Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems seem to be getting a bad reputation in China as more teams join Ferrari in removing the device from their cars. Gestione Sportiva said prior to the Chinese Grand Prix weekend that they were taking the part off the troubled F60 for reliability reasons, the KERS having caused both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa problems. And now, only three drivers will have the new technology for the rest of the weekend as more more it from their 2009 challengers.
Robert Kubica was trialling the system on Friday, BMW wanting to see the effect it has on the heavier driver’s car. The Swiss-German team had been running KERS on Nick Heidfeld’s machine since the season start in Australia, and the German’s second place finish in Malaysia proving the F1.09 isn’t a bad car. However, the Polish race winner decided not to continue with the energy recovery device and it has been dettached from the BMW.
Also removing KERS are both Renaults, the Enstone-based team having already decided prior to arriving in Shanghai that Fernando Alonso will not run it. Now the team have removed the device from Nelson Piquet’s car as well. This leaves just the McLaren team and Nick Heidfeld with the extra horsepower at the touch of a button. Judging the pace of Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen in free practice at the start of qualifying, you would have to say that Woking have got it right. And as previously mentioned, Heidfeld appears to be comfortable with the technology as well.
However, the complete removal of the device from two championship winning teams does not paint a healthy picture for the technology the FIA are so keen to promote. It would seem that the KERS isn’t always appropriate, and Monaco immediately springs to mind as a circuit where perhaps the boost in power won’t be entirely necessary.
Shanghai though does have some fast sections and corners that require a decent exit speed to carry down a straight. From what the teams are saying though, KERS isn’t that useful in China. Considering Robert Kubica was knocked out of Q1 though, you would have to question that thinking.