JANUARY 14, 2009

KERS - a waste of money?

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali says that the introduction of the new kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) is a waste of money.

"It is more than double the cost we expected," he said. "It is the worst possible moment to introduce such a system. It is nothing to do with the systems in road cars."

Domenicali said that when the global financial crisis began most of the teams wanted to get rid of KERS but BMW insisted and as the charter of the Formula One Teams Association requires unanimity to change the rules within 12 months it was not possible to stop the programme.

Ferrari has designed its own KERS system with the electronics provided by Magneti Marelli, another Fiat subsidiary company which specialises in the development and manufacturing of electronic systems and high-technology components for the automotive industry.

The system will harness the braking energy and will store it in super-capacitor batteries which then release power to the driven wheels when it is required. The regulations limit the storage capacity of the energy is limited to 400kJ (kilojoules) per lap and the power output cannot be more than 60kw, which translates into an extra 80 horsepower, which will be available for 6.7secs per lap. The idea was to develop hybrid technology which would also generate overtaking possibilities. Teams have studied the best ways to use this power and although drivers may be able to get a boost when they want to overtake, it seems that it will be more efficient to use the power all around the lap and thus create a situation in which the cars exit the corners faster and thus carry the extra speed down the long straights. This may mean that the idea of a push-to-pass button will simply not materialise.