Sparks in 2015 not just for show - FIA
New regulations that should result in sparks flying from the underside of cars next season are being introduced for safety and technical reasons as well as improving the show, according to the FIA.
Next year cars will be fitted with titanium skid blocks within the plank under the car, which should see more sparks flying from the rear as it bottoms out. Tests were held during first practice in Austria with titanium skid blocks in place, but the FIA insists the new rule for 2015 is not just about producing sparks.
"To explain: the plank is the long bit of wood, the skids are bits of metal within the plank," FIA technical boss Charlie Whiting said. "The skids have formerly been made of a heavy metal, which has been very resistant to wear, and they put the skids around the points in the plank where thickness is measured. Planks have to start off at nominally 10mm thick and they can't be less than 9mm thick. However, we only measure them around certain holes in the plank. So they position the skids around those holes.
"This metal is extremely heavy and when pieces detach they can be extremely harmful. We saw two punctures in Spa previously because of bits of this metal that lay in a kerb and caused damage. In a worst case scenario they could fly off and hit someone.
"The purpose of making them out of titanium is threefold: Firstly, it's safer, because if they do come off they are about a third of the weight of the existing ones. Secondly, the titanium wears some 2-2.5 times more quickly than the metal currently used. Thus cars will have to be run a little bit higher to manage wear and teams won't be able to drag them on the ground quite as much as they have in the past. The third effect is that you will see a lot more sparks, which some people think will look a little more spectacular."