Although we won’t be seeing the revival of the wide ’70s-style rear tyres, as it was rumoured during the pre-season, part of the sport’s former glory has returned. It certainly isn’t a secret that Formula One is losing its status as the crown jewel of motorsport to the World Endurance Championship, following what was described by some as a boring 2014 season that was ruled by the overpowered Mercedes team. Part of the plan to recover the sport’s popularity seems to be to revive aspects of the racing from the older eras of racing.
What many people are calling “artificial sparks”, were in discussion last year. We saw a few sparks in the first three races of the season, but they became most noticeable in Bahrain, especially in turn one when the drivers would dive down to the pit exit in order to pass someone.
If you don’t know what the whole “artificial sparks” idea is, I will explain. In Formula One’s days of glory, the cars became quite low to the track surface and became notorious for putting on a bit of a fireworks show when the floor of the car came in contact with the ground. As the cars progressed into more technical machines and the sport became more dependent on aerodynamics, a plank of wood was added to the bottom of the car to stop the floor plate of the car from being damaged if the car bottomed out. This season, the wooden plank has been swapped out with a piece of titanium metal for the purpose of generating sparks, while still preventing the floor damage. These sparks are considered to be “artificial” because, as opposed to in the ’90s when the sparks were being made from actual contact between the road and the car, the titanium plank is designed to prevent the contact with the ground, while producing the same sparks. They chose titanium because it is a metal that provides the most sparks.
Although the use of the titanium plank under the car has no positive or negative effect on the car’s performance, it seems to make the racing just a little bit more enjoyable. When someone goes for an intense overtake, the sparks add to the intensity of the pass and draws your attention to the pass. It was widely debated, when this plan was first announced, that it was a horrible idea. However, after seeing the plan in action, many should be happier. With the return of the McLaren-Honda partnership and now sparks, it makes you wonder which aspect of Formula One will be revived next.
Do you like the return of the sparking to the track? Vote in our poll by clicking here