Red Bull using “Start Up KERS”?

Today’s Qualifying performance by Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is one that has left the F1 World scratching their heads. How did he manage it without using KERS?

When pressed for a reason why, Mark Webbers only reply was “there were internal reasons why”. Which would suggest they’ve got something they are trying to hide from the other teams.

For those that don’t know what KERs is, or what it does, here’s a brief explanation. KERS stands for Kinetic Energy Recovery System, and works by using taking some of the energy that would otherwise be used as waste heat energy and stores it inside a battery. Drivers can then use this during the race as an “energy boost” or a “push to pass” button. FIA regulations currently state that it can be used for a maximum of 6.7 seconds a lap and this is governed by programmes in the FIA standard ECU (Electronic Control Unit).

The advantage of it is of course, the technical features listed above. However it does have two limitations that put off some teams- cost, and weight. In order to encourage usage of the KERS system, the FIA decided to raise the minimum car weight to 640kg.

It’s not a cheap system to implement however, and does require concessions in design concepts to fit it in- the KERS battery is both heavy and cumbersome and requires being designed around.

Suggestions right across a paddock suggest that Red Bull have devised a clever “Start Up KERS”. It is alleged that it will be “trickle charged” in the garage before the race session. Then, come the start of the race the energy inside this “Start Up KERS” will be activated, thereby matching the start pace of the KERS cars, without the cumbersome weight. So how does it work? Well it would appear that if true, it saves on weight (as the battery is a lot lighter). Also- as alluded to if the normal KERS goes wrong, it’s a lot of weight lugged around for nothing, creating a disadvantage.

This would explain Mark Webbers quote that “it’s an internal team thing”. No confirmation yet though. And if it is true it does not gather energy from braking, is it actually a KERS system?

Edit: For further information on this, BBC’s pitlane reporterTed Kravitz has done a great article here

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