Changes in 2009 – KERS

I am going to write about the various changes in the F1 2009 cars in the next few posts. This first post will be about Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). The KERS is basically an efficient continuously variable transmission gearbox joined to a flywheel that rotates when the cars undergo braking. The stored energy can then be used to boost acceleration for overtaking and cornering, and will work like the power-boost button. The relevance given by FIA is to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions by recovering energy wasted during braking.


The KERS systems will be mechanically based and will utilise a flywheel to recuperate, store and subsequently discharge a moving vehicle’s kinetic energy, which is otherwise wasted when the vehicle is decelerated. The kinetic energy is stored during a braking manoeuvre and is then released back into the driveline as the vehicle accelerates.


Essentially KERS allows team to take energy generated under braking, store it, and use it again for a concentrated burst of no more than 60kW of energy (80.5bhp) for a total of 400kJ per lap (i.e. six and two-thirds of a second of 80.5bhp per lap). The FIA plans to double the power limit to 800kJ in 2011, and double it again to 1,600kJ (1.6mJ) from 2013 while also allowing it to work on both front and rear axles.

Is it pretty late?

Formula 1 could have had KERS a decade earlier as Mario Illien created a system for Mercedes in 1999 that used hydraulic fluid pressure to recover energy lost in braking. It would have provided a 45bhp power boost for four seconds but could have been used many times per lap. But the FIA outlawed the system before it could be raced, not wanting to allow cars to get any faster.

Impact on races

KERS will provide a greater advantage at some circuits over others, and as a result, the order at the front could change from race-to-race depending on which team has developed the best system and whether it suits the track.

Ferrari F2008K : Winter test car

As quoted in Gazetta Dello, the size of the Reds’ KERS is extremely compact.

It has incorporated technologies from the space industry, which are not restricted to military use. In terms of its positioning, it has been inserted into a duct in the lowest part of the F.2008 bodywork, in a central position. Not only does this give the car a low centre of gravity, but it also maintains the same torque rigidity present in the F2008. The weight of the equipment in operation, both when acquiring and releasing energy, initially around 7-8kg, will drop to below 5kg by the start of the season. The batteries are behind the seat. This position however has the disadvantage of requiring a sophisticated cooling system, as the operating temperatures must remain as low as possible. But there will no doubt be many changes between now and its race debut.

The effect of KERS can only be known next year. But we all know that those with more money usually achieve the full benefits faster than others. So, I expect teams like Mclaren, Ferrari, BMW to be strong with respect to KERS next season.

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