Formula E

"Wow effect for the fans" - Formula E drivers call for introduction of "skid blocks" for more sparkle

Tobias Wirtz

Tobias Wirtz

Since 2015, all Formula 1 cars have been fitted with so-called skid blocks on the underbody. These are metal blocks made of titanium, which spray a particularly large number of sparks when they come into contact with the asphalt. Now several Formula E drivers would also like to see skid blocks introduced in the electric racing series. Spraying sparks would, in their view, improve the show at the races.

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The skid blocks are primarily intended to protect the underbody and diffuser, which are made of carbon fiber-reinforced plastic (CFRP) in modern racing cars, from damage. Accordingly, in the event of bumps, curbs or rolling motions, the cars set down with the skid block - instead of the sensitive CFRP parts, which would quickly break.

Instead of aluminum, Formula 1 has been using titanium as the material of the skid blocks for several years. The only reason for the decision: The titanium blocks generate significantly more sparks when they come into contact with the asphalt than the structurally identical parts made of aluminum. So it's purely a show effect.

"I talked to the FIA and Formula E to improve the show," Porsche driver Antonio Felix da Costa described to 'The Race.' "One question was why we don't have metal parts on the underbody to create a spark show. We really touch the ground a lot. That would be a small change, but it could lead to a wow effect with the fans."

"It would look pretty cool, especially at the night races," Nio 333 driver Dan Ticktum agrees. "We touch down quite a bit on the road courses. I don't see why we wouldn't do that. It would be easy to implement and have maximum impact on championship pictures."

Felix da Costa: "Development has slowed a bit after COVID"

That's not where it should stop, however. Felix da Costa describes that, together with other drivers, he wants to improve the events of the racing series, as they locate a lot of untapped potential here. "Before COVID, we were fantastic," says the Cape Town race winner, looking back at the time before 2020.

"I understand it hasn't been easy for the series financially, but after COVID things slowed down a bit. However, I am convinced that the experience for the fans must always come first."

What other plans the drivers have to improve the experience for fans on site and the show on TV screens is not yet known. There is also currently no possible date for the introduction of skid blocks. The next race in Sao Paulo in just over a week (March 25) will be the first to introduce the new rear-view mirrors on the Gen3 car.

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