Red Bull facing 'steep learning curve' with KERS
Red Bull's Adrian Newey has admitted his team is facing a steep learning curve with KERS as it tries to improve the reliability of the system to match its rivals.
Red Bull left the power boost off the cars at the season opener in Australia and then had intermittent problems with it in Malaysia on Sebastian Vettel's car, while Mark Webber's failed altogether ahead of the race. Curiously, Vettel went faster when his system shut down after lap 29 at Sepang, although could also be linked to his relatively new soft tyres and after the race he told journalists that the car definitely is quicker with KERS activated.
"I was lapping a second a lap quicker than Lewis for two or three laps, I think," he recalled. "At that stage, I don't think I used KERS, but I can assure you that not running KERS, for us, is a disadvantage. As I tried to explain, we worked very hard and we got it working but in the race something happened, I don't quite yet know what it was but we used it for the majority and I don't think pace has anything to do with itů especially turning it off and then going quicker."
Chief designer Newey, whose decision it was not to run KERS in Australia, said his team was behind its competitors in that area.
"For us it's still a steep learning curve," he told the BBC. "We're not a manufacturer team and that probably hurts us a little bit. We don't have quite the resources and experience that some of the manufacturers have in that department."
He said Red Bull had modified the Magneti Marelli system provided by Renault as part of its engine deal to suit the RB7's tightly packaged bodywork.
"We were keen to do our own version of the Renault KERS to suit our package and some of the problems we've had have been through that choice and equally some of them have been as a result of the underlying system," he added. "It's a learning curve, but quite how far we've got to go on that learning curve is unknown at the moment. We're still finding the odd new problem here and there, so we'll try and take it slowly and conservatively."
Asked if he would rather not have KERS complicating his race weekends, Newey said: "Oh crikey, that's a difficult one in all truth. I guess as a privateer team it's a little bit more difficult for us so probably, from a purely competition point of view, we would rather not have it on the car. But as far as the good of the sport goes, then that's altogether another debate."
He agreed with Vettel that KERS does make the car faster, but said it's main advantage comes at the start of races.
"Certainly being quick off the line is a very important criteria," he added. "On a qualifying lap or a single lap then it's perhaps worth three tenths, so it's still very important, but races like this where there is a very long distance from the start line to the first corner it is vital."