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Chatter from Jerez test
Chatter from Jerez test
Posted By:   |  02 Mar 2009   |  12:39 pm GMT  |  29 comments

It’s raining in Jerez and is forecast to rain again tomorrow, so not much is getting done once again. These pre-season tests have been blighted – by rain in Europe and by sandstorms in Bahrain. Everyone is rushing to get things done in time for the new season, but it seems someone up high is sending a message about the wisdom of making such a radical cut in testing!

Anyway I’m hearing some interesting stuff from out there. Apparently it is starting to look as though only four teams will start the season using new the KERS system; Ferrari, McLaren, Renault and Red Bull. I thought that Force India might use it too given that they have the McLaren Mercedes system, but I have it on good authority that is looking unlikely. The Spanish GP is apparently targetted as the date for them to race it for the first time.

Ferrari changed a KERS system again yesterday, while McLaren had to change an engine. Renault had some problems, which limited Piquet to just 52 laps and Force India had an electrical issue on Fisi’s car so he did just 31 laps.

Sebastien Vettel in the Red Bull was very fast again, his 1m19.055 is easily the fastest time a 2009 spec car has done around there. Both BMW and McLaren did some work for Bridgestone on the tyres for 2010, which will have to be different because both tyre warmers and in-race refuelling will be banned in 2010. Robert Kubica and Pedro de la Rosa did the work. I guess it had to be done now because there are no tests during the season, but it does seem a bit much to have to work on 2010 when you have so little time anyway to get ready for 2009 and what little time you do have has been blighted by rain and sandstorms.

I fully expect to see a plague of locusts at Barcelona test next week…

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I heard Vettel set his time yesterday in a one-lap qualifying-style flier, whereas everyone else did longer stints, is that right?


reading the interviews, the mclaren/force india partnership doesn't seem anywhere close to the B-team arrangement that some people were perhaps assuming. they got a diagram of engine mount points, and later-on some numbers for cooling, and so far that's about it.

anyhow, the mclaren KERS isn't running full power (although is does 50hp on the bench), also it's mounting is causing vibration problems and engine failures (of the 4 they wanted to take to the last test sessions, only one made it past QC, hence why they had the engine turned down to make sure their only unit lasted the full four days). now pedro popped one yesterday (press release said a sensor, but i though i saw a photo with much smoke).
the battery packs have all failed stress tests so can't be air-freighted till that's fixed, and just when MBHPE need to be finessing reliability issues and getting things crated, there is now a third team newly signed up and waiting for their engines.

sure it'll hopefully all be sorted-out in time, Ola Källenius is a smart guy, and you never know how much of what is leaked is misinformation, but still ... does probably helps explain the slightly surprising lack of Force India KERS right now ... and after all that, apparently mclaren are still one of the most advanced in their KERS program, you've gotta wonder how the rest are coping.

(and with the lack of serious dry running thus far and upcoming test-ban, anyone whose wind tunnel and simulation systems are out of correlation or calibration might as well forget about it ... this year it's all gonna be about taking new parts straight from computer screen directly to the race weekend)

anyhow, given the "street" nature of the melbourne track layout, the ever-tightening timescales, and the complicated shipping arrangements, i'd say it's maybe a reasonable outside bet that australia end-up an almost totally KERS-free zone ... bet the marshalls would be happy to hear that.

Steve- Honey- O

I heard that too, but surely there has to be more to it than fuel. 1.3 seconds is a lot of time, though presumably if Mclaren were using 2009 tyres they would have been closer.


What happened to the BMW KERS system? I thought they were supposed to have the most advanced one. I'm no testing expert, but I've not seen too much to get excited about with the new BMW, considering it was supposed to have been in development for years and has been testing for months already.

I can't wait for the season to start- what are the chances of something crazy happening at Melbourne, like an all Williams front row, or a Force India on the podium, or a Ferrari eliminated in the first part of qualifying?!? Or am I just getting carried away, will it just be a Mclaren/ Ferrari domination as per usual? For now, I'm going to give my imagination the benefit of the doubt.


The development and inclusion of KERS is very confusing. I've read conflicting reports on it this week, some saying cars with KERS will be no quicker than those without. Other reports saying it could add .7 seconds.

I'm also surprise BMW wont have their KERS ready for the start of the season. I take it teams that wont have it ready are reluctant to give an explanation?

Will Torro Rosso inherit the Red Bull system? Did Honda's development of KERS halt when the team was put up for sale? Will FryBrawn F1 Racing (for want of a better name) have any kind of KERS this year?

There doesn't seem to be any definitive guide to KERS in F1 at the moment. Maybe, James, you'd like to have a dedicated page to the subject on your site.

Just a thought.


I agree with Darren, whats happened to BMW??? They were really confident at the launch of the car, and now all the messages coming from the Team are very low key.

Though i cant wait for the new season, i mean seriously, does anyone have a clue whats going to happen in 26 days time?

what with the rain and sand, its been virtually impossible to work out who is where!

BRING IT ON (just hoping BMW are better than they appear!)


No one knows about KERS because teams are keeping their cards close to their chest, as you would expect. Most guesses come from magazine and website analysis which is speculation at best. As well as "here and there" patchy quotes from the teams themselves.

RBR are paired with Renaut with KERS, nothing has been spoken in press releases though for STR. It makes sense for them to delay to since they have a late launch relative to the other teams and need to understand the basics of thier car before worrying about KERS.

KERS won't add 0.7 seconds. It adds around 5 mph for 6 seconds. Maybe at Monza the gain will be more then at other tracks but 0.7 seconds is alot. KERS WILL add time for those 6 seconds, but it also has to "charge" by storing the energy under braking. This storing process can make the rear wheels and braking unstable on corner entry. This means if this problem isn't fixed they lose time overall on the lap, even though they gain on the straight for those 6 seconds. The teams have said all along that they won't use KERS until there is a net gain in time, so this is the reason some teams won't use it for Melbourne. As they fine tune it that problem will be reduced and dissappear. But you can't solve the problem if you don't run KERS in the first place can you. It's not the kind of thing a test bench can simulate accurately.

BMW obviously haven't solved the braking stability problem as quickly as they had liked (unless there is some other problem). Much to Flavio's frustration because they were the one team that opposed the delay of KERS until next season.


If the Red Bull is really as quick as appears apparent, then presumably the Toro Rosso will be just as quick, especially if it has a Ferrari engine bearing in mind that Red Bull are starting from ground zero due to the new regulations, which means Toro Rosso will have the latest of everything to be begin with?

Any thoughts on that?..................


with BMW, if they don't have KERS at melbourne it won't be because it's not ready, it will be that it doesn't give any advantage at that circuit. i think all the top teams have a version of KERS that they can race with, a lot of them are just refining it now.

FOTA must *really* be regretting their test ban agreement at the moment tho! (good, hopefully it means we'll get a few tests during the year)

very surprised that with such limited testing they are already looking at 2010 options...!


just read something interesting from pedro de la rosa about the test ban. what happens if a driver suffers an injury, especially late in the season. is the test driver supposed to jump in having not driven an F1 car for several months?


This should be beneficial as they won't be able to do any wet weather testing or any testing at all after Australia!


For KERS to become more than a annoyance we need major design rule changes. At present the KERS charging and discharging is only done via the the main engine output shaft or between it and the two rear wheel drive shafts (the rules say the power must be applied equally to both rear wheels)

With KERS essentially being an additional braking system on the rear wheels only, it is not surprising that oversteer is the result. (It's like pulling the hand brake on as well on most road cars and must affect the brake balance each time the KERS is charged)

Since most of the braking effort is accomplished by the front wheels it is logical that for any proper major development then KERS need to be applied to the front wheels instead, or as well.
Also of course it needs to be available all the time, this will make fuel savings. (The obvious original green idea of KERS in the first place)

Many drivers who like oversteer ie those who set their car up like a go-kart, (Like Lewis, ex-Schumi etc) will love the KERS system once they know they can rely on consistent retardation each time they press the slow pedal. Until the system is guaranteed its a bit of a lottery.
Super smooth drivers like Jensen however may not like it so well.


JA writes: The Ferrari system is a Magneti Marelli system and you are right, it will be the one used by Toro Rosso, as and when...


Interesting that Ferrari chose not to do any wet weather running at Jerez on the 2nd. Just because they were scheduled to test the 2010 spec tyres, doesn't mean they didn't have any '09 spec wets available. After their disappointing wet weather efforts last season - especially compared to their customer team in Toro Rosso, you'd think they'd be cranking out the laps in the "consistent" wet weather conditions. Seems silly to me....or an excuse to hide something else.


John g: Yes unless he/she is still at school! That's what the rules seem to say.

Also having now read the rules, I can confirm that the front adjustable flaps must be moved together and not independently. A great shame this.

Re the weight loss by drivers, it is logical that they need to be like jockeys, weighing next to nothing and allowing the car's mass (weight if you like, but it's not really) balance to be optimised.

If size zero drivers are not to become the norm then we need to raise the minimum permitted car weight. 😉


rpaco: unlike a road car, braking force (and therefore balance) in an F1 car is around 52% front 48% rear, give or take a few %. with the addition of KERS braking the rear axle, all you need to do is shift the brake balance forward to compensate. As KERS recovery rate and brake balance are both adjustable there is no reason that the car will necessarily oversteer unless it's been set up to do so. also, the driver will have some control either via the steering wheel controls (there will be several maps stored) or even the throttle pedal for engine 'push' under braking, to avoid locking the rear wheels if a consistent balance between brake force and KERS brake force cannot be found.

however, the front wheels is definitely an area that KERS should go into over the next few years - inboard motors recovering from, and powering the front wheels could be quite interesting!


There's an issue with the McLaren KERS' battery packs not meeting tests required for them to even be shipped to Australia.

So it's debatable if McLaren will be running KERS in Australia.

For me though, Redbull are looking mighty exciting, I am a Ferrari fan first and foremost but goodness a rampaging Sebastian Vettel in a great car would be the best possible thing for the sport, to act as a natural counterweight to Hamilton.

Seb is a far, far more likeable personality too - something the sport needs given the troubles it's suffered in 2007 and 2008 and most probably in 2009 too.


According to Vettel, RBR will not use KERS in first three races.


The rain in Spain falls mainly in the Pit Lane...

How does the test ban work? Do all the teams have a limited number of test miles they can complete before the season starts? With all the bad weather and late starts, I think that the FIA should allow teams who haven't completed their test miles to continue testing into the season.

I predict massive attrition due to mechanical failure in the first race at Melbourne, especially the KERS-powered teams. All teams that can afford it, who are running KERS ought to have built in the option of removing the system for the 2nd race (and probably the rest of the season).

I also predict a huge number of accidents, as drivers struggle to get to grips with all the new stuff on their cars (wide front wings, movable aero, KERS, less aero grip, oversteer...). If 50% of the field finish in Melbourne, I will be amazed. I would go so far as to say that after the 5th Safety Car, the race will be red flagged.


There is so much speculation and uncertaintly I hope James can shed some light on what is really happening, who is looking good (i'm worried about mclaren) and which teams if any will use KERS. Not much to ask (he he).


unlike a road car, braking force (and therefore balance) in an F1 car is around 52% front 48% rear, give or take a few %.

Amazing, I would have thought it much more to the front 60 or 65%. I suppose its because all the kit is at the back end.
(I could relate some stories about my old Alfa with the transaxle here but ....)

Yes I see see that if the brake balance and KERS charging is within one map then it should be possible to make it "invisible" to the driver, presumably the map is infinitely adjustable to compensate for brake and tyre wear.


also it's about weight transfer. even in a porsche 911 where all the weight is at the rear, the brake balance won't be anything like 50/50, it will have more than 70% at the front. but when you consider that in an F1 car the top of the cylinders and top of the gearbox casing are about level with the wheel centreline, you start to see just how low the CofG is in these cars.

as far as i know, you cannot change KERS recovery and brake balance in one go (and you probably wouldn't want to) - certainly not in one map. there is specific regulation that brake balance can only be controlled by a specific brake balance lever that remains under the drivers control at all times. you would not want KERS recovery directly linked to that to become invisible, as you'd need to change the relationship based on fuel load, tyre wear, grip improvement over the race distance etc. but basically the driver has loads of adjustment simply for the car balance during the braking phase of a corner (brake balance, adjustable front wing, engine push, diff locking, throttle pedal, KERS recovery rate etc.)


John g: The original point I was making was that the KERS would provide extra drag when it was charged under braking, but it would not be charged on every braking event (presumably only on the approach to corners prior to where you were going to apply the KERS power as you/after you exited) thus the retardation would vary not with the gradually changing parameters you mentioned like total mass, tyre wear etc but instantly be different between this time and last time you braked. My premise was to obviate this by mapping the KERS and brake balance together.
I will check the regs again.

Of course my theory depends upon the possible charging rate. If it were very low then it could be "on" for every braking event. I don't remember from the regs if the charge rate was stipulated or only the discharge and stored energy levels. If the rate were high then if KERS were charge on every braking event you would have too much energy and have to dump it, this creates more heat and other problems.

You are obviously connected to a team (well you said as much once before, via a driver) and I am begining to think that some others posting are also linked to teams.


Thanx James, great place to collect info on formula one. You have great readers as well.


rpaco: KERS doe not recover at specific corners, rather it is governed by an overall recovery rate map. the severity of this can be altered by the driver, but as far as i know, it will never be that KERS recovery is active for some corners and not for others [i]by default[/i] - rather that the optimal recovery rate applies over the whole circuit at a level to provide energy for two boosts per lap at the most efficient places.

maybe it could be done to charge KERS on one corner before boosting (if the standard ECU allows it) but my guess is that the braking force from such recovery, and the big change between that and the non-KERS braking for the corner before and after means that it's not really workable. the system might be overloaded thermally recovering in this way too. it could also place you at a disadvantage if you were fighting someone who had the option to boost anywhere on track.


rpaco: with regards to KERS storage:

5.2.2 With the exception of one fully charged KERS, the total
amount of recoverable energy stored on the car must not exceed 300kJ. Any which may be recovered at a rate greater than 2kW must not exceed 20kJ.

5.2.3 The maximum power, in or out, of any KERS must not
exceed 60kW. Energy released from the KERS may not exceed 400kJ in any one lap. Measurements will be taken at the connection to the rear wheel drive train.

5.2.4 Any KERS may only be capable of increasing the stored
energy whilst the car is moving on the track.
Release of power from any such system must remain under the
complete control of the driver at all times the car is on the track.[/i]

and here's the stuff about braking:

11.1.1 With the exception of a KERS, all cars must be equipped
with only one brake system. This system must comprise solely of two separate hydraulic circuits operated by one pedal, one circuit operating on the two front wheels and the other on the two rear wheels. This system must be designed so that if a failure occurs in one circuit the pedal will still operate the brakes in the other.

11.1.2 The brake system must be designed in order that the
force exerted on the brake pads within each circuit are the same at all times.

11.1.3 Any powered device which is capable of altering the
configuration or affecting the performance of any part of the brake system is forbidden.

11.1.4 Any change to, or modulation of, the brake system whilst the car is moving must be made by the driver's direct physical input, may not be pre-set and must be under his complete control at all times.

(taken from the FIA regulations on their website)


could go either way. The ferarri engine may need more cooling than the small volume of side-pods on the RB5 may provide.

I also suspect the renault engine may have leapfrogged the others due to their parity changes.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the RB5 and STR4 will be another newey special - blisteringly fast but frighteningly fragile.


I would expect Torro Rosso will be using the Ferrari KERS as they are their engine supplier. Red Bull are using the Renault provided system.


BMW have always been far poorer in practice sessions and testing compared with their actual pace in qualifying and the race.

It's dangerous to read too much into pre-season testing, but at this stage, you would have to keep a close eye on Red Bull and Vettel, especially if they're pulling 1.3seconds out of their nearest rival, even with fuel differences, that is a phenomenal difference.

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