Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Defending the indefensible - Selling F1's new look - The paddock know new F1 isn't good looking, but they're keeping quiet

Published by Christine

When Caterham first revealed their new car for 2012, the F1 world reeled in horror at the sight of the new 'stepped nose'. The unsightly bump at the front of the chassis looked as though it would be an aerodynamic nightmare, but as more teams revealed their challengers for the new season, it was clear Caterham weren't being revolutionary.

A step too far?
A step too far?Credit: Caterham F1 Team

The only team thus far, not to opt for the platypus effect were McLaren, but that leaves a lot of people within Formula One circles having to defend their decisions to go with the doorstop model. Most of the team members who have talked about their new designs have tried to be diplomatic and toe the company line, and that can lead to plenty of amusing understatements, and cleverly feigned praise.

I've gathered together some of the better quotes I've spotted over the past couple of weeks to find out who is best at defending the indefensible.

Where looks are concerned

The team that failed to express any sort of sympathy for the new look were Ferrari. In my book, that puts them already on the back foot for 2012. I was annoyed by their Team Principal's dismissive nature of an aesthetically pleasing design.

Actually it is not really so pretty from my personal perspective but this is a value that doesn't count in F1.

- Stefano Domenicali

I understand that going as fast as possible is the name of the game, but there is so much more to it than that. Will fans in years to come covet the models and assorted memorabilia of a 2012 car? I'm not so sure.

However, Ferrari's chief designer is of the same mind as his boss:

Ultimately, as far as I am concerned, an ugly car is one that doesn't win and a beautiful car is one that does win. So, for now, I want to believe it is a beautiful car and we will have to review that after the first few races.

- Nikolas Tombazis

Of course, that means Ferrari only had one beautiful car in 2011, and the rest - even though they were the same - were ugly.

Nothing to see here

If there are some who think the ugly car is just a part of the sport that we'll have to deal with, there are those who suggest that it's not a big issue at all. Lotus, in particular, were keen to focus attention elsewhere.

The most notable changes relate to the exhaust.

- James Allison

Granted, on the Lotus, the exhaust modification was a significant factor, but as far as it being the most notable change? Well, no, my eye is immediately drawn elsewhere.

Mike Gascoyne had to defend his car against a lot of the immediate and more heated criticism, but he was sure he wouldn't be alone for long.

As we're the first car out it is obviously stirring up a lot of debate, but because of the 2012 regulations I think you'll probably be seeing this type of nose on most of the cars this year.

- Mike Gascoyne

Then, of course, there's Force India, who can't see what all the fuss is about.

There's a regulation change on the nose height and we went with the drop nose. For us, it's not big deal, it's purely aesthetics.

- Andrew Green

You could have someone's eye out with that
You could have someone's eye out with thatCredit: Sauber Motorsport AG

A grip on reality

Just a couple of those involved in F1 talked sense. Red Bull's Adrian Newey had plenty to say about the new regulations, but ended his thoughts with:

We've tried to style it as best we can, but it's not a feature you would choose to put in were it not for the regulation.

- Adrian Newey

Or in other words: Don't blame us!

Paul Hembery has an easier time of being honest, given that he just supplies the tyres and isn't directly answerable to a designer. He had plenty of thoughts on what the new cars said about Formula One.

I think I will have to be in agreement with the general sentiment that they're damn ugly. I guess if you talk to the engineers, they will say that as long as it's quick we don't care how ugly it is. From a fan's point of view, they look a bit strange and I don't think beauty is going to be in the eye of the holder. In this case it's not nice, and it's a bit of a shame really.

They are following regulations, which is a part of everybody's job, and they are looking for speed, not beauty. But from a fans' point of view, I think we have to say they look a bit weird and not particularly beautiful. I don't think this season is going to go down as the year of the beautiful F1 car.

- Paul Hembery

The winners... already

In the pre-season battle, there can be only one victorious team: McLaren.

It is the most refined looking car we have had for some time so we are looking forward to getting back in it.

- Lewis Hamilton

However, my favourite quote of the pre-season comes from Ross Brawn, who teeters around the nose issue by padding with some nice big words.

Notwithstanding the distinctive nose design, which is certainly an acquired taste, the F1 W03 is an elegant interpretation of the current regulations...

- Ross Brawn

It being an acquired taste is something I think we can all agree on. Whilst there is plenty not to love about the new look of Formula One in 2012, it has already provided me with plenty of entertainment, watching team spokespeople treading their way carefully around the issue. I look forward to more of the same as the season proper begins.