In January I said that if KERS didn’t prove itself in Formula One then it should be abandoned. Now, after seven races that have seen the number of teams using the devices fall to two, FOTA has decided to drop the technology for 2010.
Introduced as a way of boosting Formula One’s green credentials, the heavy devices have proven to be expensive and difficult to integrate into a Formula One car’s chassis. Only McLaren, BMW, Ferrari and Renault have raced with KERS this year and of those four only Ferrari and McLaren with any regularity.
KERS stores energy created under braking which can then be converted into power at the touch of a button, giving a boost of up to 80hp. While this can be an advantage in passing or defending, a KERS device can weigh up to 30 kilograms which negatively affects the balance of the car and can (literally) outweigh any power gains. None of the top three teams in the Constructors’ Championship have used KERS this season.
McLaren’s KERS system is widely regarded as the best but team principal Martin Whitmarsh said he would go along with the majority decision:
McLaren’s position is we would like to see KERS retained – but we also accept that we have to be responsible members of the F1 community, and if the majority don’t want to have KERS, or can’t afford KERS at the moment, then we have to be realistic.
While KERS is still allowed under the 2010 regulations it remains to be seen whether Williams or any of the new non-FOTA teams will continue to develop the technology.
Williams’s device is different from the others in that it uses a flywheel rather than batteries to store the power and if the team could find a way to make it work well they would definitely have an advantage. But the fact that none of the leading teams are using the device suggests that this year is the last we will see of KERS.
Image: Getty / Red Bull