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F1: Williams KERS is heading for the road, not the racetrack

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The Williams F1 team has revealed that it is no longer focusing on KERS technology for its racecar, with resources directed into developing a system for road cars instead.

The company bought a share in a hybrid power company two years ago with the aim of developing its flywheel energy storage technology for wider uses beyond just motor racing.


Yesterday Williams Hybrid Power (WHP) boss Ian Foley told Racecar Engineering magazine that the company is now concentrating on non-motorsport programmes, doubling its staff numbers in the process. He also said that switching back to F1 would require even more recruitment.

The Kinetic Energy Recovery System, first introduced into Formula One for the 2009 season, aimed to recover energy from braking and make it available to the driver through a short-burst ‘power-boost’ button to aid overtaking.

It enjoyed limited take-up by teams and raised concerns as to whether its additional weight justified performance gains, with all bar Williams developing versions that used heavy batteries to store the energy.

Formula One has abandoned KERS for 2010 although the technology is predicted by some to return in the future.

The Williams flywheel version was not completed in time to be used last season, but WHP recently announced its membership of a partly government-funded consortium called KinerStor which aims to show mass market uses for it and similar systems.

KinerStor hopes to demonstrate fuel savings of up to 30 per cent, with equivalent reductions in carbon dioxide emissions, at a low enough cost to put the technology into affordable mass-market hybrid vehicles.

It is thought that the technology could also provide low-cost compact energy storage systems for industrial and construction use.


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