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Should KERS come back to F1 next year?
Should KERS come back to F1 next year?
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Apr 2010   |  9:23 am GMT  |  246 comments

I’ve been interested by the discussions about bringing back KERS this past week, following the FOTA meeting in Malaysia at which it was on the agenda.

KERS, for anyone not familiar with the term, is Kinetic Energy Recovery System, which harvests energy from braking, stores it as electrical energy and then reintroduces it to the system as a power boost. Under last year’s rules it was worth about 80hp for around 7 seconds per lap.

Can KERS be made to work on the current F1 engines for everyone?

I always thought it was a good idea for F1 to have something like this to keep it in step with the road car industry’s advances on hybrid technology. And the ‘push to pass’ aspect of it offers a key weapon for overtaking.

Last season it was used by only McLaren and Ferrari and then abandoned after one year in a vote by the FOTA teams. The idea has been to develop the new engine formula for 2013 around a hybrid system and that process is ongoing between FOTA and the FIA.

But now the teams are talking about bringing KERS back in 2011, because Ferrari and Renault are both pushing hard on hybrid on the road car side and because it has the potential to provide a quick fix for F1’s perennial overtaking problem. If it is to return it has to be on the basis that every car has it.

Perhaps if the power is increased then it could lead to more overtaking as drivers could use it intelligently to give them a competitive advantage. The problem now is that one car only has enough of a competitive advantage over another to pass, if its tyres are in significantly better condition, as with Massa on Button in Malaysia.

KERS became a bit of a political football last season; the idea of former FIA president Max Mosley, it was just another issue on which things became polarised in a tense power struggle. The problem was that Mosley’s vision for KERS was that teams should compete with each other to get the best system. It is a very expensive technology to get right on an F1 car, where every kilo counts and many teams didn’t bother to play the arms race. The top two teams last in last season’s championship, Brawn and Red Bull, didn’t use it.

Ferrari complained that it was an expensive flop. I remember team boss Stefano Domenicali saying at Silverstone,

“The reality is that the facts show that KERS in the way that it is now is not ready to be performing in this set of regulations. That is a fact. And, this is something that we need to learn from in the future.”

It added a lot of weight to the car, increased reliability concerns and was a big distraction for the engineers – in other words getting it to work effectively so that it would make a difference, the way it was introduced before, was very hard. McLaren and Mercedes spent €70 million and managed to get more gain than pain, but team boss Martin Whitmarsh admitted that in doing so, perhaps they failed to spot the key aerodynamic breakthoughs of 2009, like the double diffuser and outwash front wing.

Another problem with the way it was introduced last year was that it didn’t offer enough of a boost to make it attractive. It was useful at the starts and for passing cars which didn’t have it.

So the logical and simple answer is to bring it back with more power but in a standardised system, to keep the costs under control and so it’s the same for everyone. It gives F1 some much needed green credentials and gives the drivers a chance to use their system more cleverly than an opponent and make more overtaking moves.

The problem then comes that various teams will want to do their own system. Williams has a unique flywheel system, which it is also developing for commercial use on buses and trains, while Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes (who had the best system last year) will see it as an important laboratory for the ‘road to track’ story.

This reminds me of a similar debate a few years ago over introducing a standardised Electronic Control Unit, which was resisted by manufacturers like BMW, who felt this was a sacrosanct area of proprietary technology. But the sport desperately needed it to get rid of all suspicions about teams cheating on traction control. In the end a standard ECU was introduced and it and it works fine for everyone and you never hear any more about it.

As a short term solution, introducing a standard KERS system for 2011 now, so teams can design their 2011 cars around it, makes sense. And in parallel the teams and the FIA should work to base the 2013 engine rules around hybrid, and research the viability of allowing manufacturers to develop technology within a cost restriction framework, so it offers existing and new manufacturers something to get their teeth into, but doesn’t just end up being another arms race.

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This is all great, but what about the fact that if all cars have KERS overtaking becomes no easier?

The only reason it helped overtaking last year was because some cars had it and some didn't. If all cars have it, and all the systems are the same, all you've done is make the cars quicker on the straights, but overtaking stays the same.


Not true - KERS could only be used for 7 seconds per lap, so it's not possible for all drivers to use it at the same time. There's a strategic element to when a driver hits the button, and that's what you are missing.

The main reason we didn't see one KERS car pass another is that, for most of the season, only 2 teams had the system in operation.


But what we also saw last year is that in fact the engineers had worked out very accurately where the driver should press the button for the largest lap time gain. And even in the setting of a race, they ALWAYS pressed it then, as they wanted to get closer to their rival. When close enough to pass, they didn't need KERS, they could have just picked up the slipstream.

And we are also forgetting how many overtakes KERS robbed us. It was used more to defend than to pass. Of course, this was because not everyone had it, but if they all havve it, and it's the same system it WILL become pointless. There's nothing strategic about it - you push it on the main straight or the straight before if you can. And once the driver in front know's that, there goes the overtaking.


Agreed... The fact that the KERS recharged every lap, and that the driver had 7 seconds on each and every lap to use the boost, meant that the drivers were using it at the same places each lap.

If they were to have 20 seconds every three laps, it would mean that a driver trying to defend his position would have to be careful not to use up the KERS before the driver trying to overtake.


If KERS is used to defend, then that's fine in my opinion. What we want to see is cars battle, and a battle can last the whole race without a pass and is still great entertainment.

The problem we often have now is the invisible 'wall', where a car can't get within a second of the one in front, so we don't really see genuine attempts to pass.

I feel it's not all about overtaking, but the PROSPECT of overtaking, that's exciting.


Perhaps the problem with KERS is the fact that it replenishes every lap. At Malaysia, if both Hamilton and Sutil had KERS installed then it is unlikely that the outcome of the race would have been any different. Limiting KERS to one boost every 3 laps or 10-15 boosts per race could be more exciting, as strategy and race management are factored in.

Video games have put the "boost" concept to good use for decades now and it may be worth evaluating why it makes the games more fun. Being awarded a KERS boost for setting a purple sector time for example could encourage drivers to push to the end rather than cruise.


That's a very good point and maybe it also needs to work in conjunction with circuit design to create more opportunities for passing than there are occasions for using the button


Correct. Bringing back KERS as a required system will have little to no benefit for the racing, and will prove only to be a waste of money. How many times did we see one KERS car overtake another KERS car thanks to their use of the KERS system? Hint: We didn't.

Bringing it back as a standardized system will be even more pointless because there won't even be any development work done on it. It'll smack of the same thing as Bridgestone's green stripes on the tires instead of white. A pathetic attempt to make the sport seem somehow green and relevant while it does absolutely nothing to make the sport greener or more relevant to the real world.

So no, I do NOT want to see KERS back.


Fair points but which assume the same rules (as last year) apply.

Were they to give teams a limited number of times KERS could be deployed per race ( laps / 2) then hopefully we would encounter instances where an attacking car would have it and the defending car wouldn't. A near cost free solution.


There has been mention of the introduction of a common Mercedes KERS device, in much the same way as the common ECU that was developed by McLaren... I agree with Jonth... Why not save a bundle, and instead of introducing a Mercedes KERS, introduce a Virgin fuel tank, so drivers have to decide when to turn the mixture up to push for/defend a position..!!?!!


And the worst thing is, it won't be green either. If you want to be green, stick a button in the car that decreases rear wing angle. You would gain lots of speed on the straights (like KERS, probably much more though), but use no extra fuel (or battery) in the process.


No it won't: the engineers always have a choice between speed and fuel consumption. Changing the rear wing angle will simply allow them
to go faster. If you want F1 to go green fit all F1 cars with a smaller fuel tank (Nick Wirth has one or two going spare ;-)) and keep refuelling banned.


Ah, but if you standardize the system, the competitive drive which would stimulate the development you're talking about would be gone. The technology of Mercedes developed last year would be used and that would be that. There would be no incentive to make the system better or lighter.

They want this stuff into F1 because there it will developm quicker than anywhere else. But if you remove competition, F1 is no different to the road car industry in terms of the technology in that sector. If KERS is to come back it needs to to be competitivem, to validate it's claims both on overtaking and in terms of green technology.


I dont think the emphasis is on making F1 cars more efficient on their fuel consumption, after all they are never going to be green. The emphasis, along with all other ideas to make F1 'green', is that the research developed can be transferred to road car manufacturers, where they would improve efficiency and fuel consumption. So that the huge expense of research in F1 can actually benefit beyond the winning of a race. Its the same idea as the rumors that the next engine specification could be a 1.4L 4 cylinder plus turbo or supercharger - nearly all major car manufacturers use these engines in their ranges in a number of vehicles; the money and effort spent developing a high performance, lightweight and efficient engine can therefore be translated to road cars, so the manufacturers are not simply wasting their money on irrelevant technology. i.e aero or pneumatic valved V8 engines etc.


I TOTALLY agree, Knoxy.



If drivers could choose how to use the boost, for example full power for 7 seconds or half power for 14 seconds, that may be the differentiator that allows more passing.

Circuits often have more than one passing opportunity, Monaco aside. I see no reason why selective use of stored energy would not give the races both greener credentials and more wheel to wheel racing.

Given a choice between push button hybrid technology and random sprinklers I think the hybrid option is the way to go.

One more tip, standardise brakes and make them slightly smaller. Lengthening braking distances will also help spice up the action.


Less efficient brakes, less sticky tires (which also dont marble quite so much) and clever use of kers could cause alot of excitement.


Red5, Please explain to me how KERS makes an F! car "greener".



Well the system draws energy from the engine under braking, and stores it either in a battery system or (for Williams) a complex flywheel system, from which it can be put back into the drive system at will. In theory most of the technology used could be transferred to the road car market. Obviously any system designed would be very high tech, efficient and low weight due to the constraints of F1, which would make it more viable and useful for road cars - so the money spent on the research and development of F1 would be directly benefiting the efficiency and green credentials of road cars.


If everyone has it, what's the point? All the drivers will push it at the same time and no one will get any closer to the car in front.


In my opinion KERS will only offer improved overtaking if implemented in a way which allows a driver to "earn" a differential between them and another driver.

For example a rule where drivers can have and deploy a maximum of 10s of KERS a lap, but only earns an additional 3s of KERS per lap.

In my mind it would achieve two things.

Firstly it could allow a faster driver to bank their KERS while forcing a driver in front to use theirs, thus building up a bigger boost difference with which to make a move. (This difference is fair, as it's one what's been earned by driving well).

Secondly it would make KERS deployment less predictable. As it used to be every KERS driver would deploy their KERS on the way out of the same one or two corners every lap.

I think such a method would be good because it would reward drivers who are faster. The only thing that would make it not work were if it were "easier" to bank KERS as the defender in any tussle. I'm not sure that would be the case, but perhaps some simulation or experimentation would be needed to say for sure.


Gees - you guys miss the point. KERS is not a bottomless pit. You need to be selective about when it is deployed, because it is limited to 7 seconds per lap.

Think of Spa, for example. If a driver uses KERS up to Les Combes, he can not then use it on the run to the bus stop -it will have been exhausted. It certainly will help the overataking problem.


It won't help overtaking. If you are in front, you push it when the guy behind gets a run on you (when he pushes it). This is always going to happen on the long straights IMO.


You, my good friend are missing the point.

If two cars are battling for position, they will use it at exactly the same place.

They have all done countless laps on those circuits and every driver knows where's the part of the track where his position can come in danger from a rival behind him.

They will in 95% cases use it at the same time.


Saying that the use of the accelerator and the use of KERS on the circuit is the same is missing the point. The use of the accelerator requires considerable skill and it is not just off and on. For KERS. the driver just presses the button when the car is pointing straight. It is a pity that we no longer have four wheel drift which requires the careful use of the accelerator but accelerating out of a corner still needs plenty of skill in the use of the accelerator to gain on your opponents. I hope F1 does not bring back KERS.


So in Malaysia, would it have been used on the pitstraight, the back straight or after Turn 2?

They may all use it at the same place on a qualifying lap, but surely the tactical element is when to use it in the heat of battle - that choice is not clear cut.

As for the earlier comment of it being a 'lottery', I can't see how you can consider it so. It is a legitimate tactical decision to use the boost, just like adjusting the front wing angle or the brake balance at different parts of the circuit.


Do we want to see F1 racing to become a lottery rather than depending on the driving skill of a driver? If who will be ahead in an all KERS equipped field is dependent on when the KERS button is pressed, it has no appeal to me and I think to other motor racing enthusiasts too.

Let's forget about KERS once and for all.


whats the difference between knowing the opertune moment to press the KERs button and the opertune moment to press the accellerator?

I'm sure you wouldnt take the acellerator away? 😛

but if they all have KERs then they will all use it at the same point on the track, comming out of the corner that enters the longest strait, its a no brainer because thats where the fastest laptime will come.

I like the idea that a standard system limits the number of boosts you have independent of the start finish line. so you get a max of say 30 boosts in a race. so you cant use it every lap... although that could mean a car could create a queue of cars for 30 laps?

maybe you can boost as much as you like until your battery is empty, then you have to wait 3 minutes from and empty battery before the boost button reactivates? thats more than 1 lap of any circute???


I don't see the point in a standard KERS. If the system is standardised all we will see is cars using the boost to cancel one another out down the straights, as happened with A1GP's "push to pass" system. It seems like an expensive way to achieve very little.

Why restrict the power output to KERS. Remember that Toyota ruled out developing KERS in 2009 on the basis that their road cars already had systems more advanced than the ones being mandated for F1. And why insist that it is used as a "push to pass" system? A sort of "always-on" KERS, which delivers extra power at a constant rate around the lap, could be more beneficial competitively and probably more road relevant too.

KERS is a potentially exciting area for innovation, some of which will inevitably trickle down to road car development. The rulemakers should at least give it a chance to flourish before imposing arbitrary restrictions on it.


Hay that's a good idea, Andy, have it on all the time except while braking, and change engine capacity to 2000cc instead of 2400cc.



Oh, buggar, I just realised we'd need a big radiator just to cool the system if it was on all the time, maybe not a good idea after all, Andy.




There will be basically the same amount of energy harvested and released every lap regardless of whether it is evenly spaced or in short bursts. If the peak current is lower in the almost always on system may run at a lower average temperature. If we had an unlimited energy system, for example allowing collection from the front wheels as well, then the cooling would just be an engineering consideration and compromise, allowing variation between the cars. The 'small KERS' car would have an aero advantage at the end of long straights, potentially giving greater top speed. The 'large KERS' car would have a greater boost early on the straight to get into the slipstream.

An always on system, with no driver intervention could be good. I think the current cars have nowhere near enough torque and because of this there is very little variation out of corners between the drivers, as driving to the limit of tyres is easy for drivers of F1 skill to feel. We need something that encourages mistakes out of corners. So I'd fit a big turbo to your 2000 cc engine (probably only one to delay the response through longer plumbing.



Is it really going to help overtaking?

Last year it allowed some overtaking where those that had it could pass those that didn't at the start and on long straight sections of track.

However, when everyone has KERS, the advantage goes away because everyone will use it in the same places.

Also, the overtakes last year where it was used were pretty artificial - i.e. out dragging the non KERS cars. The much better overtakes are the ones where driver skill is used to out brake cars into corners (e.g. Button in Brazil).


If the rules on the use of kers is the same as last time ie. a restriction on how much can be used per lap, then the advantages are likely to cancel each other out. If however, the rules state how much kers can be used per race, you will likely get more overtaking, particularly towards the end of a race, when some cars will have used up their allocation, whilst others may have saved some.


Yeah, like in Indy Racing League, they can save their P to P to use when they want to.



I am really not sure whether KERS will be a "push-to-pass" button when thw whole grid starts to use standardized units.

There are two or three spots on each track where you can try to overtake, namely at the end of long straights and just before hard braking points. Therefore, everybody knows when KERS will be deployed at this particular overtake zones, which will give them a chance also to use for defence purpose. So, they will cancel each other out.

KERS was useful last year because only o handful of teams used it, leaving the others vulnerable agains the power boost. But when everybody uses it, this advantage will disappear.

Said that, brake efficiency, track positions, KERS battery status etc. could still affect and change the scenario in races. The car in front might consume all of its boost for overtaking yet not manage to do it, then it could be powerless to prevent the car behind who could use KERS in full.

Theoretically it would not help the spectacle but practically it could do.


I think kers would be good, particularly a standardised version. It would have to be a battery system as I read something recently from Williams saying their flywheel system would not now fit the car due to the larger fuel tanks.

I would actually be more in favour if the absolute number of times it could be used were limited (I.e 10 times a race). In my opinion that would stop it from becoming a playstation gimick and would put a premium on driver decision making.


Good point, Andy, also a flywheel spinning at the revs required would be have a gyroscopic effect and cause cornering difficulties! And I still can't figure how they drive it off the brakes!



Precession is the problem, pity Prof Eric Laithwaite is not around still.

Magnetic fluid clutches could be one way of making the connections to the wheels. But Wlliams already solved it once.

Flywheels have been used for decades in China in commercial vehicles.

With the electrical system the main problem is heat generated in the conductors by the IsqR losses. A huge amount of energy in the form of heat is lost in such high current systems. did rough calculation last year in this blog of the extra cooling required, which I've now forgotten, but was a lot. Superconductors would help a lot if liquid nitrogen were to be allowed.

Vinicius Antunes

I like the idea of using it a fixed number of times per race... however, one down side of it would be that, well, a lot of money poured into developing something that is used so little time... still, a standardized less expensive version could minimize this feeling maybe?


It would have to be powerful enough to guarantee an overtake once the button's been pushed, though. Then it would work nicely.


Anything that "guarantees" an overtake is pointless because it is neither skilful nor exciting. Might as well have a button that when pressed tells the driver ahead to slow down and let you past. It would be greener than KERS too 😉


Yeah! I think you're right. I am not sure I knew what I wanted to say in the first place. It certainly doesn't look like I did.


The problem Williams' got with their flywheel system is down to solving the gyroscopic effect of such system which requires use of four gimbals, hence the size problem makes it impossible to fit it even in to the old type - small tank car. It is ok for bus or train though.

Ten times a race or so is a brilliant idea. It solves the problem pretty much completely.


KERS needs to come back, but not as an overtaking aid. It needs to be a full hybrid, which can reduce the amount of fuel each car uses. Teams with the most efficient systems would therefore start with less fuel and lighter cars than the less efficient systems.


Unfortunately you must remember that Kers is a rather heavy system - McLaren/Mercedes' system last year was one of the best and probably weighed in at around 30kg - which is about a fifth of total race fuel weight; I doubt a system would actually save them that much, they would be better to spend the money on having a more fuel efficient engine, and simply take less fuel with no kers. Which is kind of what red bull did last year and still are doing this year - their renault engine is the most efficient, even if not the most powerful they have the fastest car, lighter by maybe 10kg at the start of a race over the Ferrari...but are down on power through the speed trap as a result.


Ah, but last season's rules were too restrictive on KERS. It was a high weight penalty for less than 100bhp for 6.7 seconds. If the teams could use KERS power more, it would negate the cost of the extra weight.


Agree. It would be useful if teams developed their own systems for greater fuel efficiency - a standardised KERS just seems pointless.


Just for info, Williams have now said that they wouldn't use their flywheel KERS next year if it's reintroduced, they'd have to go electrical like everybody else. Why? Because since refuelling has been banned, there simply isn't room to fit it in with the larger fuel tank, without making the car impossibly long.

They've made it clear that they're happily continuing to develop and market it for road vehicles though.


If KERS did make a comeback it should be for all teams or not at all. Anyway nevermind KERS, what about turbo engines making a comeback ??


Yeah, Dave, turbo methanol 1000cc engines would be "green".



Paul, ethanol is a bit different to methanol due to the density so 700 kW would be achievable with an 1 litre running on e85 . The 1980s F1 engines relied on large amounts of toluene in the fuel. The Indy cars were getting about 650-700 kW (up to 950 bhp) with about 3 atmospheres of boost with a 2.65 litre engine.


I think your comment was just a little sarcastic, which maybe martin took the wrong way...but for the hell of it I thought I'd point out that methanol is actually one of the least green fuels...much like bio diesel it is touted as the green future of the combustion engine, but so much land and water is used up producing the stuff, and huge waste as a by-product, that it is very harmful. It also send up the cost of most cereals around the world, causing food shortages...and so on.

Ultimately the combustion engine is not green, electric engines are also only as green as the (mostly carbon dioxide producing) energy source at the power station. And again, all experts agree that it is better for the state of the planet from a point of view of natural resources and global warming and so on, to simply keep running a car thats 20 years old and inefficient than to buy a new one.

So really we should give up on trying to be green and ride a bike, watch bike racing. On bikes that are old made from recycled parts. Cars are not green, neither is F1. Oh dear how depressing.


Henry, Excelent point! Absolutely true, and we (and others) do forget that. Although I must admit I'm not really concerned about making F1 cars green, I was thinking more about reducing use of oil reserves. I personally doubt if we can have much effect on global warming in the long run!




How much power and torque do you want F1 cars to have? The energy density per litre of methanol is pretty low, so like pure hydrogen, you to burn a lot of it to get anywhere. The engines would have to run pretty high boost to exceed 300 kW. The wing size would have to come down to reduce drag to optimise the lap times, which would help overtaking, but the lap times would be much slower.




Martin, Dont forget in the turbo era they were getting 1100-1200 bhp out of 1500cc petrol engines (for qualli) and racing at 650-750bhp, so I'd assume that with modern technology and ethanol/methanol fuel which allows higher compression ratios/boost pressures they could probably achieve 600-700 from a 1 litre engine. Admittedly they would use more fuel than if it was on petrol, but it dosen't matter because it is a renewable resorce.


neil murgatroyd

Surely KERS will have little effect on the overtaking dilemma if everyone has it.

I would prefer it if the OWG took some time to develop rules which allowed cars to follow and overtake slower cars by manipulating the power / braking / aero / mechanical grip ratios allowed in the rules.


It would makes sense if it was powerful enough to guarantee an overtake and if drivers were allowed to use it let's say ten times a race (as Andy C above proposed) and not once per lap for 7 sec.


To quote Rik, also posted above,

"Anything that “guarantees” an overtake is pointless because it is neither skilful nor exciting. Might as well have a button that when pressed tells the driver ahead to slow down and let you past. It would be greener than KERS too ;)"


Only after some time I realised that what I said makes no sense, and now I completely do knot know what I meant, cannot even trace my thoughts back.

Oh well!


Sure, based on what the OWG has accomplished so far that would be awesome!

orr... maaybe not...


I agree, they should bring back KERS - It is a fantastic tech that added some spice into the racing. If only for pure spectacle and not 'green' related it is worth having KERS in F1.


Sounds a good idea to have it standardised! Thanks again for providing more technical detail than other websites, and still managing to explain it clearly.


Completely agree.

The only possible issue I see is would a standard KERS suit every engine, wouldn't it disadvantage any car because of aerodynamic or design changements it would generate?


I was trying (unsuccessfully) to find confirmation of an Adrian Newey quote that gearboxes had been frozen for four years. There are bigger design variations with the gearbox than the engine. The bore spacing is fixed and there are controls on the centre of gravity, so I don't think physical engine geometry will be an issue. All the engines run the same management system, so the integration of KERS into the propulsion system shouldn't be a large variable. Putting KERS ahead of the engine will have packaging implications that will extend to the rear aerodynamics and the gearbox is a design consideration.


Yes I think that the KERS capacitors and/or batteries went behind the driver's back in a relative position which is now occupied by the larger fuel bladders. (drivers complained about being burnt)

Also I remember the gearboxes being fixed for four years too.Unfortunately there is now so much stuff in the secret Condorde agreement and not in the rules, it's about time the contents were published.


Thanks, I didn't think about the Concorde agreement.

Phillip Sanders

Surely if every car has a Kers system, the overtaking advantage will be negated by the fact that the car in front will press his button at the same time as the car doing the overtaking. A 10yr old could tell you that. Am i missing something?


I'd welcome it back, but I think it would be best to have a standard unit, such as the electronic unit supplied by Mclaren, so that the smaller teams could use KERS. Can you really see HRT or Virgin being able to afford to develop their own KERS system? No so a standard unit (probably the Mercedes one) for the whole grid.


Kers always seemed like such an 'artificial' thing with it's 6 second limited usage. If you're going to have it at least let it be used to it's full capacity.

I also never understood how electrical energy was converted into horsepower by a combustion engine.



the electric KERS system works by using an electric motor attached to the forward end of the crankshaft. It is fifteen years since I thought hard about electric motors, but from memory if you reverse the polarity a motor turns into an alternator. So under brakes the KERS unit runs as an alternator and charges the battery. This does work that would otherwise be done by the brakes.

The capacity of the KERS system was limited to 600 kilojoules in 2009, a maximum of 400 being deployed on one lap at a maximum rate of 60 kW (divide the power into the energy and you get the 6.67 seconds). Only one KERS system was allowed per car, so the charging is done from the rear wheels. To slow a 605 kg car from 300 km/h to 100 km/h takes 1867 kJ of energy. The aerodynamic load and the low centre of gravity means that weight transfer to the front wheels in an F1 car is much less than in a road car. So my estimation is that one such stop would result in 600 kJ of work being done by the rear brakes (I'm guessing the aero drag and other losses would make up 25 per cent).

Managing the feel of the car under brakes is one concern. If 200 kJ are harvested in one stop, this needs to charge a battery or a capacitor. Basic electrical resistance and the chemical reaction to charge the battery generates a lot of heat. I'd estimate that the electrical energy generated by KERS is roughly 50 times what goes out of an Australian or UK power outlet. (Compare this to plug-in Hybrid or electric car charging times).

The KERS power boost reverses the process but feel is not really an issue as the engine and the motor both work to accelerate the car.

Probably more detail than you wanted, but hopefully it makes sense.




Good info, Martin, thanks.



Thanks Martin that was very informative.

But can you answer one question for me: Why are current cars hybrid but not fully electric such as the Toyota Pruis? I mean if a lightweight KERS on F1 cars can produce 50x power of UK plug, then how about a much bigger one in a road car.

Plus, the problem of charging an electric car overnight can be solved at least partially if the brakes can charge the batteries like in F1 right? Hybrid will only delay the inevitable, we need 100% electric or through hydrogen powered.



The key thing is the weight of the batteries required to store sufficient charge to travel a commercially realistic distance. If you look up the Tesla Roadster and compare it to the Lotus Elise that it is based on, you'll see that the Tesla is several hundred kilograms heavier. The electric motor is quite light, and there is no gearbox, but there are about 400 kg of batteries from memory. Top Gear tested on and drained the battery pretty quickly. Petrol has much greater energy per kilogram than a charged lithium ion battery.

Regenerative braking will still work with a pure electric car, but on a road car the front wheels need to be involved due to the weight transfer.

The problem roads cars have is that they need to carry several people and society expects air conditioning and multiple airbags and this makes them heavy. A competition solar powered car can average 100 km/h because it doesn't weigh much at all and it has very low drag. To do 200 km/h you'd need eight times the power. The solar car also takes a relatively long time to reach 100 km/h even with its light mass. The current solar engineering suggests that a practical solar car isn't foreseeable.

An battery or fuel cell car gets around the power problem, but it is then a question of range. The lithium ion batteries that are best suited to cars are different to those in phones and computers. Mercedes Benz is the first to develop these and slowly the costs will come down.


You still need the energy source to charge the KERS up from, in F1 it s derived from the huge braking effort. In a full electric car you don't have that, so you need to plug it into the mains; from where it needs to be transformed down to the car working voltage then rectified into dc then used to charge the onboard batteries -very slow and not too efficient.

For electric cars the fuel cell is far more efficient, but current viable ones work at a high temperature. Though there are developments with ceramic fuel cells that run on natural gas instead of hydrogen, they still make a lot of heat though, weigh a ton and are being used now as CHP (combined heat and power) units in Germany Australa and the UK) (Look up stock symbol LSE:CFM)

BTW There is more carbon released in the making of one new Pious than in driving a current "dirty" model for 30 years. But they don't mention that do they?


Yeah, Geof, and where does the electrical energy come from, anyway?



Have you guys never had a bicycle lamp that lit up when you pushed the little dynamo against the tyre?

Same thing, kinetic energy is converted to electrical energy, an then stored in batteries!



Yeah Henry, I had one of those generators on my bikes years ago, and they slowed me down a lot! But in reallity the KERS thingo does not actually recover kinetic energy, there must be a generator driven by the engine and has nothing to do with the brakes! (reason I keep going on about brakes is that they are used to overcome kinetic energy to slow the car down and the word (KERS) hints that the power is generated when the brakes are used.



Surely if all teams have the same KERS package then there will be no distinct competitive advantage for any team. The reason it was useful in 2009 was that only a few teams utilised it and therefore gained an advantage over the rest, particularly at the race starts.


Yes in short, although the non-Merc runners need to sort it out. The KERS on the McLaren was awesome last season, best on the grid by a mile.


There was an item on Autosport this week where Frank was saying their flywheel's been made impractical due to the rule changes - they would have placed it behind the driver, but there's no longer any room due to the larger fuel tank.

Does anybody know how long the batteries in F1 KERS are made to last for? It'd be a bit of an empty gesture to be green if they end up getting binned after every race weekend


they last for one race. anything more would be an "over-design".


That is why using flywheel would be ideal as that eliminates batteries, but there you go, it is too big, it wasn't to be.


Perhaps making the cars wider could solve that? They were wider in the past. Then the fuel cell could grow sideways and the flywheel be fitted without making the cars longer.

Hum... Long, wide cars with alcohol-fueled turbo engines as someone suggested above? Sounds like 90's CART. I liked that! That series even had multiple manufacturers in its good days (three I think).

Throw in a race in the oval (Indy?!) and those F1 drivers would really be proving they can adapt to anything.

About KERS' implementation: I love the flywheel idea, but if it must be electrical, make the batteries standard and let the teams design the necessary clutches and etc as they design the rest of the transmission (i.e. each can build their own, but collaboration is allowed). And I feel it's best to control usage on the race than per lap. How about 7 minutes per race (6 seconds per lap over 70 laps is just that, but one driver could, say, concentrate the use when he has better tyres to gain track position: I like the strategy possibilities).

PS on the CART thing: I really liked that in the 90's, before The Split. I believe F1 is a different philosophy, more focused on the technology, and I'm not proposing F1 should be like CART. The proposed ideas just ringed those bells for me.


I think for the future, KERS should be introduced, but only in the right way. Every team has to run, but also a standardised system just like the ECU so that it is equal among teams, the new smaller teams may not have the facilities to develop their own device. But also remember the future costs, how much would this increase the budget, which is one of the main reasons the new teams entered Formula One, to go racing at the top echelon of motorsport in an affordable and profitable manner!!


The thing that is annoys the most is that, For the past 5 years, F1 has been changing far too much. I am gradually losing interest. I really enjoyed years like 2003, 2005. The sport needs at least 3 years of not tempering with the technical regs.

I think thats why we lost great drivers like Montoya and KIMI. KERS is really a bad idea for next year. What they need to do is to take out engine rev limiters, that might add some excitement with the current fuel tanks.


Another good article James.The idea of standard KERS system for 2011 makes more sense considering the imposed financial cap. However post 2011 individual teams must design their own versions to enable more compition - both on and off track.


I dont think kers return on every car would help overtaking.


I don't really understand. If a KERS system is standardised then the cars will still be of similar performance. Most tracks only have a couple of overtaking places. If thay all have the same equipment then a lead car should be able to defend and still block for the rest of the lap

I would prefer to try a line of road works cones down the middle to create a slot car effect Only for part of the lap, and the location to create two equal length paths. Note: not required for all tracks. The "blockers" will then have to get a move on or lose out. The quicker drivers would not waste 10 or 20 laps trying the impossible but will still have to drive well. Extra speed might wreck the tyres quicker. Being able to get a move on for the tracks that the critics say are non-overtaking will at least give us something to anticipate.

At least try a low cost something until the so-called aero problem is sorted. Just to see if it would improve the races that so many punters are saying "what a boring procession".


KERS is amust in some format. I dont see an issue with having standard units, as long as the technology can still be developed further to keep it 'up to date.' It would add another strategic element during a race as it was meant to in '09. If they all have, then they all have to choose when to use it. Depending on track position and need of urgency, this could vary for individual drivers. Overtaking would be increased, but i'm still adadmant the best way to solve overtaking is to restrcit the power of braking systems. Larger profile wheels that Michelin want would be a greast way to get the ball rolling.


The carbon brakes run in F1 or the carbon composite discs run on road cars do not have a higher co-efficient of friction between the brake disc and the pad than steel discs. The braking force is generated by the tyres' grip and the driver's left leg.

Carbon brakes offer a couple of performance advantages. The heat capacity is greater, so it easier to stop them failing or warping. The lighter weight offers a small benefit to ride control. The lighter weight also reduces the inertia of the wheels, which gives a small benefit in agility.

The transition to carbon brakes took some time as the technology improved. There are performance benefits but they aren't huge. Damon Hill tried steel discs in 1995 in an attempt to improved brake feel to aid his overtaking ability. He was hardly any slower and the fact that Williams allowed him to try it rather than stating it was a waste of time is an indication that the benefits are incremental.

To increase the braking distances the tyres and/or the aerodynamics will need to change.


When did i mention anything about steel brakes? All i said was braking distance needs to increase. Im not an engineer, but a student of F1, so i dont know how exactly greater braking distances can be achieved. But braking "strength" needs to reduce.


The argument for KERS are wery strong but it should also make a much larger difference in a race situation than last year. So both giving it more power and also let it drive on the front wheels or perhaps only on the front wheels to give more advantage in an overtaking situation.


A standardised KERS would only pay lipservice to green issues and fool an ignorant minority regarding F1's "green credentials". It would serve no purpose other than to avoid the true issues which influence the inability for drivers to race one another in the way most of us would like to see.

Andrew Halliday

I wouldn't welcome a return of KERS, I also hope the wheels aren't changed to 18 inches - I've seen a picture of how they would look in Autosport and it's not how an F1 car should look.


The current F1 cars aren't exactly what F1 cars should look like either.

Andrew Halliday

They're not too bad, I'd like to see smaller front wings and a wider wheelbase (think pre 1998).


Agreed. Less wings, front and back. wider track, rear tyres twice the width of the fronts. Done!!


I always liked the idea of KERS, but the way it was used, made it irrelevant to the race in that it could be used for a limited time on every lap, which means it got used by everyone at the same point as suggested by the race computer.

To spice up the racing it needs more variety, make the use limited to only 30% of the laps or vary the available power so first time of use it gets 100% power and the second time only 50% of power. Maybe allow each team to develop a system with unlimited power within a given budget (I understand the problems this might have)

Unless they do something like this then forget KERS because it will NOT improve the so call show.

I personally favour the idea of an unlimited powered KERS system for only (say) 30% of the laps so that it becomes both a tactical and strategic tool and reduces the reliance on qualifying position.

Imagine the team planning the race, when to change tyres, which lap to use KERS for the optimal perfect race distance, then it rains, or the safety car comes out and bigger decisions are required because KERS could have an equal effect as tyre choices on the race result.


I was rather dismayed that FOTA decided not to use KERS this year.

Any question of wether KERS should be introduced or not can be answered by looking at the race starts in 2009.

I don't believe the answer lies in a standardised KERS system, I cannot see how that would add any value to the car industry. If there is a standardised KERS system, there would be little development that would impact road cars one would think.

I believe KERS should be re-introduced, but there should be competition between teams to enhance innovation.

A simple solution is that any KERS manufacturer, must make their system available to a certain amount of other teams.

If there is a standardised KERS system I can't see there being that much of an impact on racing, as engineers would be telling the drivers exactly where on the track to use KERS for maximum advantage.

That and KERS could be used, and was used last year, to prevent chasing cars overtake.


Perhaps the best reintroduction of KERS wouldn’t see it limited to only 6.7 seconds a lap but adapted to a more interesting and overtaking friendly method.

Most race circuits are dissected into three sectors, therefore perhaps it would make sense to limit the use of KERS to every second sector. I.e; if a driver had used KERS in a previous sector then they would have to wait out one sector until using it again. That way if two cars were in a battle to defend or overtake, then perhaps we may see a bit more manoeuvring back and forth. This is unlike in 2009 when drivers were using KERS to defend against another car overtaking them whilst using it to make a move... Food for thought perhaps.

michael grievson

If everyone has it won't it cancel the benefit of push to pass?


Williams cannot run their flywheel Kers because of the enlarged

fuel tanks.


If this creates some artificial push-to-pass then I'm not interested - we've already seen how well that doesn't work when two cars have the same system.

If it significantly reduces fuel consumption then it's serving it's purpose and should stay.


I'm very sceptical about KERS, even if it were a standardised system. There would surely have to be a specific limit on how to use it, or else it would just be used in the same places by every team on every lap, and when one car used it to pass another would use it to defend.

As far as I could tell that was the only reason KERS provided interesting racing last year - because only some of the teams had it. How would you get around this issue?


The problem with introducing KERS is that if every team has it then there is no effect as every car then become x seconds faster per lap. The problem with looking back at its performance last season is that it performed well against non-KERS cars.

Also, only having a little over a lap might not be effective enough and having too much per lap would lead to cars using KERS all the time and cancelling each other out.

The only real way it should be introduced is by giving each car an boost limit over the race distance and not per lap. This way, drivers would have to decide whether to use their allocation over the race distance for lap time or to conserve it and use it to overtake.

Just like tyre wear today and fuel loads in the past, your remaining KERS energy and use of it would be a differentiating factor to help overtake.


totally agree.

Interesting article from f1fanatic;

As I've said before I would rather see this sort of innovation left unconstrained and limit other areas (not going to open the can of worms by mentioning the 'A' word).

Many argue that this sort of engineering, which can benefit road cars, is not welcome in the pinnacle of motorsport but I argue it is and can be seen as more cost effective as it can lead to a spin-off revenue as Williams so ably showed.

The restrictions placed on it made it such an expensive folly, but the money spent researching could now be recovered by teams selling on the technology to other teams or by adoption in road cars.

Carlos E. Del Valle

James, three points:

1. KERS is necessary regarding "green marketing" and "road car technology development". F1 simply cannot be behind in terms of technology.

2. I sincerely don't think KERS is a "quick fix" or a "weapon". Fisi was clearly stuck behind Kimi at Spa, and many cars were stuck behind a slow Massa in several races. You could say "yeah, but everyone will have it then", but then one KERS obliterates the other.

3. My guess is that in 2013 we'll have 1.5 liter-Turbo-KERS Formula One (or maybe 1.0 or 1.2). That's the way the cars in the streets are going, and stucking with V8s will be bad.


Whilst the concept of KERS is green the actual realisation in the car is not. Nasty eco-unfriendly and dangerous chemicals are used.

Williams flywheel was more eco friendly but probably more dangerous, certainly for the driver.


They should just wait until 2013 and decide if they want to introduce it then with the new engine regs, KERS didn't add much to the racing last year, it was rediculous with commentators and drivers going on about 'magic buttons' and such.

I think F1 already missed the party on KERS, they should try to think of something new to work on.


I'd like to see it back - I'll open up new opportunities for drivers especially with the introduction of the F-duct. Just imagine F duct and Kers package coupled together.

There are rumours that if KERS does come back, Magneti Marelli will the the standardized supplier(which Ferrari and Renault used last year). I think using Zytek's system (Mclaren used this last year) would be better, since this system was reportedly more competitive, more developed and much lighter than the Magneti.


FW has already said that their flywheel system won't work with the current (no refueling) regulations. It takes up too much space and the car will end up looking like Londen bus!


A bus with a double-decker diffuser?

I thought Porsche had done a deal with Williams to use the flywheel in a hybrid sports car. That should be lighter (but probably not F1-light).


F1 is a development series more standardisation is not what is needed.

Kers wont be good at the start if everyone has it, especially if its a standardised one.

Kers wont be good for overtaking if everyone has it again a standard one will be worse because there will be no performance differences in the systems.

Push to pass system could be implemented in the ecu and allowing the engines unlimited revs when button is pressed.

If F1 wants to be greener they should sort out the calendar for minimum possible travel and stop bringing so much stuff to GP's. This would have a massively bigger effect on f1's "greeness" then kers.

Ferrari blamed the ECU for Sauber's engine failures in Malaysia.

Jonathan De Andrade

Hi James, is it McLaren the manufacturer of the standard ECU? did they confirm Ferrari's assessment of Sauber's engine failures? any statement from them on that?


"If F1 wants to be greener they should sort out the calendar for minimum possible travel "


It doesn't take a super-computer costing billions running CFD to figure out how to minimize air travel! Any competent secretary could do it in an hour.


Introducing KERS again makes real sense - most of the teams have developed the technology and it seems F1 is going backwards without it.

However, I have to say I agree with Mosley over this - it ought to be an area of competitive spending. This rush to standardisation is anathema to F1. To a certain extent it didn't matter with the ECU as its is not visible to us viewers. However, KERS would be visible and teams ought to strive to demonstrate their superiority to others. This is meant to be a competitive sport and the teams are coming across as wimpish.

Perhaps those who do develop a system should just be forced to sell their KERS system to other teams at a competitive price? Everyone happy. (you would think!).


Bad idea! and the reason is summed up in this paragraph:

"Another problem with the way it was introduced last year was that it didn’t offer enough of a boost to make it attractive. It was useful at the starts and for passing cars which didn’t have it."

If all the cars have it, it's useless.

Less silly tech is what these cars need. Take away the Rev limit, we'll have plenty of hero / zero stuff to play with. Less front wing, same tyres front and back, control surface for the diffuser (reduce wake) and lets go racing!


Yes of course KERS should be used again, it is still in the regs now. BUT the allowable energy levels all need to be doubled and the restriction on number of times per lap needs to go. Here is one of the very few areas for development still available in F1.

KERS should have a separate control electronic package to the regular Mclaren supplied one (which is what all teams must use at present) Remember that the 2010 regs which were written and published before the current version allowed KERS on ALL wheels; with the appropriate electronics braking could be much improved as could cornering. (Also, it may have passed most of us by, that those same regs allowed a movable upper rear wing element and much increased movement for the front wing flaps, a pity that those possible avenues for development were closed off by the mental image of the cost restrictions)

If F1 does not allow future innovation and start to actively encourage development, instead of positively preventing it, then the sport will rightly have reached it's zenith and can only decline.


I missed the details of these regulations, but I suspect that this was Mosely's special regs for those teams willing to be cost capped.

I'm not sure that brake performance would change too much. There will undoubtedly be some rule that prevents an ABS effect, and therefore it will be limited to the driver's feel on the brakes. Front wheel drive on the exit of corners (like a Nissan GT-R) could help a little, but torque vectoring is banned, so it would only simplify corner exits, which would be bad for overtaking in my view.

An unlimited KERS would be good thing for road cars, particularly managing heat and fast recharging of batteries (assuming batteries remain better than capacitors). Some of the strategies that constrain the deployment (every other sector for example) could add to the spectacle.


I beleive something needs to be done. Either the use of KERS (which seems to be very expensive) to 'speed up' the cars, or I would suggest some method of slowing them down, maybe by reducing the power available by say 10% for perhaps 5 laps and let the teams choose when to suffer the reduction?


KERS can work.

F1 did a great job of doing everything possible to make it not work last year.


It would be good for Williams if they could be awarded a contract to produce a standardized unit.

How about a restricted lap based standard unit until 2013. Then an unlimited team constructed units after 2013. That should give all the teams some familuarity with the units before designing their own.


For next year? No. It makes more sense to do it for 2013. I don't see how it can be done for next year - in such a short time frame, it can't be done at reasonable cost. Not just in money, but in effort/distraction. I doubt that all the teams will go along with it.

Just what is the latest on the next engine regs, James? Are they going to make everyone run the same layout (90 degree V8)?


The problem with KERS is the FIA. There is no technology any longer. There is no development. The only development is with regards to tricks/loop-holes in the rules. Really, each team should simply hire a good attorney and aerodynamicist.


You can bet they're already got a ship-load of *both!


Exactly how would KERS be used for passing? If everyone has it and everyone uses it every lap, I see it as a status quo....not unlike letting everyone use an extra 500 rpm. The only way it could improve passing is if it were available only for limited use per race. But then, why go to the extra complication when "push to pass" could be achieved far more cheaply.


my idea would be to limit it's use to 10 times in the race. That would put a premium on decision making also. Either that or you end up with the situation you fear.


The abandoning of KERS for 2010 was a disgrace, and I don't think I'm being dramatic in saying that.

Some would say a token green gesture perhaps, but an important gesture nonetheless. How does it look to the world that F1 dropped its hybrid initiative?

What kills me, though, is that this concept really had the ability to make the biggest difference to overtaking of possibly anything in recent memory. People point to Spa as an example of how it made the race boring (Kimi using KERS to stay ahead), but of course the picture would have been entirely different if KERS was compulsory - Fisi would have been in with a real shout, and quite possibly been the winner.

KERS, assuming it's magnitude is sufficient, is THE silver bullet that will compensate for the effects of pre-straight downforce loss. No other solutions tackles the overtaking problem from the same direction. Forget the aero changes - they are like rearranging deck chairs on the titanic.

FOTA - think of the fans, not your individual interests, and get KERS back immediately.


Personal opinion time:

Push-to-pass is a gimmick that won't work. All the key passing areas where an overtaking driver would push the button, the defending driver will merely do the same.

James, what do you think of this idea that just popped into my head: what if the power level of the cars was raised much higher (roughly 1000 bhp)? Now, with no traction control, suddenly there is an added dimension where the driver has to be very gentle with the throttle coming out of corners, and the prospect of making a mistake becomes a possibility when the driver is under pressure. I think this is a key element that makes racing in the rain exciting that has been overlooked by many.

Of course, you would have to reduce downforce by eliminating double diffusers, perhaps reducing front and rear wings to single-element (thus increasing drag as well) and limiting rear diffusers to a maximum exiting cross-sectional area perhaps allowing the diffuser to start further forward, thus shifting the centre of pressure forward and allowing the car to rely less on the highly wake-sensitive front wing. If the cars still have turbulent wakes, perhaps also introduce control surfaces to straighten the air coming out of the diffuser (not sure how viable that would be). Of course, wider tires front and rear would help increase drag and increase mechanical grip which should help drivers follow a little more closely.

So to recap: More power (1000 bhp), more drag/less downforce (single element wings, smaller single diffusers, wider tires) and more mechanical grip (wider tires).

What do you think, James?


Malcolm - get in the real world and use metric: 1000 kW 🙂

I agree with you in that driver talent should be involved in corner exit and well as entry. KERS with its instant torque should be directly wired to the throttle to increase wheelspin opportunities.

Increasing the power will lead to the optimal lift vs drag point leading to much more downforce. Therefore by restricting the wing size the top speeds will go up significantly and from that braking distances. Heat loads on the discs will go up too as they will have more energy to get rid of.

I'm not an aerodynamicist, but I suspect that getting rid of double diffusers would make the wake worse, not better. Turbulence comes from speed and diffusers are slowing the air down.

Apart from that I agree with you. I suspect someone will complain about safety, but at least the drivers usually want more power.


Wing size would not change; the slots in the wings would just be removed. Therefore the wing produces less downforce and more drag.

Complicated diffusers shed a lot of vortices, whereas a simple, shallow-angle single-diffuser would shed much less. You are always limited to how fast you can accelerate the air under the car (and hence how much downforce you can create) by the size of the diffuser exit. If you reduce the diffuser size, you make less downforce because the air won't be able to slow down as much and therefore can't be accelerated as much without very significant drag penalties. Wider tires will also increase drag.


Sorry, what you say isn't correct. At most circuits there is more than one opportunity to use the boost button, so the drivers won't always be hitting it at the same time. As long as a limition is placed on the system (eg 7 sec per lap) this will not be a problem.

I like the rest of your idea, but the chances of more powerful engines being reintroduced is, sadly, very unlikely.


The problem is that each team knows where the most efficient place to use it is, so the drivers are usually instructed to use it there.

Aside from that, KERS as a Push-to-Pass system is a complete gimmick, and it produces the most mundane of passes. I'm sorry, but a pass where someone simply drives by another as if they are lapping a 1990 Life F1 car is NOT an exciting pass.

"Michael, how did you execute that pass on Nico?" ... "Well, I pushed a button and had 80 more horsepower; it was pretty easy, really"

Please tell me I'm not alone in thinking Push-to-Pass is ridiculous...


Sorry, pressed send too hastily.

What I meant to incorporate was that KERS *should* be included, but only as part of the regular drivetrain. It should be active, giving another 100~150 horsepower at full-throttle for as much of the lap as possible.



Balls to KERS and the 'greening' of F1. Stick and ball teams consume massively more fossil fuel just flying to their matches every year than F1 uses in decades but you don't hear them going on about improving their 'green' image. Aside from the few proverbial squeeky wheels nobody cares whether F1 is green or not.


And quit trying to make the racing more 'exciting'. Just because the general public prefers the 'bull in a china shop' approach to racing that is NASCAR doesn't mean the rules makers need to cater to that mentality. Knowledgable F1 fans want to see races won by the best team - not by rules makers coming up with some stupid wheeze to create artificial excitement. No refueling? Push-to-pass? Mandatory tyre stops? Circuit short-cuts? Seriously!

Hard tyres, manual gearboxes, and steel brakes will certainly cede more control of the racing from the engineers to it's proper place with the drivers.

Great columns, James.


Manual gear boxes? Why go back to an outdated technology. What next, wooden wheels, horse drawn carriages?


But F1 is human as well as technological - the drivers abilities should not be neutralized by the engineers. Otherwise the engineers would simply remove the drivers entirely and replace them with computers...


Agreed on the image thing!

But the 'pinnacle of technology' is NOT the driver, no matter how much we like to see them struggle. Its the car and by extension the engineers and designers.


I think KERS would make sense if teams develop their own versions. If they all had a standard system, they would all press it at the same time and it would be hard to have an advantage from it. If teams are free to develop it, bring it on. I reckon they'd be best waiting for the world economy to pick up first though. Am staggered that Mercedes spent 70 million on KERS...isn't that more than Virgin's whole budget this season?!!


James, is the standardized KERS similar to Indy's "push to pass" button?

unrelated: do you happen to know the steering ratio of a formula 1 car? (steering wheel movement vs tire movement) i have been looking all over the internet and can not find it.



The steering ratio varies from track to track e.g. they use much a much higher ratio at Monaco so the cars can get around the Lowes hairpin.

Surely you can get a rough estimate from the onboard footage. Go on youtube, find a clip and pause it when the driver's hands are at 90 degrees and look at the angle of the front wheels. It's never going to be super-accurate but it's a start!

If you want to be clever, you can probably find out the radius of some corners of F1 circuits. From knowing this along with the wheelbase of the cars you can use basic geometry to work out the angle the wheels need to be at to follow that radius.

The cars will no doubt use a bit of Ackerman so the inside and outside wheels will be different, but it shouldn't be that significant.

Again, just find some onboard footage of a car going around the corner you just did the calculation for and look at the the steering wheel angle.


thanks for the reply. would you say a 9:1 ratio is a reasonable average?


Yeah that sounds pretty reasonable. I've been meaning to try out the method myself to see what numbers I come up with haven't had time yet.


It was a massive waste of money from the start. It is ridiculous to ban refuelling due to the cost of carting the equipment around and then transport toxic batteries in its place.

Frank has killed off any hopes of his system being adopted, so maybe the Flybrid system (allegedly prepared to supply the whole grid at £2m a go) was the best option all along? KERS was a fantastic marketing excercise for Flybrid and its partners Xtrac (now suffering for new team hydraulics) and Torotrak, but road car technology has moved on.

Why not just allow 20,000 rpm for 6s/lap?


Hi James

Great website you have certainly raised the ante.

Before I comment I would like to state that the “reason” for alternative fuels is completely flawed. The whole global warming debate is a sham. The “science” is mere new age religion, this coupled with bad government salivating over another tax revenue is a toxic stew.

Now if we were to accept the need for alternative power sources the hybrid is the easiest to introduce, milk float meets car, done deal. This unfortunately does not relate very well into real world motoring. The Toyota “pious” is a very good example. We do not have enough hard braking under normal driving conditions to generate anywhere near enough energy for storage. Therefore we have to resort to installing large heavy batteries and using another fossil fuel to charge them. Obviously this defeats the object of the exercise and each power source has to lug the mass of the other.

The other fairly well known alternative is hydrogen. On the face of it, it appears to be a far better option, certainly for every day use. Unfortunately this might represent an explosive safety issue for F1. If the very high pressure storage tanks could be secured against damage in a high speed crash every day use could be viable. At the moment this technology seems to represent a highly pressured glass bottle, very few are brave enough to touch it.

With the F1 governing body wanting to standardise the alternative technology used, it removes the element of innovation and research required in the industry. Thus we are left with a poor option being tweaked for performance which is never going to properly translate into real world use. This makes it useless for the sport and the world.

To make F1 a better show, in my opinion, reduce mechanical grip. You do this by regulating the amount of rubber crumb produced by the tyre. With virtually no rubber crumb on the track and the resultant longer braking distances there will be more room to overtake, or at least to try. In addition to this the track could be washed clean by water trucks half an hour before the race, including the grid. This should give everyone the same grip off the line. We have all seen that a green track almost always seems to produce a great deal of interest in the first phase of the race.

Thanks and regards



I'll bite on your climate change comments by noting that I'm yet to see a climatologist/climate scientist who offers a contrary opinion withstand the rebuttal of those who scientists who assess that the average temperatures have risen.

Hybrids do work in terms of saving fuel. Whether petrol hybrids are better than diesels depends on where you drive. I haven't seen a good, trustworthy analysis of the total energy over the cars' whole of life, to be confident that the net benefit is worth it.

With hydrogen, hopefully some of the other storage technologies are successfully developed. If F1 helped the development of carbon nanotubes then that would be significant.

With fitting harder tyres, it would be interesting to see data on what the change in the co-efficient of friction would be. I suspect that the reduction in marbles would be more significant than the performance change (V8 supercars in Australia are an example of this with its sprint tyre). The percentage out-performance under brakes would be less, but the harder tyres might make it more consistent and easier to brake at the lower limit.

Your environmentalist 'friends' might complain about the water use with your last proposal.


Hi Martin

I'm not claiming that temperatures have not risen, I'm saying it's not man made. An archaeological dig in the Orkneys found that there was a community who lived there a few thousand years ago in a warmer climate than today. Christopher Monkton is a very good resource for the other point of view if you are interested.

From builder to breaker the hybrid is less efficient. That's why it would be good to see the pursuit of alternative motive power unrestricted in F1.

The tyres are the easiest component to manage and regulate. It is also the cheapest way to buy lap time. Also by the FIA "experimenting" with tyre regulations it levels the playing field somewhat as they all run on the same one.

The water trucks would use grey water from the track facilities :-).

Cheers and thanks for the comments


No KERS, please.

Hybrid systems and EV technology are a gimmick of the automobile industry. In the short term they are good for marketing, appeasing govt. and consumer eco-guilt, and raking in cheap loans, grants, and tax breaks from govt.

The systems cannot be produced profitably at prices within reach of the mass market needed for sustainability. On top of that, there are serious questions about the environmental impact of battery production and disposal. We're just shifting our pillage and waste from one resource to a whole basket of other non-renewable resources.

IMHO, in the real-world a more interesting and relevant direction is demonstrated by the ACO: biofuels and further refinement of turbo diesel technology.

The technology exists and will be much less expensive for teams to adopt and develop than inventing hybrid systems from scratch. The incremental gains from race development will be much more applicable to road cars. You can bring along more advanced drivetrain and electronics technology to run these systems.

Another benefit of chasing efficiency through incremental development of known systems rather than inventing new ones is that it allows for flexibility in the rules. Rather than wholesale rewriting of the tech rules -- and the ensuing costs of developing new systems from scratch -- the FIA can fine-tune competition via relatively small tweaks to max fuel loads, max boost, etc.

In addition, as both a cost-saving and road-relevance, I'd like to see the next engine regulations based on production engine components. Think F-5000. A really interesting -- and admittedly unlikely -- scenario would be to align the engine regs with those for another series, thereby building economies of scale (and bigger development and testing pools) for the engine providers.

It's all wishful thinking, though. We will end up with a short-sighted, short-lived expensive solution to a problem of long-term economy and sustainability.

george cowley ci5

simple answer we need TURBO charged cars,bring back the turbo beasts


The limit on the number of seconds per lap (I am guessing) was designed to aid overtaking. If a driver uses up the lap's worth of KERS before the end of the lap, the car behind can use what they have to overtake. The problem with that is of course, the most effective places to overtake are the places you would use KERS, on a long straight.

The idea of limited time per race would mix things up a little. You could use it to get a lead and hope to stay ahead or you could use it to stay in touch but conserve some for later in the race to overtake those that have used it up.

It would add another variable in the race which is what we need to make races more interesting. As they have removed variables (like refueling), the opportunities for overtaking have reduced. Look at this year when rain was introduced, a variable, overtaking.

The other element as I have suggested before, is a tyre that works just as well off the racing line as on it and doesn't leave marbles. That with the banning of the Double Deck Diffusers and the KERS (with race limits) next year would make for a better race in my opinion.


If we have a time limit(7 seconds per lap),then it could work for overtaking. You can force the leading drive to a mistake, which he must compensate with using up the "boost" . At the end of the lap, it is chasers opportunity...

But, is it green to run battery-type KERS systems?As far as I have heard, these systems were heavy, not a recipe for improved fuel economy?

I would also like to hear,how are these batteries produced and recycled. Is it more green than using no KERS? Refuelling ban works greatly already,because it is very rewarding to carry as little fuel as possible.

If teams decide to re-introduce KERS,it can only be a standardized unit,at least in the nearest future. Anyway it should be regulated, how often teams can replace the batteries, just like the restrictions set for the number of engines available per season.

Btw.I´ve heard that some team using a flywheel system in a 911,that will participate Nurburgring endurance race.Curious to see, how far it can go.

When talking about "green" F1, it shouldnt be just 26 cars tuned for saving.How many "trees" were cut to build new tilkedromes around the world? I mean, some of these new facilities are just unreasonably huge. That concrete and asphalt paradise in Bahrain or AbuDhabi makes me sick, considering relatively empty grandstands and half hearted interest in racing.

Plus those night races,they are not necessary,it does not improve the show either. Pure waste of energy, nothing else. Even our grandgrandfathers knew what a lamp is, back then it was cool,but now...

Zobra Wambleska

Not sure how many trees were lost at Bahrain or AbuDhabi.


Same here,but I guess you know what I meant.


Good summary James, although I have to disagree with your ultimate conclusion. There's already enough standardization when it comes to the F1 power-train, and I don't think a performance variable such as KERS should be standardized in the name of cost containment or ease of deployment. As you stated, a standardized ECU unit made sense; however, in the world of F1, a component such as KERS should be a team-specific development.

If the upcoming cost containment measures were clearly outlined, it would be much easier to understand how KERS-specific cost containment could occur organically.

If ease of deployment is the issue, then delay the reintroduction of KERS until a more appropriate time; e.g. when the new engine formula is introduced in 2013.

KERS should return as its relevance cannot be understated; however, it shouldn't be reintroduced at the expense of what makes F1 what it is.


I understand the concerns about using a standardized system to avoid an expensive 'arms race' but isn't that what F1 is all about? An 'arms race' ? How will they arrive at the 'best' tech if a bunch of them are not competeing? Just make the, keep it within the budget - whatever *that is.


The problem with today's F1 is there are too many rules and limitations on what the teams can and cannot do.

Yes of course there should some for of energy recovery but this should not - SHOULD NOT - be dictated by the FIA the teams should be free to come up with whatever system they can dream up, this way technology will leap ahead.

The Mercedes system of last year was by far the best and if al cars had this it would produce absolutely zero benefits and would I suggest probably give us even less overtaking as drivers got to grips with its defensive properties.

I say free the team, take rules away and not add more.


I would like to see kers back in the sport.

I'd like it to be

a) Totally unlimited

b) A competitive area, not standardised

c) Available to all teams. i.e the Kers teams, e.g Ferrari, McLaren, Renualt must supply a minimum number of other manufacturers for a set cost.

d) Budget its development, either in terms of man-hours or cost

This would give us another area where teams can compete. Those with the best systems would benefit. The systems would be available to all in a cost effective manner.


KERS and V4 turbos for everyone!


Personally, I would like to see F1 just toss out engine regulations, with the exception of maybe just a few general guidelines. Fuel consumption would be a good one, both in terms of marketability and in attracting new manufacturers who would be interested in developing fuel efficient technology.

Engine development is the main incentive for manufacturers to be involved in F1. It's the area of the greatest applicability of F1 to the road car, and with the market moving in a green direction, it will be important for manufacturers to discover solutions allowing them to generate more power while saving fuel.

Increasing engine power will also solve the overtaking "problem." The power-grip ratio will increase, which will increase braking distances, make the cars harder to drive (so more rear wheelspin under acceleration, more sliding, more errors, etc.), and give following drivers the accelerating power they need to pull up to a car ahead and slipstream them.

I've got no problems with F1 bringing KERS back, allowing turbos, etc.. The more options, the merrier!


When it comes to increased over-taking and spectacle the obvious point about KERS is that it can be used to defend also.

I think KERS should only be considered as part of the new engine formula so it can be designed as an engine component from scratch. And then it should probably be a "full time" system if it is efficiency and green credentials we are worried about.

If it is racing we are interested in on the other hand we should look at engine management. Maintaining a season engine limit and allowing X amount of periods running higher revs per race would allow more over-taking and add a tactical car sympathy side to the racing, as is presumably looked for in the new fuelling rules.

Lets face it the teams and drivers already do a considerable amount of engine management as it is - Fernando already has an over-take button. I think this solution could add the craved for drama as the drivers lust for points conflict with the engines ability to last the race or indeed the next two races.

The future should be turbocharged and probably have variable boost control. KERS could still be involved but as a push-to-pass system I hope not. If it was a more economical and environmental "full time" system one possible upside would be a general reduced efficiency in the braking zone which may be advantageous when it comes to over-takes.


Not sure, they should go for less fuel consumption first. Give them 3 years to make KERS really efficient. However rather sooner than later they must turn towards green tech incl. KERS.


A limited amount of push-to-pass uses would be great. As Adrian noted above, the Indy series uses it pretty successfully, as did the hopefully-not-defunct-for-long A1GP series. Speaking of A1GP please have a look at the last feature race of the last season was like to see what real open-cockpit, single seater racing can be like!

I don't think KERS is the way to go. Lower the rev-limit even further, to a level which will allow a 100hp differential between limited and boosted, and then allow for 8 boosts over the course of the race distance to 20k or something like that.


F1 needs to get it's priorities right. One of the big problems with current F1 is that different people have different goals. And the goals all conflict with each other.

The teams want to win at all costs. They don't care about much else. If Williams, Brawn, Toyota cared about the "show" and overtaking, they wouldn't have gone through with the double diffusers, ironically in the same season that there was an overhaul in aero regs to improve overtaking. If FIA cared about the spirit of it's own rule changes, it wouldn't have allowed them.

The FIA have now jumped on this ride height/suspension thing, very quickly. In the big picture this suspension thing doesn't even mean much. The double diffusers on the other hand.. banning them two years later, is two years too late.

If F1 wants to improve overtaking, bring in new rules changes SOLEY aimed at improving overtaking. Don't try to kill 2 birds with one stone, it doesn't work.

Does F1 want to advertise itself as environment friendly, or does it want exciting races? The two conflict with each other in my opinion.

-A simple cost effective way is to get McLaren to allow the standard ECU to run the engine at 18500 for 10 times per race. It doesn't raise costs, and it doesn't change the weight of the cars. If it makes no difference, it was a cheap easy change. Unlike redesigning cars around heavy KERS units. Similar to Indycar, the key is that some drivers will save them up and other drivers won't for a multitude of reasons. So you can have a situation where one driver has 5 left, and one has 2. Where he will use them and if he can stay ahead in itself is exciting. KERS failed because they used it every lap as a part of normal pace. It should be something used only for overtaking purposes. If there is 10 boosts, and 60 laps, it doesn't take Einstein to see how that works.

-Bring back sprint fuel loads. Different fuel loads creates different fuel strategies. Different fuel strategies creates a pace difference between cars and sometimes the chance to overtake. Like Hamilton in Turkey when he 3 stopped and overtook Massa for the lead. It's not a magic fix, but it creates another variable. It also increases the amount of pit stops teams want to do. It's not the ideal solution but it's better then nothing.

The main thing you want in F1, is unpredictability - A REASON TO KEEP WATCHING. If you know after 20 laps that there is no pitstops left, and that overtaking on track is virtually impossible.. that is a massive F1 fail of galactic porportions. It's hit a new low this season.

Abandon all thoughts of the unimportant things like outside perception and environment until the primary show itself is improved.

If they want to bring in KERS it should be used as a fuel saving feature, not an overtake boost. Road cars don't have overtake boosts.


If anyone hasn't figured it out yet, KERS is wanted by the manufacturers for commercial reasons. Not to improve the racing. That's why they want to do their own.

If you limited it to 10 KERS uses per race it could be okay, but that's an awful lot of money and extra weight for a small gain isn't it?

If there is no limits to how it can be used, it's completely pointless. KERS should be a banned word as long as there is such tight cost restrictions like no testing and all these freezes and homoglations. 70 million from Mercedes last year? What a joke.

The more the power is increased the more artificial the overtaking becomes. Already last season there were quite a few artificial overtakes which were completed before entering the braking zone, like they were on an oval. I am in favour of the "budgeting when to use them" system in Indycar, because it's not artificial it's been show to work. And when someone does overtaking, they don't zoom by on the straight, it simply gets them close enough to have a go in the braking zone.

There is another side to KERS that gets rarely mentioned. It only works when some cars have it and some don't. But even then it only helps improve overtaking SOMETIMES. When the car that has KERS is infront but slower.. it can't be overtaken because of it's straight line advantage. Webber was unable to overtake Piquet in Bahrain last year because of this. So KERS hurts overtaking, as much as it helps.

Team bosses want KERS for commercial reasons. How about you worry about what's important before worrying about the commercial side. How about worrying about the show and how to improve it? This is the core of F1. This is what makes people want to watch, and sponsors want to get onboard. Unless your planning on advertising with caffene and paint drying goggles products.


They should get afterburners to pass on the straights and wings that rotate to turn into airbrakes to pass under braking (like the Bugatti Veyron).

And of course Teflon sprayed on the tracks. 😉


How can KERS make an F1 car "greener"? The only way is if when adding KERS, something else is taken away! And what about all the emissions during the manufacturing processes to obtain the materials and produce the alloys and the battaries and the insulation etc., not to mention the transportation emissions while taking the unobtainium to the various factories around the world. And you can't tell me that there is NO gasses emitted from the battaries while they're being charged at hundreds, maybe thousands, of amps at hundreds of volts! Incidently, how is the power generated? Do the brake pads somehow magically produce energy when they rub against the discs? Or does a cog fall down out of the car to engage with the race track so as to drive a generator when the driver touches the brake pedal? Or does air directed through a chanel spin a windmill? Anyway, to improve the "greenness" if you added KERS, you'd have to, say, remove 50 ltrs of fuel for the race, or one set of tyres, or make the engine last an extra race, or remove more than the equivelent amount of horse power from the engine, you can't just add KERS and say you've reduced the impact of emmissions created by building and racing an F1 car. The whole idea seems crazy to me unless it actualy achieves a saving, or reduction of something!

PK. (NZ).


For the manufacturers a KERS arms race that they can directly apply to their road cars is a win-win situation, no?

Develop great new tech, and get great marketing in the process, cost maybe a little more than doing than just developing hybrid tech for road cars, but the results are going to be correspondingly better.

The problem is the non-manufacturer teams (save Williams, maybe) who couldn't possibly develop their own; so why not mandate customer KERS (akin to customer engines): development cost shared between teams, great new technology applicable to road cars (provided the regulations are right), and we hopefully get more overtaking to boot.

Mark D. Johnson

James, I am really tired of the hypocrisy of the idea of "green racing". If F-1 were to be truly green, then they should close up shop and stop racing. By pandering to the green movement, who by the way are never going to be happy until there is no racing, F-1 and other forms of racing who think it's important to appear "Green" will continue to waste money on technology that is not germane to real racing. F-1 has been trying to legislate overtaking for what now, the last twenty or thirty years? Open up technology, yes, but by relaxing the rules. By going back to no refueling, they are no closer to a solution to overtaking than they were when they started to allow it. Unfortunately, Indy car racing is becoming more interesting that F-1; and that's with seven year old "obsolete" cars.


How about these two ideas:

1. The amount of Kers energy available increases the further you are down the grid. Similar to the idea of accending ballast weights and reverse grids.

2. Extra Kers energy awarded by officials to drivers who overtake or set a fastest sector/lap.

Basically, extra kers energy is awarded to drivers who are pushing hard, no matter where they are on the grid.


Oh and, changing the subject, has anyone seen the Autosport mock up of the 18" wheels Michelin allegedly want to use next year? They look bloody awful, like someone took the wheels off the bmx I had when I was 9 yrs old and put them on an F1 car. Please. God. No.


One more thing, when I showed the pic to my son, his reply "yucks, like street cars".


Totally agree, it looked like some western movie with wagon wheels. And please God, NO NO NO!


Bring back the old overtaking enabling tracks. That would do more good to F1 than imposing event more rules to the teams.

BTW, less rules would be great. Let the engineers use their creativity!


The sensible thing would be a standardised unit to keep costs under control. But if a team had an alternative (e.g. flywheel vs. electric) it would have to fit-in the same basic rules as the rest and to be sure of that also be offerred to all other teams for the same price as the standard unit. IF the alternative were being developed as a commercial item this approach would encourage its promotion. Better lighter battery developments would probably require regular upgrades to a standard electric unit.


Great ideas in these posts.

for me the issue is sustainabliity proceeded by great racing.

1. no diffusers period ( not road applicable)

2. V-4 turbo engines allows more room for(#4)

3. annually move to non fossil fuels(sustainable)

4. Kers-flywheel only ( no battery recycling of batteries)

5. Move toward hydrogen based fuels

6. ferros metal based brake discs only pads open carbon fiber is foscil fuel based and not applicable to road vehicles ( with the exception of super cars, which most of us only dream about)

7. Air brakes to assist braking. Forward hinged to prevent lift, centerline mounted to aviod yaw should failure occure, but add to braking energy

8. time limited boost increase, but keep limited number of engines per season

9. limit amount of fuel per race, allow one re-fueling

10.provide 2 tires hardnesses per race, but allow teams to choose which they want to use and when. No manditory use of both compounds.

( this has always been absolutely artificial)

11. arrange a privatedinner for myself and Penelope Cruz, where I can dazzle her with my wit and wonderful personality.


why not introduce the standard one as the cosworth engine? some teams use it. and some others build theyre own


I think that all those big wigs at the top of F1 got a bit carried away down the wrong route due to something as simple as terminological error.

People who watch F1 don't really need more overtaking in the sense of simple exchange of position.

What is actually needed in F1 is more close, wheel to wheel dicing for position.

Even if after 20 laps the car behind doesn't end up in front of the guy he was challenging, it will be ok as long as they had a great battle and close encounters through corners.

The problem today is the fact that they don't even get close enough to engage in the battle, let alone overtake.

And I don't wanna watch mindless swapping of positions.

Whoever wants that should watch nascar. This is F1. Overtaking here is supposed to be hard because you are challenging the best of the best and you shouldn't be able to just cruise between them.


Mate I don't always agree with what you say, but I certainly do agree with this point. Overtaking must be difficult to some extent, because only then is it meaningful. But often we don't get the chance to even see the battle joined, the cars simply can't get close enough to genuinely attack.

Why I think KERS is a winner (as opposed to aero changes, tyre changes etc) is that it could be fine tuned with regards to bhp boost, in order to develop that very outcome.


Personally I dislike the KERS system, since it feels to me to be just another gadget to artificially create overtaking. What real F1 fans want I think is more battles on the track, to feel that the car behind can overtake if the driver is faster. And that would maintain the quality of the overtaking, not simply apply a "more is better" strategy.

In order to achieve that I think a lot more technical freedom is necessary and one of the key areas might be engine(power train) development.

Since the 1960' the FIA has been limiting engine power for safety reasons. Since the only energy source for a F1 car (or any combustion engine powered vehicle for that matter) is its fuel (the fuel burnt in the combustion chamber to be exact) why not limit fuel consumption (instantaneous and mean). At the beginning of the sport the only way to limit power was to decrease engine size (fuel needs oxygen to burn, therefore smaller engine => less oxygen => less burnt fuel=> less power). But nowadays all the engine management is electronic and since they use a standardized ECU I think it would be fairly easy for the FIA to monitor the amount of fuel injected and limit that from the 80 or so liters/ 100 km to a more reasonable...50 liters/100 km, which I think would do more for F1's green credentials than KERS. And allow engine designers to come up with whatever they think of best (oval cylinders, double injectors, laser/ plasma ignition...W14 10 l engines for all I care :)) as long as they respect consumption and reliability standards, so improvements in efficiency can be translated to road cars, one of the past merits of F1.

These kind of things could be applied to all aspects of car design to create diversity and give each car its own strengths. And limit the budgets to avoid a spending spree, but at a reasonable mil $.


Is there anyway you can forward this to Jean Todt, Ecclestone, and FOTA James? This is what needs to happen, bring KERS back and focus the upcoming new engine regulations around a new standardized KERS system. It's about time F1 regs allowed new engine and powertrain developments instead of just listing off all the things that can't be done.


How did we forget what was great about F1. It's not about being green, or budget caps at all.

It's about building the most fragile, quickest car you can, and holding it together until you cross the line.

I want to see more cars break! 8 engine limit is great, but why have competitive rules where it's only random chance that causes it too happen? We want to see our drivers pushing the envelope, and occasionally crossing the line. No Rev limit please 🙂


Well that's fine but then along came quality control from manufacturing and spoiled all that. Like so much in F1 people can't unlearn what they've learned. I remember commentating the first time every car finished at Monza -who'd have imagined that? The Red Bull is a fast car built right on the limit, so you still have what you want


1. F1 does not need green credentials. It is motor racing.

2. KERS would only be interesting if it was unrestricted.

3.A standard unit is a LUDICROUS idea. It adds absolutely nothing if every car is running it. Except an uneccessary expense and worry.

4. Given the restricted resource environment that has been adopted, an unrestricted KERS is not financially viable.

KERS should not come back


KERS was and is an attempt at politically correct posturing and will not change the racing one bit if all
teams use it.

The probability of technology used in F1 somehow "trickling down" to cars the average man
drives on the street is very small. To claim otherwise is to reveal a profound lack of understanding
of how cars are designed, engineered, and built now. In the 1950s, racing was more likely to transfer
technology to road cars, but things have changed.

Perhaps you'd like to mention the gearbox tech now used ? Have you heard of the Porsche PDK gearbox ?
Well, that wasn't an F1 development, nor was the Wilson Preselector gearbox.

If any form of automotive competition might spawn developments which could be useful in road cars,
it is rally.

F1 is an expensive circus which is not relevant to a large percentage of the world's population, no matter what
the enthusiast who reads this blog would like to believe.

The bottom line is that the driver in F1 today is unable to make as much of a difference as a driver who is
significantly better ought to be able to make. And the increased tech in brakes, aero, engine management,
and gearboxes carries a significant amount of the blame for this. You can have a series which showcases
technology, or you can have a series which showcases driving talent, but the probability of having both
exist in the same series will require a huge restructuring of current rules. The notion that KERs might
solve this problem is both comical and pathetic.


It should come back but with a few changes.

Everyone has to run it.

Add 20bhp for 100 total.

You can only use it at most 2 laps in a row in the race, the next one you cannot use it.


A standard KERS? I thought people hated standards in F1 on account of it being the pinnacle of motor sport? Why not a standard floor, wings and diffuser to allow for more overtaking? I think that's more important than KERS - introduce biofuels (ethanol, anyone?) to lower carbon foot print as a first step, save money and improve the racing first, IMHO.


I live in South Texas.Many Aviation movies were filmed here over the years because of our large cumulus clouds.They were beautiful.

The writing is on the wall.Regardless of a consensus about the vagaries of the climate,indications abound about whether or not our current systems of transportation,our industry and our means of providing electricity simply put too much soot into the air-it's that simple.No large computer models needed.The answer is in the clouds.One indication is a lack of rainfall during summer months.Another is how clouds have changed in appearance.I will let time prove to you what I'm saying,I do not have to.

The Formula One cars of the future will run on a fuel cell,and only as much hydrogen that is needed for the moment will be produced onboard.There will be no explosive tank,for instance.And the Rosemeyers and Sennas of tomorrow will have a more healthy respect for the accelerator pedal then ever before,such is the power of an electric engine.And the large crowds there to see them will have long sense forgotten the days of screaming engines,too.

Formula One at some point will go down a green path alright.Zero emissions.The sooner they realize it the better.I have more to say,but will leave it for now.I loved twin turbo 1.5 liter Honda,Ford,BMW,Renault,and Ferrari engines more than anyone.They passed into history a generation ago.Now another change is coming.Just a messenger,my apologies.


"Formula One cars of the future will run on a fuel cell,and only as much hydrogen that is needed for the moment will be produced onboard.There will be no explosive tank,for instance."

The fellow who wrote the above doesn't have a grasp of the engineering realities involved in fuel cells or the production of hydrogen. His notions of F1 cars configured as he describes above are fantasies only someone who has no technical expertise could even entertain. Seriously, this guy has no idea what he is talking about. But any engineer could tell you that.


F1 cars are going to be electric,one way or the other.I am only mentioning one possibility,a very real one,known as hydrogen on demand.Samsung is trying to make a scooter based on this principle.Honda has the Clarity,also based on it.I do not make pronouncements lightly,this has to be the future.

How much pollution is there?Just enough?Or way too much?None at all?As I try to point out,the writing is on the wall.And Formula One will be in the vanguard of change.


What happened to the clouds?


Cumulus clouds today,as opposed to twenty years ago,are darker and have features comparable to a storm cloud.Problem is,they appear that way in the middle of a drought- like last year.Day after day of storm clouds with absolutely no chance of rain.And local weatherman telling me I don't know what I'm talking about.Not only do I know what I'm talking about,I know why they appear that way.

If you look under a highway overpass you will see evidence of our emissions.They may seem to be invisible,but they leave a trace don't they?These microscopic particles are in the sky.Clouds are dust clouds that have bonded with moisture.Finite amount of water,but we are adding particles everyday.In the cooler months,ice crystals in the clouds still provide precipitation.But those crystals are smaller between June and October,leading to increasing drought.

NASA has a lot of data provided by a string of orbiting observatories known as the "A-train".A lot of data comes from Antarctica,far from the sources.Not much attention given to them.I only mention the clouds because it's so hard to ignore evidence so large,only hundreds of feet above my head.People on my side of the aisle wish I wouldn't give creedence to the opposition.But that would mean a compromise of my principles.

I believe once the truth is known there will be an overreaction.Hopefully not too severe,but I don't know.Formula One and racing as a whole should embrace new technologies for their own good.As I wrote,I could say more.The Space Shuttle has no solar panels,only fuel cells.We have technology to replace current forms of energy.And Formula One,which once helped bring down the Iron Curtain,can be at the forefront.And I hope so.


corr-Long since forgotten.

Our road cars will not be little bugs,but larger and safer than ever before too.Their speed will be faster,but still regulated.

We might be allowed to drive them still,but that I don't know.


There's no difference if similar specs for KERS is reintroduced.

It will not help overtaking at all, we all know that don't we.


They should keep the current setup for 2011 but move the new engine regs forward a year to 2012 and have KERS a integral part of the new engine formula.

The current engine freeze has failed in as much as it has driven manufacturers away and kept innovation away all in the interest of keeping costs down. I think it is telling we are all discussing how F1 could best adopt technology that is already driving down a street nearly any one of us. Isn't it supposed to be the other way around?


I think KERS has a great deal of merit in F1 if its used intelligently.

My thinking is that the boost time available to a driver should be relative to their qualifying positions, i.e. a car in 20th place can have more 'seconds' worth of boost per lap than the pole position car.

This would spice up the racing AND more importantly give cars further down the grid a better chance to advance up the order.

The down-side is that teams would try to potentially avoid qualifying so well just to benefit from these extra seconds by being lower on the grid.

This would then become a balancing act as F1 cars are notoriously difficult to pass in the modern era; does a driver go for pole knowing that is the surest way to stay out front to subsequently win or take a gamble on a more lowly qualifying position to gain more KERS boost per lap to move through the order....

Either way, KERS will only be of benefit IF all teams have a common system (like the ECU's) and a flexibility of usage and time available usage..

Comments, James?


I like the idea, but the number of allowed seconds to press the KERS button in handicap race version or not should be per race not per lap. This will give it more strategic value.


Sounds a bit like handicap racing to me, but a well argued point and food for thought.


...forgot to add, that allowing a driver to store un-used KERS boost for a maximum number of laps to then be used in either one 'go' or as the driver liked could also add to the racing..

My own opinion is that until F1 realises that the aero is the principal problem with over-taking and mechanical grip should be increased then I'm not sure much will change..

Watch professional go-kart racing, no aero, pure mechanical grip and wonderful over-taking...

K. Chandra Shekhar

When is a race interesting when it is unpredictable. KERS failed because it was an option and not mandatory for all the tems. Power Cap should be removed. In 2005 the Mercedes was powerful but unreliable whereas the Renault was reliable but with less power, so it added to the spectacle. The teams can build engines with their choice of BHP and RPM but would be given only 100kg of fuel for race. This restriction will create fuel efficient as well as unpredictable power. If possible same type of fuel for everyone without any additives.


KERS is at total waste and a lie (i.e. - 'green'/environmentally friendly).

Get rid of petrol-based fuels if you want to go 'green'. How about using algae-based fuels; Algae butanol.


Here we go again. F1 looking for the silver bullet which will cure its over taking woes. The answer is right under thier nose but having invested tens of millions developing aero performance the teams will not take the leap backawards needed to make mechanical grip the dominant factor. The fact that they can stick millions of dollars worth of advertising on thier beloved wings makes it even more unlikely to ever happen.


Why would McLaren/Mercedes want their KERS system to be standardised and have the other teams get to reap the benefits of their R+D ahead of the 2013 engine regs?

There are already viable KERS systems for 3 engine suppliers (Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault) so surely it's more likely to bundle a KERS unit alongside the engine to the smaller teams.


I really wish history was not re-written all the time due to sheer laziness. Economy of words shouldn't mean lying. Four teams started last season with KERS. Ferrari, McLaren, BMW and Renault. Stop the fact blindness. I expect better from this site.



BMW and Renault dropped the system pretty quickly, but this isn't really critical to the article, is it?


It's just misrepresenting the truth . . . if you don't think that's important . . . ok.


You end up with people new to the sport quoting articles like this as gospel and it's simply inaccurate. That just pi**es me off because it's sheer laziness on the writer's part. I love this site and have a great deal of respect for James Allen's knowledge base, hence my disappointment.


I would just add that I remember one of the users presented an idea on this blog some time back about letting KERS to be activated depending on sensors on the car behind lets say for example if the car following another car is 2 sec behind, its KERS would automatically get activated and hence giving more overtaking. Cars will not be able to use KERS to optimize the lap times which was exactly what was happening in last season...

this approach would enable the car following another car an opportunity to pass and same for the car that just got overtaken

Mike from Medellin, Colombia

What about the following to tighten up the championship:

- Assume that we have 20 races in the calendar

- FIA announces 5 additional test sessions during the year (let's say after race no. 4, 8, 12, 16, and 19)

- Constructors points are calculated for each segment - i.e, or races 1-4, 5-8, 8-12, 12-16, 16-19)

- The top 1, 2 or 3 scoring teams in the previous segment are not allowed to participate in the test session

Is this a rubbish idea? Please say so, I will not be offended. I thought that at least it might be better than Bernie's "shortcuts"!!


Get honda to build there KERS up again, it was the best (apparently, and flywheel) and it would be outside of the teams control, ie a controlled variable that will not turn into a inter team power KERS war!

possible james?


I really don't like the idea of the standardised system. Surely half the reason Ferrari, Renault etc. are so keen to get them on the cars, is to, at least to a degree, use the F1 cars as a testing rig, to find new ways to optimize it, ways to save weight, to reduce the impact is has on barking stability and so on. They want to show off their 'green' credentials with their new fancy gadgets, but they also want to use their F1 programmes to really fast track the development process.

I really can't imagine they're going to be as keen on a customer standard KERS system as they are on having their own system. I can't imagine any of the big teams except RBR are going to be happy with that idea, and even RBR would benefit from Renault's developments so perhaps even them.

I suppose the option you're left with then is to allow anyone that so desires to develop their own but provide a standard system for those that can't or don't want to. As long as it were developed throughout the season I could see that possibly working. Either way I think there are going to be some prickly discussions as only F1 can provide.


"F1 cars as a testing rig"

I still do not see that as a viable strategy. Maybe as a PR ploy, but nothng else. The whole concept of racing improving the breed is nonsense these days. Except for the fact it wont go 200 mph my grandma's Caddy is more tech advanced that an F1 car.

With the limited testing they get you'd be way ahead to be testing on other vehicles. You can log thousands of miles in a couple of days with a roadcar and a test track at a microscopic cost compared to F1.

F1 is only for show.


In general I agree, however I still feel that the pressure for improvement and marginal advantages will add up to a lot over the course of the season.

You could get more miles on a road car but there wouldn't be the same level of pressure and emphasis on pushing to extract everything out of the technology.

I certainly agree with you, though, that with all the restrictions in place it's not a patch on what it was.

Sorry for any spelling mistakes- replying from my phone on a train at Clapham Junction!

Robert Higginbotham

In general that is correct, but Ferrari has some credibility in laying claim to technology transfer.


Everytime someone says "green" here I puke.

If you want "green", simply stop.

Stop flying hordes of crew and equipment back and forth across the world.

Stop letting ppl come to races and burn all those nasty hydrocarbons in their cars to get there.

Stop burning whatever all those giant wind tunnels and super computers require.

Stop making all that carbon fiber stuff.

Stop all the driving around by all the millions of staff that design and build these things. Use go-karts instead.

In fact, just stop racing altogether.

Robert Higginbotham

Or use racing as a test-bed for new technologies which will reduce the energy consumption and emissions of production vehicles...that way F1, unlike most other forms of entertainment, would have constructive impact. Unlike the Hollywood poseurs who (up until recently) boasted about their Priuses, F1 drivers would be part of a process of developing technologies that would reduce the environmental impact of automobiles.


Hi James,

"while Renault, Ferrari and Mercedes (who had the best system last year"

I've heard a lot of people telling that Mercedes had the best KERS system last year, while I think it was Ferrari who had it (despite all their grumblings) and Kimi Raikkonen used it to devastating effect...Can you explain why you think Mercedes had the better system?

Robert Higginbotham

The M-B system was smaller and lighter than the Ferrari system. It weighed around 25kg, in comparison with the (approx.) 30kg of the Ferrari system.


If F1 really wants to go green, then why can't the next regulations just make a fuel of the future such as hydrogen fuel compulsory, and then let the engine suppliers have free reign and go mad on development. I think the manufacturers will be happy to spend loads of money on that area and it can be directly used in road cars. I know the power produced will be low to start with, but with the worlds best brains working non stop on it, it won't be long before we will probably see astounding results. Remeber Oil will run out



A suggestion for Kers and overtaking, how abouts the amounts of kers time allowed to be dependent on track position in the race, i.e. 1st place not allowed to deploy kers, 2nd only gets 2 sec of kers per lap, 3rd gets 3sec and so on with the tail enders getting more kers time, dare i say 26th place getting 26 seconds! lol, the races would be crazy, too much overtaking maybe


Robert Higginbotham

The best thing to do would be to increase the rate at which energy could be released (i.e. the power output of the system), increase the energy capacity restriction, and allow the drivers to tap into the stored energy as frequently as they wish. This would result in creative application of the system.


James and Readers

Who owns the right to Mercedes/McLaren KERS?

Could Mercedes (old Brawn) use it or is this something that Mclaren own? I guess this is a bit dirty. I don't see a standard KERS working as it will negate the effect and we need (un)reliability.

But the teams will go mad if left to themselves and others will be disadvantaged. Then some teams will simply buy, eg. Force India from Mercedes/McLaren, then Frank will be upset he spent money developing it....

Robert Higginbotham

As far as I am aware it is an M-B system. The unit was displayed at last year's Frankfurt motor show, and was described as the 'Mercedes-Benz Formel 1 Hybrid'.

Brawn had the option to use it last year, but chose not to. (Presumably Force India also had the choice, but off the top of my head I can not say that for sure).


James, great blog and good comments. Not sure if bringing KERS back as it was last year will make any real difference, as if every car has is then the potential gains will be negated. I don’t buy the argument that the F1 KERS will have a technological trickle down into high volume road cars. I think the main aim advantage of KERS last year was a PR one, in that F1 could claim it was going green.

That said we should remember that this sport will only prosper if it is entertaining to watch, therefore the driving aim in a return to KERS should be to make overtaking easier. To that end perhaps the KERS boost or "Push to pass" should be limited to following car within a preset distance, perhaps enabled by a GPS system, i.e. if you get within 20 to 10 meters of the car in front you get an 20% increase in available power. The power would not be available within 10 m to stop the car in front from using it defensively when both cars are side by side. This is appealing as it is up to the driver to press the button within the optimum window to gain a sling-shot past the car in-front without going off the track.

However, I think the main problem is the over-dependence on aerodynamic down-force, which prevents the cars from following each other closely. If anything, I think the problem has been worsened by reducing the width of the front tires, and increasing the size of the front wing relative to the back wing.

James what do you think it would be like if they banned front wings, but brought back aerodynamic ground effect instead?



On a tangent, what specific impacts will changing wheel rim sizes from 13in to 18in have on car performance? I can imagine from an aerodynamic point of view substantial, but will handling, speed, acceleration, etc be effected? Maybe you could an article on this James.

Great blog btw


Great to see so many good ideas generated in this forum.

have you heard any more about ride height systems in shanghai? Martin whitmarsh expected mclaren to have it soon, but I guess not now it's illegal 🙂


A big no thanks to KERS for me.

I hate that the team have to wear big rubber gloves to handle the car. That's actually my main reason.

I also believe it won't improve racing if everyone has it, and will cost a fortune.

I still worry about marshalls after a big shunt too. It's just not Formula 1 as far as I'm concerned.


Hi James,

To me, the following paragraph highlights the complexity of the issue:

"This reminds me of a similar debate a few years ago over introducing a standardised Electronic Control Unit ... and you never hear any more about it."

Most standardised F1 components become anonymous (ergo the two-compound tyre rule), which is the exact opposite effect the Formula 1 wants from KERS. Max, I'm sure, wanted to tap into the positive perceptions that a 'green' technology would bring to the sport. In this respect, a 'KERS-war' between teams would be brilliant ... unless you're a team with no budget to develop it.


One thing that made me grumpy last year was KERS is supposed to be an energy recovery system.

So I would argue since no racing has being done before the lights go out, how do they get to use it off the start line?


They are allowed to charge up the KERS under park ferme before the race.


I'd like KERS to come back, but I think it should be optional. If everyone had it, and used their buttons at the same time, then this wouldn't solve the overtaking problem most F1 cars have.

I thought it worked quite well last year and it was a shame more teams didn't go for it. If the teams knew they could use it, then perhaps they would have more time to develop the appropriate chassis etc.

Heavy cars with KERS vs lighter cars without is a nice balance I think...


Not having read all the replies, I don't know whether this has been mentioned before, so apologies if it has.

1) All KERS manufacturers should have there systems available for purchase by anyother team (much in the same way as engines). This means that the teams have a choice to either have there own KERS or buy one in.

2) KERS to have a minimum of a 150bhp for 2 secs per lap only. No more hitting the KERS button everytime the driver enters a straight.


Regarding computer games having a boost. How about KERS being used like the catch up systems some racing games employ?

Everybody has a KERS system. The race leader can not use it at all. 2nd place gets it for (for example, i'm picking numbers out of the air here) 5 seconds a lap, 3rd gets 7 seconds, 4th 9 seconds etc etc all the way back through the field.


I haven't read all the comments in this discussion, but in my opinion people are looking in the wrong direction for the overtaking solutions:

KERS is not a solution for overtaking (most drivers will use the KERS button at the same places on each track), but it is good technology and should be used anyway.

Wet weather demonstrates that mechanical grip is the deciding factor, and F1 cars have too much mechanical grip. There is a mental hurdle to overcome here, and different sections of the F1 community have slightly different hurdles to overcome. The drivers and engineers need to understand that they have to let go the idea that the cars need to go around corners as fast as possible. The tire suppliers need to understand that supplying tires that have less traction will not reflect badly on them. This will also allow the tire suppliers to supply tires that have a broader temperature range, and are therefore more usable.

The FIA (and other administrators of the sport) need to overcome the 'safety is everything' hurdle. They need to remove some rules that have been implemented over the years. For example: midfield and back end drivers spend two thirds of the race ducking out of the way of the the leading cars - sometimes almost having to stop on the track. Remove the rule that says that slower drivers have to move out of the way when they see a blue flag. The leading drivers have the idea that they have a divine right to be allowed to pass slower drivers. They have a faster car, let them overtake like everyone else and stop ruining midfield and tail end competition amongst slower drivers.

People don't like change, but in order to get real change they have to let go of their cherished comfort zones.

Drivers need to be given cars and a racing environment that makes them have to work HARD to stay ahead of the driver behind them, and not rely on technology and rules to allow them to be competitive.


Best way to have overtaking back is to allow modifications on some parts of the engine (controled by the FIA), this will bring back real differences between the cars on mecanical side and not only on aero side.


If all cars have it, it becomes "push to defend" not "push to pass" unless you can convincingly bluff the lead car. Given already limited passing areas on most circuits, I doubt this would improve passing.


Here's a novel idea for the 2013 engine regs: unlimited economy use of KERS (so that total power output reaches the same output of the engine without KERS), and limited performance use of KERS in the form of the push-to-pass we saw in 2009. Both KERS features could be easily regulated by the standardized ECU unit.

Such a concept would allow for the actual 'green' component of KERS to come through while also adding the sporting element that KERS can provide.


I don't like KERS because it is too much like a video game and doesn't have much relevance to every day in ansy case. The only aspects of F1 technology that make it to road cars have all been banned... ABS, traction control, active suspension, CVTs the list goes on and on. Aero has little relevance to road cars as in most places it is either not possible or illegal to travel at speeds where aero induced downforce is possible or of benefit to a road car. So reduce the number of aero devices allowed to front and rear wings only and then standardise them. Remove bargeboards, diffusers and ground effect devices (ie enaything that isn't a front or rear wing, anything which has an 'incidental' aero benefit should also be deemed illegal). Open up the areas of technology where there will be some relevance to future road car design.


KERS will be great for F1, but only if it is permitted to be used only every 2nd lap, not every single lap.


i think that KERS would give the sport that something that it does not have at the moment, the action. this also means that the championship will not be boring but we do have to wait another YEAR to get the exitment back.


I think KERS should be an option opened to the teams, but shouldn't be mandatory. The regulations for KERS should be opened up as well. Let drivers use it whenever they want, as much as they want, as long as there is charge in the batteries.


KERS is a waste of time... it's a boring concept that tries to compensate for the real problem of too much aero and too little mechanical grip...

Fix the obvious problem first... Charlie Whiting should be replaced with a real engineer, that understands the root of a problem, and not one that simply applies one band-aid on top of another...

Charlie Whiting has failed in his post, on numerous occassions and should be chucked out of F1 in the same fashion as Mosely...


I'm not a fan of artificial limits - I'd rather that they had a standard KERS system, but then the details of the implementation and how to optimise it is left to the teams - as with the standardised ECU where the teams can do a lot with it. I'd guess Mercedes would be the supplier, they packaged the system well, and now no longer in bed with McLaren it will be easier for the FIA to grant the licence to them, separate from the ECU.

I think KERS should now wait for the next generation engine, which I hope will be a super-small, supercharged engine, perhaps as small as 1 litre but in combination with KERS and the charging, still producing similar power levels. KERS should be unlimited - the only limitations being that it is standard. It is then up to the teams to push KERS to its limits - including using it in ways that the supplier did not envisage as long as it is a stock part. The clever bits come in brake integration (only McLaren really worked that one out and there was a rule change introduced to solve it for the other teams) and efficient charging and discharging - not overheating it for example, so cooling could impact how effective one team might be over another.

In other words, like a standard engine formula, standard KERS need not mean equal performance from an equal system.


I think KERS should definitely come back. Hamilton showed what it can do, and a limit on the amount of time the driver can use it through a race seems the right way to go.

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