F1 Technology: Everything You Need to Know About KERS

DanCorrespondent IMay 11, 2008

One of the major additions to F1 next year will be the introduction of the KERS, or Kinetic Energy Recovery System. The general idea behind this new technology is to make the cars more efficient, an idea pioneered by Max Mosley as part of his attempts to lead the clean energy movement with the world of F1. Whether this will make for better racing remains to be seen, but it may also provide fans with the increase in overtaking they seem to desire so.

The purpose of the system is to harness and store the speeding car's kinetic energy, that would otherwise be lost under braking. This is achieved by adding a seperate CVT gearbox and flywheel, which spins when the car decelerates and collects the spun off energy. There are several different KERS systems in development, by different teams. Torotrak and Xtrac are developing one such system while it is also reported that Ferrari is developing their own system (pictured) that they may sell to other teams. It is possible that the concorde agreement could prevent that from happening, however.

This stored energy can then be accessed by the driver on command (presumably via a button on the steering wheel like the boost function in other single seater series) and will provide extra engine power. Because the systems are completely mechanical, the energy can be stored in the spinning discs until it is needed. In 2009 the power boost will be limited to 80hp, for just under 7 seconds. However, assuming the energy built is sufficient, this feature could be used on every lap.

This system carries some controversy, however. Many, myself included see it as a gimmick at best, and at worst, a sign of things to come. Mosely has already expressed interest in mandating smaller engines, and taking away much of the freedom from car designers in an effort to make the cars all the same. He seems intent on taking the series in the direction he wants to see it go, with no regard to what fans or constructors would prefer, and running it into the ground in the process.

It should also be noted that while the system will be first permitted in 2009, it will not be required. However teams that ignore it will almost certainly be placed at a disadvantage, and since it is the only engine change allowed for next season, we will likely see most teams pick it up. Several teams have also petitioned the FIA to have it's implementation held back to 2011.

Please comment and let me know what you think about this and other proposed changes to F1. I am very interested to know where other fans stand.