Williams defy FOTA over KERS in 2010

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Williams hasn't used KERS yet but says it will race it in 2010
Williams hasn't used KERS yet but says it will race it in 2010

Williams was only re-admitted into the F1 teams’ association two weeks ago. Now, having said it will use a Kinetic Energy Recovery System on its car in 2010, it once again finds itself in opposition to most of its fellow teams.

This isn’t going to win them any friends – at least, not outside the FIA. And it’s going to increase their development costs as well, at a time when they’re losing sponsors and changing engine partners. So why have they done it?.

KERS in 2010

Unlike McLaren, Ferrari, BMW and Renault, Williams have not yet used KERS in an F1 race.

It’s not clear whether the changes to F1’s rules for 2010 will make KERS more or less desirable. But there are some arguments why it might be of benefit.

The minimum weight limit of the cars has been raised by 15kg, which should in theory make it less disadvantageous for teams to use KERS. With cars having to go a full race distance on a single tank of petrol, KERS could play a useful role in reducing fuel consumption, meaning they don’t have to carry as much. Of course, this effect would vary between tracks.

KERS has many detractors, but even they must admit the technology has had some success, helping Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen to victories in Hungarian and Spa respectively. And we have seen some excellent KERS-assisted passes, particularly at the start of races.

The other F1 teams had collectively agreed not to use KERS in 2010 because of the cost of researching and building the devices. Although Williams hasn’t raced its KERS yet, it has developed a flywheel-based system which is different to the electrical systems seen in F1 so far.

Why do Williams want KERS?

The timing of Williams’ announcement is such that any teams that wish to join them in running KERS next year will have to do so sooner rather than later. A car not designed to use KERS will be difficult to adapt for it later, especially with severe restrictions on testing in place.

Williams’s position is hard to understand. Previously they have strongly advocated cost reductions and were the first team to break ranks with FOTA and support the FIA’s hated budget cap proposal.

It looks like a political move – it certainly isn’t the first time in recent history Williams have supported what the FIA wants against the wishes of the other teams.

Williams’s announcement came one day after the FIA said it would take steps to equalise engine performance in 2010. That may give them an added incentive to seek KERS to enhance their performance.

Are Williams supporting the FIA for political reasons? Should the teams drop KERS in 2010? Have your say in the comments.