BMW Sauber became the second team to run a KERS system on track when test driver Marko Asmer drove a modified F1.07 at Miramas just before the German GP. Christian Klien then gave the car a public outing in the general test at Jerez, just after the Hockenheim race.
The first team to try a Kinetic Energy Recovery System on track was Honda, but other teams admit they are still some way off from running, and are focusing on dyno testing. It’s no coincidence that the first two teams to run systems are the ones that have given the KERS concept consistent support.
There are increasing safety concerns about the new-for-’09 KERS systems after several teams suffered worrying failures. An explosion at the Red Bull factory even brought out the Milton Keynes fire brigade, and caused an evacuation of the premises. Then at the Jerez test after the German GP, a BMW mechanic suffered minor injuries when he received an electric shock off a KERS-spec car.
Several team bosses have continued to express doubts about the role of KERS in F1, and have cited the potential risks. Generally technical personnel are relishing the challenge, however, because they view it as a rare opportunity to do something different and gain an advantage on their rivals.
“I’m quite relaxed about it, because I respect it,” Renault’s Pat Symonds told Motor Sport. “I look at these problems in a professional way. The energy involved in storage systems is something to be aware of, and to have a healthy respect for.”
“It’s a new technology and everybody has to take care of it,” said BMW’s Willy Rampf. “We know what is critical. There are some components which carry high voltage or load, but you just have to be careful.”
See p58 for an insight as to how KERS might work in Formula 1.