BMW mechanic escapes KERS scare
|By Jonathan Noble||Tuesday, July 22nd 2008, 11:48 GMT|
Questions about the safety of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) in Formula One were raised again on Tuesday when a BMW Sauber mechanic suffered an electric shock after touching a car fitted with the device during testing at Jerez in Spain.
BMW Sauber were conducting further evaluation of their KERS on the first day of this week's test, with Christian Klien at the wheel of a modified car that featured some 2009-aero concepts and an early version of their energy recovery device.
Klien had just completed a three-lap installation run in the morning when he returned to the pits. After stopping in the pitlane, mechanics attended to the car to wheel him backwards into the team's garage - but the first mechanic to touch the car fell to the ground after receiving an electric shock.
He was pulled to his feet by fellow team members and, after being examined in the medical centre, he was found to have suffered no serious injury.
Klien has not yet returned to the track and is unlikely to do so until the team fully understands what went wrong this morning.
A team spokesman told autosport.com: "During the testing of the KERS car at the Jerez test track today, there was an incident involving a mechanic when the car returned to the pits. He touched it and suffered an electric shock.
"He sustained slight injuries to his left hand and grazing on his left arm. After a brief examination at the track's medical centre, he has returned to the test team. We are currently investigating the incident."
The Jerez pitlane incident comes less than a week after Red Bull Racing were forced to evacuate part of their factory in Milton Keynes after a battery system test of their KERS went wrong.
The issue of KERS safety has been discussed between the teams already this year, but with work now accelerating on getting the devices ready for 2009, there is a renewed urgency to the matter.
Toyota team principal John Howett told autosport.com in Hockenheim: "I think all of these issues have been on the table from the beginning. So you have voltage issues, you have the battery issues; you have the cost of registering the batteries to transport them. People who use high-speed rotating flywheels have also got issues there.
"The perception of KERS is very simple, but the execution is incredibly difficult and the road car applications are completely different from a race car. Whereas the motor, the control unit, the battery, and the basic concept is similar, the actual sophistication and needs of a road car are completely different from what we are having to develop in Formula One. So there is a big difference"