Jordan-Ford 191 - Formula 1 1991 33 Photos Zoom

Schmidt's F1 Blog: The ugliest noses in F1 history

With their new nose rules, the FIA wanted to improve the appearance of Formula 1 cars. But things have actually gone in entirely the opposite direction, as the computer animation of the new Williams shows. Here it would be so simple to write a rule that once again gives the nose of the car an aggressive appearance, reckons Michael Schmidt in his latest blog.

Will this madness never stop? With good intentions, the FIA re-wrote their rule for the front section of Formula 1 cars, and in so doing, made everything much worse. If we are to take the computer animation of the new Williams FW37 as a benchmark. For the old FW36 looked much better. In any case, the dropped nose of its predecessor seemed much more elegant than the small protrusion on the relatively broad front panel of the new Williams.

Engineers make full use of the room for manoeuvre allowed by the rule

What is to blame here is the fact that the height limitation for the nose applies to a surface that lies 5 centimetres behind its tip. What is the thinking behind these five centimetres? It was actually clear that the engineers designed the front-most part of the nose as such that it disrupts the aerodynamics as little as possible. Now we can but hope that the other teams don't have the same idea. However, we are hearing that many wish to copy the red Bull nose from the previous year. This isn't much prettier.

Okay, appearance is a matter of taste. But i have never liked the high noses with the wing hanging below. It just somehow seems to make the cars look ridiculous. And all a bit samey. The 1991 Jordan had the perfect nose. Here the front wing was integrated into the nose. The section in the middle was slightly raised. The Williams FW14 from 1991 had a similar approach - just not quite as extreme. This too was a beautiful racing car.

Overtaking problem thanks to high noses

In the mean time, the high noses have also landed us with an overtaking problem. Statistics show that overtaking manoeuvres saw a dramatic decline in 1992 and 1993 compared to previous years. So the precise time at which the engineers raised the noses even more.

For this reason, Bernie Ecclestone had the disastrous fuel stops reintroduced in 1994. His argument at the time: if no action is taking place on the track, then there should at least be action in the pit lanes. This is of course entirely the wrong approach. For it doesn't solve the fundamental problem.

Is it coincidence that the intensification of the overtaking problem and the transition to the higher noses took place at the same time? I don't think so. We can observe the same phenomenon a few years later in Formula 3000 and the IndyCar Series. They copied the Formula 1 nose concept with a slight delay.

The raising of the noses hat an undesired side-effect. It gave the aerodynamics technicians the chance to have more air flowing beneath the car, which then, in conjunction with a clever diffuser, provided much more downthrust to the rear. More efficient contact pressure, that costs less in the way of air resistance.

However, this downthrust was of course dependant on the quality of the air flow beneath the car. In traffic, the air was of poorer quality on account of the turbulence from the car in front. Therefore it became increasingly difficult to drive behind, and therefore also to overtake.

With a lower nose, the degree to which the underside of the car contributes to the overall downthrust is less. The cars are therefore much more well-natured in traffic. And we would no longer need all of the overtaking crutches such as DRS or overboost.

Effective, uncomplicated nose regulation

But who then would a regulation that prevents ugly growths protuding from the front section of the cars and simultaneously solves this problem, look? It's quite simple: all surfaces in front of the front edge of the front wheel, which simultaneously face the road, must not be higher than X centimetres.

The height would be set low enough that the middle section of the front wing could only be raised slightly. Horizontal overlapping surfaces are prohibited. This prevents the noses from being drawn out over the front wing, or engineers introducing a second level, so as to direct the air through the two levels.

In our gallery, we cast our eyes back and show you the most beautiful and the ugliest noses in F1 history.



Reinhard / Wilhelm


25 February 2015
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