JANUARY 5, 2009
Ferrari laughs off Peugeot KERS stories
Ferrari sources say that rumours linking the company's development of KERS with the Peugeot sportscar team are not to be taken seriously. The stories, which seem to have begun in the United States, suggest that Peugeot will run the Ferrari F1 KERS system on a 908 development car. The suggestion is that this would circumvent the F1 testing ban, which comes into effect at the first race in March.
This does not seem very logical. There are lots of links between the engine men in Maranello and Peugeot, given that a number of key players followed Jean Todt to Italy back in the 1990s, but from a political point of view it makes no sense at all for Ferrari to try to get around a rule that was agreed by the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA), which is led by Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo.
One of the problems with F1 rule-making is that unless there is a budget cap agreed the teams can spend their money on whatever they like. If they choose to buy in technology the FIA cannot stop them doing that. Williams, for example, bought a stake in a company called Automotive Hybrid Power Ltd in an effort to develop a KERS system quickly and cheaply. McLaren has agreed "a collaborative initiative" with the US automotive electronics company Freescale Semiconductor to develop the next-generation KERS technology, rather than doing the work itself. The Lancashire-based Torotrak company has announced deals with two unnamed F1 teams while former F1 racer Heinz-Harald Frentzen is also pushing for deals for his Lithium Technology Corporation, which provided a KERS system for the Gumpert Apollo sportscar last season.
Ferrari is currently developing its KERS system in conjunction with Magneti Marelli but there is no reason why the team could not buy Peugeot expertise if this was considered something of value. Peugeot unveiled its 908 HY car in September and revealed that this was going to have a KERS system, the aim being to deliver extra horsepower or better fuel consumption (depending on what was needed at any specific moment) at Le Mans in particular, where the long lap means that KERS could be generating electrical power for about half a minute each lap.
"This is in perfect keeping with the overall mission of our endurance racing programme which covers not only the challenge of competing, but also the fact that as a car manufacturer we can use motor sport as a research and development tool for the Peugeot brand as a whole," said Peugeot's Michel Barge at the launch. "After innovating through the use of our HDi FAP technology in competition, running a hybrid car in endurance racing would give Peugeot a chance to gain extremely valuable experience that would benefit the development of production cars."