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Jonathan Palmer is certain that this year’s combination of KERS and DRS is a positive step in the right direction for Formula 1. The former driver, who has worked as a BBC television commentator alongside Murray Walker and is now Series Director of Formula 2, believes the sport holds a ‘green’ responsibility.
First in F1 two years ago before being placed on hold for 2010, KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) allows drivers to enjoy a power boost as the device captures and harvests energy which is usually lost under braking.
“I think anything that can introduce more overtaking is a good idea,” Palmer told GPUpdate.net. “I think KERS is fantastic and both things are very good introductions in terms of concept, in that both not only promote overtaking but they are a significant step in the direction that motor racing needs to take to be more environmentally focussed.
“With cars, particularly on a circuit, you’ve got a situation where you spend an awful lot of time accelerating a mass – which inevitably takes fuel and creates CO2 – but then you brake, dissipate all of that energy and fritter it all away in heat. There’s no capturing of any of that energy and the way motor racing needs to go, ultimately, is for the integral character of it to be a great proving ground for the ultimate KERS system, trying to reclaim as much energy as you possibly can.
“So I think, as a concept, KERS is absolutely critical and I’m really pleased that it’s come back. Of course it’s expensive, it’s complicated and unreliable. Ideally you wouldn’t have the expense, but it is I think correct that motor racing – with all the money that goes into Formula 1 – directs some energy (pardon the pun!) into KERS. If Formula 1 doesn’t do it, nobody will, so I think it’s quite apt that Formula 1 does it.”
The new-for-2011 DRS (Drag Reduction System) has been met with mixed views. The tool allows competitors to open their car’s upper rear wing element when within one second of the car ahead and in allocated zones of the circuit, in order to aid passing. However, Palmer also notes its ‘green’ characteristics.
“I think DRS is good in a slightly different way to the way it’s being promoted, which is a good overtaking mechanism,” he explained. “If you look at a car, it’s highly inefficient by dragging around a load of downforce when you don’t need it.
"The drag coefficient of a Formula 1 car is absolutely hideous; of course, that drag is an inevitable consequence of producing downforce, but down the straights you don’t need it.
“The perfect thing would be to get rid of all the downforce down the straights – that would give you the most efficient and environmentally-friendly car. So for making Formula 1 environmentally-friendly, I think DRS is a very good thing.”
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