Who Nose – Part 2

6 Feb

Within just over 24 hours we’ve seen a further four Formula 1 teams launch their 2012 cars – Lotus, Sauber, Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

The nose debate rages on

It was inevitable that the main focus for these launches would be the style of nose chosen by each team, particularly for the hotly anticipated RB8. All four teams launching yesterday and today have a stepped nose of one form or another, bringing the step v slope score to 7-1.

The RB8 shows the most innovative design, with a duct set in to the step. It is not clear where the air from this duct will travel to within the car, but it goes without saying it is for something more important than keeping the drivers’ toes cool while out on the track. There is also a ‘fin’ on the top of the step which will help direct air flow. Interestingly the Toro Rosso also has this feature (albeit on a smaller scale). The F1 press following the launch have been frustrated by the lack of close up images of the RB8, but the start of testing tomorrow in Jerez will give everyone a closer look.

The Toro Rosso STR7 and the Lotus E20 both feature concave steps in their noses, and this style is certainly emerging as the more elegant approach for stepped noses. The Sauber C31 features the same ‘blockier’ step as the Ferrari. A relatively plain livery for the Sauber hasn’t help to ease the ‘ugliness’ of the C31, which sadly for them was one of the main talking points about their car today. Now that more cars have been unveiled it is clear that a stylish livery on the car is a great way to ease the visual impact of the step, but as I said last time, speed is far more important than style.

So what else have we learnt in the last couple of days?

Firstly, we’ve learnt that online launches don’t always go to plan. The Lotus F1 website did not cope well yesterday with the volume of traffic hitting the site to see their pre-recorded video. We’ve also learned about  a couple of new sponsors for Lotus. However they fare on the track, we can now rest assured that neither Kimi or Romain will suffer from B.O. or dandruff.

Sauber were on the defensive, not only about their basic livery, but also about the departure of technical director James Key. The relationship ‘wasn’t working’, and the team have confirmed that he won’t be replaced.

Red Bull’s website fared much better with the volume of traffic, and their launch video for the car was cleverly designed to show off the lines of the car and the logos of their sponsors. Whoever created the video for them deserves some kudos. Interviews with key personnel including the drivers and Adrian Newey followed. All were predictably cautious about how the RB8 will fare against its competitors.

Toro Rosso, like Sauber, went for a traditional unveiling at the Jerez track, and it was clear to see the enthusiasm of their two new drivers. Both Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne had mega-watt smiles as their new car was unveiled.

Looking ahead

We’re now left to wait to see the Williams, HRT, Marussia and Mercedes cars over the coming days and weeks. The Mercedes will be the most interesting of these and sadly we have to wait until 21 February for their car launch. The Marussia is the only remaining car currently tipped to have a sloped nose like the McLaren.

Many are also now wondering whether McLaren are on to a winner with their sloped nose, or have missed a trick (or worse, are on the back foot). Time will tell on this one. Interestingly, McLaren have also confirmed that they had plastic covers over their exhausts during the launch of the MP4-27 last week in order to conceal the design underneath. McLaren are playing an interesting game, but whether it is a game of catch-up or a game of risk we don’t yet know. Will they win or lose?

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