Christian Klien, BMW Sauber, 2008

“The same mistake’s been made again”: Has F1 repeated its 2009 aesthetic gaffe?

2019 F1 season

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What will the new front wing designs for the 2019 F1 season look like? We should find out in the next two days as some teams are planning to test them at the Hungaroring.

Force India will run an early development of the new wing which is intended to aid overtaking by eliminating outwash-generating endplates and enforcing a simpler design.

However the biggest aesthetic change to the front wings will be an increase in width. They will now span the entire two-metre width of the car.

“I think aesthetically it just looks wrong,” Force India technical director Andrew Green told RaceFans in an exclusive interview.

F1 previously introduced full-width front wings in 2009. The first example was tested by BMW at the end of the 2008 season. While this also prompted aesthetic concerns, it wasn’t until 2014 that the wings were reduced in width.

“It was one of the areas that was made by the [Overtaking Working Group] just in the time available that detail didn’t get considered,” explained Williams chief technical officer Paddy Lowe.

“We should have brought it in[wards] just aesthetically a tiny amount which was then done in ’14.”

Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber, Interlagos, 2013
F1 ditched the wide wings at the end of 2013
He is also concerned F1 has repeated the error it made 10 years ago.

“I think the same mistake’s been made again, unfortunately. But it’s only an aesthetic thing. I think if it had been really problematic we’d have changed it a lot quicker than five years.”

Lowe said Williams will also “be doing some experiments around next year’s rules” in the upcoming test. “It’s the last opportunity in certain areas to do that.”

“I think everyone else will probably be doing a similar thing,” he added.

Renault has said it does not intend to test a 2019-style front wing, and Haas will not attend the test.

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58 comments on ““The same mistake’s been made again”: Has F1 repeated its 2009 aesthetic gaffe?”

  1. The front wing is one of the last things on my list of things I find that are currently “aesthetically offensive” in F1 right now.

    The PU noise coming from onboard mics in the Hungary race sounded like the electrical utility closet in my office building. Interestingly, I think right now the Honda-powered Torro Rosso machines sound closest to what an acceptable engine note might sound like.

    1. @knewman – Nope. Todt Thong is higher up the annoyance chart.

      You must have a very sexy utility closet. Don’t mind the sound – prefer it to the screaming mosquito note of the pathetic 2.4 V8s… The 3.5 V10s…well, those had some beef.

      1. It was a toss up between mentioning Todt Thong or PU noise for me

      2. Couldn’t agree more about the sound! Once there were V8, V10, V12 engines, all at once on the track. Now you gotta go to some “speed festival” to hear that.

    2. What bothers me more is the nose and halo. Much more than the engine sound.

    3. Were you watching Sky?

      I’ve noticed a terrible downgrade in engine noise when switching from the NBC to Sky coverage– the Sky team remix the audio to emphasize Croft / Brundle, and just about mute the engine sounds.

      There have been occasions during practice where a “Audio up” logo has appeared– and the commentators just kept blathering on.

      NBC would frequently say “Let’s ride on board and listen”, and all the commentators would SHUT UP until the feed changed views. Personally, I miss the NBC crowd– even Leigh Diffey, something I never thought I’d say.

      1. +1,000,000

        1. Mark in Florida
          1st August 2018, 0:49

          Yes me too. Martin and Crofty are so unenthusiastic with their style they put me to sleep with their non-stop droning. I’ve seen golf games covered with more enthusiasm than this maybe even a funeral or two. I do miss Steve Matchett and the boys. You could tell they were really trying to build up the coverage to get the U.S. people more interested in F1. Liberty screwed NBC over on this one. The race’s are non-stop but the commentary is abysmal.

  2. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
    30th July 2018, 21:44

    The full width wings don’t bother me much at all. I personally think they look better than the 2000’s super small front wings. That said, better racing far outweighs aesthetics. If these wings work as planned, I think most will quickly forget about them.

    1. Wide wings do have a negative impact on racing. They’re more likely to be knocked off during overtakes.

      1. I don’t give a tuppeny- for the aesthetics if it makes for better racing, but as nick says, drivers are going to worry about wing damage/cut tyres in close quarter racing. 1 step forward / 2 steps backward, the F1 motto ever since Bernie meddled with the concept of winner take all.

        PS. If you want beauty in F1 you need to go back to the late 1960’s.

        1. Agreed, I recently watched a youtube on the 67 at nurburgring- Loved those cars

        2. Todd (@braketurnaccelerate)
          31st July 2018, 2:27

          @hohum @nick Cutting tires really wasn’t that big of a problem with the last gen cars. It happened a little bit more than it does now, but I didn’t really feel it was an epidemic or really a problem.

  3. I think we’ll have polarized views in this topic, as looks are purely subjective.

    But… I’ve been watching races from the 2003 season and it’s sad to see how things changed since then. The car looked fantastic back then, even if it got slightly ridiculous with all the little wings in 2008 and the width of the cars were not correct. But those 2009 cars were hideous! And then came the stepped noses… and then the “gentlemen’s sausage” noses. And then the fingertip noses, before they got better in 2017 (but we had those coat hangers)… and now the halo, and next year we have another very wide front wing.

    I hope the changes work. If not, we’ll end up with ugly cars still not following each other. And that’s just a bummer…

      1. +1

        (And all the cars look the same – because they are essentially the same. The teams have so little room for individuality now, it may as well be a single make formula. The top teams get a 1% (decisive) advantage from spending a fortune on tiny gains here and there. It looks so contrived.)

    1. But let’s not forget those silly irregular height wings, that actually curved down around the center, and by 2007-2008 were wrapping around the nose. Have to say though, now they look good to me!

  4. A whole article complaining about aesthetics?

    I’d be more interested/afraid if this is actually going to work or not as intended. Don’t care at all about aesthetics.

    1. @patrickl, because, ultimately, we are in a situation where the shallowness of the aesthetics has become a more important concern – that, and the tiresome calls from fans who always seem to think that the best era of F1 was always what the sport was like when they began watching and therefore want to force the sport to go back to some rose tinted idealisation of that era (as is rather clear when you chart both the average age of F1 fans and what era they pick as their favourite – it’s almost always what the sport was like about 25 years earlier, since that it when most of them will have begun watching the sport).

      1. I think you are just over exxaggerating a lot here. Visuals and aesthetics are important enough to deserve discussion. In the end we want the cars look cool while also fulfilling the scientific needs to allow better racing. It is not shallow to not like how something looks or discuss about it or have opinion about it.

        If you don’t like the topic then just don’t participate. Telling others they are wrong just because they have an opinion about something that is matter of opinion is just gate keeping. No true fan cares about aesthetics… No true fan doesn’t like things I don’t like or whatever. True fans have opinions that sometimes are different than your own idealizations…

        1. @socksolid, you are being extremely hypocritical with your remark – we have seen how furiously and abusively you have reacted to anybody criticising your opinions, so to try and pretend that you can claim some sort of moral high ground is frankly ludicrous.

          You would do rather well to take your own advice and apply it to your own conduct – you yourself are guilty of telling others that they are “not a true fan” for not sharing your opinion, and I am sure that many will remind you in the future that, when you have the nerve to lecture others, of your statement that “True fans have opinions that sometimes are different than your own idealizations…”. In fact, in many ways your conduct here is exactly a demonstration of that hypocrisy by proceeding to criticise me solely for having an opinion that is different to yours…

      2. Bang on anon.

    2. José Lopes da Silva
      30th July 2018, 23:14

      Anon is absolutely right. There’s even a comment here saying that beauty in F1 was in the late 1960’s. In fact, folks said the first sponsor in 1968, Gold Leaf on Lotus, killed F1. They we’re probably right. We’re watching phantoms for the last 50 years. #irony #sigh #goodgrief

    3. @patrickl

      True that. I don’t really care if it makes them look ugly as long as it improves the quality of racing. If we can get used to step noses and the halo so quickly, we really shouldn’t have a problem with these wings.

      1. I’m amazed how quickly I have gotten used to the HALO, I hated, just hated it when I saw it in practice the last 2 years but now I barely notice it, don’t get me wrong it’s not as if I like it and I’d prefer it was not there but it really doesn’t bother me to much and you would’ve shocked me if you had told me a year ago I would be saying that now

      2. @todfod The new wider wings look fine even. Much ado about nothing again.

        Lee, Indeed, the halo doesn’t bother me either. Never did though. I especially like the graphic they put on the Halo when you are watching an onboard.

    4. Neither do I. The whole debate on aesthetics is just bizarre. F1 is part sport, part engineering excellence. The look of a car is far one of the last things I worry about. I think the racing action is by far the most important aspect and if that means ugly cars then fine!

      Personally I wish they would relax the regulations a little in some areas too so the engineers have more to pay with.

  5. Who cares nowadays. They run a halo

    1. @anunaki – LOL! Yes, the Todt Thong trumps all the hideous F1 aesthetic choices.

  6. The front wing is what broke the camel’s back in the looks department? Really? Where were you when the Coward Canopy, sorry I mean HALO, was forced upon us?!

    1. Coward Canopy,

      I’m truly shocked you’re cool with the idea of dropping the Nordschleife, full-face helmets, HANS, fireproof suits, and pit lane speed limits, but not the halo.

  7. Neil (@neilosjames)
    30th July 2018, 22:42

    As indifferent I’ve become to the halo, it’s still hideous. The cars aren’t pretty now… so front wings don’t really bother me. If you’re already ugly, one wonky tooth isn’t going to make much difference…

    1. If we could strip away the halo the basic cars arent ugly right now compared to the past 10-years of ‘thin’ cars…, but we agree that once you add the halo its out of the poster-on-the-wall category no matter what, so matters less.

  8. I mean… the cars look and sound the worst they’ve ever done already. At this point if it reduces the dirty air effect I’m for it. Can’t get worse than the Todt thong.

  9. Bigger and less effective is
    a compromise to not loose so much downforce but have a more manageable downwash effect. Personally i think a less intrincate aero will help to reduce the performance gap for each monetary unit spent on development, but still giving some freedom to go for it.

    1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      31st July 2018, 8:26

      It would be better to lose outwash and downforce, then re-balance the cars via weight and centre of pressure adjustment. This would guarantee the cars were less affected by dirty air.

  10. Personally I’m well used to the halo at this point, and as far as the new front wing goes, at least the cars are wider now too, so they might not look as bad as they did before on narrower cars. Anyway I’m quite confident that this is just a stopgap measure for now and the 2021 redesign will be the real deal, so I’m not sweating this temporary bandage aid to closer racing while they wean themselves off the last gen of BE influenced cars.

    1. Good point @robbie. i agree and hope this will be temporary till they work out 2021

    2. Indeed @robbie; also, let’s wait and see, if they work for 2019 until the real rules in 2021, I can live with it. Have to say, that Force India wing doesn’t look bad, I find all the current intricacy somewhat fascinating, but I sure don’t mind a simpler, maybe more elegant, look either.

  11. All this moaning about aesthetics and not a single word about the thumb noses. FIA, please just raise the nose back up, at least enough to make those blasted thumb noses pointless.

    1. the thumb noses.

      It’s at least not very phallic

    2. FIA, please just raise the nose back up, at least enough to make those blasted thumb noses pointless

      Dear god no, the high nose/wide front wing combination was dire. F1 ascetics reached their nadir in 2013.

  12. Nothing will ever best the look at the sound of the 2004 era cars. Biased of course :)

    1. Prosts 1990 Ferrari. Simple, with just a hint of bruteness. Eye of the beholder ofc ;)

  13. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
    31st July 2018, 8:22

    Forget the aesthetics, it won’t work anyway. Am I the only one seeing this? Surely not!

    A much smaller front wing would be much better. It would be less affected by dirty air.

    Granted overall balance would need to be addressed. More weight on the front wheels, possibly venturi with a forward centre of pressure. Cars would then be able to follow more closely. I thought this was an accepted principle?

    1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk ”A much smaller front wing would be much better.”
      – Then why did they get rid of those in favor of moving to the wide ones that have been in use since 2009? Wasn’t the target with the 2009 aero changes to try to make the cars more race-able and thus improve overtaking.

      1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
        1st August 2018, 15:53

        @jerejj – Because they are making the same mistake again.

        If the cars had no wings and no downforce they could follow closely through the corners, in fact they could get a tow through corners.

        The general rule is the more aero a car has the more it is affected by dirty air. Ergo less aero makes for closer racing in corners. Sure you can get downforce from cleaner aero which makes less dirty air but the principle still holds to a lesser or greater degree.

        In my opinion the change in 2009 did not produce closer racing. Many have the same view.

        1. @sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk Yes, but after all, it’s more about how the downforce is generated rather than about the amount of it. Concerning the 2009 aero changes: Yes, they didn’t really lead to the intended outcome, but one factor that significantly masked it was the presence of in-race refuelling, which only got banned for the following season, the 2nd of the previous set of aero regulations.

  14. How about instead of constantly trying to tweak the regs, tweak the regs, tweak the regs, they just have the safety regulations only, driver safe cocoon etc and give the engineers the freedom to let their freak flags fly, it’s not like it can make the sport any more predictable/1 team dominant than this era has been

    1. Biskit Boy (@sean-p-newmanlive-co-uk)
      1st August 2018, 16:46

      Er… one word.. COST!

  15. This article won’t age well

  16. Talking about the look of the cars the new front wing looks out of proportion. It is a bit too wide. As for the rest I don’t think the halo is too bad. In most cars it is barely visible because it blends in. The super long wheelbase does kinda ruin the proportions of the car. The cars are just too long.

    Also with the new aero development rules the frontal sidepod area has grown a lot more wings and winglets. I don’t really care for that direction because the rest of the car is pretty plain but then you have this one area with all kinds of wings going in different directions. I did like the 2007 era cars with all kinds of winglets. The cars looked aggressive and had great proportions. They even did not sound like lawn mowers. But I’d guess I have gotten used to the cars sounding like that as well. I’d not want to go back to 2007 ruleset though. That many wings with the current massive downforce levels would just increase the gap between the division 1 and the rest.

    The 2017 ruleset was a total failure when it comes to aerodynamics. Everybody knew the overtaking would become a lot harder. But at the same time the cars looked much better in 2017 and now in 2018 than they did in 2014-2016. The cars would look great if they were little bit shorter. Like a meter or 70cm shorter. All it takes to limit the length of the car is to set maximum length for the floor of the car. If someone still wants to make their cars longer than bus they won’t be doing it just to get more downforce from the floor.

    I wonder if they thought about making the front wing narrower but deeper/longer. That way the width at least would work better with the width of the rear wing purely from aesthetic reasons.

  17. they lost the thread in good looking cars way back….the last time an f1 car made my jaw hit the floor was 2008 – no exaggeration – the brawn of 2009 was ok…the cars these days look disproportioned…wheel base too long…nose to square…etc..etc…and then the halo?!….the horse bolted way back…so the wing makes no difference…

  18. Sigh. I don’t really care what the cars look like.
    Can the people who run F1 put Alonso in Bottas seat for the next two seasons please? I think we want the best drivers fighting at the front. We should be having Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel and Kimi fight it out, without team number 1 and 2 status. I’m finding myself caring less and less about the results these days. Vettel or Hamilton for 5 championship? Who cares.

    Looking like another cakewalk for Lewis this year. The only hope for a good championship next couple of seasons is if Red Bull Honda comes good.

  19. Thomas Bennett (@felipemassadobrasil)
    1st August 2018, 9:12

    This is just on taste, but actually really like boxy looking cars, strangely enough. The regulations didn’t stop the 2010 Renault looking amazing either.

  20. My opinion is that the front wing is not the big issue in the Formula1.
    I believe that the change from 2016 to 2017 cars was the whole mistake and especially the design of the rear wing.
    Bring back the cars as it was in 2016 and you will see how many overtakes we will have in the race like the old days..
    I remember a commentary couple of years ago saying that we have so many overtakes in one race that we didn’t had them in the whole previous year, and unfortunately some people in the FIA instead of keeping it they decided to change it.

    1. @Pambos The front wing indeed is the most significant issue/factor behind the long-standing difficulty of following another car closely. The rear wing, on the other hand, not really, so, therefore, I don’t find the current design/size of it to be a problem.

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