When I were a lad, the unveiling of a new F1 car would be an event of not mere technical interest, but an occasion of profound aesthetic appreciation. The days before the launch of a new car would be peppered with expectant thoughts, such as 'Will the new Williams be as beautiful as the FW07?'. The creation of a new F1 car was almost like the creation of a new, but extremely exclusive, mechanical species. On first sight, you knew that this was the shape and livery with which a pair of exotic technological phenotypes would contest that year's World Championship.
The last time, however, that I looked at a F1 car and thought that it was beautiful, was the early 1990s, and not only did the cars become less attractive to the eye, they also became increasingly undifferentiated as the regulations grew ever more constrictive. In 1998, the maximum width of the cars was reduced, grooved tyres became mandatory, and an F1 car became distinctly ill-proportioned.
For 2009, slick tyres are back, but the cars remain of post-1998 width, and now come equipped with a risible combination of wide front wings and narrow rear wings. This is surely the nadir of the F1 design aesthetic.