Formula 1 teams have asked the FIA to slow down a proposed expansion of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems after the technology is introduced to the sport in 2009.
FIA president Max Mosley has championed KERS on the basis that it will force manufacturers to spend money on something that has relevance to road car technology, which is not the case with aerodynamic or engine development. Mosley also sees it as a major boost to the sport’s green credibility.
However, it has an extra role to play in improving the show, since drivers will have access to the equivalent of a boost button. Together with aero changes due for 2009, it is expected to increase the chances of overtaking.
As of next season teams are allowed to draw 60kW from one axle, which will make available 400kJ of energy per lap. This will be the equivalent of a boost or ‘push to pass’ button which will give a driver an extra 80bhp for around 6.7 seconds per lap.
In mid-April Mosley sent teams a letter outlining plans to make KERS a more significant element in car performance in the coming years. Mosley proposed that the limit be doubled by 2011, the third season that KERS technology will be in use, with a further extension – involving both axles – from 2013, when a new engine formula is also being introduced. In addition Mosley has proposed the use of heat recovery from 2011, directly feeding the powertrain rather than as a boost button, and exhaust energy recovery from 2013.
Mosley’s letter fired up some teams which had already expressed doubts about KERS. At the Spanish GP team principals and technical directors met with F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone to discuss the matter, and several made it clear they were opposed to the technology, questioning its relevance and criticising the massive extra expense at a time of economic uncertainty.
To varying degrees Ferrari, Renault and McLaren expressed opposition, and Ron Dennis was particularly vocal about cost implications.
While some called for a complete overturn of the rules it was decided that F1 was too far down the KERS road to turn back. Those who are keen on KERS – notably BMW and Honda – felt the critics were worried that they were lagging behind on R&D, and had their own motives for abandoning KERS. Honda has already run a prototype system in an F1 chassis.