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KERS will be safe, says FIA's Whiting

Charlie WhitingThe FIA is confident that measures it has implemented with the teams will ensure that the new-for-2009 Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) will be safe for use at races.

The introduction of KERS in Formula One this season has prompted widespread safety fears, especially after a BMW Sauber mechanic suffered an electric shock during testing at Jerez in Spain last year.

But FIA race director Charlie Whiting believes that work done by the governing body, as well as efforts by teams, should minimise the risk of dangers to drivers, team personnel and track safety workers.

"Through the Technical Working Group, we set up a KERS Safety Working Group chaired by BMW," said Whiting on Tuesday.

"They've met quite a few times and they've come up with a long list of suggestions, parts of which have already become regulations, and some of which will form the basis of a comprehensive document we'll circulate to all circuits and tracks hosting a Grand Prix.

"The teams are taking this very responsibly for their own safety, of course. They're also looking at how the marshals will respond to broken-down cars. There will be things like the KERS status warning light that will be on all cars. Marshals are going to be educated by the documentation we'll provide.

"Also, the systems themselves should be safe. If there's a risk, it should be clear to a marshal who walks up to the car. He should approach the vehicle, look at the KERS status light and, if it is in the wrong state, he shouldn't touch the car.

"Also, people working on the track are being briefed about how to pick up parts, which will be clearly identified by colour coding. If they potentially contain high voltage, they have to know how to move them. They will also wear gloves, which are good for a thousand volts."

Whiting said that teams were working together to help improve knowledge of the safety aspects of the new electronic systems.

As well as being safe, Whiting thinks that KERS will help improve the show and provide off-track benefits to the car manufacturers involved in the sport. However, he was not convinced yet about the positives of having such a variety of KERS technology being developed by the teams.

When asked if it was right for F1 to have so many dissimilar ideas for the new technology, Whiting said: "Difficult to say. Presumably the teams involved have done things for their own good reasons.

"Obviously, the best solution will emerge, eventually. This is what always happens when we have something new. All the teams have significant simulation tools at their disposal. They've used these the best way they can to find and arrive at the best technology. There's no clear leader as we speak but one will emerge, I'm sure.

"Also, I think KERS will add significant interest to Formula One. It's going to be very interesting to see how the drivers deploy it, because the rules state that the release of the power has to be under the complete control of the driver - that's the important part."

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