Goodbye to… KERS

Posted on Author Keith Collantine

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.


158 comments on “Goodbye to… KERS”

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  1. KERM should be in F1 and the restrictions around it should be dimensions, etc. – not the design itself. It would be a great place for innovation, esp. with refuelling going away.

    1. We all know I meant KERS

  2. Some of the best tech in modern cars has been from “expensive” development done in F1. Kers has potential to be a wonderful innovation for future cars and it is ashame it will be gone.

    Like others have suggested though, less restriction and free development should be encouraged, not abandoned.

    Imagine F1 teams were told to stop developing ABS, traction controls, turbo chargers, superchargers, etc, when those systems first came out. It is this tech that makes F1 the greatest racing sport in the world.

    Bring back KERS and let the boys have at it!

    1. You’ve made my point in a roundabout way. the teams developed ABS, traction control and turbochargers despite the rules, not because of them. KERS was imposed from without, at a huge cost, at a time when teams where told to cut their costs. A ridiculous and untenable and nearly impossible situation. More Max folly.

      Let’s look back through the smoke of history. Who was it that developed a rudimentary kinetic energy system years ago that if Max had allowed it, we would be years in the future in terms of its development, like many are arguing here? Not to mention CVT, mass and J-dampers, etc. Let’s not forget where we came from and what has happened and who’s guiding hand-or horsewhip-got us to where we are.

  3. KERS had potential but the restrictions placed on it from the start are one of the reasons why it wasn’t deemed a success.

    It also didn’t help that the teams who developed KERS the most didn’t have a good overall package at the start of the season. But even with the testing ban after a full season of racing experience and development they are now at the front of the field, and if FOTA members had not decided to ban it from next year then all teams who had serious ambitions would be forced to use it next season.

    If there was the will and more importantly the money to put F1 at the forefront of green technology the rules governing the whole power train, engine, KERS and anything else the engineers can think of would be completely freed up and the only constraints being the amount of energy available for each race and possibly making the parts last x number of races, as at the moment the teams are supposed to replace the KERS batteries after each race which isn’t very environmentally friendly.

  4. I think that KERS has been a total failure both for the federation and the teams.

    The federation failed big time introducing kers without increasing the minimum weight for the car, thus forcing teams and drivers to decide in favor of driveability or the little advantages brought by an undeveloped kers.

    The funny part is that F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport. Nowadays, you can’t develop ANYTHING in F1. Engines are freezed, everybody’s pushing for standardizaion, teams are rejecting KERS because they can’t handle it as the cons are greater than the pros.

    F1 should focus on innovation and clean energy.

    They shoud have built a circuit sorrounded by wind turbines and solar panels, they should at least ban fuel and consder adopting ethanol for the engines.

    KERS just need development, which lacks in every aspect of Formula 1.

    But no, F1 has been run by two men clearly showing signs of senile dementia, and I don’t see any change in the orizon.

    F1 lost his soul more than a decade ago. Now we’re harvesting the seeds once planted.

  5. I think many overlook the fact that KERS is not high technology. So it has nothing to offer F1’s high-tech image or downstream development for road cars. As Toyota have pointed out, it is pathetically primitive compared what they have beeng putting in a $25K road car forr 15 years. (Imagine the speed of an F1 car with a beefed-up Synergy Drive system.)

    Anyway, KERS was not implemented to promote innovation. It’s cost was seen as a fair price for Real Racing—that is, fake racing via steering wheel button. It is a “push to pass” system clothed in a thin green mantel.

    This is not rocket science: If F1 wants push to pass, let teams use a turbo-based system. It’s proven; and it will be cheap and effective. And the only thing that sounded as good as a Honda F1 V-12 is an 80s CART turbo V-8.

    1. As Toyota have pointed out, it is pathetically primitive compared what they have beeng putting in a $25K road car forr 15 years.

      Don’t get road car hybrid systems mixed up with F1 KERS — they have very different aims. The road systems are developed to be as efficient as possible, to enable more electrical propulsion and save petrol. The F1 systems are restricted in their output, so the development is towards making the KERS smaller and lighter (which McLaren has managed to do through this season). I understand Toyota’s comments were made when they considered the KERS tech regs, which restricted the systems too much and made it difficult to become viable.

  6. Those of you worried about other people using your names in comments, please just realise that COMMENTS can be left by ANYONE as long as they provide an email address, and those pople can call themselves whatever they want…

    if someone is posting under your username in the FORUMS, that is a LOG-IN ONLY activity. Comments are different.

    I can post a comment and call myself Keith Collantine if i want, only if a mod spots it and deletes it will it be purged.

    Hope that makes sense. In short, nobody is stealing other people’s names, you can enter your name as whatever you want each time, the email address is hidden, and that is the unique ID for article comments, not your forum log in.

  7. What is the point in everyone having KERS? They all press their buttons at the saaaaaaaaame time at the samaaaaaame point during the saaaaaaaame race; with the saaaaaaame output, with the saaaaaaaame weight. What part of this ‘level playing field’ can people not see?, it is killing racing (aka overtaking).

    You techno heads live in a dream world if you believe that F1 are doing their bit to help the environment. F1 is supposed to be gas guzzling, speed, fumes, fire and adrenaline, not cars controlled from the pit lanes with their electric boosters – no wonder WDC’s always thank their teams!

    Stop hugging trees, sell your Volvos and put your Petrol Heads back on, or one day you could be replaced by 7″ of plastic and 2 batteries, and that would be technology!

    1. You’re so right, who needs the environment anyways? I mean it’s not like we all need to live and breathe.

    2. They all press their buttons at the saaaaaaaaame time at the samaaaaaame point during the saaaaaaaame race; with the saaaaaaame output, with the saaaaaaaame weight.

      I don’t believe you know what you’re talking about. Who says everyone uses KERS at the same point on a lap? There are places where KERS has the most advantage (going onto long straights, going uphill etc) but each driver has the option to use it elsewhere. See Kovalainen’s pass on Fisichella as they both exited the pits at Suzuka.

  8. Mechanical and technological advancements in F1 are borrowed from NASA…show me one thing that is not all ready part of some space program

    1. we all stand on the shoulders of giants…

  9. I think the major stalling point with Kers at the start of the season is just how much it changes the driving experience and ‘feel’ – when the driver’s ‘feel’ for everything the car is doing, especially under braking with no traction control, is absolutely crucial.

    We all thought that Hamilton, Massa, Raikkonen and Alonso were driving dogs of cars: but actually now we’ve seen first Badoer and then Fisi struggle with the Ferrari, (especially under braking) it demonstrates how much effect it has.

    (Which makes Hamilton and Raikonnen’s wins even more impressive, much as I hate to admit it).

  10. I want it back because of the technical development it requires and for the advantage that it gives a team with a good KERS. A standard KERS would be stupid, IMO because then everyone has the same thing and its just another step to a spec series. Bring it back, but let everyone do their own system and/or offer customer systems to a limited number of the field, just like with the engines.

  11. mclarenproject4
    28th October 2009, 16:09

    i liek kers lol

    1. The above post is a “perfect” example of a spammer!

      1. Clearly not everyone has seen the thread about it :P
        As for kers, it will probably be back in some form. It was only agreed to be dropped when there didn’t seem to be much gain from it but now the cars have started winning races…
        The green statement was possibly more for show, it won’t do that much for the environment or save the ice caps and polar bears but it would have sounded like a nice idea for F1 to stay in touch with current issues. :P
        It’s still not great and I am not much of a fan but it has helped Ferrari so I won’t complain too much.
        The cars have been so close this year but unable to overtake and kers has been both positive and negative. It’s still to blurred for a clear judgement as to performance I would say.

  12. Good to see the two most dangerous things at the moment in F1 getting the boot. How KERS got off the drawing board is beyond me,and to tout it as an environmental device is rather strange as when has battery technology been green. And the Energy recovered using these devices would hardly provide the power to run one of Bernie`s ACU`s in the prawn sandwich section of He`s motorhome.

  13. Particularly funny to go back over what Max Pain said about KERS:

    [KERS] is set to revolutionise F1. It will make the sport at once more environmentally friendly, road relevant, and at the cutting edge of future automotive technology.

    He we are, revolutionized lol

    1. He might have been right if the KERS used in F1 cars was anything approaching cutting edge. You might as well revolutionise the music industry by introducing the 8-track.

      1. Talking 8 track, Animals is worth big bucks.

    2. Well there you go. I think anyone would be hard pressed to find a more telling quote in shining a light into the dim recesses of Max’s Headroom. The man knows squat about racing and F1 and he proves it every time he shakes the stupid tree and one of his silly ideas falls out.

      Of course if one wanted to have a conversation about the finer points of dirty politics or dirty role-playing, I can’t think of a more likely candidate.

  14. I thought the idea of KERS was a great one, but its full potential will never be realised by the powers that be. There are two ways you could go about it:

    1) Unlimited KERS as a boost; teams will put money into developing the best possible KERS system so that even if everyone has their own, by developing your own you could have a better version and retain an advantage. This would bring speed to the car in a way that would shift the mechanical/aero balance in favour of the former, which can only be a good thing in modern F1

    2) Unlimited KERS as a green technology; to an extent the first option is a green innovation, since it will be a non-petrol way of accelerating the car, but in this sense I mean a KERS which acts automatically and replaces the engine to power the wheels. Standardised, but still useful, especially given the the re-fuelling ban (of course, this works on the principle that KERS supplies more power than the extra fuel needed to carry it would provide).

    But no, the FIA brought in a cost-cutting era at the same time as a new technology, and then limited it. Geniuses.

    Now we’re going to have the same with re-fuelling. Instead of just leaving it be, so that less fuel-efficient cars would have to have bigger fuel tanks and compromise their speed, they’ll probably decide that a better way to promote efficiency is to give a standard amount of fuel, which will encourage F1 to be more about driving as if it was a Prius race than fuel efficiency. So with two ways to produce the same effect, the FIA will go for the one that kills racing a bit more. Lovely.

    (PS: On the issue of screen-names – I usually post under the nickname “Nik” on this part of the site. I thought it was time to be consistent with my forum name, plus now I see the dangers of not doing so ;))

    1. they’ll probably decide that a better way to promote efficiency is to give a standard amount of fuel

      A car will only carry as much fuel as it needs. Why would anyone carry an extra 10Kg of petrol sloshing about if they never use it?

      It was said somewhere that the Force India cars used less fuel than most, due to the low-drag nature of their aerodynamics. I think “20Kg” for a long stint was mentioned, but that sounds like a lot.

  15. It stores a given maximum amount of energy so just standardise it (like the ECU) and let’s get on with the season.

    I agree with the first comment by AP, leaving it in the rules is counterproductive. I’m afraid it’s another teams vs FIA situation.

    Some things will never change.

  16. I know what, lets swap the KERS for howling V12 engines and make everybody happy! A return to 1200bhp and huge rear tires…

  17. I liked the KERS system. It would always make for great starts to the gran prix. I think that it overcame its early teething problems and was probably shelved too early!

  18. It’s a Catch-22. Cut costs but please spend money on KERS.

  19. McLaren should def keep it and Williams should use it.

  20. I did laugh when I heard Williams were working on a fly wheel KERS, why not throw in some Nitonol and elastic bands.

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