Williams defy FOTA over KERS in 2010

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.

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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.

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

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

      • Nitpicker said on 23rd September 2009, 13:49

        Hey you sound just like Uncle Max!

      • 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!

    • Leahonard_e said on 23rd September 2009, 20:07

      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.

      • 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?

        • Jay Menon said on 24th September 2009, 1:58

          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?

          • 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…

          • Mike-e said on 22nd January 2010, 21:14

            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??

          • Mike-e said on 22nd January 2010, 21:16

            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. mp4-19b said on 23rd September 2009, 10:26

    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!!

    • 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.

    • Charlie said on 23rd September 2009, 12:14

      Why is it dangerous? Would be interested to know.

      • David A said on 23rd September 2009, 12:41

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

        • Nitpicker said on 23rd September 2009, 13:53

          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…

      • Leslie said on 24th September 2009, 0:24

        Hi Charlie

        Because McLaren didn’t invent it!

    • 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.

      • 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.

    • just me said on 23rd September 2009, 19:12

      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.

    • 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.

    • patrickl said on 23rd September 2009, 10:36

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

      For 2013 the possibilities would again be increased.

      • 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.

  5. Michael said on 23rd September 2009, 10:33

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

  6. steph90 said on 23rd September 2009, 10:34

    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.

  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.

    • Hallard said on 23rd September 2009, 15:46

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

      • patrickl said on 24th September 2009, 9:49

        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.

    • Maksutov said on 23rd September 2009, 11:30

      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. Tiomkin said on 23rd September 2009, 10:53

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

    • 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!!!

  10. KarolMcD said on 23rd September 2009, 10:55

    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.

    • 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. steph90 said on 23rd September 2009, 11:12

    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. steph90 said on 23rd September 2009, 11:14

    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?

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