“In 2009 Formula One is going hybrid as the first stage of a programme to divert the vast research effort at the pinnacle of motor sport towards energy efficiency,” Mosley said. “The development of engines has been frozen, meaning that extra power can only be gained by making better use of energy, or by getting more useful work from the fuel burned.“Called KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System), this hybrid device is set to revolutionise Formula One. It will make the sport at once more environmentally friendly, road relevant, and at the cutting edge of future automotive technology.
KERS is a 55-pound hybrid addition (light by hybrid standards, but heavy by Formula One standards) that stores kinetic energy in a flywheel in the vehicle’s transmission. This kinetic energy can then be used at the push of a “boost” button on the steering wheel. Instead of using batteries and electric motors for energy storage, KERS relies on mechanical energy storage.
Rumors that F1 cars in the future will include pedal power for an even larger boost in fuel efficiency, although not without a serious cost to performance, remain unconfirmed.