Williams technical director Sam Michael says his team is now in favor of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems returning to Formula 1 as early as 2011 having been convinced that the devices are now cost-effective.
Amid continuing discussions on the future of KERS – which remains available in the regulations, but which the teams have agreed not to use in 2010 on cost grounds – Michael admitted that Williams had previously preferred to wait until the major rules overall due in 2013. But he added that Ferrari and Renault had made a presentation to the rest of the teams that had convinced Williams that an early reintroduction of KERS would be financially viable.
"[Waiting until 2013] was our position up to when Ferrari and Renault submitted a proposal to FOTA that they could do it for less than a million euros," Michael said. "So our position now is we're doing KERS for 2011, and so is theirs."
Michael is confident that the Ferrari/Renault proposal makes KERS much more realistic than it was last season, when all the major teams spent large sums on developing the technology, but few actually raced it.
"I wouldn't say that's incompatible with cost saving, because it's got to be less than a million euros, so that's quite different than spending money on a new engine development program, for example," said Michael. "It's not like the KERS of old, when you were spending 10 to 20 million euros ($13m-$26m), or even more. It's [now] a million euros ($1.3m) for the running costs."
He said Williams had always been in favor of the KERS concept, and was only concerned about the financial implications.
"We're supportive of KERS at Williams, but our [original] position was that we would rather it was integrated properly in the 2013 engine," said Michael. "It's something F1 can contribute to. A lot of road cars are going with KERS now, so it makes sense for F1 to have it. We thought '13 was a better introduction point, but we've got to go with the agreement that everyone signed, and that was if someone proved by the end of March that they could do it for a million euros, then they can.
"The attraction from my point of view is it makes the car go faster. If someone's got KERS then you can't afford not to have it. You're talking three or four tenths [per lap].
"It was quicker [to have KERS] by the end of last year. If you look at McLaren, in Ahu Dhabi they were very competitive until they had the brake failure, and that was with the old front tire as well. Now, with the narrow front tire, it will be even easier to make KERS work."
Michael is happy that the rules are sufficiently restrictive to prevent KERS turning into a costly development race.
"If you didn't have power and energy limits it would be a different question, but you do," he said.