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BMW Sauber discusses KERS shock findings

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BMW Sauber discusses KERS shock findings
Aug 22, 2008, 1:01 PM

BMW Sauber's Formula One team announced Thursday they have discovered what caused a shock to a mechanic during a test of a prototype kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) last month at Jerez, Spain. Markus Duesmann, in charge of powertrain ...

BMW Sauber's Formula One team announced Thursday they have discovered what caused a shock to a mechanic during a test of a prototype kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) last month at Jerez, Spain.

Markus Duesmann, in charge of powertrain development, blamed a "sporadic capacitive coupling" for the incident. The mechanic, whose name the team did not release, was knocked to the ground after touching the car's sidepod and steering wheel; he was sent to hospital for medical checks and released. Duesmann said only a small amount of energy can be transferred in such a situation but the shock sustained by anyone interferring with the energy flow would be sharp and painful. Driver Christian Klien was in the car at the time but was insulated by his driver suit and gloves, Duesmann said.

Duesmann said the team had trouble recreating conditions in identifying the cause of the shock, hence a monthlong wait for conclusions. He said the findings of systematic research the team conducted would be distributed to other teams via the FIA's Technical Working Group. "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 to avoid any electric potential," he said.

BMW Sauber's Jerez incident was one of a number that have drawn scrutiny -- by drivers in particular -- of KERS, a technology that will be allowed, though not mandatory, on next year's cars. Among the most high-profile of incidents were the Jerez incident and a fire that prompted evacuation of Red Bull's plant in Milton Keynes, England. Team bosses remain high on KERS development and have determined they will work together to ensure a safe system. Carmaker-backed teams favor the technology because their bosses see F1 as the test bed for an energy-recapture system to be used on road cars.

Formula One teams return to action this weekend at the European Grand Prix on a street circuit in Valencia, Spain, new to F1 use. The race weekend begins during a three-day period of national mourning after an airliner crash at Madrid Barajas Airport that killed 153 people. Among 19 survivors, four are listed in "very serious" conditions. The Spanair MD82, which broke apart upon crashing into a ravine at the end of a runway, was headed for Spain's Canary Islands, site of a runway crash in 1977 involving two Boeing 747 airlines that killed 583 people.

Renault's Fernando Alonso, the only Spaniard among F1's 20 race drivers, has said he will wear a black armband in memory of crash victims, and he will ask fellow drivers to join him in honoring victims, possibly with a moment of silence before the start of Friday first practice. Speaking at the FIA drivers' news conference, Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes, Felipe Massa of Ferrari, and Jarno Trulli of Toyota said they agree eagerly with Alonso's proposal and that their sympathies are with crash victims' loved ones as well as the people of Spain. Massa reminded reporters that Brazil last year suffered its worst airline crash, 199 dead, though that disaster took place three months before the race. A September 2006 crash in the Amazon killed 154 people.

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