Formula One cars should be awesome to look at. Yes, motor racing is more about the actual event of cars and drivers racing against one another, but Formula One chargers should also be sculptured to perfection and easy on the eye. It may be a bit of a shallow remark, but when millions of dollars are pumped into the designing and building of a bespoke car that is meant to be streamlined and ultimately fast, it really should be a work of art. But colour schemes aside, do the new breed of 2008 machines meet this criteria of mine?
The obvious answer is that in general, they do. However, Red Bull have been racing this year with a fin attached to the engine cover of their RB4, taking away the flowing line that used to go from the air box down to the gear box. Instead, the line from the air box goes almost horizontally backwards until the rear wing before cutting in and in an inversion of the previous iteration, curves down towards the rear.
On Monday, Renault arrived at the Barcelona test session with a similar design on their R28. The implementation of this is apparently mean to help the stability of the car under braking. With the standard ECU now policing certain rules regarding electronics, the effect of engine-braking is less and traction control banned. According to Red Bull earlier in the season, the fin helps keep the car more on-line as it enters the braking zone and limits the sliding under acceleration at the other end of the corner. Understandably, it is now present on the new STR, which made its debut today and is pictured above.
Also on show yesterday were Honda’s Dumbo ears, mounted on the front nose and presumably designed to help with front-end grip. I can’t help but wonder if Honda should be concentrating on the the rear of the car, but I’m not an aerodynamicist probably for this very reason.
So while these additions may be helping the cars go faster, do they actually look good? In the past teams have turned up to races with some extraordinary devices; the Tyrrell 025’s towers, later adopted by Jordan, the Arrows A22’s potato peeler…
The ‘Bull fin isn’t quite as bad as some of the ideas of the past, but I can’t help but wonder if the designers are turning Formula One into a real-life version of Wacky Races.
Arrows image courtesy or The Cahier Archive.