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.

Advert | Go Ad-free


114 comments on Williams defy FOTA over KERS in 2010

  1. Maksutov said on 23rd September 2009, 11:19

    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.

    • Tiomkin said on 23rd September 2009, 11:35

      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?

      • Maksutov said on 23rd September 2009, 11:56

        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.

        • Tiomkin said on 23rd September 2009, 12:31

          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.

          • Maksutov said on 23rd September 2009, 16:08

            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.

          • 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.

        • symmetry said on 23rd September 2009, 13:44

          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?

        • Bigbadderboom said on 23rd September 2009, 15:43

          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.

  2. 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.

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

  4. Bernard said on 23rd September 2009, 11:49

    “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.


  5. 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.

    • Tiomkin said on 23rd September 2009, 12:38

      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.

  6. Maybe Williams just knows that the KERS ban is not going to happen, and all of this is just to calm down and convice alarmed boards to approve next year’s F1 budgets (and then blame the evil FIA for being forced into unforeseen spending).

    We recently had a clue that teams can go to great lengths to get their parent companies to sign off budgets.

    That made me wondering (watch out the date, May 09, and remember that Magneti Marelli means Ferrari).

  7. The teams using KERS have all developed their systems using existing technology as a starting point – supercontuctors, batteries, motors etc., – and further developed it to F1 spec.

    I suspect that since Williams has shouldered the cost of developing a unique system, even purchasing the company responsible for the design, but haven’t perfected the technology yet, they will feel aggrieved if they are forced to chuck the whole lot in the bin, not to mention hugely out of pocket for the sport’s last true privateer team.

    I for one agree that KERS has the potential to become a great piece of kit, but the regulations as they stand don’t allow the teams to use its full potential.

    • Mahir C said on 23rd September 2009, 12:32

      flywheel based KERS is also existing technology, it is not an invention Williams came up with.

      And seriously, when are they planning to use it? How do they expect to perfect it when they are not even testing it? Did they even try it on a Friday session?

      • Patrick Head said in an interview that among safety issues weight distribution is what is preventing from implementing KERS. However, he also said that there are changes planed for next year to change the dimensions of the tires which will solve that problem.

  8. It could well be Williams having some common agenda with FIA. But I’d say if FIA is serious about KERS they should also drop the 6.6 seconds/lap limit.

  9. This statement from Williams is a strategic move. It is not to make any friends in FIA. It just serves the purpose of putting the other teams in a dilemma.

    Now all the other teams will again be in confusion, will there be KERS, won’t there be KERS?? Thus hampering the teams’ 2010 preparations.

    I will re-state my view which I have done so many times on this site in other posts, KERS IS WASTE. They are introducing a new technology costing a fortune and handicapping it with 6.6sec/400KJ/only front tyre rules.

    And knowing FIA’s incompetence, don’t expect them to relax the rules any soon. So better get rid of KERS.

    This statement by Williams would have had much more effect had it come after Kimi’s Spa win.

    Right after a non-KERS 1-2 on a power track, Monza, this statement lacks punch

    • patrickl said on 23rd September 2009, 14:10

      There was a clear plan for KERS future laid out at the beginning of it? Did you mis that?

    • Actually, Williams haven’t changed their stance at all. They kept saying that they plan to use KERS, the only difference now is they are readmitted into FOTA.

  10. The original KERS ban was in June, when KERS was a disaster, it was seen as just expensive and badly-placed ballast, and no-one thought that it could contribute to the racing. Since then McLaren and Ferrari have each won because of KERS, Renault has reintroduced it at some races, and BMW would reintroduce it if their aero development hadn’t modified the bodywork to the extent that their KERS unit no longer fits.

    With an increased weight limit for next year, longer wheelbase which will make the cars easier to balance, and the incentive to cut down the amount of fuel on board at the start, I can see KERS being very attractive to many teams. Presumably Brawn will have access to the Mercedes unit, and maybe Force India as well. Red Bull, assuming they end up with Renault power again, are not going to allow themselves to be caught short if the rest of the top runners have KERS.

    I can easily see FOTA reversing themselves on KERS before next season — and if so, this move by Williams looks like a smart bit of political pressure to nudge things in the right direction.

  11. Bigbadderboom said on 23rd September 2009, 13:18

    I’m slightly confused by their actions on this. Williams had to apply to have their suspension lifted from FOTA, so why are they then rocking the boat.
    As I understand it the company Williams purchased Automative Hybrid systems ltd. http://www.williamshybridpower.com/company/ they supply all kinds of industrial applications for it’s technologies, so perhaps they see F1 as a marketing tool for this side of their business.
    I doubt that Sam Michaels statement is politically motivated although it maybe strategic as Sumedh points out

    This statement from Williams is a strategic move. It is not to make any friends in FIA. It just serves the purpose of putting the other teams in a dilemma.

    Now all the other teams will again be in confusion, will there be KERS, won’t there be KERS?? Thus hampering the teams’ 2010 preparations.

    This is a possibility, but irrespective of KERS McLaren and Ferrari will have got their heads around the new aero rules and with the introduction of single fuel loads I can’t help thinking they they will still end up with better designs.

    As others have said, the only way to exploit KERS is by removing either the power limit or the duration of it’s use.Then we will see some real racing as the chances of cars matching each others deployment of say 15 seconds KERS is far less likely than 6 seconds.

    I thought that Mclaren and Ferrari both agreeing to scrap KERS was unusual at the time because it is an avenue of engineering that their considerable resources could exploit and give them an advantage. And I’m no fan of FOTA stacking their own internal rules on top existing regulations anyway. But F1 needs to save money, so now the aero rules are stabalising perhaps money can be filtered back to the KERS projects and perhaps the FIA may change their useage regs.

    • Correct!
      Additionally, it seems like Williams is probably posturing for a good engine deal with…who really knows. It is a little upsetting how Frank continually seems to rankle the other members of FOTA. He seems to be caught up in the “pihrana” aspect of F1. Maybe I’m nieve, but I see FOTA as an attempt for the teams to get beyond the “we are the only team that matters” mentality and try to strike a common bond for all the teams pulling on the same end of the rope, for the good of the sport. Strength in numbers type of approach. Williams alway are seeming to buck the trend if only for the benefit of…Williams.
      Having said that, Williams are within the rules to say they will and even run KERS next year. Its just that FOTA seems to have come up with this “gentlemens agreement” that the teams would drop it and here is Williams stirring the pot again. I don’t think it will fully materialize.
      And by the way…the Williams KERS flywhel spins at 60,000RPM positioned just behind the drivers head. You had better duck pretty fast when that thing lets loose, or risk getting a pretty close haircut.

      • Bigbadderboom said on 24th September 2009, 7:27

        I do wonder anout the saftey of the Williams flywheel system, how would it react to a large shunt, how well contained is the fly wheel and does FIA crash testing regs test for such eventuallities?
        As for Frank loving the Pirhana aspect of F1, I am told that nearly all Franks roles within the team are now commercial and that these type of decisions are made by Patrick Head and Sam Michael, however as Williams are promoting the Flywheel for other commercial applications this may be where there is a conflict of interests within team. But they must feel very confident in their new technology because there is a chance that FOTA will dismiss the agreement and all teams may choose to run KERS next year, and the two best systems have already had a season of field testing.

  12. we have seen some excellent KERS-assisted passes, particularly at the start of races.

    Indeed, but none of them down to real driver skill. KERS takes away the suprise element too – you always know which cars will get a good start. Unpredictability should be of paramount importance in F1 IMHO.

    Williams’s announcement came one day after the FIA said it would take steps to equalise engine performance in 2010.

    Equalising Engines is not, for me, part of F1 either. A bit like the tight aero rules, it takes away the engineering competition element that is unique in F1.

    As for the KERS, this will surely mean McLaren will reconsider using it next season – but at least now they won’t be panned for doing so.

    Typical Williams I’m afraid.

  13. 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.

    Indeed, but I think they’ve spent a lot this season already developing the flywheel KERS with Flybrid Tech.

      • Bigbadderboom said on 23rd September 2009, 15:47

        But it was not only an acquisition for Formula 1, it was a technology gap that Williams felt they could exploit in other industrial sectors. It was as much a buisiness decision probably in part to help finance and develop KERS.

        • Yes you’re right. I guess we’ll ever know the breakdown of the investment/benefits for both F1 and other industries.

          However, I think to develop an F1 KERS system and then not use it at all in F1 by following FOTA would be a difficult decision to make.

          • Bigbadderboom said on 24th September 2009, 7:29

            Agreed, and not to use F1 to promote it would feel neglegent by Frank Williams, he is a true master when it comes to the commercial side of things. The fact Williams have existed for so long is testamont to this.

  14. Champ cars had push to pass that limited the total time that the bonus power could be used thru the whole race…

    Rather than design a kers and the millions that went into it, for such simple idea is beyond me…and for something that could be as simple as a re-map on the rev limit, that via the ecu that limits total time and reports live for TV and race controllers..similar to the concept of the champ car idea.

    The concept of recovering energy is not something f1 needs to develop for the general public, it has and is being done already…it’s nothing more than Mad Max stupid think tank, and a total waste of money. In a time the the same mad Max pushed the barrow of sympathy for cost cutting on the most dramatic scale that would have come at the expense of real peoples lives in the form of jobs!

    • Bigbadderboom said on 23rd September 2009, 15:55

      I think you’ll find that development of the KERS technologies has tripled since it’s deployment in F1, both in terms of power harvesting, storage and deployment. Make no doubts Formula 1 is cutting edge in this field and making substantial contributions to road car technology.
      See Here


      Have a read!

      • BS.
        The only real reason we don’t all drive around in hybrid cars with recoverable energy storage system (RESS) is current battery technology(or energy storage), apart from the oil giants control.

        Toyota have been quoted as saying they think KERS is ‘primitive’ and not relevant to road car Hybrid systems.

        Collecting energy from the rear axle only and then crippling the total amount of energy it’s allowed to collect and release is more complicated than the concept of collecting kinetic energy…crickey I could make you a kers this afternoon, but it wont fit with in the fia rules and wouldn’t suit a f1 ‘race’ car.

        And to top it off there was a fota agreement with the fia for a standard KERS to be introduced 2010/2011 before they decided to can it for 2010 and not to forget it would have been canned this year had it not been for BMW.

        This is williams at it’s best skulduggery to get a new motor or the future fia contract to supply KERS like Maca does the ecu. Or at worst try and gain (or recover) financially from the decision to buy a company to develop the kers concept @ the expence of the sport of F1.

        • Bigbadderboom said on 24th September 2009, 7:35

          I agree that this decision by Williams is probaly commercially motivated, however williams hybrid technology is evidence of the applications for developed KERS systems, as a green initiative it is not just applicable to mobile uses such as vehicles but has substantial applicaions within the industrail sector where it is possible to return energy back into systems which employ motors or methods of harvesting energy. As for green credentials, the hydrogen fuel cell is where the smart money is in automotive research, I will agree with that.

  15. HounslowBusGarage said on 23rd September 2009, 14:39

    I think this is Williams doing a little posturing – “We need a first class engine like a Mercedes or a Ferrari (or possibley a BMW again?), or we will introduce KERS which means all the other teams will have to do so as well.”
    Although there’s little love lost between Max and Frank, I do wonder if Max has anything to do with this as it advances KERS (Max’s project) and confounds FOTA.
    Also as has been pointed out here, Williams have put a lot of investment already in KERS and they still have a very good chance of bringing that to a non-F1 market and making it into a profitable product. So what better way to finish the development of the idea than by using it to influence people and/or win races?

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

All comments must abide by the comment policy. Comments may be moderated.
Want to post off-topic? Head to the forum.
See the FAQ for more information.