F1’s generation of ugly cars should be a temporary sight


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Caterham CT01

Most people who commented on the first pictures of the Caterham CT01 yesterday had the same initial reaction: it’s not a looker.

Its stepped nose, which became an instant subject of derision, is a consequence of new rules aimed at improving the safety of the cars. So will we see something similar on every new car this year?

We can expect much the same from Ferrari when their new car is revealed next week, according to Stefano Domencali: “It’s not that pretty,” he said of the team’s new car, “because the shape defined by the technical regulations does not leave much scope.”

The man behind the CT01, Mike Gascyone, expects other teams to produce similar solutions: “I think you’ll probably be seeing this type of nose on most of the cars this year.”

The rules now require the front portion of a car to be no more than 550mm high. But the section of the nose immediately behind it may be up to 625mm high. Therefore, assuming designers continue to prefer the aerodynamic gains offered by high noses, the CT01 will not be the only car to sport a distinctive snout.

Raised cockpit sides don't look as bad as this any more

In the coming weeks we will discover whether any of other designers have successfully married the rules on nose dimensions to a more attractive form.

It brings to mind the introduction of higher cockpit sides in 1996. They looked dreadful to begin with, but were eventually incorporated into car design in a much more subtle way.

But this is F1, and aesthetics are not going to have priority over performance. Ugly and fast trumps pretty but slow.

Of course, whether a car is “ugly” or “beautiful” is entirely subjective. Everyone has a different view of when F1 car design was at its best: whether it’s the aerodynamically complex creations of the mid-2000s, the low and wide cars of the mid-1990s, the squat turbo beasts of the eighties, the diverse machinery of the seventies, the tapered cigar tubes seen in the sixties or their front-engined predecessors.

But the stifling of innovation, coupled with some exacting technical specifications in the rule book, has combined to make the current cars look decidedly odd.

Since 2009, the front and rear wings look like they belong on different cars

The 2009 aerodynamic regulations, introduced to increase overtaking, succeeded mainly in giving the cars an ungainly appearance rather than creating more passing.

The front and rear wings now have disproportionately odd dimensions – low and wide at the front, tall and narrow at the back – and the passage of three years has not made them more pleasing to the eye.

Add to that the stepped noses which may prove ubiquitous in 2012 and we have a decidedly unattractive new generation of F1 cars.

Hopefully some of the bright minds in other teams have devised more elegant solutions to the nose problem which will spare us from seeing a grid full of these awkward creatures.

If they don’t, it should still only be a temporary problem – albeit one we’re going to have to put up with in the medium-term. The proposed 2014 technical regulations will move the nose 300mm lower, which should give teams the opportunity to do away with this unsightly compromise.

The forthcoming rules change will also reduce the width of the front wings, which should also go some way towards improving the cars’ appearance.

But this is also a symptom of something more troubling: the limited scope for innovation and consequent lack of variety in modern F1. The ever-tightening rules are forcing convergence in car design upon the teams, to the extent where F1 increasingly looks like a single-spec series.

A view which is only going to be reinforced if there are 24 cars with alligator noses on the grid in Melbourne.


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Images © Ferrari spa/Ercole Colombo, Renault/LAT

Author information

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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101 comments on “F1’s generation of ugly cars should be a temporary sight”

  1. I think the dropped nose looks very aggressive. It is not elegant but it has a lot character and I like it.

  2. The 2009 aerodynamic regulations, introduced to increase overtaking, succeeded mainly in giving the cars an ungainly appearance rather than creating more passing.

    I liked the look of the 2009 cars, for the most part. Especially the BGP001 and RB5. Contrary to most, the ’05-’08 cars were pretty ghastly to me, with all those bits on I thought they looked ridiculous! When people harp on about the MP4-22/23…Rant over.

    I don’t think we’ll ever get uglier than 1996. Well…

    1. @Electrolite

      I liked the look of the 2009 cars […] Contrary to most, the ’05-’08 cars were pretty ghastly to me, with all those bits on

      I wasn’t talking about the entire design of the 2009 cars. I appreciate that a lot of people liked the cleaning up of the intricate aerodynamic components around the sidepods.

      I was specifically referring to the distortion in perspective between the front and rear wings we now have. It may have become familiar over three years but it still looks wrong.

      1. @keithcollantine you got a very bad example of the 2009 cars there, though! that Renault was so ugly!

        1. Yes it was but the 09 BMW Sauber was worse

      2. Indeed – I’ve also realised that concerning the RBR I got the wrong model!

        I think retrospectively we’ll definitely look back and realise even the prettiest cars in this era aren’t actually pretty at all!

        I agree with the penultimate paragraph…

        Teams should be able to follow more than one path – a more extreme version of what we’ve seen the last two years now (high or low noses, flat or duck bill, shark fin or no shark). So there are two or three differing paths of car design per year that teams can follow. At the minute they’re all morphing into one… (Hopefully someone gets what I mean and can word this better, dissertation is destroying my mind) It would take some clever rule writing though.

        1. Yeah, I think that really is what makes it feel less interesting for innovation.

          There are not many options for completely different (design) strategies to be comparably effective nowadays.

      3. @KeithCollantine

        I wasn’t talking about the entire design of the 2009 cars. I appreciate that a lot of people liked the cleaning up of the intricate aerodynamic components around the sidepods.

        I was specifically referring to the distortion in perspective between the front and rear wings we now have. It may have become familiar over three years but it still looks wrong.

        Yeah, I completely agree with that. Aesthetics probably don’t matter to me as much as they do to others, but I think that lower and wider rear wings would make the cars look far nicer than they do now. I don’t know whether that would completely undo all the downforce effects that the OWG intended them to have, but if it wouldn’t I say we should lobby them to change it!

      4. one thing repeats in the history of the spòrt. Even if there were years of mostly ugly cars, the one that dominated was not bad at all. The brawn of 2009 was very nice even if the rest were not. I have a coleccion of f1 cars since the 70’s and all are a head turner.

    2. @electrolite

      I think the original MP4-22 was one of the best looking cars ever, until they wrecked it with the bridge wing.

  3. Aaaaahhh the great diversity of the 70’s!!!! That was something really increibile that such different approaches would compete against each other so closely!

    They weren’t always pretty cars anyway…..

    1. Not always but this one was


      Pity we can’t legislate to make them all look a bit like this.

      1. that was not only beautiful, it was fast and it was oversteery. Wich makes it even better. That car looked fast standing still.
        I saw it in a martini racing event in jarama 2007, and fittipaldi drove it the year before at montjuit. It doesn’t get better than that.

    2. agree but the world champions all were.

  4. Hopefully some of the bright minds in other teams have devised more elegant solutions to the nose problem which will spare us from seeing a grid full of these awkward creatures.

    I hope so.

    Maybe this solution could be dependant of how high was the nose of the 2011 generations of cars.

    Applying the new tech rules above the nose of the 2011 cars you will see that McLaren, for example, wouldn’t suffer so much with that problem:

    You can see here:


    Looking to this illustration, you can really expect that kind of ugliness in the new Ferrari — exactly the way was predicted in the Caterham car.

    1. Looking at that, every team except McLaren could end up looking like the Caterham or, conversely, they could all end up looking like the McLaren. Of course it all depends on how the airflow works between the nose and the sidepods, McLaren’s solution might only work with the u-shaped side-pods.

  5. In the last 12 years of formula 1 the best looking cars were (for me) the 2009 spec ones. The Ferrari F60 was nicest one:

    But since the fuel ban, the cars have become to long.

  6. But the stifling of innovation

    I think that the Caterham looks so odd is a sign that innovation is rife as obviously it’s not what the FIA had envisioned.

    I think the whole innovation is dead line I read so often is rather absurd. I mean, innovation is everywhere in F1. Just because it shows itself in a different way to fan cars doesn’t cancel out it’s existence.

    Just look at things like the F-Duct the EBD, Caterham’s nose and countless others to see real life modern day innovation. (And that’s only a select few of the the really obvious ones).

    Innovation is engineers designing ideas around the stifling rules, as it always has been and hopefully always will be.

    1. Agree: just because it’s not THAT obvious, it doesn’t mean innovation isn’t there.

    2. Yes, and when whe get innovations like those they get banned. If that isn’t stifling of innovation I don’t know what is.

      1. Everything on an F1 car is regulated, and it has to be for obvious reasons. We have many innovations which are kept each year, and we get more new ones every year. Usually the bans have good reasons behind them, like the EBD – as the FIA felt that using exhaust gases to increase aero performance was the wrong way to go.

        I’d just say that many of the things that get banned have taken advantage of a loop hole in the technical regulations when they were conceived. (Like both the double diffuser and the F-duct.)

        I read on Wikipedia that innovation is the creation of new processors and technologies.

        Now if that doesn’t scream F1 nothing will.

      2. think about it the other way. Limiting the designs forces the engineers to look to ther options and try to make the same/better effect without what was banned.

        It leads to even more innovation and advances, and it equals the competition in some way.

  7. I don’t mind the look of the cars nowadays: the F10 was pretty in my opinion. And others have been ridiculously ugly.

    It certainly has improved since BMW and Honda tried the new wings. But i’d not say they look anything worse than the 2008 cars: the wings had relation to the dimensions of the car, but the winglets, spoliers and other things spoiled them! The F1.08 was particularly bad looking!

    BTW, I think the rules made cars uglier only recently, with the new wings. The development of the cars made them ugly over the years, the need for more and more aerodinamic efficiency made them look horrible.

  8. I still think the cars in 2006 were the best design in my 9 years in F1.

    1. You know, I’ve always hated ultra skinny noses like on the R26, and all those dangly bits! :D

      Each to there own eh?

  9. Does lowering the nose really make it safer? I think the look of the cars is one of the great things about F1, if all the cars look like this then there’s no way they’ll be on my computer background at work!

    1. @brawngp In their 2011 specification some of the cars’ noses were higher than the anti-intrusion panels around the cockpit (you can probably see how if you poke around the technical regulations). So I think you can make a clear case for changing them on safety grounds.

  10. The ever-tightening rules are forcing convergence in car design upon the teams, to the extent where F1 increasingly looks like a single-spec series.

    Shows what a stupid business this is.
    I bet if you took off all the stickers and paint, noone would be able to tell one car from another.

    1. Sounds like an idea for the next F1F quiz if you ask me!

      1. That would be pretty easy though. I remember Scarbs once did something of the sort, but the only bit of the cars available for us to see were the front brake ducts! And I think I only got one car wrong if memory serves me right :P

        1. I believe you are wrong on that point. We are at a point in F1 where every car is distinctive in my eyes.

          They all seem to have there own unique twist. Toro Rosso and McLarens sidepods, Caterham and Force India’s Roll hoop, Renaults (Lotus) Exhausts. That was last year, I believe we will see similiar variations this year as well.

    2. Only if you are not, mind the pun, an F1 fanatic.

  11. As already mentioned its a very subjective thing whether or not a F1 car looks good or not. I also think a lot has to do with when you started watching. My first race I ever saw on tv was Hockenheim 94 so I would love to see a return to the 412T2’s and FW16’s era though of course that will never happen on safety grounds but todays cars are not pretty. HAVING SAID THAT i liked the Ferrari F150th Italia last year but the narrow body and even narrower rear wing doesn’t make the current generation of F1 cars look mean enough. Oh well, as long as the racing is good!!

  12. Thank you Keith for an interesting story. It would be fantastic if this CT01 is completely different to any other car on the first test and has the speed margin that Brawn had towards the start of 2009, wishful thinking I know.

    People will hate me for saying this but the 1996 Williams was my favorite F1 car by far, other than that the Ferraris of the 60’s looked fantastic and that comes from a Mclaren fan.

    1. Why would people hate you for saying the FW18 is your fave F1 car? It’s gorgeous in every way!

      1. thank you GeeMac, it was just reading previous threads, it seems as though 96 was not a popular year for car looks.

        1. That’s true, most crs that year were pretty chunky, but the FW18 was gorgeous.

  13. What can I say? F1 never stands still and the past has seen creatures with weirder noses than the new Caterham’s. I particularly like this one.

    1. Haha. The science of aerodynamics has certainly come on…

    2. Ewwww O.o

      Errr… Ensign?

      1. @Mike You’re right, it’s Ensign Ford N179 from 1979 :)

  14. I’m still for the 2000 to 2007 cars. Low and sleek.

  15. K. Rieke, NY, NY
    26th January 2012, 15:10

    I liked the cars of the 80s, and also the clean ones of the 2000s. But my favorites were the 70s, because of the variety and individual creativity by the designers that was allowed – encouraged – by the rules. The trend of the rules now dictating that all the cars look SO alike is stifling what makes F1 interesting for me, which is the technical high-wire acts that the teams used to conduct to come up with a unique solution to the problem of “getting to the checkered flag first.”

  16. Roll on 2014 is all I can say. Every time I look at my collection of “favourite F1 imagines” and watch my old season review DVD’s I can’t help thinking that there has to be another way to sort out the sport without making the cars look like completely awful!

    I hate the look of the cars post 2009, they are starting to get better looking but the wngs are still far too ungainly. I know people hated the areo heavy cars of 2008, but the post 2009 rules are not the answer!

    1. Oh, by the way, thanks for linking in the “favorite era” article, it means I could drool over this!:

      Monza spec MP4-22….an amazing looking thing!

  17. I don’t know if people agree with me, but I think the FIA and the teams should care for the look of the cars. I was eight years old when I really started following F1, watching every race in 1999. My parents didn’t care for it, so I became a fan all by myself, and as a kid what really caught my attention was the speed of the cars, the amazing sound of the V10’s and of course the beauty of the cars. Most people may think it isn’t important, but when we’re talking about attracting new fans to the sport – who don’t know very well the drivers, the teams, the tracks or the rules – aesthetics plays a key role in my opinion.

    I like to think about the Sportcars of the late ’80 / early 90′ and what they became, the LMP1 cars. There were so many brilliant cars in the WSC, like the Porsche 962C, the Jaguar XJR-11, the Mazda 787B and my favourite car of all time, the Sauber-Mercedes C9. I didn’t watch those cars racing, but they make me wish was born a decade or so earlier. But if we look at the LMP1 cars of today, they are not appealing. Le Mans is awesome but sadly to me the cars look just ugly.

    I may be wrong but I doubt many people will look back at the Audi R18 and Peugeot 908 in and remember them with fondness. Or even the RB8 and the MP4-27 for that matter.

    1. @Guilherme

      But if we look at the LMP1 cars of today, they are not appealing. Le Mans is awesome but sadly to me the cars look just ugly.

      I may be wrong but I doubt many people will look back at the Audi R18 and Peugeot 908 in and remember them with fondness.

      Well, to prove my point that appearance is subjective, I have to interject here and say I do like the R18 and 908.

      To my eye, LMP1 car design in recent years has begun to capture something of the look of the great Group C cars you mention.

      We can never turn the clock back entirely, but I think the move towards closed-cockpit cars has given Le Mans its identity back. The open-cockpit cars just looked like F1 wannabes, and that’s not sportscar racing to me.

      1. Couldn’t agree more Keith. I love that as you put it, “Le mans has its identity back.” To me the LMP1 machines are the closest we can get to what an evolution of the Group C and IMSA cars would have been.

        As for today’s F1 cars, I don’t think they are that bad, though my two cents is for the machines of the early 2000’s, up to 05. Those were the most proper looking cars in my opinion.

      2. Agreed. The 2010 908 was a stunner by the way.

      3. @keithcollantine well, that’s why I said that to me the cars are ugly :P

        I agree that they are much better now with the closed cockpits, but I don’t really like how the LMP1 cars look from the front, with a narrow nose between two gaps between the massive wheel covers. I know that my view is bordering on nitpicking but I thnk the Group C cars were much more pleasant to the eye.

        I like how they are doing at Grand-Am. The cars used to be hideous, but the Corvette Daytona Prototype was released in november and they really took aesthetics into account in order to captivate new fans. The result is a completely stunning car.

  18. I did get used to the 2009-wings after a while. Now I even don’t like the old style cars anymore, they just look old to me.

    So I expect the same for these noses, whether Caterhams will be the norm or the exception…

    In my view the sheer uglyness of DRS overshadows all noses / wings or whatever the engineers come up with. If we have good and real racing, then I can live with cars looking totally ugly.

  19. I never quite liked the glorified-jeep look about the ground effect cars, they were a bit bulky height-wise

    Regarding the current generation of, they still look like vaccum-cleaners from afar, they could have just cut the winglets without changing the wing sizes

    1. of cars*, that is

  20. So this is going to be the Karl Malden or Jimmy Durante generation of F1 cars?

  21. 1991-1995 for me. These new ones are going to be horrific if the Caterham is anything to go by. Cant we do away with shark noses? They only ever looked good on old Benetton’s to me. The massive front wing and skinny rear wing are rank too. And i preferred cars with proper fat sidepods!

    1. Amen to that! The sidepods seem to be almost disappearing and it makes the cars look odd and out of proportion.

  22. The 1996 Ferrari isn’t an example of the rules making cars look ugly temporarily, but of John Barnard not reading the rules correctly, and, in consequence, implementing an overly conservative head protection.

    Look at the 1996 Williams, for one, to see how the same rules could be interpreted in a much easier-on-the-eyes way. Same rules, no whiplash collar. Also, quicker, which is why Ferrari abandoned its design post haste.

    The problem here clearly is that the quickest solution seems also like the ugliest.

  23. Jack Leslie (@)
    26th January 2012, 17:41

    I do not think the CT-01 looks ugly.

    Yes it looks different but i think it looks aggressive and defined. It is not the most elegant or smooth design but lets be honest, Caterham got no where with conservative designs in 2010 and 2011.

    I hope it helps them climb up the order.

  24. I expect to see some openings in the other cars where the step takes place.

    I know there are driver legs and suspension arms to fit in there, but that steep step is surely going to create too much drag (I mean drag that doesn’t result in downforce).

    Some openings could exploit the boundary layer running along the top of the front section of nose perhaps?

    1. Aren’t openings in the nose allowed only for cooling the driver (a result of the 2008? Ferrari using a slit for aero purposes)?

      1. @BasCB Indeed. But ‘openings’ is again a subjective term. Imagine a ‘snow plough’ located there that sent air to the sides and not directly at the step, almost akin to the roll bar designs. That could direct the boundary layer to the floor.

        1. Hm, makes me curious what the rules would say about something like that @John H, although it might be a problem to then still meet the rules about the vertical dimensions of the bulkhead, I would guess it might be troublesome getting the snowplough to be accepted of part of it.

  25. In equal cars Alonso is certainly the benchmark. He is doing his best in what even Ferrari have admitted has been only 3rd competetive mostly, with the occasional glimpse of being 2nd best for 2 or 3 races at a time! Now Bullcr4ps have no EBD designed car lets hope the playing field is more level from the start. Dont want any sudden surprises on the start grid for the first race! Thats IF Im even gonna get to see it with this BS BBC/Sky cr4p!!! But the more equal the cars, the better Alonso gets. The 150 Italia was pretty but pink….too soft on the tyres to be any good… so testing up in a couple weeks,,,cant wait!! #:)

  26. I’m certainly sad about the very tight restrictions on current F1 design. Innovation is still there but it’s small tweeks rather than grand leaps. That means the effect is small but the risk is small also. Before with grand leaps sometimes they worked, sometimes not, and invariably caused reliability problems which at least allowed other teams a look in. But now it’s all down to detail, which causes the Noah’s arc, two by two syndrome in qualifying. Fortunately in the race good driving can overcome some of the deficit (although that again is more difficult now DRS favours the better car over the better driver).
    I was excited by Renault’s front exhaust last year, it looked promising in the first few races but then proved a dead end. That is the way of most F1 innovation over the decades, but now it is so difficult to do. Unfortunately the rules are agreed by committee and radical changes are almost impossible to agree by committee. Personally I favour the idea put forward by I think it was Frank Costin (the grandfather of modern F1 aerodynamics), the only rule should be how much fuel the car can use, everything else except a few basic safety rules should be free.

    1. the only rule should be how much fuel the car can use, everything else except a few basic safety rules should be free.

      Agreed !

      Although I doubt there will ever be such a thing as a few basic safety rules in F1, and even I have to admit that it’s probably a good thing that there won’t.

  27. I’d suggest a trip to a museum if you want to see things that are pretty. Otherwise, just be aware that the appearance of contemporary F1 cars is the direct result of a public outcry for more overtaking and limiting Ferrari’s budget.

  28. Without a doubt, the 96 Ferrari is my favourite one. The sheer boldness of the lines is just beautiful. What a great looking car.

  29. Can’t we just have all the cars look like the ’08 BMW? Please? :)


  30. I somewhat disagree about the restrictiveness of the regulations being to blame. I think the early 70s cars were the ugliest of all, but the regulations were quite free then. That’s my (subjective) opinion of course, but if you hate mis-shapen noses…it’s lucky that the sleeker designs proved to be more efficient, in that respect.

    Of course, the difference in the front wings is down to the regulations. But if they were totally free I think the wide front wings, which I consider to be ugly as sin regardless of the difference in size to the rear wings, would have become a reality at some point. Though probably more draggy than their predecessors(?), the car designers love them as they protect the front wheels, partly removing an aerodynamic headache for them. The fact that they’re only going to be slightly narrower from 2014 might be down to this.

    And ironically, had the regulations been even more restrictive, mandating a lower nose further up, we wouldn’t be seeing noses like the CT01, but ones like the MP4-26. And the CT01 is the result of one design philosophy; though it will probably be the most common one, I think we will see McLaren and one or two others go down the MP4-26 route.

    Let’s not also forget that whilst the previous generation of F1 cars was proportionately more balanced, they were less restricted and more ugly (I think). Plus, if you restricted the cars so they couldn’t look too different from the FW15C, maybe not everyone would like them but I bet it’d have more fans than the CT01, despite being a result of hypothetically more restrictive regulations.

    I guess my point is, it’s not how restricted the cars are, it’s how they’re restricted.

    1. I guess my point is, it’s not how restricted the cars are, it’s how they’re restricted.

      I tend to agree with that @icthyes, I would like teams to have more options / choises what direction to head in with their development, but have limits on how broad a package they can use (to keep teams from spending their way to the top)

  31. C’mon its not that bad at all. In fact overall I like the CT01, especially the livery. We’ll see how that nose looks in Ferrari red!

  32. Hope Adrian Newey can make some miracle on the RB8

  33. ShaneB457 (@shaneb12345678910)
    26th January 2012, 21:02

    Am I the only one who has gotten used to the new look already?

    1. No, I’m starting to like it already.
      Have to and will…

  34. I quite liked the Williams walrus wing, so don’t ask me!

  35. But this is F1, and aesthetics are not going to have priority over performance.

    Keith, why is it that F1 is still sticking to open wheels when the drag they cause is well documented?

  36. FIA should have just removed all the crap from 2008’s cars without changing their dimensions. Slicks were only fair after the cars had lost some 200hp 3 years prior.

    1. +1

      The mid to late 2008 test cars with reduced aerodynamics (for 2009 purposes) were the most attractive F1 cars in years, and nothing has come close since.

  37. My favourite looking car of all time is the 2007 Ferrari. Having said that, I completely disagree with Keith that the current designs of F1 cars (from 2009-present) are not pretty. Although I found most of the 2009 crop to be butt-ugly, with a few beautiful exceptions, the 2010 cars seemed infinitely more elegant. The past two McLarens for instance have been a thing of beauty. F1 is constantly changing, to me the car designs mark an era out almost as much as the prominent drivers.
    I have no doubt that the public will grow to accept the ‘strange’ new cars quite quickly, as they have done countless times in the past. For instance, the 2008 cars with all their veins and aerodynamic devices look incredibly cluttered.
    Time changes all things, including perspective on what makes an F1 car good looking.

    1. Hear, hear.

  38. The Cars From 1998 to 2008 (Mostly Mclaren’s) Are Nice.. Now the cars are way to long. And the cars are way to slow. bring back refuelling to. And some decent tyres.

    1. The 2010 and 2011 Red Bulls have lapped many tracks faster than ever in history, with cornering speeds higher than ever before. But okay, you perceive them to be ‘way to slow’.

      1. Sort of proves just how much it was needed to change something after 2008. With those cars and both KERS and DRS and with the softer Pirelli tyres, who knows what speeds we would have seen!

  39. I miss the cars of 2008 :(

    The last year of extreme aerodynamics and great looking cars.

  40. I imagine I’m in the minority here, but I loved all the little wings and fins on the cars. To me, it’s fascinating to think that every little bit of bodywork plays some role and makes the car go faster (in theory, at least.) As such, the 08 Sauber’s my favorite F1 car… and most of the 09 onward cars look dreadfully boring to me — except perhaps the 09 Renault, which would have looked pretty good if not for the horribly disproportionate wings that we have now.

  41. Alligator nose?

    What you on about? It’s clearly a duck!

    But anybody who knows anything about anything will agree with your point concerning the rules.

    Every single innovation these days is debated, blocked, and then eventually banned the following year – it’s just ridiculous.

    F-Duct, the best innovation in years, banned

    Then they bring in DRS, an overly complicated and convoluted system of fake-overtaking, instead of the original, much better F-Duct innovation.

  42. Keith, what a superb command of the English language you have. Another excellently written article.

  43. Safety? Again?

    Don’t get me wrong, safety is absolutely paramount, but surely there has to be an inherent risk to actually justify such a regulation change? I don’t remember very many safety issues in the past few years to do with nose height.

    I’m not saying that safety should be exclusively reactive but just where does the TWG think up these ideas and what’s with the timing of it? Could it not have waited until 2014?

  44. Just give me cars that appear similar in silohuette to the `91 jordan and `92 14b. Proper cars. :)

    1. @mr Rossi,

      Those are great looking cars too, but the arrival of the stepped floor began to take the edge away from the aesthetics (a subjective opinion). My favourite silhouette is that of the McLaren MP4-4 of 1988 – sleek, wide and breathtakingly powerful!

      I also love the cars from the late 1970s. In fact on my all time good looking F1 cars list, the first place would go to the McLaren MP4/4 (1988), second to the Tyrrell P34 (1976) and third to the Lotus 79 (1978), fourth to the Jordan 191 you suggested and fifth to the 1973 Tyrrell.

  45. Exclusive!
    Caterham ditch windtunnell for new design technology.
    See the first images here.


    1. think you may have hit the nail on the head there ! lol

  46. Really??? Who cares what the cars look like anyway? I just care if they’re fast. Form follows function, and the true beauty of these cars is their performance. Always has been; always will.

    1. Form follows function

      In this case, form follows the rule book.

    2. i care. i dont just enjoy the sport for 1 thing. i like the noise, the occasion, the engineering, the races of course but a beautiful car is the main reason most of us became petrolheads

  47. some ppl might have diffrent tastes to most others wen it comes wat looks pretty, but i bet that if u did a poll u will see most ppl hate the ugly looks of the modern f1 cars,im also sure most ppl would hate everything about modern f1,borrrrrrrrrrreing,ugly cars on boreing dulllll tracks that r only slighlty faster than the much less famous le mans or gp2 cars,seriosly now, wats so special about f1 ???????

  48. I remember when I first saw the Benetton B192, I thought it was pretty ugly; the dropped nose looked like the wing had broken off when viewed from the side, compared to the crow’s beak appearance of all the other cars.

    Wings used to be considered ugly too; the eye adjusts to these things. I think Keith’s point about stifling rules is the far more significant issue here. Already I am getting used to the appearance of the cars this year.

  49. I like them personaly and I think the reaction against them is a bit premature. I used to love the cigar shaped cars of the 60′ until I found out how dangerous they actually were. The new design is different and the McLaren looks like a dinosaur in comparison, albeit a well designed one. They look more agressive and a bit scifi like a starfighter to me.:)

  50. “I personally don’t mind the high noses, but if a regulation is introduced on the grounds of safety, then it must achieve its intended objective.”

    Not only must it achieve its intended objective, but more fundamentally a safety regulation must not make the cars more dangerous. As an engineer, I believe it makes them significantly more dangerous, which alarms me.

    I found out today that the static ‘crash’ testing that checks to see whether the nose can be pushed off the chassis applies only to horizontal loading. With no vertical test to pass, the majority of the new designs of noses will inevitably be weaker than the old ones if they ever get pushed downwards, and particularly, upwards. This weakness applies to the nose’s overall discontinuous structural shape and in particular to the 4 connections to the chassis.

    With such an abrupt step so close to the rear face of the nose structure, it would be unwise to maintain the positions of the 4 connections at the outermost corners of the face, as the loads on the upper 2 connections would not be transmitted smoothly into the nose’s main structure without a major stress concentration, resulting in a localised failure near these connections when loaded.

    Therefore the (wiser) designers will have been forced to bring the upper 2 connections down, closer to the lower connections. I believe I’ve seen this decision in some of the designs. But bringing the upper and lower connections closer together reduces their leverage distance, which will mean that to resist a given upward (or downward) load on the nose, these connections will have to bear a greater tensile or compressive load than they would have with the designs from the previous regs, where it was a no-brainer to position the 4 connections at the outer corners. But with the push off crash test only being in the horizontal axis, and the horizontal spacing remaining unchanged, there is no design incentive for these connections to be increased in strength (and weight).

    Upwards loads on noses are by no means unheard of, particularly when one considers the primary danger of open wheel racing, whereby the car behind hits the upward spinning rear face of the tyres on the car ahead. If the nose is lost, the primary ‘crumple zone’ has gone, and in this scenario, the car is still traveling (through the air) at relatively unabated speed. A frontal impact with no nose would produce prodigious decelerative g-forces upon impact, owing to the massive strength and stiffness of the chassis itself, as well as its now flat front face.

    I don’t know what the rule makers were thinking when they introduced this rule. I appreciate it is hard to specify rules in an entirely watertight way, but how much more difficult would it to have been to define a triangular ‘no-go’ volume instead of a rectangular one. This could have also gone further in lowering the nose tip, thereby achieving the rule’s intention, which has now been shown to have failed, with news that the Ferrari nose tip is now higher than in 2012.

    The new rule has also failed in that the noses tips are far sharper and slender than ever before, such that they will be more adept at piercing another car in a T-bone shunt. I believe that they are so much sharper because of the reduced height from top to bottom of the rear part of the nose following the step. So even in the exact scenario for which the nose rule was introduced to make safer, it has instead made the cars more dangerous.

    Those hoping that the Mclaren will beat everyone and therefore force all the teams to adopt their prettier, stepless low nose, well, could have to wait a long time, as it would require a completely new, lower chassis design, which is a big step to take for any team.

    No, it is up to the FIA to realise their mistake and alter the rule so that it defines a triangular rather than a rectangular section. Everyone designs new noses, all the above problems solved with relatively minimal outlay. It would probably disadvantage Mclaren a bit, but, well, safety is important.

    Sorry, I am posting this comment here and also where it was spotted that the new Ferrari nose is higher than the old one (https://www.racefans.net/2012/02/18/182/), as I want to raise awareness of this issue. I am really surprised nobody has piped up on this – it’s not rocket science. I think the rule has been in the public domain since last summer.

    Can I have my first COTD please? :)

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