One of the main talking points after the hectic Malaysian Grand Prix (aside from the Alonso & Hamilton penalties) was the continuing troubles of Red Bull and their KERS.
On lap 29 we heard Vettel’s engineer Rocky tell him not to use the system any more. This was after not being able to use the system at all in Australia. Yet Vettel was still able to win the race at a canter, so how did it affect his lap times?
For comparison, I have compared Vettel’s lap times to those of Button, who finished in second. This is because Vettel and Button were racing each other directly and also Webber may have also had KERS problems in the race, leaving some uncertainty over his true pace:
As we can see, for the most part, Vettel and Button match each other rather well for the first two stints. It is the third where things get interesting. I have marked on the graph the point where Vettel is told to turn off his KERS – presumably because of cooling issues. But the strange thing is that he suddenly gets a lot quicker – in fact, his pace improves relative to Button on that third stint, and in the fourth, when both were probably cruising – Button for his tyres and Vettel because he had a decent lead.
So although Vettel’s Red Bull has a supposed weak point in it’s KERS, the team still seems to have a heck of a performance advantage compared to the others. It could well be that Red Bull resort to using KERS on the start only, because as things stand, they can afford the luxury of turning the system off.
It’s going to be a long hard season for McLaren and Ferrari to catch up, I think…