The Vital Role of the "Skid Block" Beneath State-of-the-Art F1 Cars
Were you aware that every Formula 1 car is equipped with a wooden component called a "skid block"? But have you ever wondered why?
You may be thinking, "What could be the purpose of a wooden piece beneath technologically advanced Formula 1 vehicles?" Nonetheless, it serves a crucial function.
In fact, it wouldn't be an exaggeration to claim that without this wooden component, some Formula 1 drivers might not be alive today. Let's explore the role of the "skid block."
Before the introduction of the wooden skid block, a Formula 1 driver tragically lost their life, prompting the necessity for preventive measures.
In 1994, racing driver Ayrton Senna lost his life in an accident due to excessive contact with the ground. While his demise wasn't the first or the last, it led to the implementation of safety regulations in Formula 1 vehicles.
Formula 1 cars, which rely as much on aerodynamics as other features, benefit from being close to the ground. However, let's consider another perspective. A fully fueled car can make contact with the ground. This is precisely what needs to be mitigated.
What about attaching a wooden component, 10 millimeters thick, to the car using titanium plates? Formula 1’s solution:
"The length of the wooden plank should span from 330 millimeters behind the centerline of the front wheels to the centerline of the rear wheels and should be at least 1 meter long."
The thickness of 10 millimeters must be consistent throughout, with a tolerance of +/- 0.2 millimeters. Its width should be 300 millimeters, with a tolerance of +/- 2 millimeters. The wooden plank must be made of a homogeneous material and fixed symmetrically.
If the skid block wears down, it's time for disqualification.
At the end of a race, the wooden plank must not be worn down by more than 1 millimeter. If it exceeds this limit, the drivers are disqualified. In fact, Michael Schumacher in 1994, and Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc in 2023 all faced disqualification for this very reason.
We can identify the friction between the wooden plank and the ground by the sparks emitted from beneath the car. Although these sparks may appear fascinating and thrilling, they signify danger.
The wooden skid block plays an essential role in maintaining the safety and integrity of Formula 1 races. Without it, the consequences could be dire. It's a testament to the continuous efforts and advancements in safety measures within the sport.