Are Red Bull using KERS to induce traction control?

Red Bull Racing RB9 KERS

Red Bull RB9 KERS

Another theory trying to explain Sebastian Vettel’s late-season dominance at the wheel of the Red Bull RB9 has emerged.

Speculation in Korea last weekend suggested clever but legal engine mapping system aboard his Red Bull that mimics the benefits of illegal traction control.

Now, Spain’s El Confidencial newspaper has reported burgeoning rumours that the Adrian Newey-penned RB9, which in Vettel’s hands has won the last four grands prix on the trot, is in fact somehow deploying its KERS system to enhance cornering traction.

The rumours, which date back to Singapore last month, say Red Bull could have linked KERS to suspension sensors, with the engine being subsequently dragged through the process of energy harvesting.

The report made a potential link between the system and the fact that Red Bull tends to have frequent reliability problems with its KERS units.

Mark Webber said immediately after retiring in Korea that “there was a KERS fire”, but Red Bull later said it was caused by oil leaking onto the exhaust after the crash with Adrian Sutil.

Newey, meanwhile, played down the link between Red Bull’s KERS system and its superior traction.

“I doubt the gain is from KERS,” he is quoted by Racecar Engineering. “We, like everyone, do work on how to best deploy it, but I think everyone is similar in how they use it.” (GMM)

Subbed by AJN.

  • Tamburello_1994

    ( eyes roll )

  • Red Bull Cheats

    Well if they did this then it is illegal as no traction control system is allowed no matter how it is achieved. More Red Bull cheating!

  • harry harris

    ha…ha…ha……ha…… there you go. Ask the FIA to do the investigation, then the answer will be………. Oh, the RBR’s comply to the regulations…….. there’s nothing wrong with it. ( Pathetic answer )

  • Red Bull Cheats

    FIA couldn’t even work out that pointing exhausts up 10 degrees would not stop exhaust blown diffusers. They have no idea.

  • Adriana

    RBR team is like a precise and expensive watch , all his components works in harmony ; they may not have the best people for each position , but all working together bring everybody up to be the best in each position . And to look at Adrian Newey be so HUMBLE , I wonder if maybe he can teach a lesson or two to Lewis isn’t ?

  • Max

    Ban them already enyone remember last year at the german gp the fia told redbull that they could not use a engine map as the torque curve was not on a 1 to 1 basis they was dropping cylinders then unbelievable the crap that is F1 at the min.
    For the FIA to say that dropping cylinders is legal is madness
    in doing that they are using TC when you work out how TC works
    you’ll understand that.

  • Adriana

    This video is for those who like RBR and maybe for other teams to get some ideas and catch up with RBR instead complaining

  • Adriana

    didn’t allow the link but it’s in racecar engineering

  • Cman

    The FIA need to wake up and investigate Red bull throughly. Maybe the free Red bull drinks are clouding their judgement….

  • Kili Liam

    Being clever, and working to become even smarter, is hard! Funny, only RB has the ideas!


  • RedBull Cheats

    The rules say no traction control. Just because they were written in a way that pointed to the ECM does not mean you can develop traction control through another system on the car.

    There should be no allowing of any cylinder deactivation period, the driver need to have full power available at all times.

    No traction control means no traction control.

    RedBull has shown the FIA is not up to the job of policing Formula One as Mercedes showed earlier in the year with their illegal tire test that they got away with.

    Charlie Whiting needs to go as well as he seems to be one of the biggest problems in the FIA.

  • Kili Liam

    RedBull Cheats, You got my attention when you say “RedBull has shown the FIA is not up to the job of policing Formula One as Mercedes showed earlier in the year with their illegal tire test that they got away with.”. True!

    But how do you know RB has some sort of “cylinder deactivation”? I’m just asking, nothing else! Do we really know that cylinders are being deactivated? By the sound of it, yes, it seems, but nevertheless …


  • Silas Talbot

    Win F1 Championships using this one Weird Trick.

    Race Engineers hate him. Find out why.

  • McLarenfan

    @Kili Liam;
    The explanation from red bull and Renault is the change in sound of the Renault through corners is that they shut 4 cylinders then bring them back in this has been said many times!

  • Taskmaster

    Enough hysterics already, some of you sound like a bunch of cackling old women jabbering about the hussy down the street wearing tight jeans and how she’ll burn for it.

    The regulations you girls are so interesting in defending:

    9.3 Traction control
    No car may be equipped with a system or device which is capable of preventing the driven wheels from spinning under power or of compensating for excessive torque demand by the driver. Any device or system which notifies the driver of the onset of wheel spin is not permitted.


    8.2 Control electronics :
    8.2.1 All components of the engine and gearbox, including clutch, differential and KERS in addition to all associated actuators must be controlled by an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) which has been manufactured by an FIA designated supplier to a specification determined by the FIA.
    The ECU may only be used with FIA approved software and may only be connected to the control system wiring loom, sensors and actuators in a manner specified by the FIA.

    Since the proposed idea includes interaction between suspension sensor and KERS activation, it falls under both of these. The writer of the article in question obviously failed to take this into consideration when he proposed his idea of how Red Bull MIGHT be using KERS to control rear wheel torque. Newey is not stupid, but the writer might be. So, enough of the tirades and accusations. The article was not a report on actual technical findings, it is a SUPPOSITION that includes the wrong assumption that such an approach would be legal. This does not prove Red Bull is cheating, it does prove the article is WRONG.

  • farizY


    It seems that whenever a team is dominating, people start to accuse them of cheating, despite not providing the proof. Serious butthurt if you ask me.

  • Red Bull Cheats

    Nice that some w&nk3r has decided to post using my name. But you put RedBull Cheats not Red Bull Cheats. Get your own name.

  • Red horizon

    The question is, if they can use this system, whatever it is, even the next season. As with the new turbo cars in 2014 will have much more spin than now, Red Bull, with these technical solutions that improve cornering traction and the overall performance of the car, making the whole more driveable, will have a huge advantage. Since the FIA says that, for now, it’s all legal, the other teams should get to work now to find solutions … otherwise Red Bull will continue to dominate in F1.

  • lawl

    “could have linked”, “burgeoning rumours “, “theory”.

    EVIDENCE!!!!!!! Any stupid spaniard (surprise?) lame-a** newspaper can talk sh*t, rumor sh*t, spit sh*t but if they dont show some kind of evidence then fk off.

    Same goes for italian newspapers .i.

  • Taskmaster

    Red H. Cars and drivers are a paired system, not independent of one another as some seem to believe. There is very likely a driver component to the RB9 that confounds copying it exactly by other teams. For example, in 2011 the blown diffuser on Red Bull’s car required the driver to drive a certain way to maximize potential. Vettel managed to do that best, which showed in his dominance. Weber was not, nor was anyone else at the time. In both 2012 and 2103 Vettel struggled early as he adjusting his driving approach to the new cars. Now he seems to have found his center with the car again and is back on the top step. None of this is illegal, it is part of racing, and what differentiates drivers and teams. If they continue to succeed in finding these approaches of combined car/driver advantages, they will indeed succeed in the future, until another team exceeds them with their own. As F1 history proves, nothing lasts forever. Red Bull will eventually be taken out as the dominate player, and Vettel will likely have a few off seasons in his career. Whether that is 2014 is completely unknown.

  • Muayyad

    If redbull is cheating, they would stop what they are doing by now. They are just clever and the rules allow it!

  • GoldLeaf

    Taskmaster: Thanks for being specific about the rules. While noting in the article proves that RBR are cheating, it does sound as if they would be cheating IF they are doing what is suggested in the article. The mechanism they describe for limiting available power by applying KERS-induced drag on the engine actually sounds as if it would be effective at controlling wheel spin under acceleration. It IS all supposition. It COULD, however, turn out to be true. This is all controlled by software, and I do not believe that the FIA really knows what software is running during the race since software can be loaded almost instantaneously and overwritten in the next instant to mask any changes. I agree with some other posters that the FIA does not really have control of the technical aspects of rule compliance. I also agree with those who have called for Charlie Whiting to be sacked for incompetence.

  • jarac

    must be something else, technical regulations say:

    1.20 Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) :
    A system that is designed to recover kinetic energy from the car during braking, store that energy and make it available to propel the car.

    Such a use of KERS (during accelerating) would be clearly breaking of the rules, unless SV is braking and accelerating at the same time (which is purely hypothetically option)…

  • Red horizon

    I do not think that Red Bull is illegal, even if the FIA, in the past, with other teams, did a bit of confusion in determining whether or not a team had violated the rules (see Benetton in 1994 or in 2009 Brawn for example). In addition, unlike many others, I think Vettel is a great driver. If you add to this the fact, i think indisputable, that he drives a car technically outstanding, here is the reason which makes the pair Red Bull-Vettel so hard to beat.

  • fools

    Speculation in Korea last weekend suggested clever but legal engine mapping system aboard his Red Bull that mimics the benefits of illegal traction control.
    if it benefits and is a component that is TC but is illegal yet makes it legal on race day? Makes no sense…its either legal or illegal. Not saying FIA legal but doing illegal benefiting for RB’s dominance. If that is the case its cheating and illegal.

  • the fan

    FIA rules have a lot and I mean a lot of loopholes over the years. Ferrari and Mclaren have manipulated them over the years but none are doing it better than Adrian Newey. I respect his brilliance as much as I respect him being so clever and bending the rules and getting away with it. This guy is such a genius in both legal and illegal designing and the good thing about it, Sebastian Vettel’s hunger in implementing what newey has been creating. that has been Red Bull’s secret formula for the last 5yrs

  • Don

    I guess Redbull calls their system anti- brake releasing instead of locking, this with engine mapping programming. Cannot believe they could manipulate ECU and get away with it. I ‘m no engineer, but this maybe their advantage given mapping can be set to allow cold air blowing while off throttle. causing change in exhaust note with early corner exit throttle, similtaneous anti brake release, nothing to due with ECU. Just a theory!!

  • Boycotthehaters

    “The rules say no traction control.”

    Which is why they are not using traction control.

    “The rumours, which date back to Singapore last month, say Red Bull could have linked KERS to suspension sensors, with the engine being subsequently dragged through the process of energy harvesting.”

    Of course, that would be completely and totally illegal and would be banned by the FIA. But it’s not like reality typically features in discussions of F1, people enjoy fantasizing too much for that.

  • Boycotthehaters

    “Speculation in Korea last weekend suggested clever but legal engine mapping system aboard his Red Bull that mimics the benefits of illegal traction control.”

    I guess this is different speculation to the speculation about the KERS, since engine mapping and KERS are two completely different things. Again, it would be be totally illegal for RB (or anyone else) to do what it being suggested.

    What’s with all this goofy “speculation”?

  • kenneth

    9.3 traction control

    No car may be equipped with a system or device which is capable of preventing the driven wheels from spinning under power or of compensating for excessive torque demand by the driver.

    any device or system which notifies the driver of the onset of wheelspin is not permitted.

    cant see how it can be legal! rules pretty clear about traction control!

    “No car may be equipped with a system or device which is capable of preventing the driven wheels from spinning under power”

  • Red Bull Cheats

    So Red Bull have a system, and it helps the driver, and it is somehow legal. So it’s the car, not the driver, that is awesome. Glad we sorted that one out. And Webber doesn’t have the system. But the team treat him equally. Classic Red Bull$#it.

  • Red Bull Cheats

    For 2 years the teams questioned how the Red Bull was the same height in qualifying and the race, despite adding 100kg of fuel for the race. For 2 years the FIA said the Red Bull car was legal and had no special ride height system. Then in Canada the FIA found an illegal hand operated ride height adjuster on the car. Red Bull said they never adjusted it illegally and they misread the rules so they thought it was legal. To save themselves the embarrassment of admitting that for 2 years Red Bull cheated, the FIA said “take it off.” and nothing else happened. Therefore the FIA are pretty bad at catching Red Bull cheating, and pretty bad at punishing them.

  • Taskmaster

    Kili- ALL teams are using cylinder deactivation. Listen to the Korean practice sessions, and you can hear it on every car. It is legal, as it protects the engine from low-power fuel starvation. The fuels systems are designed to deliver max power under load, at very low throttle settings, delivering a proper mixture that delivers adequate fuel to cool the engine is not practical, thus cylinder cutting is used.

    Gold Leaf – The McLaren Electronics ECU that all teams run is not programmed on the fly or instantaneously in the pits at any time, by any team. The mapping is installed into the ECU, then submitted to FIA for approval. The design of the system is specific to eliminate teams from hacking it, which is the reason all teams are required to run the same devices, regardless of whose engine is in the car. Any changes in programming are submitted to the FIA for approval. Only the FIA can clear the data acquisition memory, which means they can see everything the car recorded. Red Bull could not include code in the box that does not have a line to be input into, therefore it is impossible to add external devices activated by the ECU or provide input into the ECM, that it is not designed to control in the first place, under FIA direction and rules.

    RB Cheats- Red Bull was not required to take anything off the car, they were simply required to change a component (an adjustment nut) to require that a tool is needed to make an adjustment. The fact is, Ferrari was asked to do the same earlier in the season, even though both claim to have used a tool to make the adjustment. They did not say they did not know it was illegal, they simply stated they had always used a tool to make the adjustment, legally, and complied with the request to make it impossible to make the adjustment without a tool, nothing more. Other issues of adjustment that impacted Red Bull as well as several other teams include the flex of the front wing, which was a clarification that many teams were impacted by when new tests were introduced mid-season. I would have to say that after the corrections were made, Red Bull and Vettels performance did not change at all, so it is apparent these adjustments had little or no impact on actual performance – so if they were intended as cheats and not simple tech details, they were not very good ones – which would be completely out of character with what the god-like brilliance the team is attributed with.

  • Taskmaster

    Just for the record. I am not defending Red Bull. I am expressing my absolute disgust with the current state of F1 social media, where winning is attacked, and winners denigrated for doing what they do. The vial, unsupported and often fictional blather that enters these discussions is poisoning the fun of following this sport and sharing ideas among fellow open wheel junkies. Expressing ideas and opinions is one thing, and part of the fun – However, having to sift through those continually repeating the same tired, negative, unsupportable accusation and conspiratorial bilge every time one team is mentioned borders on hostage taking and has come to the point of being intolerable. End Rant… my sincerest apologies for that.

  • JPSmoove

    OMG, who else get’s tired of reading all these post? Can the FIA just prove it or leave it alone already (not), so we can talk about the raggedy Pirelli tires again. What an embarrassment all of this is….

  • MEtoo

    It’s great they have a technological advantage. That IS what makes F1 great.

    Haters can all suck it.

  • Tom Riddle

    “I doubt the gain is from KERS”

    He doesn’t know? I’m sure he knows all too well exactly how the car uses KERS.

    The FIA need to re-examine engine mapping on all cars immediately. Red Bull and Sauber had far better traction than any other car in Korea.

  • Tamburello_1994

    ” …….jabbering about the hussy down the street wearing tight jeans and how she’ll burn for it.”


  • Red Bull Cheats

    @Taskmaster, photographic evidence for 2 years shower that Red Bull did not change it’s ride height when 100kg of fuel added. Teams protested for 2 years. Then the FIA found a hand adjustable ride height device HIDDEN in the third shocker of the Red Bull car. They were told to remove it because it was against the rules. They said they never adjusted it by hand. But why have it HIDDEN inside the car and not use it? Why did teams have photos of the Red Bull ride height not changing between qualifying and the race? Because Red Bull cheated! QED.

  • Red Bull Cheats

    @Taskmaster, people said repeatedly that Piquet Jr crashed on purpose in Singapore, and they were told to shut up. One year later and it was the truth! So maybe you need to listen a bit more. People said for 7 years that Lamce Armstrong cheated and they were told to shut up. Then the truth came out. So why tell the people asking questions to shut up?

  • Taskmaster

    RBC- Because the only people whose questions matter are not interweb haters, who solve nothing, bring nothing to the party in resolving anything, or have the authority to effect any meaningful change. Thus, all the poisonous accusations, denigration of individuals and personal attacks on people here unknown to one another have a net negative result. Armstrong was not brought down by chat room banter, he was brought down through official channels and a very long running investigation that was only revealed when its findings were released. Pique’s accusations against Briatore were reversed, so officially we have to wonder if it was all just petty revenge of a small minded individual for being canned – and again an issue resolved through official channels, not of chat rooms. Now, if this were an actual office, internal memo series between authorities, team owners, or actual industry insiders, the value of the discussion would be far greater, as would be the quality of content. We have one possible opportunity to affect change – to grow up and learn to communicate like adult enthusiasts of a great sport. Ha ha ha ha… yeah like that’s going to happen, right? No worries though. As I am very close to having had enough of the constant BS on some of these sites. As a writer/researcher, I have a short attention span for worthless chaff, so I’ll be gone soon enough to follow other, more satisfying endeavors – leaving the haters here to bash away. While fiddling here is a fun distraction, it is not productive, nor valuable to me – or anyone else for that matter, as I am sure the only point I might make that you will agree with completely.

  • JT

    As a former Marshall I’d like to add that any exotic modifications to the KERS system should be declared and independently examined for safety reasons. Since The introduction of KERS, battery fires and explosions and electrocution risks from a damaged car have all been real concerns. Most Marshalls are unpaid volunteers and it should be recognized that there is a history of injury and death to these volunteers whose contribution is essential for everyone’s enjoyment of this great sport.