F1 cars will continue to use KERS in 2010.
Despite widespread expectations that Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems would be dropped after just one year, the new F1 regulations published today includes provision for the devices.
The F1 teams’ association had agreed not to use KERS next year – but I’m glad it’s staying.
There has been no change to the amount of power a KERS may produce in 2010. Cars are still limited to a maximum output of 400kJ per lap, approximately 80bhp for 6.6 seconds.
However one other rule change may have a bearing on how many teams choose to use KERS: the minimum weight has been increased from 605kg to 620kg. That’s half the weight of a typical KERS, and it should require teams to make fewer compromises to their designs in order to accommodate the technology.
Although KERS is unpopular with some, there are arguments for keeping KERS in F1 and, as I wrote last month, I find some of them convincing.
Since then, McLaren has become the first team to win a race with KERS. Martin Whitmarsh explained the technical challenge of making their system, developed in co-operation with Zytek, viable and useful:
F1 is a real packaging challenge. To be able to harvest energy and redeploy it is challenging enough but to achieve that in an F1 car environment has been a real challenge. Inevitably there are compromises. The lightest systems are 30kg – ours is one of, if not the lightest. But 30kg on an F1 car is around 1 sec of lap time. Given the amount of energy and power we’re able to deploy the theoretical benefit is never any more than 0.3 to 0.4s per lap.
Despite those problems, some teams are starting to get to grips with them. Already those without the technology are looking at the long straights of Spa and Monza and wondering how they are going to keep the KERS cars behind.
With the technology staying for next year I wouldn’t be surprised to see teams other than McLaren and Ferrari run the systems before the end of the year.
I’m pleased to see KERS stay in F1 next year. It has done more to create interesting racing this year than the much-vaunted aerodynamic changes have. What do you think?