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What Is ERS In F1?

Formula 1 cars have always been innovative and pioneering examples of automotive technology, with thousands of components inside that contribute to making them the fastest cars in the world.

If you’re an F1 automotive geek, chances are you’ve heard the terms ERS, MGU-K and MGU-H.

Formula 1 is more fun if you know what these mean.

Let us explain it in detail here!

ERS: The Next Stage of KERS

Formula 1 Grand Prix of Russia 2019

Before Formula 1 saw the introduction of the Energy Recovery Systems (ERS), Formula 1 teams used Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) from 2009 to 2011.

KERS was the first step in the electrification of Formula 1’s power units.

The reason F1 phased out KERS was because drivers had to take one hand off the steering wheel to operate it.

Consequently, this raised major safety concerns after several minor incidents.

However, this system has since been redeveloped with the use of ERS in its place.

The Energy Recovery System, otherwise known as ERS, takes KERS to the next level.

Comprised of two motor generator units, ERS is a more advanced and powerful system.

In its simplest terms, ERS is a rechargeable battery system that gives F1 drivers a power boost on the straights.

When F1 cars accelerate, drivers deploy energy to go faster, and when they slow down, they recharge the battery.

This also makes an F1 car more fuel efficient.

How Does ERS Work?

The ERS system captures thermal energy from the exhaust gases and kinetic energy released during braking.

These captured gases and energy can then be reused for more power.

ERS features two energy recovery systems, Motor Generator Unit Kinetic (MGU-K) and Motor Generator Unit Heat (MGU-H), complemented by an Energy Store (ES) and Control Electronics positioned in the rear and sidepod section of the cars.

These motor generator units convert heat energy and mechanical energy to electrical energy.


MGU-K is the most powerful component of the ERS.

As soon as an F1 driver applies the brake, kinetic energy is released.

The MGU-K recovers kinetic energy and converts it into electrical energy.

This electrical energy is then stored in a battery.


The MGU-H is connected to the turbocharger of the engine.

It harvests and converts heat energy from the car’s exhaust gases into electrical energy.

This energy can then be used to generate additional power.

The MGU-H also acts as a control system for the turbo, accelerating or decelerating the turbo according to the driver’s needs.

With the MGU-H system, Formula 1 cars are virtually free of turbo lag.

Energy Store (ES)

The ERS is located in the Energy Store of an F1 car.

This Store is part of the powertrain and weighs between 20-25 kg.

The ES can store 4 megajoules of energy per lap, but according to the current rules, only a maximum of half can be deployed per lap.

When the ERS is on, it provides approximately 120 kilowatts of power.

Converted into horsepower, this provides a boost of 160 for around 33 seconds per lap.

How is ERS Used in F1?

With nearly the exact amounts of power coming from equally-created engines, F1 drivers are the most prominent players influencing the outcome of a Grand Prix.

Drivers can use steering wheel controls to switch to different power unit settings or how much energy the ERS recoups.

Suppose two drivers are close behind each other; if the chasing driver’s battery is charged, they can use the ERS system to give some extra power and provide more acceleration.

The extra power allows the chasing driver to try to overtake the car in front.

In turn, the driver in front can use the extra power to defend in the same situation.

They, too, can use the ERS system to try and pull away from the car behind.

While this battery system is full at the start of every race, the setup of the ERS is not the same for every race.

The preparation of the ERS depends on several factors, including:

  • How often and how hard is the braking
  • How many corners are there on the track
  • How long a driver goes full throttle

These factors influence how often a driver uses the ERS and how fast the battery is drained and recharged.

Prior to a race weekend, simulations are performed in which a computer works at the ideal setups and scenarios.

The simulator is used to create an ERS profile for a specific F1 circuit.

Once the correct profile for a circuit has been sketched, this digital blueprint is transferred to the hardware of the ERS to see if the engine and battery can actually deliver the sketch profile.

Once this is all laid out and fine-tuned, the work for the drivers can begin.

All things considered, Formula 1 posits that there are six different elements that power the cars during a Grand Prix race: the engine, turbocharger, Energy Store, MGU-K, MGU-H and the control electronics.


How is the ERS activated?

The energy generated by the two power units is transferred to the drive shaft in chosen straights for a handful of seconds.

Ahead of each F1 race, teams will pre-select the circuit area where the ERS will be activated and for how long.

How much horsepower does ERS produce?

The ERS alone produces about 160 horsepower and can be used for 33 seconds per lap.

Is DRS the same as ERS?

DRS stands for Drag Reduction System and is basically an “opening” of the rear wing to reduce drag and increase top speed.

During a race, DRS can only be activated when a car is within 1 second of the car ahead at the DRS detection point.

Final Thoughts

ERS brings a whole new dynamic to Formula 1, boasting astonishing levels of efficiency and power output.

ERS uses both kinetic and heat energy to give drivers that extra boost of power they need to perform an overtake or defend a position.

ERS heightens the anticipation of F1 spectators, and now you know how this incredibly complex and advanced system works!