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Sunday, April 11, 2010

KERS key to F1's green image

Williams team boss Sir Frank Williams believes reintroducing KERS to Formula 1 is essential for the sport's environmental image, and that the return of the energy-regenerating device would protect F1 from criticism from environmental groups and the press.

KERS remains in the regulations following its single season of use last year, but the teams agreed not to run it in 2010 on cost grounds. Its return was debated during meetings at last weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix, and Williams said he was strongly in favour.

"I've always believed that Formula 1 needs a totem, to avoid - which we have done so far - the attention of unco-operative members of the press who don't follow Formula 1 very actively," he said.

"I use the word totem, but to explain what I mean in very general terms - it's quite the wrong word because KERS is a very meaningful thing for emission control and it does save power.

"It's expensive, it's difficult technically and it's a big swallow, but sooner or later Formula 1's going to get some aggro from one of these bodies that causes aggro."

Last year only McLaren and Ferrari used KERS for the majority of the season, with BMW and Renault abandoning their systems and the other teams opting to run without the device - although most had evaluated KERS in testing.

Brawn and Red Bull fought for the championship without needing KERS, but Williams believes the technology has already improved enough that if it returned any teams not running the system would be uncompetitive.

"If three teams had KERS and the other seven didn't, the chances of winning races if you haven't got KERS - now that the systems are becoming better and better - [not having it] is a major handicap," he said. "I believe it should be compulsory or not at all."

Williams was the only team to try out a flywheel-based KERS alongside the battery versions favoured by the rest of the teams, but Williams added that the refuelling ban now made flywheel KERS impractical.

"We can't use our own KERS because that's a flywheel, which takes up more room, and the only place to put it is behind the driver," he explained.

"If the fuel tank is three times the size it was two years ago, and you want to put KERS in it, you'll have your car longer than a London bus... So we'll use it elsewhere."

In unrelated F1 news with McLaren threatening to introduce an active suspension system to adjust ride height between qualifying and the race, the FIA has stepped in to clarify that any such device is outside the rules. The Red Bull team, who have been accused by other teams of running such a device, insist that not only do Red Bull not have such a device, but that it will protest any team that runs one.

We here at EVN wonder how long it will take the rest of the F1 grid to realize that it now seems obvious the Red Bull team are most likely running a coil binding system on the front of their cars, similar in principle to those used in NASCAR.

This would explain the comments made by Mark Webber following his crash into Lewis Hamilton at the Australian Grand Prix where he claimed the crash was caused by a loss of downforce in the wake of the McLaren resulting in the front of his RB6 lifting up.

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