Can F1 Win Ugly?

Over the years, F1 has been afflicted by some ugly looking F1 cars. The March 711,  Ligier JS5 and Mansell’s McLaren MP4-10 to name a few.

During this time, we have seen many ‘fads’, the must have look. From the ridiculously high winged cars of the  60s and the oversized airbox/engine covers in the 70s. More recently, and worse for me was the winglet/chimney/flute cars of the mid 00s. The clean lines that I grew up with disappeared to be replaced by what I can only describe as a tin that has been attacked by a can opener.

With the 2009 regulations outlawing such aerodynamic devices, I was once again looking forward to seeing good looking F1 cars gracing the world’s finest tracks (and Valencia). How wrong I was, the ’09 cars, despite benefitting from clean lines, looked somewhat unbalanced with their wide, bulky front wing and tall skinny rear wings. Making the whole grid, once again looking like it had been hit by the ugly stick! I was happy         to see over the last two years that the unbalanced issue became less of a… well issue.

With restrictions on the design of today’s cars so strict, only the regulations themselves can dictate how aesthetically pleasing they are. The FIA had been looking into the safety of the drivers in a T-bone collision in the wake of Mark Webber’s aerobatics at the European GP in 2010. Last year, the FIA announced that in an attempt to stop cars taking off in such a manner, the maximum height of the rear wing would be limited to 55cm, a good 10cm les than the 2011 regulations. However, instead of seeing a return to the sloping noses of 2009, we seem to be getting ready to embrace the ‘step’ or ‘platypus’ nose in 2012. Caterham, being the first to unveil their 2012 challenger have borne the brunt of the fans displeasure to this latest nose job faux par.

In the quest for every last tenth of performance from the car, the teams can’t give too much thought to how it will look. I can only hope that the FIA ban high noses altogether when the turbo era returns in 2014 to give the cars a real 80s retro feel.

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