F1 sparks

F1 continues to try and ‘improve the show’ in Austria

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The latest in a long line of ideas to improve the ‘improve the show’ in Formula 1 has resulted in two cars running with skid blocks during practice for the Austrian Grand Prix to produce sparks from the back of their cars.

During the 1980s, cars ran so low to the ground that they regularly sparked as the bottom of the car skidded along the track. In an attempt to recreate this, both Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen ran with metal blocks on the bottom of their car during FP1 at the Red Bull Ring.

Initially, it did seem to be working. There were definite sparks coming out of the back of Rosberg’s car as he ran along the pit straight, but very few appeared at any other point on the circuit. Although it did look quite good at times, it did not seem to work as perfectly as those behind the idea may have wanted it to.

This is just the latest in a long line of ideas intended to improve the show in Formula 1. The biggest sticking point for many fans and figures within Formula 1 this season has been the sound of the new cars. Since the downsize from V8 engines to turbocharged V6 power units, the sound of the sport has definitely changed, becoming quieter.

In order to try and resolve this, Mercedes trialled a ‘megaphone’ exhaust during the post-Spanish GP test that was meant to enhance the sound. Although it did change the tone of the engine, it did not make it louder. Now, there are plans to test a ‘double megaphone’ exhaust to see if that works.

The other big sticking point is the introduction of double points for the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi. This has been widely criticized in Formula 1, and is backed by very few people. However, it does look to remain in place, meaning that, theoretically, Lewis Hamilton could win three times as many races as Nico Rosberg this year and still lose the championship.

It is expected that the team principals in Formula 1 will be asked about these changes during their press conference later today.