David Coulthard has raised further concerns over the introduction of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) next season, both in terms of safety and the amount of time teams have to implement the device.
The KERS systems, designed to store and re-use energy lost as heat through braking and other episodes, were put firmly in the spotlight last week: Red Bull Racing employees were forced to evacuate their Milton Keynes factory when a battery caught fire and a BMW Sauber mechanic suffered an electric shock during testing.
Coulthard, who will take on a consultancy role with Red Bull when he retires at the end of the season, has joined those with concerns about the device, saying that KERS brings a new set of risks that impact on mechanics and marshals as well as drivers.
“Formula 1 is all about the technical challenge, but usually the risk is limited to the drivers,” Coulthard said in his ITV-F1.com column. “Quite clearly KERS has opened up another area.”
“You can bury your head in the sand, and it’s not politically correct to talk about it, but while we are going through the development phase there is a risk that extends to people at the factory and trackside personnel.”
The Formula One teams are under pressure to get the devices ready for next season, alongside a whole raft of other regulation changes.
Formula One’s Technical Working Group (TWG) will look at measures to ensure the safety of the devices in racing conditions at their next meeting, but Coulthard has expressed concern about the timescales that the F1 teams are up against.
“I know there are working groups looking at how to manage and overcome these issues, so hopefully a satisfactory solution will be found, but the timescale is certainly pretty tight to be ready for the start of next season,” the Scot said.