The four technical directors present at Friday's FIA press conference at the Hungaroring have insisted that they are doing all they can to ensure that the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems - or KERS - are safe to use before fitting them to cars for next season.
Questions have been raised about the validity of the technology after a BMW Sauber technician received a powerful electric shock after touching a car fitted with a trial KERS device during testing at Jerez two weeks ago, while the Red Bull Racing factory was evacuated after a lithium battery in the team's development system expelled potentially dangerous steam. However, the quartet facing the media at the Hungaroring insisted that all precautions were being taken to secure the systems before the were fitted to cars in competition, which becomes a possibility in 2009.
"Regarding safety, we are doing everything to make sure that the system is safe," BMW Sauber's Willy Rampf confirmed, "The car that we used in Jerez, we also used it for a shakedown, just to run it for a few kilometres to be safe that everything is working. But it seems that not everything was perfect, so we are investigating it with a lot of experts to find out what happened.
"What happened last week [was that], when the car was coming in after its second outing, the mechanic touched the car and he got an electric shock. We took the car back to Munich and we are currently investigating what was the reason. Up to now, we don't know 100 per cent what happened, but we are still investigating it and, until we can really reproduce the problem and be sure that it's okay - [whether] it was exactly this or this component - we cannot say exactly what the problem is. As soon as we know what happened, as it is a critical safety issue, we will also inform the FIA and speak with them regarding what could be done in the future to avoid something like this."
"I think all the Formula One teams are taking the safety aspect very, very seriously," Ferrari's Aldo Costa stressed, "You have to remember that, first, the system has to be managed on the bench, in-house, in testing, so the safety aspect is the first priority. You cannot use a system in-house, on the test bench, that you believe is not safe enough. Safety, of course, is the first aspect, and I don't think anyone would use a system in the race that they don't believe is safe.
Toyota revealed this week that it was in no hurry to introduce its KERS system to the track, but agreed that information on potential dangers should be shared with the governing body.
"The safety of the marshals, of the public, of the drivers is, of course, the first priority of the KERS, and we will all have to go through a fail of mode analysis which is a very strict procedure which will be co-ordinated by the FIA," Pascal Vasselon revealed, "I'm sure that, through the technical working group, we will be able to share the different experiences of the teams, to accelerate the improvement of the safety level of the system. But, for sure, safety will be the first priority of this system.
"Going through the possible failure modes of the KERS system is just what we have to do. We will all be trying to over-heat or over-charge batteries. We will all be trying to crash flywheels for those who will use flywheels. We just have to do that, in order to make sure that we keep these failures under control. It will be all about making sure that we keep these failures under control on the test bench and, later, on the track. So, for sure, yes, you will hear about battery fires and things like that, simply because we will have to gain experience in this direction."
All four tech chiefs agreed that the introduction of KERS technology - and the ability for their teams to develop their own systems - was a good thing, both for the sport and its image in the wider world.