F1 can solve KERS safety fears

Sun, 10 August 2008, 04:39

Mike Gascoyne has played down fears the new KERS technology for 2009 will make formula one less safe.

The voluntary deployment of the environmentally-friendly solution begins next year, but some teams have experienced problems in the current development phase.

But despite the reports of exploding batteries, fire alarms, dangerous fumes and the risk of electrocution, Force India’s technical boss insists the brains in F1’s design rooms will get to grips with KERS.

“I think the safety issue is one that’s being stressed but it’s just an engineering problem and an engineering challenge,” he said.

Gascoyne said making KERS ultimately safe is a “similar” challenge to the one involving hauling 70kg of fuel around corners at 200mph.

“We have to go through it and be rigorous but it’s just like numerous other challenges on the car,” the Briton explained.

Toyota’s Pascal Vasselon, meanwhile, suggested that teams are deliberately pushing the envelope at present in order to explore the limits of the new technology.

“We will all be trying to overheat or overcharge batteries,” he said. “Those who will use flywheels will all be trying to crash flywheels.”

At a meeting in Hungary, bosses of the ten teams failed to reach an agreement to delay racing KERS until 2010.

Even so, some teams have not decided whether or not to run their systems at the start of next year.

“The schedule will be very tight,” Vasselon confirms. “It is still possible, but clearly very tight to get something from the system at the start of the season.”

And the question of whether teams use KERS-equipped cars as early as Melbourne next year is not simply about making the system safe, BMW-Sauber’s Willy Rampf points out.

“First we have to see in the car what is the actual performance gain, because there is this extra power from KERS but also more weight or less ballast, so it will always be a trade-off,” he said.

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