I’ve always thought of F1 racing as being good research and development for car companies. That line of thinking inevitably lead me to wonder why the cars still use gas when all signs point to hybrid automobiles in the future. I’ve been wondering this for years, and my brother has taken the brunt of my unrelenting curiosity around this.
Finally, F1 will be using hybrid technology in their cars.
The hybrid system that will be phased in is know as KERS, which stands for Kinetic Energy Recovery System. KERS doesn’t store as much energy as a traditional hybrid system, but it only weighs 55 pounds and the limited energy storage capacity is well suited for Formula-style racing.
The biggest difference between KERS and a regular battery-electric hybrid is that KERS stores recovered waste energy in a rotating flywheel. Instead of converting waste energy into electricity and than back into useful energy again with an electric motor, KERS simply transfers the kinetic energy to a ~5kg flywheel in the F1 car’s transmission. The energy stored in the flywheel can then be used by the driver by pushing a “boost” button.