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Monday, September 17, 2012

Teams agree to cover ugly noses next year

It's an odd little story which has been brewing for the last couple of weeks since it was mentioned, as an aside, in an interview with one of the Team Principals.  I'd been looking around to see if it was mentioned again and saw today that ESPN had a story about it.

The upshot is that the 10 teams who use the step nose to conform with the F1 rules have agreed to regulations which will allow them to cover up the step because it got such bad publicity at the beginning of the year.

I have to admit that I'm not a fan of the original look but, on the whole I thought that the majority of stepped solutions have been altered to the less ugly end of the scale.

What we're talking about, really, is an F1 nose job for purely cosmetic purposes.

ESPN quotes Paddy Lowe, McLaren Tech Director says that the way the "modesty" panel is
"managed is that the laminate and size of that panel is limited so that you can't create an aero [advantage] out of it and also so that it plays no part in the forward impact"
Simply put it's for the look of the thing rather than for any worthwhile purpose.

I love to quote Murray Walker at these times but on this particular occasion I think it's Enzo Ferrari who said that "race cars are neither beautiful nor ugly. they become beautiful when they win".

It's a truism which was echoed by Ken Tyrell years later when he, the master of little innovations, installed his side aero wings beside the cockpits.  These X wings which provided extra downforce were - as per usual - copied by everyone until they were - as per usual - banned (in that case on safety grounds after Alesi's got tangled up at his pitstop).

Beautiful or ugly the primary purpose of the F1 car is to beat all of the others, while conforming to the regulations.

Another funny thing about the story is that it comes from Paddy Lowe of McLaren, the team that don't have a step in their nose.