• Aug 22nd 2008 at 11:29AM
  • 11

According to Team BMW Sauber, it has "concluded their investigations into the KERS incident at Jerez." Incident? You mean that time when one of your mechanics was literally thrown to the ground after doing nothing more than touching your car? Right, that one. If you are truly interested in reading all of the techno-babble regarding why the experimental KERS hybrid system reached out and touched someone, click past the break for the details. Here are the highlights: It was an accident. The KERS control unit malfunctioned. Nobody was seriously hurt and nobody was ever in any real danger (Dr Evil: Riiight...). Christian Klein, the driver, was insulated from any shocks due to his race suit and gloves.

BMW Sauber has apparently fixed the problem and feels confident that it will be ready to continue testing in the Autumn. Recently, the BMW team voted in favor of running the KERS hybrid system for next year's race season, so it'll have to be ready to go sooner rather than later.

[Source: BMW]



Interview with Markus Duesmann, Head of Powertrain BMW Sauber F1 Team
Munich/Hinwil, 21.8.2008. The BMW Sauber F1 Team have now concluded their investigations into the KERS incident at Jerez in late July. Markus Duesmann, Head of Powertrain, gives us more details.

What exactly happened in Jerez?
Markus Duesmann, Head of Powertrain: "The mechanic suffered an electric shock after touching the sidepod and steering wheel of the car. There was a high-frequency AC voltage between these contact points, the cause of which has been traced back to the KERS control unit and a sporadic capacitive coupling from the high-voltage network to the 12-volt network. The voltage ran through the wiring of the 12-volt network to the steering wheel and through the carbon chassis back to the control unit."
Note on capacitive coupling: this refers to an inadvertent transfer of electric voltage between two transfer media by inductive or capacitive coupling.

Was there a serious danger to the mechanic and the driver?
Duesmann: "No, as only a small amount of energy can be transferred through this capacitive coupling effect. However, the energy is sufficient to cause an extremely painful reaction. The driver was insulated against the car by his racing overalls and gloves and therefore not in any danger."

Why did the investigation take so long?
Duesmann: "It was not possible initially to reproduce the capacitive coupling effect in the car, as the problem was caused by a sporadic error in the control unit. Due to the extremely high frequency of the voltage in the steering wheel, the safety mechanisms and data recordings did not pick up on the error. In the absence of data, all the theoretical possibilities had to be systematically investigated and analysed in tests. Furthermore, the capacitive coupling effect only occurs under certain conditions. Without the option of driving the KERS test car used in Jerez again, we had to reconstruct these conditions. We also had to develop a model to be installed between the steering wheel and sidepod which replicated the characteristics of the human body as an electric transfer element."

What measures are now being taken to solve the problem?
Duesmann: "In addition to the measures required to tackle the issue at hand, the extremely far-reaching analysis we conducted also gave rise to other recommendations which are of great value for the development of electric KERS systems. Among the measures arrived at are changes in the design of the control unit to avoid capacitive coupling effects, extended monitoring functions for high frequencies and a conductive connection of the chassis components to avoid any electric potential."

What will happen with these findings now?
Duesmann: "We have already handed over this safety analysis, complete with measures and recommendations, to the FIA, and will also make our findings available to the other teams at the next meeting of the Technical Working Group."

When will the next track test for KERS take place?
Duesmann: "We will resume the testing programme once all the necessary amendments to the safety concept have been implemented. We expect this to be the case in the autumn."

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      this is kind of cool... like if someone on the track gets to close to him, they get zapped their systems malfunction/drain and they wipe out. matchbox.com had the coolest racing game online a few years back- used to be able to zap racers like that.. so cool.
      • 7 Years Ago
      can someone please inform me on what KERS is. I'm sure it was in a previous post, just never got around to reading it. Thanks.
        • 7 Years Ago
        There are tags at the bottom of the story that will in turn take you to OTHER stories where the KERS system is explained.

        Or try searching, just a thought....
      • 7 Years Ago
      you mean that his race suit insulated him even though he didn't complete the ground because of the rubber tires unlike the mechanic who touched the car and was standing on the ground?

      or maybe i'm wrong about electricity. which could very well be!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Whew, good thing it was a malfunction since we can expect it to never have another one of those, ever. How would you like to be a pit guy wondering if this is the time it malfunctions again and sends you to the ground on World Wide TV. Of course it was a malfunction BMW, but there should be systems in place that protect people in the event of a malfunction. Hey let's make F1 faster, now slower, now faster, now slower.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Looks like the difference in electric potential was between the steering wheel and the body of the car. In that case the current flowed through his arms from hand to hand rather than hand to foot. I did this once (accidentally) with a small engine. I was trying to figure out if the plug was fouled and managed to get a hand on the block and one on the plug. When the plug discharged I did a real short boogie. Don't clearly remember how I managed to do it but I remember I had to sit on the curb a while and recover.
      • 7 Years Ago
      darn you paul! well, at least i was thinking correctly about electricity!
        • 7 Years Ago
        whoops! lol sorry, I just read your second comment after I replied to your first, sorry =D
      • 7 Years Ago
      taking bets. how many crew members will die because of kers?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yeah...as long as the pit crew wears insulated gloves and suits they'll be ok too....
      • 7 Years Ago
      The very same thing happened to me the first time I saw a Pontiac Aztek! It repelled me!