Ferrari first team to ditch KERS

Updated: April 16, 2009, 8:34 AM ET
Associated Press

SHANGHAI, China -- Ferrari is the first Formula One team to ditch the problematic KERS energy-boost system, electing not to use it for this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.

Ferrari had a failure in the KERS system on Kimi Raikkonen's car during practice for the previous race in Malaysia earlier this month, and while it went ahead with the technology for the race at Sepang, it has elected not to do so for Shanghai.

"We need to understand what happened to the system from the point of view of safety and reliability," Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said. "It has delivered a performance benefit, but if it is not running safely and reliably, we can no longer take the risk of running it."

The KERS technology stores energy from braking, which can then be used at driver discretion to provide a brief power boost for up to 6 seconds per lap.

The teams that have used KERS so far this season have had little success, despite added straight-line speed, and the device does add extra weight to the car.

BMW's Robert Kubica will use the technology in China, having opted out in the opening two races. His teammate Nick Heidfeld had used it in both Australia and Malaysia.

China will also witness the first attempts by rival teams to mimic the controversial diffuser designs used on the Brawn, Toyota and Williams cars. Those diffusers survived a legal challenge this week, putting the onus on other teams to come up with similar designs to match the clear speed advantage of the three teams already using it.

Renault and McLaren were two teams expected to alter their diffusers for Shanghai, though a true re-working of their designs will have to wait until next week's Grand Prix in Bahrain, and possibly not even then.

An entirely new design would require an overhaul of the bodywork and aerodynamic package, and Ferrari is one team that will wait until a return to the European races to match the two-tiered diffuser, which channels and distributes air under the cars.

That meant Brawn, Toyota and Williams should retain their edge in Shanghai.

"If we do a good job, we should be ready by the time we return to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix: at least, that is our current target," Domenicali said.

"I am sure Ross [Brawn's] car will be flying away and we will be trying to catch up as quickly as possible. But the more races that go by as you try and find the required performance level, the more points they will score.

"I am not saying we are already waving the white flag, because this is not in our mentality and we will fight right up to the moment that we can no longer win."

Renault's Fernando Alonso was more concerned with tire grip in Shanghai, slamming the decision to use the super-soft compound as the option tire this weekend on the hard-wearing circuit.

"I think it is the worst decision they made in a long time, because it is a ridiculous tire for here, for Shanghai," Alonso said. "I don't know if Bridgestone made the decision or the FIA, but they have to reconsider this type of decision because we look ridiculous."


Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press