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. DGR-F1 said on 28th October 2009, 8:19

    I am certain when the ability to use KERS was announced, there was no limit set on the budget used by the teams who wanted to develop it. Although this benifitted the bigger teams with bigger budgets, ultimately it would have found its way to the smaller teams as the costs involved decreased as the technology developed.
    As it is, we are going to miss out on a KERS war as McLaren and Ferrari will not be trying to improve the current systems, and will not be looking to share it with other teams.
    It has turned into another cul-de-sac of lost opportunities of improving the F1 image, F1 technology and relating it to normal road cars, at a time when the motoring industry as a whole needs something to keep going.
    Thanks FOTA, you have effectively shot yourselves in the foot with this. All the teams might as well buy into Max’s Cosworth deal, since no manufacturer seems to want to spend the money on engines…..

  2. i bet if they allowed testing kers would be much better

  3. sumedh said on 28th October 2009, 8:49

    Cant express in words, how happy I am.

    Right from Mid-2008, I have hated the concept of KERS. Almost every comment from me regarding KERS has been filled with vile and contempt.

    It makes no sense to carry a large heavy piece just for some extra boost during the start. And needlessly, this technology has been fettered by 400 kJ, and energy be revived only from back tyres.

    Very happy to see it go. Too costly a technology, and beings NOTHING to the show.

    • mp4-19b said on 28th October 2009, 8:56

      Are you a mechanical guy?? You always seem to have something negative to say about electrical/electronic aspect of formula one. Just my observation.

      • sumedh said on 28th October 2009, 10:05

        Yes, actually. I am a final year mechanical engineering student.

        But that isn’t the reason why I am against electrical/electronic aspect. My final year project is infact based on Mechatronics :-)

        KERS is not strictly an electronic concept. It borders on Mechanical, Electrical and also Chemical engineering. It actually makes a fascinating subject to study about.
        And I make my negative conclusion of KERS based on my (whatever little) study on this subject.

        • Nitpicker said on 28th October 2009, 11:30

          So what exactly is wrong with the concept of KERS? Your complaints seem to be about the implementation: the large, heavy equipment is because underdeveloped technologies tend to be large and heavy. Look at the first computer. The limited 400KJ output is a curious technical regulation.

          I find the concept itself is fascinating — instead of energy being wasted, it is harvested and reused. The problems with KERS come from the restrictive regulations and the short development. F1’s attempt at using a hybrid drivetrain looks clumsy because the main focus is making it smaller and lighter, which is a necessary process to make it suitable for racing (with benefits for road use too).

          I am also a mechanical engineer, and I guess studying KERS in F1 can be depressing. But the wider possibilities, for road cars and other racing formulae, are very exciting and could be the beginning of some huge developments. It’s a shame the FIA decided to restrict KERS so much as to neuter it.

          • sumedh said on 29th October 2009, 0:36

            For starters, the restrictions on KERS are a big dampener. 1)400kJ limit. 2)Energy to be retrieved only from rear wheels.

            The systems can easily produce more energy.

            The reasons I do not agree with KERS are

            1. Too costly in today’s age of cost-cutting.

            2. It adds nothing to fuel efficiency as whatever little enrgy is recovered is re-used to carry that extra luggage.

            KERS can become good, the analogy of the first computer you mentioned is incredible. KERS will undoubtedly be an indispensable part of F1 cars soon. But F1 need not have to take charge and be the first to develop this technology. Formula One has enough issues on its hand with regular scandals, decreased overtaking, and teams leaving the sport on account of high costs. KERS is a huge distraction and investment of resources away from these problems.

          • Nitpicker said on 29th October 2009, 13:44

            Formula One has enough issues on its hand with regular scandals, decreased overtaking, and teams leaving the sport on account of high costs.

            As for costs: the recession and poor performances made Honda and BMW quit the sport. The recession hurt their road car businesses, they didn’t leave because of costs to develop the KERS.

            As for other issues: are you saying that all the scandals and problems should stop F1 being a technology innovator? I find that ridiculous, but maybe that’s just me.

    • “nothing to the show” but Kimi’s pass on Fisi, Lewis’ pass on Barichelo, a few exceptional starts with +3, +4, +5 positions … ;-)

      What is really bad – they limited the KERS to 6.6 seconds, when at the current level it can easily go for at least twice the time. Then it could change the game even more!

      • DGR-F1 said on 28th October 2009, 17:16

        I also have to remind you that Citroen is testing Hybrid/KERS technology in WRC cars, Peugeot (and maybe Audi) want to introduce it into Le Mans and Sports Cars, and lots of manufacturers appear to be making it work in both SUVs and ‘Supercars’.
        So why are the FOTA members being so lame about this? F1 should be there at the forefront of the development, not dumping it just as it begins to work…..

      • lol and what about all the times the same guys that made ” these super passes” pushed the button and kept cars behind them that were quicker in every other part of the track except the kers button pushing moment.

        Simple fact Kers is not “green” it doesn’t save fuel, it actually increase fuel use… as I said before have a push to pass via a simple rev increase via the ecu and engine mapping at a cost ZERO dollars!!!

        Why kers had to be only harvested from rear wheels under braking load is just plain stupid, if you wanted a kinetic energy supplementary system you could harvest energy at ANY time the car is moving!
        To imagine the concept ..
        You have a motor that starts the car moving then as the car moves it is producing energy this energy can be used to keep the car moving with the “starter’ motor only coming into play when the car comes to a halt, if you add energy storage then the starter motor wouldn’t be used at all.
        A car could run on compressed air via this system, with energy used to produce more compressed air while moving to keep car going. And almost work with out any starter motor at all. as the compressed air would be stored and be used to feed engine from halt….

        Kers is primitive, energy capture is not new technology, energy storage is the major problem…batter technology is so far behind what can be done and there is no viable alternative to store energy…

        Forget this simpleton system it doesn’t need developing there are vastly superior systems already to capture energy…

        • Nitpicker said on 29th October 2009, 13:41

          you could harvest energy at ANY time the car is moving!

          If you tried to harvest kinetic energy whilst the vehicle is moving, you’d slow it down. The movement is the kinetic energy. Effectively you’d be putting the brakes on whilst trying to race down a straight.

          Energy capture/release systems take many forms, the compressed air thing you mentioned is similar to a hydraulic hybrid system that has been tested on UPS vans in New York.

          • yer you are right you would add some drag on movement, but a disc brake drag against the pads and tyre pressures add drag if too low, and a open window on a passenger car will add drag and same goes for roof racks, and etc
            The amount of energy lost wouldn’t be greater than energy produced if set up efficiently.

            thanks for the link I’ll check it out now.

  4. I can never understand why F1 wants to make all the cars equal! The only thing that should be equal, is the budget, which should be capped. F1 will never be Green, and I don’t want it to be, I’m tired of this ‘Save the Planet’ BS – this is motor racing. Let them fit Turbos, Nitrous Oxide, unlimited RPM! Surely a racing driver knows what is a ‘safe’ speed, and if he wants to drive into a hair pin at 500 mph, then he is a moron and deserves the crash barriers. All the technical s%$t is designed for two reasons only, to control the sport/outcome of events/situations and to make more money. I want to see more overtaking instead of these technical no passing tracks – Kers? Whats next, solar power? I want to smell Shell R, I want real racing!

    • steph90 said on 28th October 2009, 9:43

      There isn’t any point in having all the cars equal I agree with that. I have liked how only 4 cars now regularly use kers, it gives an interesting start and has certainly helped Mclaren and Ferrari. I would prefer if the cars could overtake without the need of kers and for drivers to overtake without pushing a button so I’m not that sad that kers is going. But I think it will be back soon.

      • mp4-19b said on 28th October 2009, 10:01

        Most of us have difficulty in accepting KERS, cos it was the brain child of Max Mosley :P
        Yes, I think KERS has great potential & it was a mistake to introduce one year too early. KERS’ potential has been overshadowed by the advanced aero packages of Brawn & white bull. Just image if red bull or brawn was equipped with KERS at the season beginning, or if mclaren or ferrari had a decent aero-package. one word.


        • steph90 said on 28th October 2009, 10:37

          Kers was also slammed at the beginning as all the teams that had it were at the back. BMW, Ferrari, Mclaren and Renault were always expected to be at the front and so the system was blamed when after a while it was clear that the teams simply hadn’t got to grips with the rule changes and spent too much time of Kers for such little gains, allowing RBR and Brawn to leapfrog them.

  5. KERS was a potentially great idea, it was just bought in too hastily.

    KERS cars used up more fuel, and I think that could’ve been brilliant for 2010 with the refuelling ban, because it means cars would have to manage their fuel just like in the turbo days.

    • Nitpicker said on 28th October 2009, 11:35

      The turbo cars had to manage their fuel because they were forced to carry less fuel than the non-turbo cars.

  6. Chalky said on 28th October 2009, 9:58

    If teams were allowed to develop KERS unrestricted then some of the major manufacturers probably would have invested more.
    But it was a half hearted rule to save money.
    Not that it was cheap to R&D.

    I like the idea of KERS and would have loved to have seen how far teams could have developed it. Maybe even using it to reduce fuel consumption and save weight for 2010 on smaller fuel tanks.

    But then my vision is not the FIA’s vision and I have to look at what KERS is now.
    Perhaps it should not be run, but I feel F1 should be going forward with technology. That is the nature of the sport and this feels like we are going backwards.

  7. KERS should be used to reduce fuel usage
    remove the Boost aspect of it and simply run it at its maximum efficiency constantly
    it would mean that the teams with the most efficient system would be able to carry less fuel and therefore be faster by being lighter
    additionally to this it would boost developement of KERS into something usable in a road car

    • Nitpicker said on 28th October 2009, 11:46

      remove the Boost aspect of it and simply run it at its maximum efficiency constantly

      Electric motors run at max efficiency when they are accelerating. In other words, as a ‘boost.’

      I think the idea of using less fuel will only happen if the amount of fuel itself is restricted. Refuelling has been banned for 2010 and it was a missed opportunity to restrict the capacity of the fuel tank too.

      • what i meant was that they remove the button that the driver has and run the electric motor constantly I.e. whenever the Batteries have enough energy to propel the car forward they use that energy to do so which would use less fuel for that period
        at the moment KERS is restricted to 80hp for 6 sec
        what i’m suggesting is removing those restrictions and letting the teams go at it

  8. KERS is just one step away from electric cars! This will be your F1 in the future gentlemen – Scalextrics! “eeeh, when I was a Lad, we used to have internal combustion engines…”! Agree to KERS and agree to imagine watching FI live, but without the volume! Sorry, but technology is ruining the sport; this same technology is being used to create this ‘level playing field’ to enable these Rich $$$$ $$$$$$$ to control the outcomes to make the sport more interesting. Budgets should be capped and the rest should down to the inginuity of the teams and drivers, i.e how can we make the car go faster to overtake more – because this is motor racing, not processional advertising! I want my racers, to hit the nitious button when they overtake, not some electric motor! You are seeing the death of your sport with KERS.

    • mp4-19b said on 28th October 2009, 10:41

      Another mechanical guy :P

    • steph90 said on 28th October 2009, 10:51

      F1 is known for being the pinnacle of technology. It does sometimes get frustrating and in the way of a good show but F1 is the most prestigious sport because it pushes the boundaries of what is technically possible in motor racing (and then the ideas are banned :P)
      More needs to be done to make drivers overtake and able to carry it off.
      Even if it ends in failure, I believe the sport should always push forward and learn from it.
      Turbos used to be allowed so no wonder they gave Kers a go.

      • Mechanical? Yes, because that is what F1 is, or should be. I want to see F1 like, Led Zep in the early years, full throttle, in your face raw power, from the heart, like it has some real value, like your life depends on it; I wanna see engine blow outs because they they pushed their Superchargers past the limit whilst ‘overtaking’ like ‘racing drivers’. Where as, you tech guys, you want electric cars, and for safety, let’s put them on tracks, because this is what KERS will become – sterile, lifeless… So yes, I am mechanical.

        • Nitpicker said on 28th October 2009, 11:49

          ‘Being mechanical’ doesn’t mean you have to favour petrol engines over electric motors. If you insist on having petrol-only racing with no alternative fuel options, then your precious engines will be internally combusting for only a limited time. At least electric propulsion offers some kind of future, even if it looks a bit weird and scary right now.

        • steph90 said on 28th October 2009, 11:58

          Mechanical and technological advancements should be the way to move forward. Neither should be exclusive. I don’t think anyone here wants to see f1 become sterile.

          from the heart, like it has some real value, like your life depends on it

          Precisely what I want to see- heart and soul racing and fighting on the track.

    • Accidental Mick said on 28th October 2009, 11:34

      F1 is all about technology. If someone discovers a way of making an electric powered car fast enough to be competitive then I want to see it race.

      • Scalextrix!

        All real motor racing is about the atmosphere, the smell, the red lining engines, the smoke, the danger etc etc.

        Save the planet!

        • DGR-F1 said on 28th October 2009, 17:23

          I would like to see an all-electric GP. Yes, I know its a way off into the future, but since we now have electric Lotus and MINI cars (as well as various French ones), it cannot be that difficult to think around the problem of fitting it into a GP2 or Formula Renault size package.
          Wake up and smell the Roses – racing is in the blood, not the engine!

          • DGR-F1,

            Listen to what you are saying! F1 is the noise! I WANT to wake up and smell the mineral oil, I want to hear an engine screaming like it wants to give birth! KERS is the death of F1 and will ultimately give you what you want.

          • Nitpicker said on 29th October 2009, 13:47

            KERS is the death of F1 and will ultimately give you what you want.

            Sorry, did you say KERS has killed F1? This article says the exact opposite. You sound like those folks who think global warming doesn’t exist. Go back and put your head back in the sand while the grown-ups talk.

  9. Ciaran said on 28th October 2009, 12:13

    KERS is a good idea, just too expensive for each team to develop separately. I think only a standard unit would be the answer. Getting rid of KERS after all this time and money spent would just be stupid.

  10. F1Outsider said on 28th October 2009, 12:31

    If it is to make a comeback, it should be all or nothing. As in, all teams either have it or don’t.
    Someone suggested that maybe Williams can make the units in the same way that McLaren makes the ECUs.

  11. 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.

  12. doncakes said on 28th October 2009, 13:20

    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!

    • 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.

  13. 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.

  14. Omegaz3ro said on 28th October 2009, 13:36

    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.

  15. 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.

    • Nitpicker said on 29th October 2009, 13:54

      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.

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