Start, Melbourne, 2011

Ferrari believe some teams using KERS only for starts

2011 F1 season

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Start, Melbourne, 2011
Start, Melbourne, 2011

Ferrari believe some teams are only activating their Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems at the start of the race.

The team’s technical director Pat Fry said: “It is another very useful addition to your lap time performance and its use seems to vary from team to team.

“Some are using it just in qualifying and at the start of the race, while others are using it properly all the time.”

After qualifying in Melbourne there was speculation Red Bull were using a “start-only” KERS after they were observed not using their system on Saturday. However it later emerged they were not using KERS at all.

Fry said KERS was a useful aid to overtaking in the races: “It does help with overtaking, as you can use KERS to close the gap to the car in front and then the [Drag Reduction System] to go further still.

“It becomes a tactical game between two cars, with the car that is behind using both aids to try and overtake, while the car in front can only use the KERS to try and pull out a gap early on going down the straight.

“It is interesting, but I feel it is good that it has not made overtaking too easy, even if the slight increase in passing chances has improved the show and the tyre situation has also made it more exciting.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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46 comments on “Ferrari believe some teams using KERS only for starts”

  1. I’m really sick of this “the show” term. It almost makes F1 sound like some some kind of staged spectacle, like wrestling.

    1. Sush Meerkat
      5th April 2011, 11:11

      Just do what I’ve been doing, and ignore it all together, whenever these F1 suits ever say “improve the show” it doesn’t actually affect racing in any way.

      Yeah they say it a lot about all sorts but in the grand scheme of things its a non word.

      1. It is a show. Maybe your definition of “show” is incorrect?

        1. Its a Grand Prix, with racing. Or it should be. But with all the silly rules and after race decisions, it is a show. Just like Wrestlemania its not real. The powers that be will do anything to improve the ‘show’. Ask Bernie about his medals, fake rain and rubbish tires. That’s not racing, it a video game.

          What is wrong with just the best drivers in the best cars just racing, the 1st across the line wins? Not ‘You thought you won? Sorry to dampen your party, but you have been disqualified.’ hours or days later.

    2. It annoys me too, a little bit. It’s interesting however: when people talk about “improving the show” it’s generally seen as something really bad, but when they say “improving the spectacle” it’s somehow totally different.

      I was talking with some friends recently (and also F1 fans) who absolutely hate talking about the “show”, but they use the word “spectacle” quite freely ;)

      And regarding KERS: I think that in the race it will be used primarily as a defensive tool. I think in 2009 we didn’t see KERS used even once to aid overtaking manoeuvre. I might be wrong, but do any of you remember such situation?

      1. Kimi at Spa after the re-start is one I can remember though that isn’t quite the same as during proper racing.

      2. I think in 2009 we didn’t see KERS used even once to aid overtaking manoeuvre.

        Even though KERS was only used by a minority of cars in 2009 I can still think of plenty off the top of my head: Raikkonen at Spa and Hamilton at the Hungaroring for starters. Pretty much any pass by a McLaren or Ferrari that year must have been KERS-assisted, so Hamilton would have racked up some more at Interlagos, and he had that battle with Alonso at Silverstone…

        1. Mclaren didn’t use KERS in Silverstone did they?

          As regards to KERS on KERS overtaking, we saw some in Aus between Hamilton and Piquet.

        2. here’s a vid of hamilton in 2009 using KERS multiple times :)

        3. Oh well, it must be my selective memory then ;)

          I’m still not a fan of this system in it’s current, restricted form, but you’re right. There were some situation where it helped overtaking a bit. I still think that most drivers this year will save it for defence, but I hope I will be proven wrong.

  2. Would some of the teams using ‘start only’ KERS be using a lower weight system?

    1. It’s rubbish, you either have it or you don’t, as Red Bull demonstrated. It’s not worth the trouble of creating something inbetween. The teams further down the grid have bigger problems to address than creating something that only works for the first 5 seconds of the race. The only reason a car would have a “start only” KERS is if the have the full KERS, but with a broken recharge system.

      1. The teams charge the KERS on the formation lap, so if the charging system wasn’t working then they wouldn’t be able to deploy it at the start.

        Only using KERS at the start isn’t as big a disadvantage as it seems. Cars’ weight distribution is now standardised, so there is no disadvantage to lugging around a KERS unit as very expensive ballast for the whole race.

        Because of the way the KERS operates its repeated use can increase rear tyre wear. So only deploying it at the start of the race could be sensible for some teams.

        1. I think that is not right Andy. The teams are allowed to charge the batteries of their KERS systems before the race.

          I agree with you on the weight, the only slight difference might be in centre of gravity, but I doubt that would really give a serious benefit.

          Reasons would be the tyre wear and teams being unsecure about reliability and brake balance hindering their drivers during the race. And possibly a bit of a cooling issue.

          1. if you charge the system in the pits and only use it at the start its not actually a “KERS” systme any more since you are not recovering any kinetic energy. its basically a single use battery giving you a boost. if this is legal than the whole point of KERS is lost to me. arent we supposed to be utilizing energy that would otherwise be wasted? improving efficiency?

            on another note, I actually think that that KERS doesnt give the teams 0.3-0.5s per lap as they say. i think the disadvantage it creates under braking might cancel out the turbo boost. plus some drivers need to be constantly reminded to use it, indicating that they might have too many buttons to press in there.

            i think that massa for example who was locking up almost at every braking point in melbourne would have done better without KERS.

            too many compromises have to be made to accomodate KERS. i dont expect Red Bull to use the system in Malaysia.

          2. id of thought the gains if any of a lighter system in centre of gravity would be very important.

            having an option of where to put the weight rather than it being stuck in one place(kers) must give u massive set up options

        2. I thought it could be charged in the garage or on the grid before a race? or has that changed from 2009?

      2. Sush Meerkat
        5th April 2011, 11:15

        It’s rubbish, you either have it or you don’t, as Red Bull demonstrated. It’s not worth the trouble of creating something inbetween.

        I don’t know about that, if they could get a tiny KERS system system then they get a small boost at the start without the weight disadvantage and without the systems systems KERS systems messing up the engine braking balance.

        Remember that KERS systems systems recover energy from the engine slowing down not the actual brake discs, and in doing so the car’s balance under braking is out of whack, which Ferrari gave great examples of during 2009.

        1. I’m pretty sure there is no weight advantage at all to any kind of start only system. Remember that the generator for charging the batteries is the same device used to discharge the the batteries into the drive train. There are not two separate systmes or pieces of hardware. As far as the batteries, the battery mass is set by the energy needed for a few seconds of discharge at a time, i.e., almost all the time as you would use at the start.

          I also don’t think there is any advantage to brake bias. The KERS software controls the regen load to maintain the selected bias if it’s working property. This wouild not be a massive technical feat. You could not possibly drive on the limit if the bias was randomly changing every corner. Even in a road car hybrid , that would be insane.

          I suspect the problem with bias in 2009 had to do with the clampdown on teams using engine mapping to provide “antilock” braking by having the engine “brake” less when there is lock-up. Engine braking faux-antilock has been written out of the standard ECU now, so that should not differentiate cars now.

          Yes, I agree with BasCB that if you think your KERS is on the fritz, the main concern is braking performance. No driver wants to hit the brakes at 190 knowing the car may fly off the road due to an unresolved software glitch.

        2. It’s an interesting point. If teams are allowed to charge the batteries before the start of the race, a chassis could have KERS that only provides extra power and doesn’t have the “recovery” part so that it’s only of use during the start but saves weight that can be put lower down to improve handling instead of the weight being at/around the wheels.

    2. Probably its more them being afraid of their KERS reliability and possible affected brake balance if the KERS plays up during the laps. Remember that apart from McLaren, Ferrari, and to a lesser extent Renault and even less for Sauber the teams have no experience of actually running it during races.

  3. ‘properly’..

  4. Will the truth ever come out in F1?

    We DO NOT WANT SHOWS!! but RACING CARS!!!….. how high should I shout that loud? I have this feeling RBR is hiding something but are also aware of the dangers. Vettel was complaining of DRS and KERS, and Newey is not happy McLaren’s copy of their exhaust was a success. What the hell in going on?!?

  5. I’d like to see Ferrari’s evidence. As far as I know the only team that were supposed to have KERS and weren’t using it were Red Bull and their “start-only” KERS seems ever less likely to exist the more we hear about it. So what are they on about?

  6. Just do what I’ve been doing, and ignore it all together, whenever these F1 suits ever say “improve the show” it doesn’t actually affect racing in any way.

    I don’t like it when they say improve the show. When did F1 need improving? Last year was brilliant for on track action.

  7. “It becomes a tactical game between two cars, with the car that is behind using both aids to try and overtake, while the car in front can only use the KERS to try and pull out a gap early on going down the straight.”

    Yeah, I saw it in Australia. but it was battle between Alonso with KERS and Webber without KERS. Webber only had DRS to overtake. Alonso waited until home straight and when Webber activated DRS, Alonso used full charge of KERS to run away from it. even somone behind has KERS, I saw chaser used KERS already and front runner run way with full power of KERS. It was interesting.

  8. With new minimum weight rules it is a disadvantage not to have KERS.

  9. Massa appeared to save all his KERS for the main straight when successfully defending against Button. Button used KERS at various points on the circuit to keep up and thus only had DRS available to attack on the straight. The net effect of KERS and DRS seemed to be no change.

    1. Button did ultimately use DRS to pass Massa, though.

    2. Thats what i saw also. So basically it didnt give any advantage for overtaking.

      Even If Button used both KERS and MRW still it wasnt enough because it doesnt give full advantage if they use both. I mean if KERS gives you something like 15 km/h and MRW 15 km/h, when using both at the same time they dont get that whole 30 km/h or so.

      1. So basically it didnt give any advantage for overtaking.

        Except that Button did use DRS to pass Massa…

        1. Do you mean the corner cutting or later in the race??

          …if later then i missed it.

          Ofcourse there are more things that affect the overtaking situation. Tires, mistakes etc.

          But if thinking purely KERS vs. MRW when drivers are with same tires and close in pace.

          Button was so much faster that i think even without these new tools he would have got past Massa who was way off pace vice.

          1. I’m sorry if this sounds rude, but of course I don’t mean the corner cutting, I mean when Button passed Massa on lap 48.

  10. i can see no advantge at all in “1 lap only” kers system other then reliabillity, but even then i was under the impression it would just stop working rather then cause a retirement so why would you not run it??

    surely if you go to the expense of, and take the weight penalty of any kers system youd want to have kers for a speed boost to help overtaking or defending during the race. Especially if your slow on the straights (red bull) and likely to get mugged if your in traffic, or slow in the high speed corners (everyone else) so you dont get mugged by someone else using their kers and drs on the straights.

  11. I’m going to reserve judgment on how effective DRS/DRS & KERS is for over-taking until we’re a few more races in. I would think Melbourne an exception to the rule when it comes to how long the straight for the DRS is.

  12. I heard that Barrichello said that one problem with KERS is that it compromises the car´s balance during the braking, when part of the force needed to decelerate the car comes from the eletromagnetic forces that charges the battery. It seems that when one uses only the friction forces you can get better results.

  13. Geordie Porker
    5th April 2011, 15:28


    I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. I was confused by Ferrari’s comments too. I’m not trying to hate them, but this is a non-statement from Pat Fry until he says other teams ‘are using it properly’ which suggests he’s not happy with teams using start only KERS.

    But he could, as PM suggests, just be impressed by their ingenuity.

    I’m slightly confused by the statement to be honest, but it leaves an overall impression that Ferrari are not happy.

    And PM certainly isn’t turing this into a ‘hate-fest’ – he’s asking a valid question just like mine: why was this statement made?

  14. spanky the wonder monkey
    5th April 2011, 16:53

    what constitutes ‘proper use’?

    if teams / drivers only elect to use it at the start / quali, and forego the power it delivers for the rest of the race, that’s up to them.
    if they have it fitted and not use it at all, it’s up to them.
    it may be that others systems are unreliable and they daren’t use it during the race. again, that’s up to them.

    just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you should or have to use it. it’s a large block of ballast if it isn’t used, but use isn’t mandatory.

    1. That is really interesting that FIA didnt make it mandatory. And left it open just like 09. So basically if RB options not to use it all if they see their pace been a lot better without KERS then its 09 all over again.

      Do we see teams taking off KERS from cars in coming races??

      MERC might be one for sure.

  15. The key is probably in being flexible: if you can turn KERS on and off, and profit from either being able to defend/overtake or from the better braking, which also saves your tyres, I guess then you’re the man.

    In fact Ferrari seem to be rather far on that road, I remeber a message to Alonso about “charging 2 pts up”, which seems to imply they can sacrifice either charging or braking.

    Now it would be really nice if the graphs also showed how much is loaded and when.

  16. I’m no expert on KERS, but if it’s possible for KERS to be turned off during the race, then couldn’t a team only use the system on the start and then turn it off? Getting the benefit from the start and then not having the reliability or braking issues that others may have.

    Especially beneficial if the team is just using the battery as ballast, and doesn’t effect weight advantage.

    Although, thinking about it…I don’t see the benefit of that really. I guess it’s down to whether KERS really does effect tyre wear and driving style.

    In 2009 my theory probably would have made more sense and been more beneficial lol.

    1. I agree, I think one of the big thing they are worried is the brake balance,with KERS turned off they have good rear brake balance.

  17. What other team? I can’t think of any not using KERS in the race that day except for Red Bull.

  18. Hi Keith, when Button passed Massa, on lap 48, Massa immediately pitted for soft tyres. Button’s tyres were 11 laps old, while Massa’s had done 17 laps. Was tyre-wear the reason Button passed so easily?

    1. It will of helped for sure ;-)

      1. Tyre that is, how much was due to DRS…?

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