Although the Chinese circuit was believed to be very suited to the use of KERS – due to its long front straight – both Ferrari and Renault have abandoned the unit for both qualifying and race. The reason was to create better car balance and stability for their 2009 challengers. While not at all effective in Ferrari's case, the measure suited Fernando Alonso, who powered to 2nd on the Shanghai grid (thanks to the new diffuser and low-fuel strategy also).
Talking about the prospect of using a similar strategy through the course of this season, McLaren's team principal and CEO Martin Whitmarsh admitted his team will only consider the technology when the track requires it. If its use does not translate into improved on-track performances, then KERS will not be an option.
“Nothing is set in stone. We will not have it in the car if we do not get an advantage from it,” Whitmarsh was quoted as saying by motorsport-magazin.com.
As KERS is only optional in 2009, the teams are at liberty to choose whether they'll use it or not, depending on the characteristics of the track. The downside of using KERS on certain circuits would be that, while not boosting the car's performance too much, it heavily affects its balance. The 30-or-so kilograms of the unit make it harder for the mechanics to distribute ballast around the car, therefore affecting its stability.
McLaren, BMW Sauber, Ferrari and Renault are currently the only teams using KERS in F1, with Williams F1 expected to debut their unit in Spain. Apart from Toyota, all the other teams – the independent ones – are to use the technology as part of their engine deals with the aforementioned car makers.