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Saturday, August 9, 2008

The great KERS debate

A lot of teams are worried about the introduction of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) for 2009, from technical issues such as those suffered by Red Bull and BMW Sauber, to cost.

Some, believed to be about two-thirds of the teams, have even attempted to delay their introduction.

That move was blocked by manufacturers BMW and Honda, and surprisingly, privateer Williams.

The presence of Williams in that group particularly irks Renault boss Flavio Briatore.

“BMW should be warned after having that accident, and Frank I do not understand. We have calculated that developing and running the system will cost €700,000 per race,” the Flav is quoted on f1technical.net. “If Frank tells me that his development costs only 2 million, than I can only laugh. Does he really think he can do the job with two million against manufacturers, who spend ten times as much?”

But the Williams team seems satisfied it can absorb that cost. Williams CEO Adam Parr said that his team does not see the development of the technology as a financial burden.

“The only change in ’09 that effects the costing is KERS,” CEO Adam Parr told Formula1.com. “I don’t mind saying that our budget for KERS is 10 per cent of our budget for aerodynamics and composite parts, so it’s not a huge amount of money and we see it as a fantastic investment into the future of the sport.”

Unless a unanimous agreement can be reached, introduction of KERS will go forward as scheduled next season. BMW Sauber’s Mario Theissen understands why some teams may be hesitant to introduce KERS.

“Yes, I can understand them. There are reasons that have to be considered. On the one hand is the safety aspect and it goes without saying that we will not run KERS unless we are sure that those problems have been solved - and I am very confident that this will be the case,“ Theissen told Formula1.com.

“On the other hand there are financial aspects. And here I can understand the viewpoint of the independent teams, as for them KERS means an additional financial burden,” he continued. “But I would not consider this to be an argument for manufacturer teams because the development would continue even if we postponed KERS for one year. A technical development has never got cheaper by postponing it.”

Red Bull’s Christian Horner discussed the financial pinch development of KERs is putting on the smaller teams.

“Obviously it has no relevance to Red Bull’s business...For us, KERS is part of the regulations so it is something that we will do. It is extremely costly and as we are an independent team we don’t have the resources to develop like a manufacturer has,” Horner told Formula1.com.

But that isn’t his only fear. “It could become a big performance differentiator next year and it would be a shame, now that we have come so close, to see it all go due to the KERS system.”

Honda is believed to be well advanced in it’s KERS development, ITV reports, and obviously BMW Sauber are track testing a version of their own system, as the recent pitlane incident would seem to prove. So, the question is, why is a limited budget privateer like Williams so unconcerned about the cost?

Perhaps someone is picking up part of the bill? Or perhaps the other explanation - ITV reports Williams are developing a flywheel rather than a super-capacitor battery, which should be cheaper. Could that be it?

A BMW Sauber mechanic gets a shock from the car's KERS system

DTM team owner wouldn’t do F1 without manufacturer’s support

Hans-Juergen Abt, Managing Director of German racing company Abt Sportsline, admits to having an interest to expanding beyond DTM in the future, but told DTM-Magazin he couldn’t do F1 without involvement of a manufacturer.

“One should never say never,” F1-Live reports he told the magazine. “In fact I have looked at it in detail. But you have to keep your feet on the ground. If Volkswagen say they are coming into F1, then I would probably ask them (about collaborating), but at the moment that is not relevant."

Mexico aims to get back on the schedule

The rumor is Bernie Ecclestone wants to add two more races to the 2010 schedule, at least in the eyes of Mexican racing official Jose Abed, and he wants Mexico wants to be one of those events.

“Those changes will be made by 2010 and, if it happens, (Mexico will) have to work hard to have a proper track,” F1-Live reports he told Sportsya. “Even so, we must wait for Bernie Ecclestone's decision to include Mexico."

Puebla, Cancun and Tijuana are the three most likely locations, Abed told the publication. He also believes he has the proper government backing to get the event off the ground.

“We are able to do it, because the authorities are willing to make the relevant investments and everyone has a chance. We just have to afford it since a Formula One track is worth more than $50 million,” he said.
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