The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) has come to a joint resolution to call for the controversial KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems) technology to be scrapped from next season onwards – arguing that it is anathema to the sport's current drive to radically reduce expenditure.
KERS – which recycles normally expended braking energy into an extra burst of acceleration that can be used for between six and seven seconds per lap in the form of an 80bhp 'power boost' – has generated considerable debate ever since it first came into being late last year, due to its excessive weight and, more pertinently, prohibitive cost.
The introduction of KERS came at the behest of FIA President Max Mosley, who deemed it a means by which to improve F1's 'green' credentials with environmental issues coming to the fore – but there have been repeated difficulties with the energy-saving devices right from the word 'go', from pit-lane fires and electric shocks to chronic unreliability, with only four of the ten teams yet to run it in 2009, despite it having been declared 'mandatory' back at the beginning of the campaign.
Of those, McLaren-Mercedes is the sole outfit to have used KERS in every race to-date, with Ferrari having temporarily dropped it in Shanghai and BMW-Sauber and Renault having abandoned it altogether. World championship leaders Brawn GP, pursuers Red Bull Racing as well as Toyota, Williams, Scuderia Toro Rosso and Force India have yet to employ the technology at all – and indeed show little sign of doing so anytime soon.
In the light of KERS' unpopularity and repeated glitches – as well as its expense in an era in which F1 is embarking on a dramatic cost-cutting drive in response to out-of-control spending and the present global credit crunch – FOTA has now agreed to propose it be ditched altogether in 2010.
“That is our position jointly,” Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali confirmed in an interview with BBC Sport
. “Of course, we (Ferrari) are the [only] ones that are using it now with McLaren. We have invested a lot of money in it, but it's difficult for the public to understand how there are cars with KERS and cars with no KERS.
“In terms of the discussion we had within FOTA, we are talking about cost-saving for the new teams as well. I think in the view of helping new teams to get into F1, and in order to save money, it is a logical decision – even if we have invested a lot of money in the project. If we are all together, then it is better not to have it.”
“F1 has to demonstrate that it has some green credentials,” added McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, with Mercedes' KERS system widely considered to be the best in the field, “but at the same time, in this economic climate everybody is looking to save costs. It has been a huge effort talking about new entrants and making sure the smaller teams stay in F1.
“McLaren's position is we would like to see KERS retained – but we also accept that we have to be responsible members of the F1 community, and if the majority don't want to have KERS, or can't afford KERS at the moment, then we have to be realistic.”