by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 39
>>GPWEEKOPINION Going on the offensive Will Buxton GPWeek editor If there’s a more smiley man in the world than Richard Branson, I am yet to see him. His grin was infectious in Australia, so much so that his arrival in the paddock and Virgin’s arrival in Formula 1 almost made you forget that the team carrying his logos was racing under an appeal which could yet see the wonderful headline-grabbing result stripped from them. But it wouldn’t be F1 without a little controversy, would it? The diffuser issue looks set to rumble on for the next few weeks, with one camp saying it’s perfectly legal and the other saying that not only is it illegal, but unsafe! Essentially it all boils down to ground effect and the suggestion that the double-decker diffuser produces such downforce on the car in question. But is it really that terrible to imagine utilising ground effect? Sure it’s been banned for many a year, but do we not think that with the reduction in aerodynamics, a bit of ground effect might actually enable better racing and more overtaking? There’s an argument to say it just might. What has become obvious after Australia however is that the advent of KERS is not quite the magic boost that everyone thought it might be. But it does provide a new racing angle. At present, given the apparent performance advantage held by the non-KERS cars, its use is far more in the defensive than the offensive. It is not a mythical overtaking button, but it can help to keep another driver behind. It gave us some great battles (Glock versus Alonso was a particular highlight) and gave us an additional factor to throw into the mix when debating the fight in question. KERS then, may only come into its own after the decision of the Court of Appeal. Whatever it decides, the cars will become closer in competitive terms in Europe. Either the Diffusergate Three will have to redesign their cars, or the other seven teams will have to have a rethink on their design. As the cars get closer in competitive and design terms, it will be then that KERS becomes an offensive tool. An opportunity wilfully lost Michael Scott MotoGP editor “Change and decay in all around we see.” Well, that might be a bit strong, since at least one of the new MotoGP rule changes, the single tyre rule, seems so far to have been entirely constructive, though heavily criticised at the time. But the impression of decay is a feeling shared by many in the paddock, in the wake of a new raft of restrictive rules … another flurry of knee-jerk responses to the financial crisis announced this weekend. Among the complaints, however, one more serious fact was overlooked by many. The GP Commission meeting also put a stop to KTM’s “KERS” (Kinetic Energy Recovery System). The Austrian factory’s innovation, taking a leaf from the F1 book, was banned outright, before it had even got going. It seems that the new dedication to penny-pinching has allowed a major opportunity to be lost. Any kind of regenerative braking is surely to be encouraged, no matter what form it takes. Saving energy in this way is in the long run of much more significance than saving money. And furthermore it gives credence to the view that racing is actually a worthwhile research and development tool, rather than mere petrol-head hedonism. KTM proposed the system over the winter. Anticipating opposition, the factory also issued a carefully argued document putting forward the case that their KERS is within the regulations. These state that a grand prix motorcycle must be propelled by an internal combustion engine. KTM argued that energy recovered and re- used was originally derived from an internal combustion engine. The argument has now been firmly and finally rejected. The Austrian design, by two-stroke guru Harald Bartol, recovers energy from the rear brake, stores it in a ‘super- capacitor’ battery, then releases it during acceleration by driving the engine’s alternator … or at least reducing the load on it. Very little actual power is involved – not enough, say KTM, to turn the engine over against compression. But the energy release is timed to smooth out the speed of the crankshaft, which on a single- cylinder engine like a 125 is subject to significant variation in each single rotation. It was of course in the earliest stages of development. Performance would improve rapidly with racing development, and the application to street motorcycles goes without saying. It really would improve fuel efficiency on any machine from commuter scooter to balls-out sportster. For a small factory like KTM, this sort of development is a prime reason to go racing. Now it’s been blocked, we can anticipate the company’s already radically shrinking interest in GP racing (out of 250s this year, and only two 125 entries) will dwindle still further. But its plan to enter World Superbikes is going ahead full steam. The decision to block KERS by MotoGP moguls is yet another gift to the rival World Superbike series. More importantly, it is a lost opportunity to improve bike racing’s credibility and to make a real contribution to automotive engineering. 25 opinion opinion