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Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) is an innovation introduced in Formula One from the 2009 Season to give cars a short-term power boost on each lap. Although not used in 2010, KERS made a return to the sport in 2011. It will be renamed to ERS-K for the 2014 season.

Technology[]

The KERS system harvests lost energy from braking to charge either a battery or flywheel. The power on this battery can be accessed to add around 81 bhp to the car's power. FIA Regulation limit the capacity of the KERS battery to 400kJ, sufficient to allow around 6.7 seconds of use each lap.

Advantages[]

The advantage of using KERS is  drivers can improve lap times by 1/2 a second with good circumstances. In a race, drivers can use  the KERS to improve overtaking or defence. , KERS is also often used in unusual parts of the track so that a driver can take over in 1 second.

Drawbacks[]

The main drawback of KERS is the weight - around 35 kg - of the equipment. While this doesn't increase the weight of the car (35–70 kg of the car's weight is ballast), this limits the amount by which the weight distribution can be customised. Also notable is the destabilizing effect that KERS harvesting has on brake balance. In extreme cases, this can lead to rear-wheel lock-ups or even brake-failure.

History[]

Two minor incidents were reported during testing of various KERS systems in 2008. The first occurred when the Red Bull Racing team tested their KERS battery for the first time in July: it malfunctioned and caused a fire scare that led to the team's factory being evacuated. The second was less than a week later when a BMW Sauber mechanic was given an electric shock when he touched Christian Klien's KERS-equipped car during a test at the Jerez circuit.

Formula One has stated that they support responsible solutions to the world's environmental challenges, and the FIA allowed the use of 60 kW (82 PS; 80 bhp) KERS in the regulations for the 2009 Formula One season. Teams began testing systems in 2008: energy can either be stored as mechanical energy (as in a flywheel) or as electrical energy (as in a battery or supercapacitor).

With the introduction of KERS in the 2009 season, only four teams used it at some point in the season: Ferrari, Renault, BMW and McLaren. Eventually, during the season, Renault and BMW stopped using the system. Nick Heidfeld was the first driver to take a podium position with a KERS equipped car, at the Malaysian Grand Prix. McLaren Mercedes became the first team to win an F1 GP using a KERS equipped car when Lewis Hamilton won the Hungarian Grand Prix on July 26, 2009. Their second KERS equipped car finished fifth. At the follow European Grand Prix, Hamilton became the first driver to take pole position with a KERS car, his teammate, Heikki Kovalainen qualifying second. This was also the first instance of an all KERS front row. On August 30, 2009, Kimi Räikkönen won the Belgian Grand Prix with his KERS equipped Ferrari. It was the first time that KERS contributed directly to a race victory, with second placed Giancarlo Fisichella claiming "Actually, I was quicker than Kimi. He only took me because of KERS at the beginning".

Although KERS was still legal in F1 in the 2010 season, all the teams had agreed not to use it. New rules for the 2011 F1 season which raised the minimum weight limit of the car and driver by 20 kg to 640 kg, along with the FOTA teams agreeing to the use of KERS devices once more, meant that KERS returned for the 2011 season. Use of KERS was still optional as in the 2009 season; and at the start of the 2011 season three teams chose not to use it.

Since 2014, the power capacity of the KERS units were increased from 60 kilowatts (80 bhp) to 120 kilowatts (160 bhp). This was introduced to balance the sport's move from 2.4 litre V8 engines to 1.6 litre V6 turbo engines.


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