In what could end up being a shocking turn of events, Williams F1 has elected to abandon its flywheel-based kinetic energy recovery system in favour of a fully electric storage design, according to a recent article at Autosport.com.
“I think it’s fairly well known that we’re going to be running a battery system,” said Head. “It’s not that we… Had we run KERS in 2009, and we did run the flywheel in the car, but not at a grand prix, it was a flywheel-based system.
“The flywheel, by the very nature of what it is, has a cylinder of a certain diameter.
“The weight is actually lighter than a battery, but of equivalent power and energy storage. But the batteries, because they’re made up of lots of little cells, we can make it large and flat, we can make it small and tall. We can put it into any shape.
“Once refuelling was banned in Formula 1, it made it quite difficult to fit a flywheel into a Formula 1 car. Albeit we’ve got a number of programmes going, including the successful Porsche GT3R hybrid one, where the flywheel is happily fitted into sportscars, and other types of car.” — Patrick Head, Williams opts for ‘battery’ KERS in 2011, Autosport.com
As many of you may know, I’m a big proponent of the flywheel-based KERS. It strikes me as the best engineering solution and the greenest solution to the KERS problem. The complications and potential hazards of an all-electric KERS was made abundantly clear prior to the 2009 season when the BMW engineers were shocked and sent twitching to the ground when their electric KERS discharged as the car was being pushed into the garage after a testing session. Less serious and far more comical was Kimi’s hop maneuver when exiting his car in order to avoid suffering the same fate. As disappointed as I am in the news, it does make sense given the geometric constraints. Hopefully, we’ll see a return of the flybrid to F1 in 2013 when the new engine rules come into play.