Guest Author - Christine Blachford
At the Jerez test last month, a BMW mechanic suffered an electric shock from a car that was running the new KERS system. The mechanic was okay, although he did complain of headaches and was taken to hospital for observation.
BMW conducted a complete investigation of the incident, to find out the cause, and stop it from happening again. They have now released their findings, and the first thing they have emphasised is that neither the mechanics nor the driver were in any serious danger. The shock was painful, but was not ever going to be life threatening. It's notable that the driver was protected from any shocks by his race suit and gloves, whilst the mechanic that received the shock wasn't actually wearing gloves.
BMW have traced where the charge came from and worked out how it happened, and now they are releasing their findings to other teams to make sure everyone developing the new technology are aware of the issues. The report has also been submitted to the FIA.
According to the spokesman from BMW, the findings took so long to be released because of the complicated nature of the technology, and because they came across other unexpected issues that they wanted to make a note of as well.
This is yet another addition to the growing body of evidence that KERS will not be ready in time for next year. Whilst teams and drivers are yet to say that they outright don't want the technology in the sport, we are starting to hear mumblings of reservation. The GPDA have already said they don't want to look into the technology too closely, and they are leaving the details to the engineers.
BMW have said that they will recommence testing once they have made all the necessary changes that have come out of the investigation. They believe this to be scheduled for autumn. This seems awfully late to begin testing the technology again, but perhaps once this season is over, the teams will have a chance to concentrate on KERS properly, and time will allow for it to be developed safely.