BMW-Sauber has finally given up the unequal struggle and abandoned its Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), suggesting that 'if it isn't made mandatory it will disappear' – as Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali branded the controversial energy-saving technology a multi-million Euro mistake.
KERS works by recycling energy normally lost under braking into kinetic energy, providing drivers with a power 'boost' of a total of 6.7 seconds per lap. That has been evident at the start of grands prix and has proven to be of use when trying to overtake or defend – but its extra weight and prohibitive cost has also made it unpopular amongst the teams, with six of them yet to use it at all.
Of those that have, only McLaren-Mercedes has done so consistently – with the Stuttgart manufacturer's development of the device widely-viewed as having been the most successful – whilst Ferrari, Renault and BMW have all been intermittent in employing it, but for the latter, it seems, the end of the road has arrived.
As one of the taller and by extension heavier drivers in F1, Robert Kubica has never been a fan of the technology, and his team has now come to the conclusion that the quest to extract more pace out of its underperforming F1.09 would be better served by ditching KERS. Somewhat ironically, the Bavarian outfit was the only one of the ten present incumbents to veto a bid to scrap KERS' introduction late last year, and was the first to begin meaningful testing of it.
“I would say if it isn't made mandatory it will disappear,” the BBC
quotes BMW Motorsport Director Dr Mario Theissen as having contended, referring to the Formula One Teams' Association's push to do away with KERS from next season onwards, with McLaren and Ferrari now expected to be the only teams to continue to run it in 2009.
“We evaluated different alleys, proceeding with KERS or proceeding on the aero side and what we could do with no KERS on-board. We have made some significant progress on the aero side – which does not allow for KERS to be fitted – and we took a decision just a few days ago to not run KERS this year.”
Even those teams that have not added KERS to their cars this season have devoted time, money and resources to developing it, and when asked whether the FIA's introduction of the 'green' technology had been misguided, Domenicali was unequivocal.
“Yes,” the Italian replied. “It is too simple to say yes, but that is a fact. I think we have to learn from it. New technology is one thing, and for sure KERS [impacts] on the future of the road car side, but we are dealing in an environment that is totally different.
“We are in a racing environment where they are a lot of things, a lot of compromises that we have to take in order to ensure that this new technology can be beneficial to the performance of the car. At the end of the day, this is what it is all about.
“The reality is that the facts show that KERS in the way it is now is not ready to be performing under this set of regulations. That is a fact. As we have always said, F1 is vital to ensuring the technological transfer from the racing division to the road car side, but we need to make sure that this is in-line with what we have to do to ensure that we are winning on the sporting side. For the future, before making certain choices, we have to think carefully because we must not make another mistake.
“It is too heavy for me to say [how much Ferrari has spent on KERS], to be honest. I know that if we [had] put that amount of money into the development of the car, then we would be fast like Red Bull! It was millions of Euros...”