel cell
    – Limited number of personnel each team can bring along (a LOT of carbon footprint wiped out by not flying an army of people around the globe)

  42. Jonesracing82
    18th July 2009, 5:14

    i reckon once we hit the faster tracks, Monza, Spa et al, those cars may well have an advantage!

    1. A fast track with no good braking zone is useless for KERS. Thats the reason Mclaren dropped it when they went to Silverstone. Although a track Like Monza might work for KERS as it has a few braking zones although not all are heavy braking zones.

  43. Drop this kers system YES – do it now! About other systems were the car can benefit more from the gained energy, go for it. Now now, this is a stupid and VERY expensive rule

  44. What I think should be done is make KERS required but provide the teams with a standardized version (if they can’t develop one) and make it much more powerful. The problem with KERS now is only two teams use it and it isn’t being used to its full potential.

    1. If we have a standardized KERS what does it bring to racing apart from more cost. KERS doesn’t bring any significant fuel economy to the cars, so its application in F1 doesn’t make it green technology.

  45. I like KERS. I think it’s sad that it got binned so quickly.

    BTW KERS was meant as a cheaper way for manufacturers to compete on the performance aspect of the car. Since engine was frozen, KERS allowed them to show their skill on a another area.

    I thought that made sense. Instead of spending 200 million to make an engine go a few tenths faster, why not spend 10 to 20 million on a KERS that does the same?

    I also like the strategic element of it. A driver has a little extra power available and in a “dogfight” he hs to manage this cleverly.

    One of the few KERS vs KERS battles that I saw was Hamilton on Alonso. Alonso had already used up his KERS to defend his position while Hamilton had kept his battery up. Hamilton managed a pass and made it stick. I thought it was rather exciting and it adds a new element of skill.

    Even with a standard KERS that would work.

    I also like the idea of a fixed amount of fuel and allowing teams to use KERS to save fuel. See how fast they can run the race on that fixed amount of fuel. That would probably put a bit of damper on the aero nonsense too.

  46. Good article. But I think your missing a vital fact. The 2013 rules allow for 1600kj to be recovered and utilised through BOTH AXLES. Therefore, not only do you get an 300 bhp, you get to put down through all four wheels. By making a (KERS)four wheel drive car KERS would be deployed during corners and not only down the straights. Of course the harvesting of energy would change as you would need electric motors on the front wheels to drive them and these motors would become generators during braking. If the teams had been allowed to develop KERS from the start to 2013 rules, the KERS motors/generator would be outboard on the wheels and become un-sprung weight.
    KERS is being blamed for upsetting the weight balance of the car when in reality the size of the front tyres is responsible for that, they are too big in relation to the rear tyres and that means you need to move weight forward. As KERS is only allowed to work on the rear wheels the 35kg behind the engine is hindering what is already a problem.
    The KERS development road map was stepped to stop some teams throwing money at it and running away with the world championships. Good old Max.

  47. sorry, I I do not get it

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