Grand Prix Scene

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Support for KERS return

The Formula 1 Teams have agreed in principle to bring back KERS in 2011, after a gentleman’s agreement between them ensured it was dropped for this season.

The Kinetic Energy Recovery System has remained in the rules, however, and crucially it will return in the same format as before. Efforts to make it more viable by increasing the amount of energy that drivers could use per lap were blocked, in essence because Mercedes did not want such an upgrade, despite strong pressure from rivals.

The return of KERS marks an extraordinary about-turn by the teams. Many had doubts before its introduction in 2009, and it would have been dropped before that season had BMW not gone against the consensus and insisted on sticking with it, claiming that it was already committed to marketing programmes.

In ’09 only Ferrari and McLaren ran truly effective systems, while Renault and — ironically — BMW soon gave up on theirs. The expense of KERS was a major issue, and some teams struggled more than others to balance the gains against the penalties that it introduced.

One key issue was that the weight of some systems used up the margin that teams had left for ballast — an essential tool in controlling weight distribution and hence the balance of the cars. Heavier drivers were left with little or no option to run ballast, and in some cases the car/driver package was actually over the limit in KERS spec. That was partially addressed for this season when 15kgs was added to the minimum weight limit, although obviously that has been irrelevant without KERS in 2010.

Despite the fact that BMW and Toyota have now left Formula 1 there has been a push from the remaining manufacturers for the return of KERS. In effect they have come round to former FIA president Max Mosley’s original intent that Fl should pursue technologies that are relevant to road cars.

The other key factor is that KERS will clearly be a key part of the new formula for 2013, and teams feel it is logical to start developing systems sooner rather than later.

Despite its problems in 2009 Renault has been pushing hard for a return of KERS, and crucially the company has indicated that it is prepared to supply smaller teams.

Renault technical director James Allison told Motor Sport: “We strongly support the desire to see the Fl rules reflect some of the development directions the outside world is taking with road cars.

“So we lobbied for it on that basis, and also because we think it can be good from an overtaking point of view. We developed a system in 2009 which was a reliable platform that can make a decent contribution to the car. We have also made it clear that we will provide our technology to other teams at the agreed FOTA price limit, which is a manageable cost.”

Renault and Ferrari had led the push for extended usage of KERS in 2011, but they have reluctantly accepted that there will now be no change.

“We would have preferred to have much more energy,” said Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali. “But unfortunately there was not the consensus to do that.”

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