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FIA President Pushing for Use of Mechanical KERS in Formula One, With a Ban on Battery Systems

In a letter to the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA), FIA president Max Mosley said that he believes mechanical Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) are preferable to the battery systems currently being devised by several teams, and that battery-based systems should be banned.

Beginning this year, Formula One teams can implement a KERS system that can convey a maximum up 60 kW and store up to 400 kJ (.111 kWh) per lap. Teams are working on KERS units with two types of storage: mechanical (e.g., flywheel), and chemical (e.g., battery).

The stored kinetic power is released using a boost button that delivers a burst of extra power to the car for a short period—for example, while overtaking a competitor or defending a position. KERS is not mandatory, and teams can work together on a common KERS.

We are increasingly of the view that the use of chemical storage (in particular batteries) should be prohibited in Formula One owing to the unsuitability of the batteries currently available. There are at least two mechanical or electro-mechanical systems under development for Formula One and there may be others as well as hydraulic systems.

Formula One would benefit from systems with more capacity than the present, (for example maxima of: 2MJ [0.56 kWh] stored, 150kW in, 100kW out) but still very small and very light, as is essential in Formula One. These figures are theoretically possible with mechanical devices, but not feasible in the foreseeable future using batteries and/or capacitors. Such non-chemical devices, if successfully developed, would have a very significant impact on road transport and other applications.

—Max Mosley

At least one F1 team has signed up to use the Flybrid mechanical KERS system (earlier post). Bosch Motorsport is developing a modular Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) for use in motor racing that covers racing requirements from Formula 1 to series such as the DTM or 24-hour races.

In the Bosch system, either a lithium-ion battery with scalable capacity or a flywheel energy storage device is used for storing energy. The latter can store up to 750 kilojoules (0.208 kWh) of energy. The electric motors weigh between four and eight kilograms with a maximum power level of 60 kW. (Earlier post.)

Mosley’s letter to FOTA was, in general, a call for further cost-cutting.

As already mentioned, the financial barriers to entry were already too high before the current world financial crisis. We had a Championship dependent on the willingness of world’s car industry to continue spending vast sums on Formula One racing and the few remaining independent teams (with one exception) entirely reliant on the generosity of their billionaire owners. In current circumstances, it would be crazy to assume this can continue. Costs must be reduced to a point where a well-run independent team can operate profitably with just the FOM money and very moderate sponsorship.

—Max Mosley



Someone please explain to me the logic behind this Mosley plan? There isn't a single mechanical system in development for hybrid production by ANY manufacturer, they are all electric based systems and he wants to BAN electric KERS systems from F1? I have to laugh it sounds so stupid. Not only do they handicap the KERS system by limiting it to the rear axle (as a regen technology it should collect at the front and deliver at the back) and give it some random power limit, now for some totally questionable reason the FIA feel the need to tilt the field in favour of flywheel systems. Surely if, as Mosley claims, batteries and capacitors are not good enough then teams will chose not to use them? I think it's pretty brainless to talk about banning systems just months away from the first ever KERS race, has this bloke EVER heard of rule stability? F1 as a developer of road car technology has been a farce for years (how many road cars run 1.5 Ton of aero downforce or need pneumatic valve springs to sustain 19,000 rpm?) and it will obviously continue to be. Toyota already claims road car hybrid systems are more advanced than F1 KERS and they have to ‘detune’ theirs to use as a racing system. Now Toyota will have to start from scratch, I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to bits at that news! EV hybrid systems are allowed at Le-Mans and mechanical systems are specifically banned, Toyota may win Le-Mans sooner rather than later.


Max is so stupid!

Max needs to stop tryinh to micromanage F1 Technology, and let the teams figure it out.

He talks about reducing costs, but makes no argument towards electrical KERS being more expensive.

Max's time is better spent at wild private parties...


This is disappointing; I thought Toyota has already proven Caps and Regen was feasible with their endurance race car. And that was a year and a half ago.



This is ridiculous. Altair nanotech batteries can easily match the required power output (6 kW per kg, so only 10kg of batteries) and have the benefit of being almost non-combustible (ie no thermal runaway).

If the teams are trying to make cobalt-oxide based cells work (presumably chasing energy density) then I could imagine Moseley's concern, but he appears ignorant of the fact that there ARE already safe and effective chemistries to suit the needs of KERS.

Sean Lee

People above don't understand the characteristic of F1...I support Mosler's decision...F1 should stay away from electric gizmo as far as possible. F1 is all about mechanical magic. Remember F1 is a motorSPORT for enthusiasts, not for boring treehuggers I hope F1 stay ICE forever. electrified F1 is just horrible...can't even think of all electrified F1...

Sean Lee

If anybody wants racing cars with batteries...they can buy some in a toy store...


I would love to see Formula EV as a support race before the main F1 event each Sunday.

Rob W

Paul said: "There isn't a single mechanical system in development for hybrid production by ANY manufacturer, they are all electric based systems..."

Nothing yet on the production front, but as it says on Flybrid's website: "The company is now in serious discussion with a number of OEM road car makers who are keen to find an alternative to expensive electric hybrid systems."

The most advanced project I know of would be this: - last I heard they had fitted all the kit into their target vehicle and commenced testing.

Re: handicapping KERS... there were suggestions that by 2013 energy would be able to be drawn from and fed back into both axles - with max. power transmission of 200 kW. Whether or not this is still the FIA's (sorry, Max Mosley's) plan is anyone's guess.

Mosley's lack of enthusiasm for batteries may be related to their longevity under racing conditions - it's been suggested that they will be replaced every race or two to ensure max. efficiency. This is not in keeping with his desire to make F1 "greener", and nor does it tally with his wish to make the sport more relevant to the automotive world at large - and in this respect surely cost must count against super-caps and nanotech batteries.

Willy Bio

Sean Lee,

You sir, are an ass. (IMHO of course)


Re battery costs:

Altair nano batteries are being sold at $2,000 per kWh, so a 60 kW (10 kg, or 1 kWh) battery would cost at most $2,000, or ~$40,000 per season if changing it every weekend.

$40,000 is nothing for a Formula 1 team when the absolute cheapest forseeable engine costs (even after the rule changes) are $5 million per season.

I think this whole perceived "problem" has occurred because Mosely, and the F1 engineers, simply aren't aware that suitable battery chemistries already exist.


Ban? Ban?
What a jerk.
The least he could do is let alternatives compete.

Rob W

Clett: my point wasn't that nano batteries & super-capacitors are too expensive for F1, rather that Mosley envisions these new 'green' technologies (KERS first, then exhaust energy/heat recovery) being transferable to the broader auto market - that's where the cost issue comes into play. It's also where the mechanical KERS wins hands down: per-unit mass-production cost has been estimated at approx. one quarter that of a standard battery-based system.

Rob W

Before going on about the cost, perhaps I should have asked how many of these nano-batts would be required in a typical hybrid road car.


Nothing new here. Back in 1968 these same clowns banned the use of gas turbine engines for racing in favour of Offenhauser piston engines. Maybe someone is getting a kick back.


The purpose of the beloved F1 circus is to produce a show where Ferrari beats the rest - period. If Max Mosley wants to ban electric KERS, it must be because Ferrari's Luca di Montezemolo wants it that way. It is reported that Luca asked Max to write him this letter because Ferrari's KERS development is behind that of its rivals - BMW and McLaren. This has nothing to do with the cost of KERS or with sustainable mobility for that matter.

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