Zytek unveiled as parts supplier to McLaren F1 KERS system

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The Independent Online

The British company Zytek has disclosed that it is the supplier of parts of the KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) technology fitted to this year's Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 cars. What looks at first sight like an obscure piece of technical news has much broader significance.

KERS, a form of regenerative braking that captures kenetic energy and then releases it when a power boost is needed, was allowed in Formula 1 for the first time this year. British automitive engineering firm Zytek are responsible for both the motor and power electronics elements of McLaren's iteration of the system, while numerous other companies have also contributed to the overall design.

Several teams took the technology up and it was widely discussed as a possible option for increased efficiency in road cars as well. But interest waned when Jenson Button established what looked like an unassailable lead in the F1 drivers' championship in his Brawn car, which did without KERS, during the first half of the season.

All that changed when Lewis Hamilton stormed to his first victory of 2009 in a KERS-equipped McLaren Mercedes at the recent Hungarian Grand Prix. If the new interest is sustained and KERS system including Zytek pars make it into other types of vehicles, Britain could play a key role in the success of this technology - emphasising once again the importance to the UK science and engineering base of the country's dominance of Formula 1 and its associated spin-offs.