Allison expects rivals’ cars to have stepped noses

2013 F1 season

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Lotus technical director James Allison believes the team’s rivals will also have stepped noses on their cars as the E21 does.

The 2013 technical rules allow teams to add ‘vanity panels’ to their cars to cover up the unsightly stepped noses which appeared on most cars last year. But Allison believes adding one would be too much of a compromise on performance:

Asked if other teams will use them he said: “I’m guessing not.”

“There is one rule which opens the possibility for a change as we will now be permitted to fit a non-structural ‘vanity panel’ on the upper surface of the nose as a means of avoiding the duck-bill style designs that we saw in 2012.

“However, such a panel is optional and I would not be surprised if the majority of the grid chose not to make use of it. The panel will add a few grams of weight and so is only likely to run on the car if a team can find a performance benefit for doing so.”

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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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29 comments on “Allison expects rivals’ cars to have stepped noses”

  1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    28th January 2013, 21:30

    I don’t know the exact specifications about the “vanity panel”, but probably some teams may find a way to give it some functional design. If not, of course the teams will keep the shape Lotus has revealed today

    1. The vanity panel is provided, teams are not allowed to develop them, if I recall correctly.

      I would be absolutely shocked if any cars showed up on the grid with the vanity panel in Australia. Even more shocked if any teams still had them on in Brazil.

      1. Let alone the first corner.

      2. That’s interesting, I’ve not heard that. Do you have a source for this? From what Allison was saying at the Lotus launch it sounds as though we’re only expect to see the panels used if teams findan aero advantage for them. If they are supplied then this would be impossible?

      3. @hwkii – how would that be possible? All the team’s chassis and noses are different so I would think they’d develop their own. Also, Allison wouldn’t have said this:

        “so is only likely to run on the car if a team can find a performance benefit for doing so.”

        That says to me that the teams develop their own.

      4. If a car gets more air time for running one – which could very well be the case if few are – then that’s better for sponsors. That alone is a performance advantage in a cash strapped team. If you’re going to hire a not as fast pay driver then I don’t see why you wouldn’t run a vanity panel to pull in a few more sponsor dollars.

    2. I don’t see why any F1 team would add a panel to make the car more aesthetically pleasing but not faster and, possibly, slower, because that’s what we’re talking about: if the performances were the same, then everyone would want to see the car as nice as possible. Of course if the performances improved then both them and we fans would take benefit from the situation!

  2. I don’t understand; I thought the 2013 required lower noses altogether (so also from the wheels to the cockpit), so there would be no need for stepped noses anymore.

    I’m pretty sure that by the end of the year all of the cars with stepped noses will have aerodynamically useful vanity panels fitted.

    1. Well Spoken Waffle
      28th January 2013, 21:32

      that’s 2014’s regulations.

    2. @adrianmorse: the 2013 regulations were the same regarding nose and chassis heights as the 2012 regulations which stated a maximum height of 550mm for the nose but 625mm for the chassis. The “vanity panel” was an optional solution proposed by the FIA which allows for the step to be smoothed but of course it is only optional, although I’d rather have hoped that most of the tems would’ve opted to use them; that may not be the case if we are to believe Allison.

  3. I can definitely see where they’re coming from. Any team would much rather be fast than look good. Having said that though, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ferrari opt for a vanity panel, just because they want an aesthetically pleasing car.

    1. “According to Spain’s Marca newspaper, the car – currently known only by its factory reference number 664 – will have a more classic appearance as Ferrari takes advantage of the FIA’s decree that teams can use a laminated panel to cover the step, while allowing the cars to continue with the high nose concept that allows unhindered airflow under the front of the chassis.
      While the inclusion of the panel is not mandatory for 2013, Ferrari is understood to be the second team to include it in its design, after Williams.”

      1. I expect, unless the driver cooling hole is retained, that Red Bull will opt to use the vanity panel also given Adrian Newey likes his cars to be aesthetically pleasing as well as fast!

        1. @vettel1 Newey might like pretty cars, but if that interrupts with the main focus (speed), then it’s a no-no.

          Hell with looks, they want to win.

          1. @fer-no65 – yes but this is Newey we’re talking about here, no doubt he’ll have found an aerodynamic advantage! ;)

  4. My guess is teams will use the panel if it allows them to optimise the aero.

    Although it was never honestly confirmed, everyone assumes the slots in the RB8 and C31 and the smooth noses on cars like the E20 were relatively aero-efficient interpretations of the rules, whereas the slants on (for example) the F2012 and the W03 were potentially damaging to performance because of the air-attachment to the top of the car.

  5. I don’t hold that a valid reason for not using the panel: “a few grams” wouldn’t make any difference at all to a car which is designed to be underweight and then ballasted. I could understand if it had an aerodynamic effect negatory to performance but if that was the case surely the teams would’ve had the unsightly step before? (I should add that I understand that the regulation was brought in to limit nose heights but to allow for high chassis).

    1. It might make the CoG a tiny bit higher, and to be honest, if 2013 is going to be anything like 2012, then the teams will need all the performance possible, so it makes sense to not have it.

    2. @vettel1 aerodynamic reasons are more likely the explanation for the stepped nose, at least according to Gary Anderson, who said:-

      I’m not surprised by step on the nose – it stops airflow spilling into the area between the front tyre and the chassis, which is sensitive and you want to avoid disrupting it.

      1. @tdog – that to me would make much more sense than what Allison has said! I expect one of the top teams (probably Red Bull) will discover some sort of aerodynamic advantage no doubt and everyone will copy it…

  6. If the FIA really wanted to remove these stepped nose so why they didn’t oblige the teams to use this “vanity panel” otherwise this rule will have no sense because the teams will choose the optimal solution which is the stepped nose

    1. It would be easier to change the rules to drop the chassis height.

      1. Whoops.
        just thought this could potentially be an option for the mid-season should they be ugly.
        I meant in the long term, dropping the maximum chasis height would make more sense.

        1. @xjr15jaaag – It wouldn’t make sense to have such a drastic rule change which would require the teams to build an all-new chassis when in 2014 the regulations regarding noses are changing to significantly reduce the height of both the chassis and the nose.

          I think honestly the FIA should’ve offered a sort of incentive for using the modesty panel, such as preferential ballasting or something to encourage the teams (but not force them) to adopt them. It would sure be better for our eyes!

  7. I initially hated the stepped nose. But I have come to appreciate it. The cars look cutting edge.

  8. The noses don’t bother me in the slightest…its about speed not looks!

  9. Asked if other teams will use them he said: “I’m guessing not.”

    McLaren and Marussia are unlikely to use it, since they didn’t in 2012. Valtteri Bottas has already confirmed that Williams will not use it on the FW35. And since Luca di Montezemolo was one of the biggest critics of the stepped nose in 2012, Ferraro probaby won’t use it, either.

  10. What Allison means here is “we have arrived at a design for the ‘vanity panel’ which brings an aerodynamic advantage and I’ll be damned if I’m going to show it to you lot ahead of time”.

    2 reasons for this.

    1. the “vanity panel” is a quick to make retrofit apendage that lends itself to rapid copying.

    2. With the “E21” showcar we have been allowed to see being in a very vanilla spec (could even be the E20 with some E21 bits stuck on to fool us as they did last year) and the possibility that the Lotus “vanity panel” could be a trick part; revealing it now would reveal more about the flow regime of the rest of the car to keen eyed rival aerodynamicists.

  11. A vanity panel sounds interesting but as much as I despise the stepped noses on these cars, I’d rather not have superficial things attached to the cars. Thing is, the stepped noses are simply a hack job and they’ll have to totally redesign the car to make it look like a fully realized piece of engineering and not like the had to do a quickie design change at the last minute. Stepped noses in and of themselves are not bad but it’s obvious the cars weren’t originally designed with them in mind… so they’ll always look like butchered 2011 cars to me.

    Bring on the 2014 cars and let’s leave this goofy 2012-13 era behind.

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