Red Bull team boss Christian Horner says his squad is now feeling more optimistic about its chances of being able to run KERS in the Malaysian Grand Prix, though it will hold off on a final decision until after Friday practice at Sepang.
The team removed KERS from its cars during practice in Melbourne due to reliability fears, but it made little difference to Red Bull's performance as Sebastian Vettel took a dominant pole and won the race. Horner said the Melbourne decision had been very much precautionary, and that work done by the team since that race had raised his hopes of being able to use KERS in Malaysia.
"It was a very close call during the Australian Grand Prix weekend as to whether we leave it on the car or take it off," Horner told Britain's BBC. "In the end we made a collective decision that there was a risk involved and therefore we decided not to run the system because the benefits at a type of circuit like Melbourne, other than at the start, were fairly limited. Obviously, those benefits at other circuits become more apparent.
"We ran the system on Friday [in Australia], it ran without any real issue, and it was purely based on a lack of mileage on the system that our confidence was relatively low. I think now, armed with that mileage, and having inspected all the components, our confidence has grown and, hopefully if it runs well on Friday in Malaysia, it will make its race debut during the Malaysia weekend."
While acknowledging that KERS would be very useful at Sepang, which features several very long straights, Horner insisted that Red Bull would not take any chances with reliability.
"It didn't hurt us too much [to run without KERS] at the last race, but it is, you have to remember, a free extra 80 horsepower, so over a lap it's effectively free lap time of anything between three to four tenths," he said. "Obviously, the motivation and desire is to have it onto the car as quickly as possible, but we won't compromise the performance of the car or the potential reliability of the car if we feel that the system isn't race-sturdy yet."