back to article F1 waves goodbye to KERS

Formula 1 racers must ditch Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) technology before next year’s season, the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) has decided. BMW_Sauber_Ferrari_KERS_01 BMW Sauber (front) and Ferrari both spent time developing KERS, but with little reward KERS enables F1 cars to store 60kJ of energy while …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    The vandals took the handles

    KERS always reminded me of the old Atari arcade game "STUN Runner", with its boost pads and bobsleigh-style courses. The grand prix people could have done so much more with this system, along the lines of the game, with more elaborate layouts, power-ups, and perhaps a spirally bit where the cars whizz up a long curved ramp and then do a jump at the end over a river with the Loch Ness monster in it. But no. Total lack of imagination.

  2. jon 44

    F1 is boring

    It needs guns and missiles. Viva la MotoGP!!!

    OT: the tech is only just out the door, surely they should give it sometime to mature! And if the benefits are minimal then each team can decide if they want it or not, they don't need to outright ban it. If teams want to mature the tech then they should be allowed too.

  3. Annihilator

    Not all KERS are created equal

    Any indication about which won the electrical vs mechanical debate? I recall there were two versions, one involving a honkingly large battery and one which stored energy in a spinning fly-wheel.

    "Engineers from Mercedes-Benz' road car division also signed KERS’ death knell when they professed themselves wholly unimpressed by the technology and declared that they could see no use for F1-style KERS on road cars."

    Rather puts a dent in the Prius' marketing campaign..

    Suggestion for 2010 season: rockets on the back of the cars. Richard Hammond need not apply.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    can we get away from this stuff..

    "Engineers from Mercedes-Benz' road car division also signed KERS’ death knell when they professed themselves wholly unimpressed by the technology and declared that they could see no use for F1-style KERS on road cars"

    very, very little stuff from F1 ends up in road cars. It's like Saab saying their cars are like the planes, there is bugger all the same.

  5. Dogbyte

    That didn't last long

    You could almost say it was KERSed.

    The fireproof one with the sponsor logos, thanks.

  6. Tom Chiverton 1

    No added weight

    KERS doesn't "adds roughly 35kg to each car", all F1 cars weigh the same, the minimum allowed by the sporting regs, for obvious reasons. KERS does add unmovable ballast, effectively, and that's why the brake balance is off.

  7. Funkster
    Thumb Down

    More lazy journo-science...

    "KERS enables F1 cars to store 60kW (80bhp) of power while powering through races, with the energy then released over 6.7 seconds per lap."

    FFS... you store energy, then release it at a particular rate to give power.

    So, "KERS enables F1 cars to store energy recovered during braking, with the energy then released upon driver demand at 60KW (80hp) for up to 6.7 seconds per lap" would be nearer the mark.

    C-, must try harder and learn what units are.

  8. Arthur Coppock

    Storing Power ?

    Er, you can't store power. Power is the rate at which energy is used. You can store energy but you can't measure that in kW. Joules are the ones you are looking for...

  9. Dr. Mouse
    Thumb Down

    No surprise...

    They screwed up with the rules on KERS.

    Now, had they allowed them to implement something more akin to the hybrid tech we see on the roads, incorporating regen braking, adding power and reducing fuel consumption, it may have worked. Say, no charging the batteries from 'mains', all energy to come from the engine or regen, power limit on the motor, or maybe the ability to use whatever size motor but reduce engine size or rev limit if you choose a big motor, but apart from that do as you wish. So the car can then be tuned to take advantage of the motor for whatever they want, not as a 'turbo boost' like you get in racing games, but as a truely integrated part of the car.

    Well, I for one would like to thank those involved for cocking it up and stopping such a valuable development arena from helping advance the motor industry.

  10. Steven Jones

    Power vs Energy

    "KERS enables F1 cars to store 60kW (80bhp) of power while powering through races, with the energy then released over 6.7 seconds per lap".

    Grrrr - don't they teach people physics properly these days. You can't store power, you can only store energy. What the KERS rules allow for is to increase the power output of the vehicle by up to 60KW for up to 6.7 seconds per lap from an energy store charged up via arresting the cars motion. That means being able to use up to about 400MJ of stored energy per lap to propel the car forwards when you need it.

    Power is energy per unit time...

  11. Small Wee Jobbie

    Go Go Go...Good riddence

    So much money spent on KERS with so little return - and the whole point was that it was to be utilised on normal road cars, now even that is impossible they dropped the white elephant.

    Funny thing that it was the FOTO (F1 Teams Ass) that decided and not the FIA

  12. Chris Paulson
    Thumb Down


    Green technology has no place in motorsport.

  13. Alistair 2

    According to my pit board

    Its time to take the F1 stable quietly out the back of the paddock and dispatch it quickly and without additional fuss. They have outlasted any pretence at being a proper sport, and the technology they develop is now a dead-end.

    Bring on a purely electric formula - jeez even call it Formula-E if you have to. Just get rid of the old gas-guzzling dinosaurs and the vastly overpaid circus that surrounds them.

  14. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

    @Steven Jones

    I thought Britain had given up on teaching physics years ago. At least it lasted longer than English...

    FWIW, Alun 'Leccy Tech' Taylor is a history graduate, so while he might not be right up there on units, he's definitely your man for dates. And for car stuff.

  15. deshepherd

    @No added weight

    Immovable weight - i.e. limiting ability to move ballast around the car was a seious issue ... but also the weight regs are minimum weight of car+driver ... amount of leeway they have was meaning that, I think, for some of the taller (and thus heavier) drivers the extra weight from KERS was not going to be reclaimed from existing ballast - i.e. not only did they lose ability to tune ballast position to suit conditions but for drivers like, I think, Kubica the car+driver would always be carrying more weight. That's why initially BMW only ran KERS on one car before deciding via direct comparison it had no overall benefit.

    The problem then with a race where a few cars run KERS is (as has been seen in some recent races in mid order battles) a faster non-KERS car can catch up a KERS car in front in corners where it has better handling (possibly due to better tuned weight distribution) but if they try to overtake then the KERS driver just presses the boost button and pulls away sufficiently to escape

  16. Alex King
    Paris Hilton

    @ jon44

    "If teams want to mature the tech then they should be allowed too."

    Nope, this would be a dumb idea - the problems with having some with and some without were well indicated in Turkey, when Kovalinen (I think) royally fsked-up the last complex under pressure, allowing Barichello to get past, only for Barichello to be robbed of the rewards of his efforts by the dumb boost button on Kovalinen's car. Either you have a standard unit for all cars or none at all. At the moment it's just a get out of jail free card for poor driver/car combos.

    Paris, 'cos she's full of dumb ideas too.

  17. Martin 37

    400MJ in old money

    . is about 0.11 kWh? Or about 1p worth of tap electricity?

  18. Steven Jones


    Having read a modern GCSE paper I fear you are right. However, I go back to a grammar school education in the 1960s & 70s followed by a physics degree, so I can't help myself. For the humanities graduates out there, confusing energy and power is like substituing a noun with a verb.

  19. Anonymous Coward

    Why not... away with ALL the engineering restrictions in F1 and just let the teams use with the best cars and best drivers they can find.

  20. TeeCee Gold badge


    I don't see why this would dent Toyota's marketing at all.

    "....see no use for F1-style KERS on road cars"

    A quick trawl of the Prius' specs doesn't reveal the presence of an "F1-style KERS" system. The closest I can come up with in the world of road cars is Honda's system in the Civic and Insight, which at least shares the "either charging or driving but never both" aspect.

  21. Anonymous Coward

    Face saving exercise

    This is the KERS running teams being given an opportunity to dump this crap from their cars without losing face!

    What F1 truly needs is cars and circuits that offer lots of overtaking to make it exciting again. It has been dull, dull, dull for quite some time now. I nearly always end up falling asleep watching a race these days.

  22. Geoff Johnson

    Rules killed it.

    The stupid 80 HP power for 6 seconds rule renders KERS pretty much redundant. To encourage innovation, there should be no falsely imposed limits.

    BTW. The brake balance problem comes from the way the batteries are charged by using the motor/generator as a brake on the back wheels. Once they're charged you suddenly find you're braking with the front wheels far more then the back.

  23. Martin 50
    IT Angle


    "BMW Sauber, Ferrari and McLaren are known to have spent many hours developing KERS." ... well that's a day they won't get back. I have days like that sometimes.

  24. techguy110323

    Where are the El Reg arbitrary measurements?

    Forget power and energy. How many toasted sandwiches can the battery produce?

  25. Dave Ross

    F1 tech

    But F1 tech does filter down to road cars, many of the recent Ferraris feature F1 derived technology.

    However, your average shopping car, no. Not a bit, and thats the point. F1 has been Ferrari's play/test ground for quite a few years now, but virtually nothing from that level of motorsport filters down to cars your average guy on the street could afford unless he decides he wants a carbon fibre panel somewhere on his dashboard :)

  26. Mike 35


    No, you can't store power, but for the same reasons you can't store photographs on a CD, nor memories in your brain, capture sunshine with a solar panel etc. etc.

    You can't even store energy, it's "potential energy" and if any of you understood physics properly you'd know the difference, but you don't and think you do (which is worse).

    This is not a scientific paper, if KERS only delivers energy at a specific rate then there is a completely valid and logical reason to give the power delivered as "stored power", it not only gives an understandable context (who cares/knows what 400MJ is?) but takes a layer of irrelevance away, we don't talk about how many bits an MP3 player can hold it gets advertised as "enough to store X hours of music" MP3 players don't hold music! how can they? they hold compresed digital representations of audio waveforms.

    In summary, get a copy of Viz, look up "Mr Logic" (that's you that is).

  27. Greg J Preece


    Have they actually "banned" it, or have all the teams basically said "sod that"?

  28. James Dunmore

    @AC 11:55 GMT

    "very, very little stuff from F1 ends up in road cars. It's like Saab saying their cars are like the planes, there is bugger all the same."

    Go do one:

  29. Onionman
    Paris Hilton

    re: can we get away from this stuff..

    What's F1 ever done for us, apart from turbochargers, superchargers, effective disc brakes, ECUs, Semi-automatic gearboxes, active suspension, passenger cell impact protection, direct fuel injection, aerodynamic research, myriad tyre, oil and fuel developments? Nothing!

    Some of that is from F1 racing years ago - it takes time to change from exotic technology to transferable ideas.


    Paris, because she knows all about blowers, fnarr, fnarr.

  30. James Micallef Silver badge

    Max Moseley, resign NOW

    Its a technology that the F1 teams weren't interested in using in the first place. It was forced through by FIA, who, for all their bluster on cost-cutting ended up pushing the teams to develop a hugely expensive white elephant.

  31. Tony Smith, Editor, Reg Hardware (Written by Reg staff)

    @Mike 35

    You know, I'd completely forgotten about Mr Logic.

    Made my day, you just have.

    A fair few folk round here should take note!

  32. AlfaFoxtrot
    Thumb Down

    Allow it to store proper amounts of energy and give it another year...

    There was a very good presentation by the head of a company developing the flywheel based KERS, he was saying that the rules were ridiculous - his flywheel system was very simple and pretty efficient, but because of the F1 limiting the power to such a ridiculous level, it would only gain teams fractions of a second per lap (therefore not really worth the investment, extra weight) and actually encouraged them to use LESS efficient designs, as you could then get more braking per kJ stored.

    Also, saying that this technology has no use on road cars is rubbish. If you can capture energy from braking, and store it efficiently in the short term - then that is 'free energy' which can help when you next accelerate - again in the presentation this is reckoned to give ~30% increase in efficiency. Scaling the flywheel up to tube trains gives almost 50% saving because of the very stop start nature.

    It just annoys me that the tech is being thrown out after a year when it's capable of an awful lot more and has just been limited to near uselessness by short sighted rules - so much for the innovation of F1.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    @ the anti can we get away froms...

    You want facts..

    "While carbon fibre was used in the aerospace industry with mixed results from the 1960s onwards...."

    Oh look used in areospace first...

    F1 insipred wheelchair? FFS. It's make of carbon fibre and has a mono shell. yes that's a direct result of F1.

    "...His patent for a turbo charger was applied for use in 1905.[1] Diesel ships and locomotives with turbochargers began appearing in the 1920s."

    Yup F1 ships...

    Oh silly me you mean a car?" The turbocharger first hit the automobile racing world in 1952 when Fred Agabashian in the diesel-powered Cummins Special qualified for pole position at the Indianapolis 500.....

    Fuel injection? "Direct gasoline injection was used on production aircraft during WWII"

    Areodynamic research? Give me a break, what does a road car share in common with a F1 car. hell F1 cars are based on aircraft design....

    Influenced by is not the same as direct technology transfer...


  34. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Forward into the past.

    To make F1 a really good show for the viewing public, they need to banish all aerodynamic aids to the extent of specifying a (fairly small, like five foot) maximum radius for the cross-section of the underside of the car and a minimum ride height.

    I think that, and highway-approved tires (homologated in the thousands, not hundreds or dozens) would do a lot to promote passing and exciting racing. Hell, make 'em bias ply tires only so the cars have to generate discernable slip angles to generate grip. Bring back the 4-wheel drift!!

    IOW - bring back the 1967 season car, but with contemporary safety equipment so the drivers don't die like flies as they did back then.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    KERS on Audis?

    So what's this new "Re-Coupe-Rayshun" thing Audi are advertising then? Some new-fangled tech that lets them store energy produced under breaking and use it to help get moving again afterwards... But no, nothing on road cars comes from F1 does it - as someone else pointed out, SAAB cars are NOT the same as their airplanes and tech does not translate as well from aerospace to automobile - look at how quick BAE dumped Rover.

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    very misleading storey

    FOTA is a team organization which only some of the teams are in. They are not responsible for regulating the sport, the FIA do that.

    The agreement FOTA have about kers at present is purely a gentlemans agreement as far as the FIA are concerned. There may well be a contract between the fota teams with regard to kers next season, but it means nothing to teams who aren't in it.

    Williams and Force India are not currently part of FOTA and would be free to runs kers next season. Both have the potential to run it. albeit that Force india are unlikely to due to it actually being supplied on a customer deal by mclaren and mercedes.

    Williams has a working system but has not currently decided to use it (probably as they cant get the weight distribution to work with it).

    There are also the 3 new confirmed teams; Campos, Manor, and USF1. Who knows what these teams will bring to the table but kers is definitely a possibility.

    There has been a lot of talk this season about tweaking the regs with regards to making kers have a bigger advantage. Things such as doubling the power it can store, and having a minimum weight for driver and seat. If the regs change then it would make it a must have unlike the moment.

    Therefore the situation is a lot less clear cut than you have made out.

  37. Psymon

    Energy recovery is not that efficient

    I am wholly unsuprised by this news.

    Just like with the Prius, and other electric vehicles that try this trick, the recovered energy is almost negligable when offset against the various other practical drawbacks added by implementing this tech.

    What amazes me is that unless you drive the prius like a Herse, its' fuel economy is actually less than that of a gold diesel. Why has no-one bothered to point out this little fact? At every single Toyota conference? And then pelted them with excrement? And then chased them off stage with torches and pitchforks?

    Never since the 2CV has there been a greater insult to the automotive buying public.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >also the weight regs are minimum weight of car+driver .

    So that's why F1 drivers aren't all midgets!

    God, I always wondered that, it's been bugging me for years.

  39. FIA Silver badge

    @KERS on Audis?

    Re-coupin' with an Audi TT?

    That's so 80s.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real mistake was not making KERS compulsory

    as it was pretty obvious even to a non-F1 engineer that allowing a disparity between those teams that had compromised their cars in order to fit it and those who'd maintained a purer design was going to create a performance differential that couldn't be bridged by the fairly low outputs permitted under the rules.

    One team that was particularly vociferous about introducing KERS to the rulebook was BMW. Indeed, they pushed to keep it next year as they have a whole marketing package built around their Efficient Dynamics eco sub-brand.

    In any event, there's at least another week of arguing to be done before we even know which teams will be in F1 next year, let alone what rules they'll be racing to. For now, all bets are off.

  41. Graham Marsden
    Thumb Down

    Forget about the F1 procession...

    ... if you want to watch some *real* racing, watch the A1 GP series.

    A grid full of identical cars, one per nation (so no dubious "team tactics"), with a limited number of Power Boosts for overtaking and racing all the way down the field and a real test of the skill of the driver, not who can spend most money on development.

    The end of the last season was an absolute corker with four teams all in with a chance of snatching the title, better than any F1 race I've seen in the last decade!

  42. Annihilator

    RE: very misleading storey

    "Williams and Force India are not currently part of FOTA and would be free to runs kers next season. Both have the potential to run it. albeit that Force india are unlikely to due to it actually being supplied on a customer deal by mclaren and mercedes."

    Please... Force India are unlikely to run it due to the fact they'd end up not with a KERS-enabled car but a KER-BOOM-enabled car. Williams will do whatever Toyota tell them. The newcomers you mention are, at best, 50/50 odds on whether they'll make it to the start line Melbourne with a car that was 4 wheels and an engine, let alone a KERS system.

    What this story is really telling us is that the teams with the biggest budgets, resource and sheer determination have decided KERS isn't worth the effort. And if they can't make it run... maybe they should have concentrated on a rear double diffuser instead.

  43. Steven Jones

    @Mike 35

    No - there isn't a valid and logical reason for quoting "stored power" instead of energy. The units are different. Energy is measured in units such as Joules, and power is measured in units of energy per unit time, so the Watt is defined as Joules per second.

    Making statements such as yours is just an excuse for gross sloppiness. Gross errors like that shouldn't be tolerated in what is meant to be a discussion of a technical article. As for storing energy and potential energy - well the latter just means the energy has the potential to do work. It doesn't invalidate the notion of stored energy at all. This is hardly a subtle matter - it is literally a fundamental as confusing verbs with nouns.

    It's this sort of tolerance of rubbish which has meant this country is descending into third-rate status in engineering.

  44. Jon H

    Was going to have more power

    KERS wasn't given a chance... an extra 10% engine power for only 6 seconds a lap just didn't outweigh the weight distribution issues. BUT, the power output was due to increase next year and the year after, making it far more attractive.

  45. Number6

    @Martin 37

    Try again. 1MJ is 0.278kWh, so 400MJ is 111.2kWh. You misplaced your decimal point (I know, they're small and easy to lose).

  46. NogginTheNog
    Thumb Down

    Audi's new magic

    On a related subject, has anyone else seen Audi's new advert for their regenerative braking thingy, with the voice-over by Simon 'Chance In A Million' Callow? Sets my teeth on edge it does every time he says "the energy CREATED during braking..." AGGGHH!

  47. ThinkingOutLoud
    Paris Hilton

    No idea what's going on...

    ...but since I appear to be no better qualified than most contributors, I thought I'd drop in anyway.

    KERS will find a way to prove its usefulness in good time. The point is that it was discovered, applied, evaluated and decided upon. If we don't keep trying new stuff we will never move on.

    So, let science follow Darwinian principles and evolve in directions useful to humanity.

    I believe the twisted rubber band still has a major contribution to make towards energy conservation!

    Paris because while I can't think of a relevant link, I'd still like her legs twisted around my back...

  48. Ramazan


    wow, every toasted sandwich differs from his brethren... So, did you see the Standard Toasted Sandwich in International Bureau of Weights and Measures, anyone?

  49. Patrick R
    Paris Hilton

    @ Mike35, "can't store energy"

    "it's "potential energy" and if any of you understood physics properly you'd know the difference, but you don't and think you do (which is worse)".

    Put your hand in boiling water and feel the potential burn. Obviously some people here understand physics more than you think and the rectification of the often made confusion between power and energy is indeed welcome.

  50. FromHereToElsewhere


    Williams have developed a flywheel system. Energy stored in a rotating mass!! Brilliant!

    Whilst the other teams have gone and more or less successfully deployed a battery storage solution, I really want to see the Williams system. It's clearly got to be aligned with the a vertical axis - otherwise it wouldn't turn at all: but how does it affect handling? It should provide a whole new level of vehicle stabililty due to gyro effects, a huge amount of torque to resist yaw and pitch. If they can find how to blend that into the car balance, it would be startling. I guess there are "issues"...shame, bout time williams rose again with some killer tech.

    I have long speculated on a flywheel-equipped bicycyle...

  51. wayne 9
    Thumb Down


    I drive up and down some hills between home and work. Almost every Prius drives the hills the same way. Driving slowly up the hill to conserve energy, then heavily braking all the way down the hill.

    Reminds a little of the old VW Beetle out in the West of the USA. Only difference was no braking going down the mountain passing everyone then slowing to a crawl going up the next.

    Which pretty much means Priuses are just like Beetles in that you see 'em, you get around 'em before you're stuck behind them.

  52. Giles Jones Gold badge

    Just use electric power

    If F1 wants to be greener then they should use electric cars.

    Even diesel cars would be better, they are much quieter and output less CO2.

  53. peter 5 Silver badge

    @Mike 35

    So, does a flywheel store energy? Or is that potential energy? What about electrons caught in superconducting “cable”?

    Or suppose I’m watching a proton whiz here from the sun. My friend, who is travelling alongside the proton, matching its speed, says it has *no* (kinetic) energy. But I think it has a truck load of MeV. Which of us is right?

  54. Andrew Norton

    re: Face saving exercise

    "What F1 truly needs is cars and circuits that offer lots of overtaking to make it exciting again. It has been dull, dull, dull for quite some time now."

    Totally agree. This season's the first one I've watched in years (since the introduction of the grooved tyres), and will probably be the last. If you want cars and circuits that offer a lot of overtaking, though, there's already one that does that, it's called A1GP. It's just like F1, but with all the passing.

    Basically, as of a year ago, the cars are all 04 Ferrari F1 cars, or similar. They all have a certain number of 'push-to-pass' usages to last them a race (4 for a sprint race, and 8 for a 'feature' race), and they have a set number of stops (and windows to make the stop in) All the cars are the same, so its down to the team, and the driver rather than how much money is thrown at the team. The good drivers, who can work well with their teams have great seasons because they can get the setups right. There's also less conflict over who to support, and who to 'hate', because they're 'national teams' (well, the drivers are, most of the backend of the teams seem to be British).

    Some really good close racing. Scott Speed did it before he went to F1 - didn't score a single point there, Ollie Jarvis (team GBRs regular driver last year) is now doing DTM, and beating Ralf, F1's over-rated, and its time is past.

  55. Charles Manning

    35kg of weight?

    Try mass, seeing we're all being techno-pedantic.

    As for flywheels.... If mounted horizontally they might add some stability, but would be a bastard for cornering since they would not want to camber. Crashes would be more spectacular though and that has got to increase viewership and advertising revenue.

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