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Formula 1 skid plank

Challenge: wear resistance of underfloor skid planks was insufficient

Solution: development of skid planks to suit the requirements

For aerodynamic reasons the Formula 1 racing teams want to have as little distance between the floor of the car and the circuit as possible. Underneath the cars a mandatory skid plank is used. These planks have a strict 1 millimetre wear allowance. This prevent the teams from setting up their cars too low to the tarmac, which can lead to dangerous behaviour in corners and around curb stones, behaviour that may have played a role in some fatal accidents.

Within DRIE-D the idea originated that with the new, ultra-wear-resistant D-glide® FC material, it should be possible to make more wear resistant skid planks for Formula 1 racing cars than with the previously used materials. After DRIE-D approached McLaren with the idea to use D-glide® FC as plank material, we immediately had McLaren’s interest.

Up to 2002 McLaren produced their own dedicated composite material for this application. Other teams used simpler materials such as laminated wooden planks.

Because D-glide® FC is much more wear resistant than the dedicated McLaren plank material, the cars could now be set up lower to the tarmac. The ‘plank’ touched the circuit more often but thanks to the excellent wear resistance of D-glide® FC, the total wear during a race remained under the 1 millimetre limit. Because a lower set up car is faster, the McLaren cars became even more competitive.

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