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Thursday, May 7, 2009

"Concerned" FOTA wants a meeting, and what of KERS?

The Formula One Teams' Association (FOTA) expressed its concern over the new rules for 2010 and requested "urgent talks" with the FIA in a statement following yesterday's meeting.

At heart is the £40 million budget cap, and the possibility of a "two-tiered" system where teams which opt to run under the cap would benefit from less restrictive regulations.

FOTA reiterated it's commitment to cost cutting, and expressed hope it could work with the FIA to progressively reduce costs over the next two years. Earlier this year, FOTA proposed its own cost-cutting plan which was largely ignored by the FIA.

FOTA's press release:

Press Release
6 May, 2009

London, 6 May 2009 – The FOTA Executive Committee met today in Heathrow to examine the new regulations proposed by the FIA for the 2010 F1 Championship and to evaluate the progress of the negotiations with the Commercial Rights Holder for the renewal of the Concorde Agreement.

FOTA held a positive and constructive meeting and agreed to continue working together in a methodical manner for the definition of further cost-reduction in 2010 and 2011, progressing along the path begun in 2008.

FOTA has concerns with the decisions taken at the last WMSC meeting regarding the 2010 regulations and therefore asks to begin urgent consultations with the FIA.

KERS SAFE sign on top of the Red Bull Racing, RB5 during testing in Spain

Is there value in KERS?

With many teams dropping KERS for Spain and questions about the technology's relevance to road cars, one has to wonder about the value of investing so much money in these systems.

Admittedly, there is a true, innovative quality to Williams' flywheel (which, unfortunately, has yet to see action on the track), enough so that the team set up a subsidiary company to apply the technology to real world use on trains and buses. According to F1 Racing, there has been interest.

But the rest of the field, or those who can afford to do so anyway, have been using batteries which are tossed away after each race. Anything but "green." And their systems are the result of a lot of investment and man hours. Hardly cost-cutting.

Granted, on track KERS has delivered a performance boost that has allowed McLaren, for one, to at least remain within viewing distance of the Red Bulls and Brawns, but teams like BMW Sauber and Renault have all but abandoned the technology. Deep-pocket teams who are obviously saying, "It's not worth it."

It seems to fly in the face of cost cutting to encourage teams to pour millions into a technology that Mercedes has already said has no application in road cars, when that was the selling point in the first place.

So, what now? There is talk of a standardized system for 2010. Will this be battery-based? The only version of this system with a commercial future seems to have been development of the aforementioned revolutionary Williams flywheel. Are we to throw that away?

Will Gray has an interesting analysis on the value of KERS this season for Eurosport.


Weekend weather update - no rain expected for Spain


Of all the things I've seen in my life, this is definitely one of them:


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