LONDON // McLaren are likely to start the Formula One season with the controversial new KERS energy recovery system, said the Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen. "I'm 99 per cent confident (the team will use it)," he said after testing today at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain. "I think we are now hitting a stage where we can run it all day, reliably, without any problems and at the maximum power.
"So unless something goes dramatically wrong, I don't see a reason why we shouldn't run it." The Kinetic Energy Recovery System, which gives drivers a short burst of extra power at the push of a button, has been controversial because of the cost and technical complexity of introducing it when teams are trying to reduce expenditure. Williams, Red Bull and Toyota have said they will not use the system in the opening long-haul races, with the season starting in Australia on March 29, while other teams have yet to decide whether it is reliable enough to race.
"Hopefully, it should be an advantage for us," said Kovalainen, whose British teammate Lewis Hamilton is the defending champion. "Certainly, it's going to be an advantage at the start, it potentially gives a big benefit from the start to the first corner. "And then obviously in the race if you're fighting and you need to overtake people. "Hopefully, other people don't get it and we get it, but there are other good teams around and I wouldn't underestimate anyone, so I wouldn't be surprised if many of the other teams had it as well."
Hamilton, who won last year's driver's title in dramatic fashion in the final race of the season in Brazil, said that he expected other teams to raise their game with Force India, who use the same Mercedes engines as McLaren, the possible surprise package. "Just from looking at the times, it looks like (Toyota) are doing quite a good job," he told the autosport.com website. "The Renault doesn't look bad, the BMW doesn't look bad, so there are quite a lot of teams looking pretty impressive at the moment."