The launch of several of this season’s Formula One cars have so far met with almost universal condemnation that they are amongst the ugliest ever to grace the sport.
Williams were the first to shock the eyes with their FW36 challenger which features a rather bizarre anteater or finger nose. Next came the McLaren MP4-29 with a weird-looking, tripod-effect front wing, then Lotus with its odd tuning-fork design and most recently Ferrari with a squashed nose, vacuum-cleaner-type effect.
The great designers, such as Ferrari’s Mauro Forghieri, must be wondering what on earth is going on.
So why are these new cars so hideously ugly? It’s all down to the new aerodynamic regulations for the 2014 season that stipulate that the nose tip is 365mm lower than last year. The rule was introduced as a safety measure to prevent cars from launching over the top of one another, as happened with Mark Webber when he took to the skies at Valencia in 2010.
The lower-nose regulations pose some tricky questions for F1 design teams who have concluded that ugly is in this case the better as far as aerodynamic flow is concerned.
Because only the very front section of the nose needs to conform to the new regulations, teams don’t have to tinker around with a complete overhaul of the suspension, which would happen if the entire front end of the monocoque had to be lowered.
Hence we have seen these radical designs appear as to best conform to the new regulations without compromising performance.
Williams’ anteater design is seen to offer minimal disruption to airflow, whilst McLaren’s clever solution is the tripod effect of integrating the front wing pylons as part of the rounded lowered nose tip.
Whilst Ferrari have gone with perhaps the most conservative design, merely sloping the whole front section into a flat-nose surface to create more downforce, it is arguably the most ugly.
Or maybe your vote for the most hideous of the new incarnations goes to Lotus with their tuning fork or twin tusk design.
According to Autosport’s Craig Scarborough, the design is an attempt to “present slightly more total cross sectional area to the airflow, but places the obstruction in the most beneficial location.”
We’ll soon know what the car that every team will want to beat in 2014 will look like when Red Bull takes to the Jerez circuit in their new RB10.
Design genius Adrian Newey is renowned for not only making fast cars, but beautiful cars. Sadly, the new regulations mean that not even proud father Newey will look upon his latest baby as a thing of beauty, something the man himself admitted late last year.
“The new Red Bull is ugly, unfortunately,” Newey told German news agency SID, as quoted on F1TODAY.net.