Mosley plays down KERS safety fears

Fears about the safety of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) in Formula One have been overblown and there is no doubt the devices will be widely used next year

Mosley plays down KERS safety fears

That is the view of FIA president Max Mosley, who says that he does not share recent concerns about the safety of the technology despite some high-profile incidents.

Fears about the swift implementation of KERS were fuelled when a BMW Sauber mechanic suffered an electric shock after touching a car fitted with one of the devices at recent testing in Jerez.

That incident came just a few days after Red Bull Racing were forced to evacuate part of their factory after a fire scare caused when a battery experiment went wrong.

But despite the troubles teams have experienced, Mosley has made it clear that he is more excited than worried about the introduction of KERS - and thinks that it is only natural teams hit trouble when they push technology to the limit in testing.

"For us there are two main areas," he said about KERS. "There's what we call the health and safety area, which is in the factory and basic precautions of the car. And then there's the operating it - does it cause a danger to the drivers, the marshals, the mechanics and so on? And we're interested in the operating it bit.

"What happened with BMW was, on the face of it, very surprising, because you would think they would either insulate the electrical system or they would earth the car. I don't know what went wrong, so I can't comment on I, but these are very elementary problems. With road cars I think a Toyota Lexus has a 600-volt system, but you don't get a shock from it."

Mosley also downplayed the Red Bull Racing incident, claiming he wasn't surprised there were complications caused by lithium battery experiments.

"I haven't seen a report, but what I suspect happened was they pushing the boundaries of the units to see what happened. Anyone who has ever been childish enough to operate a model plane that runs with lithium iron batteries will know that if you overcharge them you get better performance, but they also get very hot and start to bulge, and they're only small, so you have to be careful."

There have been suggestions that some teams have been scaremongering about the systems, because they are against the introduction of KERS in F1.

Mosley says, however, that BMW Sauber would be the last team to get involved in such tactics because they have been so positive about the introduction of the technology.

"There is opposition to it, but BMW have always been very enthusiastic. They put out a very positive press release saying it had directly fed into the road cars.

"To me, the crucial thing about KERS is that its inconceivable that in 50 years time, when you put the brakes on in your car, the energy will just burn off in heat. That won't happen.

"But the first thing we need is a system that's capable of absorbing all the energy when you put the brakes on. The next generation of Formula One cars will be like that. They'll probably be able to absorb, we're talking 300 kilowatts, and giving out 200 kilowatts. That's a two-tonne car braking at 1G. F1 will make that very small and very light, and the things that will fit in next year, in ten year's time, will look very primitive. But that's Formula One.

"We've seen it so often in areas, and those devices will be crucial for the roads because if a KERS system is really light and can absorb all the energy, with super capacitors or flywheels, whatever its going to be, that's really for the road, and if we advance it by several years, then that's extremely useful and that alone can justify Formula One, because it will make such a huge contribution to the motor industry.

"If you imagine you could have a super-efficient KERS system, five to 10 years sooner than you would otherwise get it, then multiply it by the number of cars in the world, then Formula One (costs) will be a drop in the ocean."

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