Whiting – Titanium skid blocks for safety, not just sparks and spectacle

Whiting – Titanium skid blocks for safety, not just sparks and spectacle


The introduction of rules that should see the return of sparks to Formula 1 for 2015 is not solely a move to increase the spectacle of the sport, but also to improve safety according to Charlie Whiting.

As of next year Formula 1 cars will be fitted with mandatory titanium skid blocks, first tested during practice for the Austrian Grand Prix, which should see cars producing more sparks, in a move backed by the F1 Strategy to increase the spectacle of the sport,

However, FIA Technical Delegate Charlie Whiting insists that the aim of the introduction of titanium skid blocks did not come solely from an effort to produce sparks, in a nod to the 1980s, but also to improve safety.

“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,” explains Whiting.

“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.

According to Whiting there were three thought processes behind the change to titanium skid blocks for 2015, rather than the general view that it had come only to produce sparks to ramp up spectacle.

“It’s safer, because if they do come off they are about a third of the weight of the existing ones,” he said.

“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,” he concluded.

Image courtesy of Williams F1 Team