Webber says KERS a concern for drivers
|By Jonathan Noble||Friday, August 8th 2008, 10:04 GMT|
Formula One drivers' concerns about the safety of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) have increased because BMW Sauber have not yet found out what caused their electric shock incident in Jerez.
That is the view of Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) director Mark Webber, who says that the KERS safety debate will become much bigger if BMW Sauber cannot get to the bottom of what it was that caused one of their mechanics to suffer an electric shock during testing.
The matter was discussed by drivers at the Hungarian Grand Prix, as they await the results of BMW Sauber's investigations into the matter.
When asked by autosport.com about the feelings among drivers, Webber said: "There is a report coming from BMW about what happened there, but the rumour is they haven't a clue why it happened. They have no idea - and that is a worry.
"You only need to think about what would happen if someone gets shocked into the fast lane of the pitlane."
Webber likened the fears among drivers about KERS to those experienced by the general public after a aviation accident, when there is no confirmation of what caused the disaster.
"It is like a plane crash when you don't get the evidence," he said.
Although the drivers do have their concerns about the situation, all the teams involved in the sport are confident they will eventually get KERS completely safe.
Force India's chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne said: "It's flavour of the month but the simple fact is teams will get on top of it. If you look at the electronic systems, they are fairly standard technology which is why people are going for them rather than some of the more involved mechanical type systems that do pose a lot of problems.
"The fact is, we will get on top of them quickly. As soon as one person does, the nature of Formula One means everyone else has to. Things like the incident with BMW, I'm sure they are working to understand it, but I don't think that'll cause problems. It should be straightforward.
"Certainly the electronic KERS we're looking at is a fully sealed unit. All the high-tension cables are within a sealed unit. It's difficult to see how you can have a problem."
On top of the safety issues, some teams are also worried about the costs involved in developing KERS - with rumours that some manufacturers have set aside as much as £35 million in bringing on the technology over the next few years.
Williams CEO Adam Parr said, however, that there was little ground for teams to complain about costs.
"I don't mind saying that our budget for KERS is ten percent of our budget for aerodynamics and composite parts, so it's not a huge amount of money and we see it as a fantastic investment into the future of the sport," he told the official Formula One website.
"And looking at it from a competitive side, I don't see it as a potential performance differentiator. Overall we think it is the kind of thing we should be doing in Formula One, as it maybe has a wider significance than only in Formula One."