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KERS And DRS Explained

Two crucial, yet complicated terms explained

Posted May 12, 2011 by Chris White

The KERS system is used during overtaking moves

With this year’s Formula One season now four races old, fans will still be getting to grips with two of the most used, new terms in the sport – KERS and DRS.

KERS is an abbreviation of the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, which was in operation until last season when the teams voted in favour of not using it. This system stores kinetic energy in a specific reservoir while the car is braking, saving it up to be used for later acceleration.

It was left out in the 2010 season as teams were finding that it adjusted the centre of gravity of the cars, which despite not physically adding to the weight of the car, it did effectively increase the weight, slowing the cars down which was especially problematic in qualifying.

The Drag Reduction System, (DRS), is a completely new system for Formula One and is used predominantly in overtaking. The system allows cars to reduce the amount of down force lost when one car is in the draft behind another – as the lower the down force the better as it increases straight line speed – allowing the overtaking car to maintain traction by opening a flap on the rear wing. 

Unlike the KERS system, the DRS is only allowed to be used at certain times, such as in designated braking areas and when the following car is a maximum of a second behind the leading car. 

FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting tried to explain the system, “There is an actuator in each wing which is under the control of the driver at all times, however, it can only be used when the on?board electronics notify the driver that he is authorised to use it. Proximity to the car in front will be detected before the straight on which the wing may be activated. If the car behind is less than one second behind, the driver will be told that his system is “armed”, however, he may only use it when he reaches the designated point on the following straight. This point is likely to be 600 metres before the braking point for the following corner.”


Does that make it clearer? Erm, good.

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