Mercedes-Benz has received 'several enquiries' about its KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) technology in Formula 1, Norbert Haug has revealed – with reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton praising it for having 'performed fantastically through all the races'.
The controversial energy-saving device has been the subject of much debate within the grand prix paddock since its introduction back at the beginning of this year, with benefits in terms of starts, overtaking and defending courtesy of its six-to-seven seconds power boost button – but equally myriad fears about its reliability and safety in wet conditions.
That has seen the majority of competitors fail to install the technology thus far, with world championship leaders Brawn GP as well as Red Bull Racing, Toyota, Williams, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Force India all yet to take the plunge and some hinting they may not do so until next year. Only McLaren-Mercedes, Renault, Ferrari and BMW-Sauber have trialled KERS over the opening four grands prix of the season, with the latter two teams alternately ditching it and only the Woking-based outfit reaping any significant rewards from its presence.
Indeed, Mercedes has expressed interest in becoming the unique KERS-supplier in the top flight from next year onwards, should the Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) agree to adopt a standard unit in the future. Aside from McLaren, Force India will also shortly be provided with the system by the Stuttgart marque.
“We have had several inquiries [about KERS],” the three-pointed star's Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug told German media, “both from teams that want to enter in 2010 and teams that are already established.”
“I think we would be a bit further behind if we did not have it (KERS),” added Hamilton. “Mercedes-Benz have done a fantastic job in preparing ours'. It is performing fantastically through all the races with no reliability problems, so I am quite confident using it.”
Meanwhile, despite threats from rival manufacturers Ferrari and BMW to walk away from F1 over the FIA's contentious new optional £40 million budget cap, Haug has sought to stress that there is no imminent danger of anyone following Honda out of the exit door.
“Even Ferrari wants to save (money),” the German underlined, speaking to spox.com
. “Perhaps they are concerned about the terms of the budget cap and the past approaches of the FIA, but a withdrawal is at the moment not at all a topic of discussion.”
Former team owner Gerhard Berger, for his part, argued that the cost cap could only be a positive measure for the sport against the backdrop of the global credit crunch and in an age of increasing belt-tightening – but he cautioned that one way by which the teams could be persuaded to sign up to the initiative would be for them to be granted a greater share of the commercial revenue from Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM) company.
“The next step is the Bernie Ecclestone income,” the Austrian ten-time grand prix-winner urged. “He can't possibly keep the prices of the organisers and the TV companies the same, so the teams won't be getting €30 million but only €10 million.
“If someone spending only €45 million is just as good as you, or better than you, when you're spending €300 million, then the executive committee will soon be asking 'why aren't we doing this with €45 million?'”