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FIA seeking move towards mechanical KERS 08 Jan 2009

Flybrid Systems' flywheel-based KERS unit. Autosport International Show, NEC, Birmingham, England, Day One, 8 January 2009. Max Mosley (GBR) FIA President.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 12 September 2008 KERS unit on the sidepod of the car of Luca Badoer (ITA) Ferrari. Formula One Testing, Day Two, Barcelona, Spain, 18 November 2008.

From 2009 onwards, Formula One teams can choose to make use of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), which harness waste energy generated by the car under braking. As a result, over the past few months several have been hard at work developing the technology for their ’09 challengers.

In a letter to the Formula One Team’s Association, however, FIA president Max Mosley has revealed that he believes mechanical flywheel systems to be preferable to the electrical battery systems currently being devised by several teams.

“We are increasingly of the view that the use of chemical storage (in particular batteries) should be prohibited in Formula One owing to the unsuitability of the batteries currently available,” said Mosley in the letter.

At present, regulations state that KERS systems can convey a maximum of 60 kilowatts and store up to 400 kilojoules of energy, which can then be used to boost acceleration. But in the long term Mosley believes these regulations could be relaxed, and if so, battery systems would no longer present a realistic solution.

“Formula One would benefit from systems with more capacity than the present, (for example maxima of: 2MJ stored, 150KW in, 100KW out) but still very small and very light, as is essential in Formula One,” explained Mosley. “These figures are theoretically possible with mechanical devices, but not feasible in the foreseeable future using batteries and/or capacitors.”

Mosley believes that such non-chemical devices, if successfully developed, could have a far more significant impact on road transport and other applications than battery-based counterparts.

“This is a subject we should like to explore in depth with FOTA,” he added. “In particular we should like to examine how Formula One's outstanding engineering capacity could be used to develop KERS without incurring significant costs for the teams.”

During the final track sessions of 2008, BMW Sauber, McLaren, Ferrari, Toyota and Williams are all understood to have tested KERS-related technology, but the specifics of each team’s system remain closely guarded.