Several recent incidents have highlighted the development challenges associated with some of the Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) under development for the 2009 F1 racing season.
The Red Bull factory was evacuated last week as a precaution after a battery vented, and a BMW mechanic suffered an electric shock. In a column for ITV, retiring F1 Red Bull driver David Coulthard said:
As has been well documented elsewhere, there are concerns about isolating the electrical charge that is stored within the car and the volatility of the chemicals used in the lithium batteries. Formula 1 is all about the technical challenge, but usually the risk is limited to the drivers. Quite clearly KERS has opened up another area.
You can bury your head in the sand, and it’s not politically correct to talk about it, but while we are going through the development phase there is a risk that extends to people at the factory and trackside personnel. I know there are working groups looking at how to manage and overcome these issues, so hopefully a satisfactory solution will be found, but the timescale is certainly pretty tight to be ready for the start of next season.