Goodbye to… KERS

Hamilton has given KERS two of its three wins this year

Hamilton has given KERS two of its three wins this year

Ahead of their introduction this year Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems were hyped as F1’s attempt to promote environmentlly-friendly technology in racing cars.

But it looks likely that the F1 teams will abandon the technology in 2010. For now at least, it’s goodbye to KERS.

Article five of the F1 technical regulations for 2010 makes it clear that KERS will still be legal in 2010.

But the F1 teams’ association proposed that all teams would agree not to use the systems next year to cut costs. In the run-up to this year’s Singapore Grand Prix Williams suggested they would run the devices on their 2010 car, but have since indicated they will fall into line with the other teams in keeping F1 KERS-free in 2010.

KERS has been something of a mixed bag. Although initially derided as unsuccessful, KERS-assisted cars have now won three races (Lewis Hamilton in Hungary and Singapore pus Kimi Raikkonen at Spa) and achieved three pole positions (all Hamailton’s).

It has had both positive and negative consequences for the quaity of racing in F1. It has helped drivers make passes they couldn’t have made before – and helped those same drivers prevent others from overtaking them. But it has added an interesting and often important point of difference between the cars that have it and those that don’t.

Like refuelling, which is also being dropped for 2010, KERS has fallen out of favour because the devices are expensive to develop and use. In which case, this should have been an argument against using them in the first place.

Any hope they might prove useful for car manufacturers wishing to draw attention to their green credentials is rather undermined by the fact that Toyota – builders of the Prius, the poster child car for environmentalists – haven’t bothered to use it on their F1 cars this year. The cmopany described the tightly-restricted F1 KERS as “primitive”.

The concept of storing and re-using energy that would otherwise be wasted is one that car manufacturers are beginning to embrace. Given that, and the fact that KERS remains in the rules, perhaps we shall see its return in the near future.

Do you want the teams to bring it back? And will it go out on a high with a final victory this weekend? Have your say in the comments.


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158 comments on Goodbye to… KERS

  1. Alex 3 said on 28th October 2009, 4:04

    This is ridiculous. All the money spent to develop the technolgies on different concepts all down the drain. Is F1 not supposed to be the pinnacle of motor sports and technology development? So how does dropping it fulfill that idea?
    The FIA should set up a working group to establish the best concept – fly wheel or electrical – and set a contractor to develop a standard system that everyone has to use from 2011. As it evolves it will become more compact, more efficient and ready for our road cars.
    To drop it is dumb but then again teh FIA and now FOTA never have had the sharpest knives in the drawer running the circus that F1 has become.

    • The FIA should set up a working group to establish the best concept – fly wheel or electrical – and set a contractor to develop a standard system

      FIA, Working Groups, Standardization…

      that was not the way F1 used in the past for being considered “as the pinnacle of motor sports and technology development”.

      This is the way of current F1 model for being more and more similar to any other GP series.

      • Nitpicker said on 28th October 2009, 10:52

        Agree there IDR. Having a standard KERS in every car is no better than not having any KERS at all. The same with standard aero, standard engines and drivetrains…

        Opening up the regs is one likely answer. See how the heavily-revised aero regs for 2009 has completely mixed up the F1 pecking order. It’s not something that should be done every season, but we’ve seen this year that it has allowed different teams to step into the limelight and show what they’re capable of. For me, that is what should define Formula One.

        • Alex 3 said on 29th October 2009, 19:14

          Yes but then again, if KERS was standard and since engines are standardized now, they could put KERS in place, reduce engine displacements and require better fuel consumption thus reducing emissions which they say they want to do (even though F1 emissions are not even a drop in the bucket globally) and lead some green technologies.
          KERS may be primitive to Toyota’s system but it was not designed for the same end purpose so to compare them is to compare an apple to a potato.

  2. Platine said on 28th October 2009, 5:09

    What Im so surprised by is McL and Ferr agreeing to drop it when they bust a gut getting it to work, and making a car that carries all the gubbins around, with all the developmental challenges that entails, which McL did successfully, only to throw it out.

  3. Rahim said on 28th October 2009, 5:19

    KERS was a really gr8 idea….but it should be studied more and make it more beneficial and should be brought after few years maybe

  4. I absolutely and completely agree with Todd.
    F1 is not a sport, it a technological developement – racing series.
    I further think that areodynamic developement should be severely limited, as that is the area that is least useful to the manufacturers of road cars. Kers is and area that holds huge posibilities for the future, and the flywheel in my opinion has and advantage in that apparently it doesn’t use batteries, whichthe disposal of on a largescale is going to be expensive.
    I further think that the proposed 2013 engine efficiency formula that has been propsed has a lot of possibilities and promise.

    • Nitpicker said on 28th October 2009, 11:01

      The flywheel KERS system had another advantage with slightly more usable torque output, from what I remember of a Williams interview. Shame that we’ll probably never see it.

  5. The problem was not KERS, it was it’s incompetent implementation through the FIA. ‘Thou shall slash cost, run under a budget cap, scrap testing, oh and spend millions and millions developing a new technology at the last minute but we won’t give you full technical freedom to make it even more painful, and then we will abandon it after you have already spent that cost, and not give you a chance to continue to develop KERS or recover those cost from customer teams’.

    • Nitpicker said on 28th October 2009, 11:02

      The FIA hasn’t abandoned KERS at all. It’s FOTA that has agreed not to use it after 2009, for whatever bizarre and crazy reason.

  6. The Sri Lankan said on 28th October 2009, 5:34

    Im hopeful we wont see Kers Next year. but williams will probably have something to say about it. Kers powered cars have ruined numerous races for toyota which happens to be the 3rd quickest car on the grid. if kers didnt exist im sure toyota wouldhave won at somestage. Kers was deployed completly in the wrong way by teams. it shouldhave been done the same way that the mclaren ECUs were deployed in cars this year- universal and same for everyone.

    • Nitpicker said on 28th October 2009, 11:06

      Toyota might have had the third-fastest car early in the season, but it certainly hasn’t been consistently third fastest throughout. Toyota’s problems have been unrelated to the KERS teams — their performance at Bahrain then Monaco is clear evidence of that.

  7. mp4-19b said on 28th October 2009, 5:36

    Tribute to KERS… sob..sob..

    Great technology.

  8. F1Yankee said on 28th October 2009, 5:42

    like i’ve said before, the problem with kers is regulation, and further demonstrates ross brawn’s “we all build cuckoo clocks” statement. both the way kers operates and it’s effect are legislated into uselessness. kers has the potential to be a positive performance differentiator and constructive (and lucrative) spin-off.

    i’m pretty disappointed at the potential standardized kers in 2011. im my worthless opinion, it undermines a large part of what f1 is about. i think a kers war would be constructive, as opposed to a tire/computer/driver aid war, especially with relatively frozen engines and a large percentage running the same motors.

  9. GeeMac said on 28th October 2009, 5:45

    KERS: Great in theory, poor in practice.

    The powers that be should go back to the drawing board with the idea and present a fresh plan to reintroduce KERS to the teams in 2011, to be implemented in 2012.

  10. The positive side of KERS you mention in this article, Keith are just because not all teams were using it. I think standardized KERS system for all teams as have been defined, will not produce any benefit to F1 Teams.

    Hybrid systems is something the biggest motorcar manufacturers are working on (Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, Honda, GM), and should be tested, improved and commercially promoted by F1 cars. Toyota, summarized quite good were is the problem on the solution proposed by FIA:



    I agree with HG about this (as many other questions) cannot be implemented through a Bureaucratic Committee

    • Sorry, wrong doing and the comment is not complete.

      Hybrid technology is something important (and positive) for the industry, so give FREEDOM to work on that direction. In my opinion there are two things killing the spirit of F1:


      And I agree with HG about KERS (as many other questions) cannot be implemented through a “Bureaucratic Committee” as it seems is the new trend now.

      As a proverb says: “a CAMEL is a HORSE designed through a Committee”

      F1 cars were used to be “the ultimate racing horses in the planet”

      Maybe now, as they are racing in the middle of desserts in dusty tracks, CAMELS are more appropriate…

  11. Ronman said on 28th October 2009, 7:05

    I think KERS as it is today is not the right solution to F1’s environmental Dilemma… other solutions could have been implemented that lead to cost cutting.

    KERS cost teams a lot, but if lets say an inline 4 cylinder with turbo and SC were implemented, it wouldn’t cost the company’s much to do it. not to mention if regulations on engines were de-restricted but fuel supply limited we could see a game changing effort for engine consumption development in a manner that would most definitely be spun off to everyday production cars, even if it has to start on expensive sports cars.

    I always use Honda’s V-Tec technology as an example of F1 tech gone humble…

    F1 should remain on the cutting edge, but it also must be a test bed for manufacturers, at least engine manufacturers, or else it wont keep itself alive on the long run…

  12. GeeMac said on 28th October 2009, 7:08

    “In my opinion there are two things killing the spirit of F1:



  13. Xanathos said on 28th October 2009, 8:02

    KERS has been a huge missed opportunity. If the teams would’ve had more time to develop it (i.e. until 2010) and the regulations had been adapted before (smaller front tires, increased weight limit), we might have had most of the cars running it in 2010 (maybe even the new teams) and there would have been quite a few different devices, at least the 4 used this year and the Williams flywheel KERS. This would have made for some great racing (along with the refuelling ban), but thanks to BMW it is not going to happen…

    • Adrian said on 28th October 2009, 9:07

      Thanks to BMW???

    • Nitpicker said on 28th October 2009, 11:16

      If KERS had been delayed any longer, the development costs would have been much higher. Considering the difficulties in the car industry in 2007/08, introducing KERS in 2010 may not have happened at all, the manufacturers may have pulled the plug before then.

      Your comments about smaller front tyres and increased weight limit take a lot of hindsight into account. Who says that KERS would have been successful if we were looking forward to it being raced next March? Another problem could have cropped up to scupper KERS. These things can only be solved by actually trying them out. Speaking with hindsight to manufacture perfect scenarios doesn’t help to improve F1 as it exists in the real 2010 season.

  14. I’m just curious what is the real reason FOTA went for this semi-voluntary KERS abstain.
    Was it an attempt to keep BMW, Toyota and Renault in the game?
    For a small team that already purchases engines having a KERS from some vendor could really make the difference between P20 and P15 for example. I’m much in favor of FIA’s position this time – allow KERS without imposing it.

  15. I think if they want a green competition is very easy: “here you are: X liters of gasoline per car for every grand prix” :-D

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