Translate this Blog

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What's happening in F1?

Sorry about not writing much over the off-season but that is purely because, sadly, there's little, if any, news that I think is exciting enough, or that I have enough knowledge to write about.

Along with that I'm neck deep in work which means that every waking moment is spent trying to achieve numerous deadlines and get the money in (the most difficult task of all).

I'm not out of the loop though. I'm keeping abreast of all of the stories that are feeding the F1 sites through this difficult hiatus before the first wheels turn in anger during pre-season testing.

It was Joe Saward's blog (in the Blog section on the Right-Hand-Side), along with Leigh O'Gorman of The Motorsport Archive that convinced me, even though I already knew it in my heart of hearts, that stories revolving around car launches, driver rumours, chassis passing the mandatory crash tests, etc. were only being written to enable me to keep publishing content, rather than for their newsworthiness.  These things are futile to a certain extent but they do keep our F1 vacuum filled during the long cold days of Winter.

I just don't have the time to indulge myself at the moment so I'm hoping that all of you who have read my content during last season will come back to see me once the car launches and testing get under way.

Mike Gascoyne was right, The step nose was prevalent at the F1 2012 car launches
There is always anticipation and excitement in watching the covers come off the new season challenger from the teams. Last year we had the Caterham out first with its stepped nose and Mike Gascoyne's comments that a lot of designers would choose this route to comply with the 2012 Regs.

I have to say I hated the step nose and was absolutely delighted when the Mclaren Mercedes emerged from under the covers with a pure, clean, unadulterated shape.  When the other challengers emerged from their wrapping it was clear to me that, either the McLaren boys had got it right and everyone else was wrong, or they would have to change in order to compete.

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 2012 season F1 launch
McLaren Car Launch 2012
Pretty, wasn't it? A beacon of shining silver amidst the broken nosed opposition
Once again I was wrong. Upon the emergence of the NewNewey Red Bull with it's - shockhorror - step in the nose I began to anticipate a battle for supremacy between the McLaren and Red Bull design philosophies.

The Red Bull confirmed that the step was going to be competitive
Copyright: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
I still feel that the McLaren had the capability of winning the 2012 World Constructors' Championship; I think if they had gotten to grips (pardon the pun) with the tyres from the outset that they would have walked away with it in the first half of the season.

Personally, no matter that I hated the look of the step nose, F1 has never been a beauty contest but rather an incredibly competitive sport; so it is speed, aerodynamic efficiency, and grip that count, not looks.

Ugly is a symptom of regulation and speed: If it's fast the look of it doesn't matter. Aesthetics is all well and good but it won't fit in the trophy cabinet.  Look at Gary Anderson's 1991 7UP Jordan 191 - at the time it was definitely the prettiest car on the grid and, for a first season car it produced a 5th place in the Constructor's. But it was beaten into 4th by the Bennetton B191 which was a very a very ugly, early aero version of the 1994/1995 sharknose design, and was further beaten by the Ferrari 642 with its circular shaped mid-section comprising sidepods with huge air intake ducts in combination with a sharp, thin and low nose.

Rambling aside, my point being that while it is always desirable that an F1 car look pretty, really all that matters is that it is fast and reliable.

I want good looks but at the end of the day I'd prefer good racing and if that means 22 Christian Bale Batmobiles lining up on an F1 grid I'll still be watching (and maybe supporting the prettiest ugly one).

Thus we come to it. Why did this vanity cover come into being to cover up the step?  No aero advantage is allowed to be gained through its introduction, it is simply aesthetic.  It's simply a form of plastic surgery to make them appear less ugly - like a boxer getting someone to fix his broken nose.  Pointless, daft and futile; it takes time and effort away from the design process.