Formula 1 Cars Going Hybrid In 2011

Formula 1 will be going hybrid this year in a move to develop a more fuel efficient racing series. 2009 saw the KERS (kinetic energy recovery system) hybrid drivetrain introduced for the first time, the system was dropped in 2010 largely to reduce costs in light of the global economic downturn.

Almost all the teams will be using KERS in 2011 with 3 of the new, smaller teams opting to abstain. The KERS hybrid drivetrain allows drivers to push a “boost” button on the steering wheel which will give them an additional blast of acceleration, most often used to overtake rivals on the straight.

What is KERS?
The acronym KERS stands for Kinetic Energy Recovery System. The device recovers the kinetic energy that is present in the waste heat created by the car’s braking process. It stores that energy in a flywheel spinning at up to 80,000rpm and converts it into power that can be called upon to boost acceleration.

With Formula 1 going hybrid it’ll be interesting to see if other racing series follow suit, F1 is the most wealthy racing series in the world by a large margin and has set many precedents in the past with technology that was initially developed for F1 cars being later integrated into road cars.

Prius and other hybrid owners will now be able to drop the line “my car’s a hybrid, like a Formula 1 car” which should be fun and will hopefully go a long way towards eliminating the stigma that hybrid cars are “slow beige boxes”.

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