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

  1. Frank always seems to be the burr under the saddle blanket, but in this case I think he’s right. The teams that spent the time and money to develop KERS should not waste those resources by abandoning the technology now.
    Admittedly, with cost being brought down in Formula 1, teams seem reluctant to continue with KERS. However, technology keeps moving forward, and as others have stated here, with fuel mileage is going to play a big part next year, KERS seems to make sense. Additionally, Aero as it is being developed in Formula one makes no sense when viewed in terms of road cars with the exception of the mega expensive supercars. Fossils fuels are going to become more expensive and scarce in the future, and it seems to me that alternative methods of powering automobiles will become more and more necessary.
    There is a new technology being developed now that might make a great alternative.
    http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/22780/
    Furthermore, if all the cars on the grid have KERS, then that advantage is no longer an advantage except in view of the fact that one system will probably be somewhat better that the others, but that is the essence of formula 1 anyway.
    What the world does with disposing of old batteries from future electric cars is a concern as well, so possibly Williams flywheel system might have a life in the REAL WORLD, however in my view, there still needs to be a motive source that gives the vehicle sufficient energy to spin up the flywheel, and in turn, eventually that will more than like be the result of electric power rather than fossil fuels. Hydrogen fuel cells will also come into play at some point. Either way, we Formula 1 fans will eventually have to forgo the sound of those wonderful engines, that create one of the primary reasons that we so enjoy the races. The scream of the engines.

    • HounslowBusGarage said on 23rd September 2009, 20:30

      I agree with almost everything you say, apart from the screaming engines.
      I’d love to hear (and see) a pack of rumbling diesels working hard and blowing the petrol engined cars away.
      One of the commentators on WTCC last year described the note of the petrol BMW as ‘contra tenor castrato’, as opposed to the diesel Seat’s ‘basso profundo’!
      I prefer my racing soundscapes with balls attached.

  2. his_majesty said on 23rd September 2009, 17:23

    Does anybody know who the engine supplier will be for williams next year?

  3. I think this a reasonable move. Williams has spent money on designing etc. a KERS they so far haven’t used yet in a race. If what they have has a potential of enhancing the performance, it would be strange to abandon it for 2010 without the need of doing so. Especially if many of the other teams were not to use it next season, a good, reliable KERS could give Williams somewhat of a competitive advantage. If the team wants to get to a competitive level of winning races again, they need to use whatever opportunities they have to improve their performance.

  4. Hold on a second. The FOTA agreement that Ferrari and McLaren, etc. would drop KERS was because several of the teams (including Williams) argued that it drove up the costs of competing, so they wanted it gone. Now suddenly Williams gets their KERS system to work the way they’d hoped and they’re going to run it (after being one of the teams opposed to KERS). Just a little hypocritical don’t we think?

  5. I don’t really remember Williams opposing KERS, they have been proKERS pretty much whole season.

  6. explosiva said on 23rd September 2009, 22:30

    “Sir” Frank makes me sick. His achievements aside, I think he’s a sleazebag.

    • Leslie said on 24th September 2009, 0:45

      Now there we have a lesson in real intelligence.

    • Bigbadderboom said on 24th September 2009, 7:43

      Please ellaborate explosiva, in what way or manner is he a sleazebag.
      A devoted servant to our sport, awarded with a knighthood, most succesful privateer team, respect across bot the business and sporting world………what will you do today.

    • I give Frank Williams a great amount of respect and he has given literally his life and all his energy to this sport. Sleazebag,no that is nat accurate for Frank. He is one of the few remaining men in the sport with integrity, much more than I can say for alot of the people in Ferrari, Mclaren, Renault and probably some of the other teams. If they dont agree they put it out there for the world to see and they dont apologize for it. That is a sign of integrity
      Franks teams have revolutionized parts of the sport to the point that systems they developed with their own time and money were eventually made illegal or legislated out with new rules. They would be even more compeitive than they are if the rules were not wrote with such tightly defined parameters. His team took on engine mfg’s that were just getting or returning to the sport and helped them develope their powerplants into compeitive units only to have the engines given to other teams after they provided the r&d.
      They are a proud and headstrong group at Williams.
      They are not Flavio or Pat Symonds or NPJ to which your comments do apply.

      You should reevalute your use of the word sleazebag because it isnt being used correctly.
      Now of course if you are looking in your mirror then it might apply correctly at that point.

  7. Alistair said on 24th September 2009, 0:56

    I’m sick of all the technical disparity: some teams have KERS, some don’t; some teams had double-diffusers, some didn’t; etc. This season, more than any in recent memory, has simply been about the car. Brawn, far from the miracle flight from the ashes of Honda, such as it’s portrayed in the media, especially the British media, have been working on their 09 car for two years (!) with all the money from Honda. Red Bull, Toyota, Williams and co. all stopped developing their 08 cars way before the season ended to concentrate on 09; the result: these teams are competitive; and the teams who were fighting out front at 08 are fighting back in 09.

    This championship lacks the credibility of the previous championships. Jenson is good when the car is perfect; but when the car isn’t perfect, he’s average. Or poor. And what about the five race period where he scored less than a dozen points? He lost his head: he cracked, mentally. What’s more worrying is that he lost his head despite all his experience: he’s not new to F1, as Lewis was in 07 and 08. How many other world champions, especially the great world champions, have had such a bleak (and lengthy) period as Jenson did in their championship season? Very few, if any. That not one of Jenson’s main rivals capitalised on this terrible string of results shows just how poor is Jenson’s competition.

    Rubens can be excellent (e.g., Europe 93, Spain 96); but, as a matter of course, he’s average. And he’s not a young man anymore. Vettel is the most overrated driver on the grid. After 13 rounds, he’s a mere 2.5 points a head of Webber! Not good enough, frankly, for him to be considered one of the very top drivers. Vettel can’t overtake. Vettel crashes or spins-off far too many times a season to win the title. The new Schumi he aint! As for Webber, he’s never been rated very highly: and with good reason. He’s good; but he’s not in the league of the drivers who should be competing for the title. This year has been all too easy for Jenson and Brawn. It reminds us what a great triumph 08 was. Lewis took the title on the very last corner, on the very last lap, of the very last race – despite having the second best car (that’s why Massa was a contender), a team-mate who didn’t (or rather who couldn’t) help him, the most penalties ever for a driver in a season in the history of F1, and some truly mesmerising drives such as Silverstone. What a difference a year makes!

  8. manatcna said on 24th September 2009, 1:19

    I have nothing against Williams using Kers; As someone said, this is partly a business venture outside of F1.

    The trouble is, the other teams will probably have to have a re-think on whether to use it themselves, KERS is not illegal.

    The problem is, IMO, If everyone chooses to use it, you have negated any advantages; You’re back at square one.

    • manatcna said on 24th September 2009, 1:21

      By the way, didn’t Monty say a few weeks/months back that Ferrari would be using KERS in 2010?

    • The problem is, IMO, If everyone chooses to use it, you have negated any advantages; You’re back at square one.

      Unless of course one system is better than another…oh but wait, they’re limited on how much they can use and for how long…so unless one system is lighter than another…

      • HounslowBusGarage said on 24th September 2009, 13:22

        And, since the use of KERS is limited during weach lap, it depends where and how you use it and how good you are at using it, plus the affect it has on the rest of thee car.
        So we have variables in terms of effectiveness, weight, usage and driver skill.
        So no, I don’t think we will be back at Square One.

  9. manatcna said on 24th September 2009, 1:30

    Alistair, you said it yourself
    “That not one of Jenson’s main rivals capitalised on this terrible string of results shows just how poor is Jenson’s competition.”

    So, if Jenson is “average, or poor” what does it make the others?

    And, remind me, who is leading the championship, and has done from the very start of the season?

  10. Come on folks, one of the engine providers,say Ferrari wanted KERS next year and wanted out of the handshake, soooo told williams to break the agreement if they wanted their engine. Voila KERS is back on.

  11. Rikadyn said on 24th September 2009, 3:57

    Eh, F1 should just go to electric motors…

    • patrickl said on 24th September 2009, 10:03

      Yeah. Also, since the cars are unable to overtake anyway, why not make the cars much smaller and make them run around on a small slot carved out of the road. The track could be much smaller too so it would fit in a small stadium. We could overlook the whole track in a single glance.

  12. Sasquatsch said on 24th September 2009, 11:46

    When the FOTA agreed on not running KERS, Williams was not part of the FOTA (suspended) and they never made it a secret that they were willing to run KERS this year or next year. And they are sticking with that now they are back in the FOTA.

    To drop KERS next year would (IMHO) be a waste of money, now that they (and other teams) spent a lot on developing KERS for this year. Next year should be a return on that investment.

    SO I don’t think it is political (in the sense to please FIA), but just the opinion of the Williams team.

  13. Frenchie said on 31st October 2009, 19:27

    hey guys,dont any of u think,with the no refuelling law for next year,which means cars will most likely have to carry about 2/3 more fuel to finish a race.dont anyone besides me think its pushing the safety barrier a bit,knowing the amount of pile ups which occurs at the start of these races,and of course at the start of the race all the cars will most likely have fill tanks.

  14. Rashad Sadigov said on 18th November 2009, 9:05

    FIA said in 2008 that with the aerodynamic changes in there will be more overtakes in 2009.
    But dear fellow recently I have taken a look at the videos of the years before 2009 and surely can claim that there were more overtakes before 2009.
    I don’t know how about you but I think the design of the 2005-2008 looked much nicer with its more downforce aerodynamics. I really hate how the F1 cars look right now and hope that it will be changed in 2010.
    Does anybody have an answer to this question?

  15. Rashad Sadigov said on 18th November 2009, 9:05

    FIA said in 2008 that with the aerodynamic changes in there will be more overtakes in 2009.
    But dear fellow recently I have taken a look at the videos of the years before 2009 and surely can claim that there were more overtakes before 2009.
    I don’t know how about you but I think the design of the 2005-2008 looked much nicer with its more downforce aerodynamics. I really hate how the F1 cars look right now and hope that it will be changed in 2010. Will it change? Does anybody know something about it?

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