Can Formula One Do Hybrids?
Days after a BMW mechanic was shocked by a new hybrid F1 car undergoing testing, John Howett, president of Toyota’s Formula One team, is expressing his concerns surrounding the new Kinetic Energy Recovery System.
“We’re all fighting very hard to have a raceable, safe KERS,” Howett told Autosport, “but whether it is achievable or not has to be seen.”
KERS is intended to recover energy normally wasted by cars in braking and cornering maneuvers, and would serve as a performance boost when drivers need it.; Intended to be launched for the 2009 Formula One season, each implementation of KERS is unique to specific teams, but they all share the same issues.
Many have voiced concerns over the safety of implementing such a system in high-speed motorsports.; Dealing with a wrecked F1 car is tricky enough, but adding a complex high-voltage system and a chemical battery increases the possibility of danger.
Such struggles are already evident.; In addition to the BMW accident, Team Red Bull Racing discovered a volatile battery during a bench test, prompting its race shop to be evacuated as a precaution.
Even if the safety aspects are ironed out, there’s plenty of skepticism about what benefit, if any, KERS will provide.; One critic is Ross Brawn, Honda’s F1 team principal.
“I think the performance gain at the moment is possibly marginal,” he said, “but then, we haven’t necessarily explored all the potential of KERS and how it can be used.”