Who Nose – Part 3

5 Mar

It’s almost a month to the day since I wrote the last ‘Who Nose’ article, and we have now finally seen all of the 2012 cars. The final score on the nose front is Ugly 10, Sloping 2. This final post will take a look at the Mercedes W03, the Williams FW34, the Marussia MR01 and the HRT F112, and conclude on some of the things we’ve learned through the pre-season winter tests.

The final four cars

Mercedes – easily the best of the final four, and with the most unusual nose design. The team appear to have really focussed on addressing their weaknesses in the W02, although winter testing showed that tyre degradation may still be an issue for the team. The W03 showed impressive reliability during testing which is giving them confidence ahead of the first race. With Ferrari having design issues, it is likely that Mercedes will be competing for 3rd place with the strong-looking Lotus.

Williams – things can only get better for the team after the poor running of the FW33. The car didn’t particularly stand out during winter testing but that is not necessarily a bad thing. Their two drivers seemed contented enough with the car and the team are taking good steps to reinvigorate themselves.

Marussia – after a series of issues with the development of their car which prevented them from running it during winter testing, Marussia finally unveiled the MR01 today at Silverstone. Both drivers got to put in some laps but only on demonstration tyres. Marussia join their technical tie-up partners, McLaren, in having a sloping nose, and you have to hope that they’ve been able to learn a lot from their colleagues at Woking. Without KERS, Marussia will be languishing at the back of the grid with HRT, and you have to wonder at this point whether they will be able to pass the 107% rule and participate in the Melbourne race.

HRT – the Spanish outfit also missed all of the winter tests, but have been in Barcelona today to launch the car and put in some laps on the demonstration tyres. The car looks extremely basic, and what we see now may not be their racing specification. One thing I have to credit the team with is the improved livery; the car looks nicely ‘retro’, though this of course won’t help the running of the car. As with Marussia, there is a chance that they won’t be able to race in Melbourne.

Testing wrap-up

F1 testing is a rather elaborate of poker, with no team willing to show their true hand. A few things to note are:

  • Red Bull, despite their issues on the final day, are looking extremely strong and clearly have developments in the pipeline to strengthen their hand. They are the team most likely to hold back as they can only slip backwards, so we may not see the RB8’s true potential until Q3 in Melbourne.
  • Kimi is back. He seemed very much at ease in the tests, and although it might take a few races to ‘get his groove on’, I doubt he’ll have lost his edge.
  • Ferrari are in trouble. The gagging of both drivers over the weekend was possibly the worst thing they could have done from a PR perspective, and at this rate they will be in 5th place at best.
  • Vitaly Petrov has settled in well to Caterham F1. The team are probably the most ‘open’ from a PR perspective, and he has received almost glowing reports from team bosses. This is a promising sign that we’ll get some good scraps between him and Heikki.

Now bring on the racing!!


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