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GP Week : Issue 22
Short Straights n The causes of three separate refuelling incidents during the Hungarian GP don’t appear related. While there has been general talk of back- pressure from the fuel tank in very hot conditions, Honda’s fuel-splashing appears to simply be due to the refuelling nozzle not going on squarely. n Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher got himself into something of a scrape last week. The German was over in the UK to attend the Silverstone Classic meeting, and on his way back to the airport in his rented FIAT van, he collided with a pedestrian. The police were called but despite some Schuey sweariness, no action was taken. n On the topic of Silverstone, the BRDC has announced it plans to forge on with its planned redevelopment. The BRDC has, however, dropped plans to include a raft of new housing on the site. This news comes despite the fact that the sale of the land to build houses was believed to be on of the main methods of making money for the redevelopments … n The DPR GP2 team got into a bingle over the Hungary race weekend. On their way into the track on Saturday morning, the team’s minibus was involved in an incident, when a local car slammed into them. The van was sent into a number of rolls, but thankfully all onboard were shocked but otherwise OK. Three were taken to hospital for routine checks. KERS needs to be treated “appropriately” HONDA Racing F1 Team CEO Nick Fry says that fears over KERS units can be allayed by Formula 1 teams simply dealing with the technology in an “appropriate”manner. Fry’s comments to GPWeek come as talk in the F1 paddock suggests that a proposed ‘Gentlemen’s Agreement’ to delay the running of KERS until 2010 failed to reach the 7/10 majority required under new FOTA rules, during a meeting of F1 Team chiefs in Hungary. Honda has a long history of integrating hybrid technologies into its road cars, and Fry told GPWeek that this prior experience had helped HRF1 with its development of the new systems, which the team has already tested extensively and without incident. “For us KERS is progressing fairly well. I would not underestimate the challenge. Even for a company like Honda with a lot of familiarity with hybrid systems this is extremely complicated, but I think we’re satisfied with the progress and hopefully we’ll be in good shape at the start of next year. “They [road cars and F1] are clearly related and we have been able to learn from the road car experience and we have been using people from the road car division to help us develop our KERS systems. There is no doubt that it’s an advantage to have a manufacturer partner which has hybrid experience. “It’s been run in the car several times. Probably, as far as I understand, we’ve run it in a car more than everyone else at this stage with satisfying results. We haven’t encountered any unexpected safety issues so far, but you have to realise that many areas of a Formula 1 car have the potential to be dangerous. “Consequently you have to treat them appropriately and in the same way as you wouldn’t do fuel tank testing in an open office, you’d be doing it in specialised facilities – it’s the same with KERS. You need to make some investment in the correct safety equipment to do the testing properly.” Fry insisted that he did not believe KERS to be a dangerous technology, but admitted that the incident in which a BMW mechanic suffered an electric shock at an F1 test in Jerez could give all the F1 teams an insight into something which they might have overlooked. “I don’t think inherently KERS is any more dangerous than any other area of a Formula 1 car – it just needs to be treated appropriately. As for the BMW experience I think we’d all be pleased to hear what went on when they’ve done the analysis as it could be something that the rest of us have overlooked, and my understanding is that they don’t really understand the issue as yet.” Honda is believed to be spending a figure in the region of 70 million Euros (US$109m) on developing its KERS units and ,with just seven months until their use becomes possible in Formula 1, the timetable to ensure the technology’s absolute safety is short. This fact has not been lost on Honda’s rivals, who are all wary of the supposed safety threat. Toyota’s Technical Director Paschal Vasselon agreed that safety had to be the first consideration: “The safety of the marshals, of the public, of the drivers is of course the first priority of the KERS. We will all have to go through a fail of mode analysis which is a very strict procedure which will be co-ordinated by the FIA, and I’m sure that, through the technical working group, we will be able to share the different experiences of the teams, to accelerate the improvement of the safety level of the system. But, for sure, safety will be the first priority of this system.” Force India’s tech boss Mike Gascoyne also expressed his lack of trepidation to the new technology: “I think the safety issue is one that’s being stressed but it’s just an engineering problem and an engineering challenge. At the end of the day, we carry 70 kilos of fuel around at 200mph and go round corners. It’s just a similar engineering safety issue to address. We have to go through it and be rigorous but it’s just like numerous other challenges on the car.” At the end of the day we carry 70 kilos of fuel around at 200mph and go round corners. It’s a similar engineering safety issue to address Mike Gascoyne on KERS