2012 F1 cars revealed UPDATE: Red Bull added!
The first Formula 1 race of 2012 is 6 weeks away and this season’s challengers are finally being revealed. We’ve had unveilings from Lotus, Force India, McLaren and Ferrari and the British team aside, the 2012 cars won’t be winning any beauty pageants.
Three of the new cars have a rather ugly nose design with a lower section and a ‘step’ up to the main bodywork area, which compared to some of the sleek designs from a couple of years ago are definitely function over form. Lotus's technical director James Allison explains the new regulation that has its roots in driver safety:
"Up at the front of the car, there is a very obvious change, there is a distinctive slope to the nose. The reason for this is for years you will gradually notice that the height of the nose has been coming up and up," Allison said during Sunday's online launch.
"The reason for that is that there is more downforce if you raise the bodywork at the front of the car.
"But the problem with that high nose is that eventually the nose can get to a height that if there were to be a T-bone crash the tip of the nose could be so high that it exceeds the height of the cockpit of the other car and clearly that's a very poor situation as you don't want the driver's head having a nose slamming into it from the side.
"And so for this year we agreed that the tips of the noses all had to be lowered by a considerable amount. But the rule itself doesn't require the front of the car to be lower, it only requires the tip of the nose to be lowered."
So that is why the Lotus, Force India and Ferrari all look so ugly. Of course it doesn’t explain how McLaren managed to get around the regulations without doing the ‘step’ and still producing a beautiful car. Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko has also promised that the RB2012 won’t be an ugly duckling so there’s still hope for a good looking grid. "Our car is not as ugly as the Ferrari, but it's also not like the McLaren, which doesn't have a kink in the nose at all. Ours is just a bit smaller and more elegant (than the Ferrari solution)," the Austrian commented.
In other 2012 season news, we see the return of 2007 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen in the new sole Lotus team competing, and it would appear that Adrian Sutil has lost his race seat at Force India for this year. He has been replaced by Nico Hulkenberg, but this apparently has nothing to do with the fact that Sutil has recently been found guilty of assaulting a Team Lotus employee.
We will bring you all the 2012 F1 season news as it breaks.
UPDATE: We've added the Red Bull RB8 to the Gallery. We're not sure Dr Marko's comments above really ring true - it's still pretty ugly!
Images courtesy of Force India, Team Lotus F1, Ferrari and McLaren