Sunday, February 12, 2012


It's been New Car Week in Formula 1, with McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, Williams, Force India, Toro Rosso, Sauber, and Lotus, all revealing their 2012 protagonists. There was, however, a feeling of anti-climax to the ritual this year. McLaren unveiled something which looked like their 2011 car, but with re-shaped sidepods and a pair of blisters containing the exhaust outlets. And Red Bull initially issued what appeared to be airbrushed images of the RB8 from a Scalextric box, although even the photo-shopping couldn't conceal the letterbox in the nose, through which CVs can be posted to Adrian Newey.

There continue to be detail differences between the cars and their exhaust outlets, but it finally appears as if the Formula 1 regulations are now so restrictive that there is only one optimal solution in the design landscape, and all the teams have converged towards it. As the Red Bull Technical Director put it,

"Regulation restrictions like the lost exhaust are a bit frustrating in truth, because they are exactly that, they are restrictions, they're not giving new opportunities or revenues particularly, they're just closing a door...Regulation changes I enjoy, regulation restrictions I rather lament."

Thus, whilst the technically-inclined Formula 1 fan is perhaps better-informed today than has ever been the case, with Craig Scarborough and Gary Anderson providing massively informative analysis of the new vehicles (on, and in the pages of Autosport, respectively), the crying shame is that there is so little innovation to write about.

Gary Anderson, of course, has joined the BBC F1 team as their technical analyst, and got off to an excellent start by using the ancient technique of pen-and-paper to explain the aerodynamics of contemporary Formula 1 to a metrosexually-scarfed Jake Humphrey. Bravo!


Sam Laird said...

Six drivers (Fernando and Felipe, Kamui and Sergio, Pastor and Bruno) look as if their dads have fixed up their cars with plywood; for the guys at Lotus, Toro Rosso, Caterham and Force India it seems that Dad at least had a mate who could help with fibreglass. I think Seb and Mark's dad knows something we don't… and Jenson and Lewis? Well, their dad doesn't do plywood, does he?


Gordon McCabe said...

A patrimonial theory for the inequable nature of racecar performance; that'll interest the sociologists of technology!