BMW tests its 2009 Formula 1 car prototype – and it ain’t pretty (Pictures)

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Christian Klien has the best view of the F1.09 prototype - he he can't see it
Christian Klien has the best view of the F1.09 prototype - he can't see it

Several Formula 1 teams were back in action today for the first time since the Brazilian Grand Prix, testing developments ahead of the 2009 season.

BMW are the latest team to run developments of the aerodynamics package we can expect to see on its F1 car in 2009. It’s going to take some getting used to. Here’s 20 pictures, if you can take it…

Click once to preview, click again for high resolution version.

All pictures (C) BMW.

More on the 2009 Formula 1 season

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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85 comments on “BMW tests its 2009 Formula 1 car prototype – and it ain’t pretty (Pictures)”

  1. Wow! Beautiful! The slick tyres, I mean. Not the car.

  2. The reason the car looks so daft is that it looks out of proportion. Before, the rear wing and the front wing were almost the same length. Now, the front wing is HUGE and the rear wing is much, much smaller. The changes do seem OTT and it certainly isn’t a looker, but if it produces close racing, then I’m all for it.

  3. looks like the BMW Williams Walrus.

  4. Captain Caveman
    17th November 2008, 15:15

    Well the looks are not great, I just hope that the racing is a vast improvement.

    On the cost saving side, I wonder how much money the teams are loosing on sponsorship by having that much less space to put logos on.

    Especially on the rear wing.

  5. Captain Caveman, according to Frank Williams his team is losing 25% of bodywork capable of having sponsorship, guess that’s Hamleys* off the books.

  6. that rear wing is hideous! in fact its so ugly it almost makes the front wing look attractive.

  7. i’m shocked at the awfulness.

    You know in a horror movie such as hostel, where you’ll see something gruesome that turns your stomach, but you carry on watching eyes wide open…. welcome to F1 regulations people.

  8. Those front wing end plates look very dangerous, they could cut a rear tyre if they came close to one. Did they not pass a rule years ago that the front wing end plates had to be flat and have curved edges as Sharpe ones were dangerous.

    It reminds me of a F3000 car from the early 2000’s.

    I think that this is only an interim car, BMW would not want to put out there a car that was representative of next years car and give ideas out to those to have yet to fully concentrate on the 2009 car.

  9. OK, so we can lower the rear wing so its not so silly looking, widen the rear bodywork to compensate. Lose the high air intake and make it two smaller ones on either side at head level. At the front we can make it a bi-plane or a tri-plane and have the same aero effect, and if we lengthen the wheelbase, it won’t look so dumpy!
    Ooops, that sounds like an IRL car!

  10. This is not the for 2009 BMW. Just a 2009 themed car. However, its an ugly proposition. As unsexy as Mosley.

    Ferrari’s biggest sponsor doesn’t appear much on their cars so I guess the small rear wings are okay. Other teams will just grow poorer and achieve the FIA’s objectives for grassroot racing.

  11. The rear wing looks as if it has been fixed from a toy car.

    The front wing is similar to what Williams had in 2002/2004; don’t emember for sure..

    Actually; F2008’s front wing without the bridge wing would also look like the same I think

  12. I guess the FIA’s improvment of overtaking is the postions gained due to half the field having to pit very early, becuase of front wings flying off the cars on the first lap.

  13. The more I look at it, the more I can see myself getting very used to it.

  14. I think that this is only an interim car

    I hope you’re right, although it would make sense to get data on real world physics to fine tune the body too. Then they can give the data to Albert to make sure he doesn’t make silly mistakes like last year*.

    * edit, last season, as in this year. When albert told them the car would act a certain way and it didn’t!

    The front wing is similar to what Williams had in 2002/2004

    yep, the walrus tusks, back when Williams was using BMW power.

  15. That front wing almost, almost, looks like a CDG wing with a bit in the middle to fasten to the supports.

    That looks way more ugly than the set-up Williams shook-down last week.

    Still, it’s been said before and surely will be again…if it goes fast, then it will start to look pretty..!!

  16. Looks like Clarkson \ Hammond & May have tried to make an F1 car. :D
    It will take some getting used to.
    Another chapter in F1 when the regulations bring a whole new looking F1.

  17. Are BMW testing a repainted Formula Palmer Audi chassis with an F1 spec front wing for a laugh?

    It looks completely out of proportion and deeply ugly – so far. But the narrow track, grooved tyre cars that were introduced in 1998 looked similarly awful at first. Hopefully, we’ll get used to it.

  18. yeah, my jaw fell open this morning when i saw the pics. but i do think the overall design will be refined in the end to produce an attractive package. god willing!

  19. HounslowBusGarage
    17th November 2008, 16:00

    That front wing . . .
    Why don’t they just have rotating knives attached to the front wheels and be done with it?

  20. These cars are ugly. And some insight people don’t even expect too much of the 2009 aero regulations either. Remember, the 2009 wings will be more or less standardized.

  21. cant say i care what the look like, it’s how they overtake I’m more interested in…

  22. looks like F1 is sadly heading towards A1GP…

    it looks like a formula audi palmer car !!!!!

  24. I have not followed GP2 but I get the impression that racing and overtaking over there is interesting. GP2 car looks good as well. Strange.

  25. horrible

    EDIT: well actually its the huge first wing which makes it odd. ive just googled on williams fw14 and its rear wing had the same size. still i think it looked great. i dont see the point in these monster first wings.

  26. Atticus, the current wing sizes have never been used before. Until 1983 the entire bodywork had a maximum width of 140cm. From 1983 all the bodywork behind the rear wheel centre line had the maximum width of 100cm. From 1994 to 2008 this was reduced to 95cm.

  27. It is still an interim car, I think, to a certain extent.

    When I first saw it I wanted to gouge my eyes out. But having seen these pictures I have to say I’m really liking it! And that turnaround happened literally, honestly, within just a couple of hours. It’s very different to the old cars in terms of proportion. I think it’s actually quite like a FBMW chassis, but in a more exaggerated way, if you see what I mean.

    And the different the proper slicks makes over the grooves is very tangible to – makes it look very cool.

    Though I am prepared to be quite a lone voice in this.

  28. Those flared up sidepods seem reminiscent of an IRL car!

    The rear wing is definitely weird. I think the FIA should have acheived the downforce reduction by making the wing element shallower, instead of narrower.

  29. All I want to know is – how fast is it?

  30. Oh, and the front wing probably looks a tad too wide…but it doesn’t have the silly “bucket” dip in the middle. I find the straight front wing much more aesthetically pleasing. And the lack of silly horns and aero winglet things is very cool.

  31. Super new look eh……? God ! aren’t they damned ugly !
    About as balanced in appearance as a sumo wrester on Ice Skates !
    The Beemer looks like it’s design team are Massey-Fergusson or John Deere escapees……still the ‘combine’ front wing should be useful for mowing the grass at the circuit run-offs !

  32. When I first saw that car, I thought “What the Hell??”

    But, it depends which angle you look at. For instance looking at it from the front, it looks really weird. But from the back, it looks like an early 90’s F1 car.

    To be completely honest, I actually like it.

  33. sos , what the h… is that ??????????????????

  34. the rear wing looks like my closet :(

  35. i just wanna say :( :( :( :(

  36. Everybody, stop your belly aching. The cars look odd now, but you will get used to them very quickly.

    By the end of Melbourne, I assure you.

  37. I guess we F1 fans will never be happy. We didn’t like the shark-fins and nose wings; saying it was complex; and now we hate the new look because its too simple. :|

    I would take this new look; but a spoon-profiled front wing would be welcome. A flat one looks too out-dated.
    BTW, I was very fond of the nose wings; shark fins; end plates and all aerodynamic advancements which most of you found weird

  38. the snow plough era is upon us! hate it.

  39. The middle and backend (before that rear wing) of the BMW-Sauber looks fantastic!

    The front wing looks like someone digitally stretched it.

  40. did anyone notice the extra opening on the right side of the ferrari? it looks like a secondary cooling duct, but its only on one side.

  41. good god!!! that has to be the most ugly thing i’ve seen since………..well ever.

    i feel like crying!!!!!

  42. I dare say I’ll get used to it eventually. We won’t know if the new regulations will herald an age of exciting racing until next year. This isn’t the first time there have been new regulations intended to increase overtaking which in the end didn’t change much.
    Just like in other seasons when there have been big changes some teams will adapt better than others, so I predict that overall the teams won’t be as close next year as they were this year.

    The high wide nose reminds me more of an older Ferrari than the walrus Williams. While I generally still don’t like the look of F1 cars with a high nose I must be one of the only people who liked the walrus Williams.

    I won’t miss most of the aero add-ons, but I did like some of them. For me the 2005 McLaren was one of the best looking cars of recent years. The low wide nose with curvy front wing (before the bridge of later cars) the curved sidepods, the chimneys on top of the sidepods and the horns on the engine cover.


    That is a deeply upsetting car to behold. What’s more, the aero ‘solution’ seem to simply be ‘make the rear wing of the car narrower so that the massively wide front wing of the following car can get some clean air from where the rear wing should be’
    Not very sophisticated imo. Slicks look great, they make such a difference.
    As for cost cutting, the teams will most likely develop at least two different cars for next season as KERS will work differently on different circuits

  44. eh, it looks alright. We’ll get used to it. At least they scraped all the crud off of it, the BMW was one of the most ‘wrongly put-together Airfix models’, as Martin brundle might say, of last year.

    The slick tyres look sexy too.

  45. That is the ugliest piece of crap that I have ever seen. ’nuff said.

  46. Its not all bad, after all there are no wheel fairings…. I think if the rear wing was a little lower it wouldn’t look half as bad.

    I don’t think the front wing looks that out of place, it reminds me of the early 2000’s Ferrari wings, but the boxes on the end plates look awful.

    Why are they running grooved tires? Is that just to get a baseline of where they stand?

  47. For sure the cars will look pretty different to that by the season opener…
    The car is kind of odd looking, more strikingly different than plain ugly, but am I the only one that thinks if looks mean? Mean like in aggressive, like a big mouth ready to eat you. Having that front wing in your rear mirrors must be a bit intimidating, other than by the side knives (likely not to be there for racing or the mechanics will stay well clear of the car in the pit stops)
    I like it, a F1 car should look like a fighter!

  48. Haha, i think it looks like a clown car!
    Slick tyres look good though, and it’s not as bad as i imagined it would be.

    those front wing end plates look like they’ll be a knife through butter if they touch a tyre

  49. I guess they have space on the front wing to add some missiles to easy overtaking.. OMG :| ugly

  50. Damn that is ugly…….. real ugly :(

  51. Its Hammer Time
    17th November 2008, 20:14

    Did BMW not get the ‘no more grooves’ memo that went round in Brazil…

  52. Hammer Time – they’re running slicks in quite a few of the pictures. However the quantities of slick tyres were limited at the test.

  53. who ever said F1 cars needed to look nice?

    i serously dont mind

  54. If is this the trend for the 2009 i have to view the gp’s in normal tv with 16.9 ratio! ahahahahahah

  55. My God! WHAT’S THAT!!

    Looks like… erm…

    i can’t even think!…

    NOW we will see a sweet Renault F1 car. Imagine the orange-yellow-blue-white combo (not a looker in today’s car) with that kind of shape…

    Already a bad moment in 2009 F1 season :)

  56. On first impression, I thought the design very much resembles a Formula BMW car from recent seasons, so kudos to you Robert! Overall, the whole car seems a good bit smaller- were any other components made bigger or smaller besides the obvious?

    After several looks I am sure I will get used to the look, but it is still a strange-looking setup.

  57. don’t worry, it’s only an interim car, an prototype, but, remember that the new regulation says that the front wing must be like that, it will be abble to up and down the flaps during the race laps, to facilitate the overtakings, 5 stars for the slicks returns, and 0 stars for the new aerodynamic regulamentations….

    and here they are: three main objectives: the first one is to give drivers a better opportunity to overtake, the second is to limit the performance of the cars and restrict the constant increase in speeds and the third is to give the car a cleaner appearance by removing small aerodynamic devices such as winglets, turning vanes and chimneys.

  58. O.K. nice people,place your bets……how many of those GIANT front wings will we see destroyed next season?….no seriously,who wants to keep count?

  59. You know what? How cares what they looks like as long as it makes next years racing better?

  60. If it equals close racing next year, I’m all for it, but for now… GAAAHHH! My eyes!!!


  61. even 2002 Jordan Honda looked better that!

  62. Cameron aka. SkinBintin
    18th November 2008, 3:54

    Good luck expanding the audience Bernie and Max when the product looks like garbage. Hopefully next season just comes and goes and everthing just returns to normal!

  63. Of course looks are important! f1 is about the whole experience. The reason they told them to get rid of the chimmneys was to improve the look. Id just ban wings altogether

    compare and contrast:

    Now thats the mother load!

  64. Is the FIA expecting to run some snow races in 2009?

  65. Based on how stupid the cars look I am actually considering not watching F1 next year. Aesthetics are important. Why couldn’t they have put the aero rules like they were in 1990. At least they were in proportion.


  66. F1 cars will never be more beautiful than they were in the 50s and 60s – I’ll admit, but to me, this BMW prototype isn’t ugly.

    And number of front wings that will be knocked off this season? At least 20. Called it!

  67. I call 21.

    Plus F1 cars are pretty ugly anyway. It’s just what we’ve got used to in the past 2 years. You’ll all get used to this very quickly.

    And if you don’t, who cares about aesthetics anyway. You don’t hear me complaining about having to look at Flavio… :D

  68. well you may not care but plenty do, and no one watches Flavio for 90 minutes so what a strange comment. We’re so far away from win on a sunday, sell on a monday that people have almost forgotten the raison d’etre of racing. Put on a show and get people salivating about the product.

    The Santander advert with Lewis is quite prescient, they just forgot to add an aeroplane wing to the kit.

    In the early 1900’s, manufacturers experimented with what were to become known as “freak cars” – they looked like boilers and although in race terms they were successful, the public hated them and so they were quickly dropped.

    Having said all that if the racing is electric, no one will care. But if it isnt……

  69. It looks a little dangerous – if the front wing dislodged at high speed, couldn’t it just flip the car or give it air?


    the ugliest ever formula 1 car. why did Mosley always make such stupid regulation which might lost F1’s fans?
    for God’s sake, now we’re on 21st century! show what we should show! don’t be trapped in 1980’s era, and yet dreaming you could bring it again nowadays.

    i prefer A1 GP cars. they are based on Ferrari F2004, and yes it looks much better than F1 2009 car.

    if F1 2009 cars remain the same like this, i’m sure F1’s gonna lost its fans.

  71. Klien: ’09 BMW worst looking car ever

    To me, for the moment, it’s the worst (looking) Formula One car I have ever seen. It just doesn’t fit together.

    but he say something more interesting:

    Even with these aerodynamics it’s still not possible to drive right behind another car. We will see in the first few races. It’s more of a problem to not knock off the front wing at the first corner.

    something similar say Pedro de la Rosa:

    It will still be a wide car, there will still be aerodynamic effect and offline will stay dirty. It will be easier, but it won’t be MotoGP. And people need to understand that.

    so did we have ugly cars and no overtaking ?:)

  72. Once again I extend a sarcastic thankyou to everyone who clicked “F1 needs more overtaking” on their FIA/AMD survey’s in years past. I hope you’re happy that you contributed to ruining the aesthetic appeal of the sport for a solution that will not give you what you want (not that you have any idea what that is) and was never really needed in the first place.

  73. I hope you’re happy that you contributed to ruining the aesthetic appeal of the sport for a solution that will not give you what you want (not that you have any idea what that is) and was never really needed in the first place.

    Yes, we can have “ugly” cars that don’t overtake (2008) or different “ugly” cars that might be more able to overtake.

    I use the word “ugly” in inverted commas because it’s relative.

    The aesthetics is surely the least important bit. A good-looking procession much better than an “ugly” looking yet good race? Course not.

  74. “The aesthetics is surely the least important bit. A good-looking procession much better than an “ugly” looking yet good race? Course not.”

    Well said Robert.

  75. Um… repeating, I wish there was more symmetry between the front and rear wings, but otherwise I like the smoother lines of the car. I think it’ll grow on us in time.

  76. marvin guillen
    19th November 2008, 2:00

    OH! my lord. Hope not to see does cars in 2009.They`re UGLY!!!
    FIA listen to the fans. Beautiful sport means the same for the cars. BMW,HONDA and others don`t make this mistakes.I hope not to see the rear wing that high.
    I`m big fan (Ferrari to say) of F1.Don`t break my heart.

  77. higher and narrower rear wing scares me to death. it’s horrible!!

  78. @ 70 Robert McKay

    The general opinion is F1 needs more overtaking, this simply isn’t true and these cars will certainly not provide it. Formula One by nature will produce race grids with little scope for position changes. These abomination aerodynamics will do nothing to change this characteristic of the sport and so we will still have half a dozen races which your describe as processional. What do we have to gain from these regulations? Perhaps some vanilla repositioning on the opening laps of races. What do we have to lose? The build up and anticipation over many laps, the anxiety over whether or not Lewis or Kimi will have a go into turn 1 this time around!

    Ask yourself this, do you actually expect a Ferrari that has qualified behind a Toyota, to overtake that Toyota and then stay close enough so that the Toyota will overtake it on the next lap, creating a battle of Gilles-Rene like legend? Of course not, the Ferrari is just going to drive off into the distance. How is this exciting to you, or anyone?

    As has been said by Windsor many times, if overtaking is all you covet, there’s plenty of places to go and get your fix. Leave F1 alone.

  79. huge mistake by the fia. the front wing is tooo wide. the car looks ugly as hell and is going to be very easy to knock it off when fighting for position. hey mosley.. maybe your new front wing is not going to help with close racing after all.

    i think the new rear wing is ok, and i’m happy that all those winglets are finally gone.

  80. That front wing is hung like Max Mosley!

  81. wow the 2009 cars look absoultely terrible. Just, FUGLY!
    Abominations! God max, were you drinking when you dreamed up such eye sores? Leave the danm cars alone and let the constructors build the best danm car they could put on the track. Standard ecu, engines, dumbed down aero specs and all that nonsense.

  82. Yikes!!! *** is this ?!? it looks worse than the cars from the 70’s. After all the money and tech., this is all they came up with a car that looks like a pimped out Go-cart??

  83. it looks like its from the 1970s

  84. This is a very beautiful car. I wish I could drive it!

  85. I disagree. The wider front wing and taller back wing makes it look like a scorpion :P

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