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.

114 comments on “Williams defy FOTA over KERS in 2010”

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  1. KERS is a great idea implemented terribly.

    The FIA came up with it to make F1 more road relevant in regards to green technology and to push hybrid tech forward.

    This won’t happen so long as the FIA are restricting KERS to a tiny 80hp.

    I’d like to see teams to be able to develop it completely freely, with as much added horsepower as they want.

    1. mmm, maybe you are right. I think they could also benefit from power storage developments to reduce fuel use.

    2. Agreed, much better idea to spend millions on applicable technology like KERS, than on the aero that makes racing boring.

      1. Hey you sound just like Uncle Max!

      2. Amen!

        First KERS is limited, now engines are being equalised. Meanwhile teams are saying that they have “only scratched the surface” of the current aero rules. F1 is going in completely the wrong direction with respect to the cars in this sense.

        As for Williams, well look at Mosley’s precious privateers now! Purely political move by a company that made an investment (they own a KERS company) that, for the wrong reasons, is turning out to be a mistake. If this brings KERS back to F1 next year, then it’s all for the better, but that doesn’t mean Williams should be praised!

    3. Looking at the rules and how KERS was suppossed to join F1, it should have been done the oppossite way: The first year, let teams take more advantage of KERS and support it’s development, letting higher power out or for longer periods.
      That would show it’s potential and let everyone see it’s advantages, instead of making it limited to bigger teams who are able to spend lots of money to only have a slight advantage at the start.

      1. I agree KERS should be less limited. But disagree on more and more freedom over everything… let me explain:

        Someone once told me that Formula 1 was less revolutionary than their motorsport because it restricted so much, when I pointed out their motorsport required the cars to be road legal… I question how that revolutionised anything, rather was just an implementation of pre-existing costly parts.

        Formula 1 is called “Formula” I believe for a reason, it relies on rules. These rules subsequently push development in certain directions, rather than building rocket cars. If it was free for all it would be madness and also not so revolutionary. A level-ish playing field on engines is important. Engines have the cheapest and easiest and biggest benefit to speed and acceleration, but we don’t really need faster cars or development on their power – unless it falls in line with other benefits…

        Will be interesting to see who gets what mpg out of a F1 car next season whilst retaining power. Over a whole race it becomes a much bigger factor than 1 lap more before pitting. Currently 1/3rd of a tank makes a second or more difference per lap. A car carrying 95% of an entire race worth of fuel will surely have a huge advantage. Anyone capable of doing some maths now using this years lap times and fuel weights?

        1. I believe the move to ban refueling has come at the right time. When car manufacturers are pushing the limits of fuel efficiency, it would be very beneficial to the industry as well as the sport if race cars are made more efficient.This could possibly be an incentive for major car makers to stay in the sport.

          It would be absolutely fantastic if Audi enters a TDI into F1..do you guys reckon that will ever happen? They won Le Mans with it..why can’t they make a switch to F1? Are there rules against diesel powered cars in F1?

          Its food for thought huh?

          1. Are there rules against diesel powered cars in F1?

            Yes, the rules state that the engine must be a 2.8ltr naturally aspirated V8 petrol engine…

          2. i think they should alow a 2.8ltr natrually aspirated desil engine to compete (no turbo) and see if audi can make that work as well as a petrol engine. Wouldn’t that be good??

          3. it appears i need to learn how to spell whilst typing quickly…. naturally….diesel….

  2. In the long run, an effective KERS could be a great bit of technology. We do need these ideas to be developed for the road, and in sports terms, if Williams gets it right the other teams will have to follow.

  3. I don’t necessarily ban the use of kers, but the williams flywheel kers definitely needs to be outlawed. Its an outrageous concept. Its too dangerous * I don’t wanna see headless chickens!!

    1. If it is proven to be dangerous then I agree with you. If they can make it safe and reliable it seems to be a great idea.

    2. Why is it dangerous? Would be interested to know.

      1. Mp4-19b thinks it’s dangerous (and makes reference to ‘headless chickens’) because of his concerns over the positioning of the spinning flywheel.

        1. My car has a spinning flywheel. And the turbocharger impeller spins at tens of thousands of RPM. As such I am overrun with headless chickens…

      2. Hi Charlie

        Because McLaren didn’t invent it!

    3. Dear chap: just cos you says so don’t make it so.

      One expects that the high-quality engineers at Williams will have considered safety implications.

      1. I followed what was written about Williams KERS system and one of the reason they have delayed its introduction is safety. They have redesigned the systems casing and developed flywheel in such a way that in case of puncture of casing discs lose integrity and become carbon dust.

        One of the reasons why I think Williams is pushing with KERS introduction is they are so far the only team who have realistic chance of using its KERS technology outside F1. Representatives of London Underground visited Williams HQ and were really impressed with KERS and as far as I have heard they are thinking of implementing it on their trains.

    4. agreed, mp4-19b: fried and smoked chicken (cf. Kimi jumping out of his smoking car when his KERS shortened out it the wet) tastes much better.

    5. Stay away from anywhere with trams then, cos a lot of those use flywheels – and much larger ones than would be used in F1…

  4. Are the KERS rules for 2010 the same as this year? I have to say that I liked some of the KERS related proposals that were mooted earlier this year.

    I seem to remember that it was proposed that teams could use KERS either for a longer period during a lap (I think 12 seconds was mentioned) or have a greater increase in BHP for 6 seconds.

    1. That was the original plan for 2011. For 2011 KERS was even supposed to become mandatory.

      For 2013 the possibilities would again be increased.

      1. I think either all the cars should have it or none of them should, so mandatory KERS in 2011 appeals to me. It’s probably too late for all teams to develop it for next year anyway by now.

        1. Agreed 100% – Fisichella would have beaten Raikkonen in Belgium if the ferrari hadn’t had KERS

  5. its probably just a ruse to force mercedes or renault to give williams a nice shiny engine for 2010.

    1. if this is a political move, then you might be right

  6. Of curse, this effect would vary between tracks.

    kers might be a curse keith :P
    I don’t see Williams are doing this; why push to be back into FOTA when they aren’t going to comnply with the agreements? I don’t mind kers, but this clearly has more political ramifications than mechanical.
    I don’t think FOTA will start a row over this (hopefully) unless they viewed it as a serious threat for next year, but FOTA know they are stronger together. That said Williams is undermining this and they can’t expect to get their own way all of the time.

    1. I was brainwsahed by this article by Duncan: CURSE – Complicated way to Undermine Revenue, Safety and the Environment

      Have fixed it now :-)

  7. For me Kers only prevents the fastest cars overtaking the slower ones. Look at Force India in the last 2 races, they had the faster car but had no way of overtaking due to the Kers. If kers created more overtaking during the race then so be it, but at the moment there is still very little overtaking during the actual race. Having said that if Williams go with it then surely Mclaren and Ferrari will too as it is such an advantage at the start. I expect Kers will be on many cars next season.

    1. Well said. Other than the first lap, KERS prevents more overtaking than it encourages.

      1. You could also say that that’s caused by the following cars NOT having KERS.

        In the beginning of the season there was a great KERS car battle between Alonso and Hamilton.

        Alonso ran out his KERS defending against Hamilton and in the end Hamilton could use his remaining KERS energy to get past.

  8. I think this is a pretty smart move from Williams, at least from a raacing point of view. His car is not really competitive now, and it hasn’t been for a long time. He won’t be able to close the gap anytime soon if costs are not reduced drastically. I think that their use of KERS is a gamble that might pay off; as said, it will be very difficult to adapt 2010 cars to use KERS unless they start the project now. Maybe Williams is going to be the only car using it; it might be a flop and not help, they will keep having a non-competitive car, nothing will change. Or it might work wonders and they will be the only car using it, and they will finally be able to close the performance gap and be back at the top, something they need bad, specially now that they will probably lose Rosberg.

    1. But isnt the whole point of the sport to have a field of cars with same technology?

      If Williams decide to use KERS, this could easily encourage Ferrari and McLaren to probably design two sets of cars. One with KERS and one without – Ferrari can certainly afford it, and so can McLaren.

      The sole reason why McLaren and Ferrari decided to ban KERS was for the good of the sport.

  9. Good on them, they aren’t breaking any rules. Way to go Williams.

    1. what a load of —-, The williams team are the Jackie Stewart of the F1 teams.
      They whinge and moan, jump ship, hump Burnie and Max’s leg and then just after being re-accepted to the fota (who they shat on) they again cause dis-stabilization on the sport.
      So are we going to go thru the whole DD diffuser crap again in 2010!

      Yer—Way to go Williams!!!

      1. “So are we going to go thru the whole DD diffuser crap again in 2010”

        Let’s hope so.

  10. With all the talk of cutting cost by getting rid of KERS, one point has been missed. Williams have spent a considerable amount of money developing their system. Dropping KERS now would mean that a huge amount of money (and talent) was wasted. They must also believe that the work they have put in over the last year will yield a very useful system so I’m glad that they are sticking to their position.

    1. Good point – Williams have bought a company that is specialized in creating recoverable energy systems and renamed it Williams Hybrid Systems.

      The big question now is are Williams complied to accept all decisions FOTA made after Luca di Montezemolo kicked them out. Judging by this example they don’t.

  11. I think it is a political move by Williams.

    If they haven’t signed their engine deal for next year yet, which I understand to be the case, if they want an engine from one of the FOTA members such as Renault, then Renault or whoever could easily insert a clause in the contract saying Williams can’t use KERS, of course Williams may have decided to go with Cosworth.

    I remember reading that Williams had set up a separate company to develop it’s flywheel KERS as they thought it could be used outside of F1 such as on subway trains, does anyone know if they have managed to sell it to anyone yet or if it is simply not ready.

  12. I just think Frank is right on this one. the teams have blown so much money into KERS, they might as well keep it on and render the costs more effective. if they drop it it’s as if they threw the money out the window.

    Williams have invested a lot in KERS, especially that I have a feeling their flywheel system will put the rest to shame. He doesn’t want all the effort and time be locked away in a closet. So he will try to push for it, after all, the teams that don’t run KERS now have easy access to a system from Mercedes or Ferrari and even Renault…

    in the end, KERS has proven a success if designed and used properly, and with the increase in weight, and no fuel strategy… it might be very smart to push for its inclusion…

  13. i realy dont understand why mclaren and ferrari are dropping kers?, it seems like an atempt for them to make friends with other FOTA teams

  14. harv’s teams wanted to show they were cutting costs (possibly to get back at Max) and seem united esp if it was agreed when all the politics was happening but I really can’t remember exactly when it was agreed

  15. Just been reading through the comments and mp4 or anyone who knows about flywheel based kers, could you please explain it and how/if it is dangerous?

    1. Just watch this video & judge for yourself as to why its dangerous


      1. That’s not the only flywheel in an F1 car you know, there’s a huge ceramic one that lifts the clutch up inside the gearbox. And I assume it spins just as fast as the revs.

        1. Does that one spin at 30,000 rpm?

          1. not quite, but whats 12,000 RPM’s between headless chicken friends.

      2. I wouldnt say its necessarily unsafe, and we have to assume that the engineers have taken safety into account. That being said, it is positioned rather precariously in the car (if the animation is accurate), right next to the drivers head.

  16. Are Williams supporting the FIA for political reasons?

    It is definitely a political move of some kind. I wouldn’t be surprised if it had something to do with FIA and Mosley. But Williams has a grudge and continues to disagree without any moral explanation. I think his goal in F1 is to disagree and create problems. Whatever decisions are unanimously reached between majority of the teams(FOTA or not) he will simply chose the other side for the sake of it. Maybe FOTA should offer him to be the chairman , maybe then he would be happy.

    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 curse, this effect would vary between tracks.

    This is a very good point. Which is even more reason why all teams should have the same technology. Either all for KERS, or not…

    But if Williams insists on being a pain then I hope their car ends up being last for the entire 2010.

    1. Which is even more reason why all teams should have the same technology. Either all for KERS, or not…

      They have choice, they (other teams) choose NOT to use it, what’s the problem?

      1. So you support diversity in F1 cars? Do you think it is good to have unclear and inconsistent rules? Or do you think F1 cars should have consistent and clear cut mandatory technical regulations?

        The only reason there is a technical choice is because of Mosleys incompetence, and his political goal. But this doesn’t make it right, and it certainly is not good for the sport.

        1. I got into F1 because it was cutting edge tech, it led the way. The rules are clear. You can use KERS. If you decide not to and get beaten by those who choose to, then its your fault for turning your back on new tech.

          I see nothing unclear about the rule saying that you can use KERS if you want to. And yes I like diversity, I don’t want a grid full of identical cars bar the paint job.

          1. Fair enough, I dont want identical cars either – but KERS makes a massive difference. For example, we have found out this year that if your car has KERS and you qualify in the top five, you can almost consider yourself on pole, because of the “magic” button. And that is a crack of s@#$ because it completely throws the concept of qualifying out of the door. We might as well just draw names from the box and randomly select who is on pole.

            In fact I wish all teams took on KERS for this very reason, or the use of KERS was prohibited during the start of the race.

            Furthermore, I think KERS should be made mandatory for all teams and its power output boosted by say 200%. This would make the KERS do what its suppose to, and will give everyone a chance to overtake.

            And honestly, I really doubt you would be thinking that you like diversity if the rules were a bit more flexible. I guarantee if that was the case you would be seeing one team on top more often than not. Technical consistency was put in place to prevent this from happening and to allow smaller teams to catch up. You cant have say two soccer teams, where one side has a rectangular goal and the other side has a circular goal.

          2. The problem with F1 nowadays is it is cutting edge with to many limitations. Williams was always more competitive when the rules were not so narrowly defined. Look at some of the innovations they came out with, they had a very effective ground effect package befor alot of the others, the developed the pneumatic suspension and integrated all the engine/transmission and ride cmputers into a seamless package that made them the class of the field for several years. This was because they rhought outside of the box alot. As the rules continue to be more anmre restrictive all the cars are becoming closer which some may say makes for a better show but in reality it doesnt.
            When the rules just define minimum weight, track deminsions and wing sizes and locarions then people are allowed to go into different directions and come up with different but equally competitive results. Pretty soon we may as well be like indycar and everyone run a Dallara chassis and then watch how interesting the racing isnt.

            If Williams thinks they have kers figured out and they can put it in the car and it be within the rules let them run with it. If it falls on its face well then thatnwill be the way it goes. Frank Williams can live with that.

        2. So you support diversity in F1 cars?

          I do! Diversity is absolutely part of what makes F1 great. Would you like all the cars to be identical like the lower formulas?

        3. How are the rules unclear? The use of KERS is the choice of the team. The FOTA decision to all abstene from their use is just an agreement netween current FOTA teams, NOT at that time Williams.

  17. I was under the impression that Williams were planning to market their KERS system commercially and had set up company to exploit the technology.

    I recall reading something about this last year… that they are planning to target the system at commercial vehicles such as trucks and public service vehicles.

    That being the case, they are hardly likely to stop using it and losing out on a potentially lucrative spin-off market.

    1. http://www.williamshybridpower.com/company/

      Hybrid company aquired by Williams

    2. Mark – good point, could well have something to do with that.

  18. Waiting for another off track action at the end of the season.

  19. “It keeps our sponsors in the game – Kers has the strong support of several of our sponsors.”- Frank Williams.

    A source at another team told me it was more of a commercial issue -Williams want to develop their hybrid system, which is unique among F1 teams in that it uses a flywheel to store the energy rather than a battery, and sell it outside F1


    “I don’t mind saying that our budget for KERS is 10 per cent of our budget for aerodynamics and composite parts, so it’s not a huge amount of money and we see it as a fantastic investment into the future of the sport.” Adam Parr

    A href=”http://www.zimbio.com/Williams+Formula+1/articles/13/KERS+cost+not+problem+say+Williams+F1″>link

    Relocating Automotive Hybrid Power Limited to Grove, and rebranding it Williams Hybrid Power Limited, the team will continue the company’s work in developing a flywheel for potential use as the energy storage element of its KERS system. Williams is also exploring a number of other energy storage options.


  20. why would Mclaren and Ferrari drop KERS when it clearly does give an advantage? they can afford it and its in the rules. A gentlemens agreement for the good of the sport just sounds so unlike F1! They should probably go back to designing a KERS car before its too late.

    1. Exactly. Can you name me any other sport that had a ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ not to use something? It’s like have a agreement not to use running spikes because Mr. Bolt is too fast. So slow him down to give other a chance.

      This is why I believe F1 is fixed, or being fixed.

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