Much has been made of the new front wings that we will see in the 2014 edition of the Formula One World championship. The tip of the nose has been heavily narrowed due to new rules, meaning an end to the much wider noses we’ve seen in recent years.
The stepped nose seen in the past two seasons has been confined to the history so the nose is now much lower making it more difficult for engineers to get airflow through this area of the car. As a result, most teams will be using the ‘anteater’ type noses to try and achieve maximum airflow and create downforce. Fans and team personnel alike have moaned about the ‘ugly’ cars that we will see for 2014, but are the cars really that bad?
Well, at least one team will not use the ‘anteater’ look and will instead use a fork design. Lotus have released an image of their E22 with a fork like nose that can be traced back to the Williams design of 2004. The Lotus’ prongs go further forward than that of the FW26 and are much narrower than the Williams of ten years ago. With Ferrari, McLaren and Williams so far being the only other three teams to have revealed images of their 2014 front design, Lotus are so far the only team to adapt the ‘fork’ approach this year.
On to the other three now. Williams have released an illustration of what design feature their car will have. there are no sponsors/livery on this illustration, but we do see that they will have a single pronged nose for 2014. The nose goes just past the supporting ‘pillars’, whilst Ferrari’s prong goes much further. Their prong will go a lot further than what the Williams illustration suggests and has been met with the most acclaim, with some fans even claiming to like the design.
McLaren’s design has not been met with such popularity, as the majority of social media did criticise the looks of the front wing. Their prong is much narrower than the Ferrari’s prong, and the supporting pillars of the front wing are much more visible. The MP4-29 is perhaps the most aesthetically challenged of the four, not helped by an absence of any colour other than a dark silver. McLaren’s front wing looks like the letter ‘M’ and . However, the front wings do not look as ghastly as some suggested they would be, and their have been some unusual designs in recent times.
In 2009 when the regulations were heavily changed to attempt to promote overtaking we had some designs that were less than flattering. Toro Rosso’s low nose was a result of the monocoque being higher and aerodynamic restrictions and was also not extremely pleasing on the eye, with an extremely thin nose making the car’s front wing enplates look enlarged. Toyota throughout 2009 had another thin nose, and the gap between the tip of the nose and the front wing was enormous. The amended regulations for 2009 did lead to some designs best forgotten about, and fans rightly met 2009 with pessimism about the cars looks. They did improve over the next two years and we did not see any ‘ugly’ cars until 2012.
2012 saw the introduction of the much maligned stepped nose, brought in to try and improve safety by rising the monocoque more. Front grip was improved slightly, but the looks certainly weren’t. Only McLaren and struggling HRT did not use the stepped nose and instead made the transition from monocoque to nose smoother, and whilst McLaren had arguably the best looking car for 2012 they were still far away from fighting on either front. On the Toro Rosso it was subtle, but the Force India and Mercedes in particular looked like their cars had been dented heavily. the Ferrari of the same season looked like an attempt at making it from lego had gone awry, and the Lotus was not helped by the somewhat longer nose cone than their rivals.
The class of 2012 looked so desolate that a lot of teams used the ‘vanity feature’ allowed by the FIA to remove the step in the nose and make the transition from monocoque to nose cone smooth. Only Lotus and Caterham did not use this feature. It would not be aerodynamically viable to try and use vanity features on this year’s front wing as it would have a seriously detrimental effect on the handling, and given the Ferrari and Lotus image release prior to car launch I seriously do not believe that a vanity feature would be necessary for the front wings of the class of 2014.