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GP Week : Issue 21
KERS failure THE immediate future of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems in Formula 1 has come into question after events at last week’s group test at Jerez, Spain. BMW Sauber ran its 2009 KERS system for the first time in a public test on Tuesday, but were forced to scrap their analysis plans when a team mechanic received an electric shock from the KERS unit. The incident occurred after test driver Christian Klien had run only installation laps and returned to the pits. When the first mechanic touched the car, it is understood that he acted as the ‘earth’, and suffered an electric shock from the force in the KERS unit’s energy storage device. BMW “After extensive dyno testing and a successful shakedown in Miramas last week, the BMW Sauber F1 Team for the first time ran an F1.07C equipped with the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) in an official test,”the team said in a statement. “Right after the installation laps in the morning 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 work with the test team. Because the team is still investigating the incident, the car did not run in the afternoon.” While the team returned to testing duty for the remainder of the four day test without the KERS unit, the mechanic involved in the incident later complained of feeling unwell and was taken to hospital for overnight observation. “He was subsequently released by the doctors who were happy with the results of their tests,”the team confirmed. “The mechanic is on his way back to Switzerland this evening.” This latest KERS issue follows a fire scare at Red Bull Racing’s Milton Keynes base in the UK, after a KERS energy storage unit the team was testing became unstable and emitted a huge amount of heat. With F1 teams understood to be faced with a choice between using battery or super-capacitor technology for their energy storage, it is believed that the majority of issues are being caused by the instability of batteries, namely those reliant on lithium. Lithium produces lightweight and efficient energy storage devices, such as those used in the majority of laptop computers, but is renowned for emitting high temperatures. This latest KERS scare gives weight to electrocution fears which have existed since the KERS proposals first arose. Back at the Turkish Grand Prix, GPWeek approached the FIA on the topic of the risk to marshals of electrocution in SHOCKS