• Image Credit: Caterham
  • Image Credit: McLaren
  • Image Credit: Ferrari
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-AMG Petronas
  • Image Credit: Lotus
  • Image Credit: Red Bull
  • F1 Testing in Jerez - Day Two
  • JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN - JANUARY 29: Sergio Perez of Mexico and Force India drives during day two of Formula One Winter Testing at the Circuito de Jerez on January 29, 2014 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Getty Editorial
  • Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Launch
  • JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN - JANUARY 27: Scuderia Toro Rosso launch their new STR9 Formula One car at the Circuito de Jerez on January 27, 2014 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Getty Editorial
  • AUTO-F1-ESP-TEST-MASSA
  • Williams' Brazilian driver Felipe Massa takes part in the Formula One pre-season test days at Jerez racetrack in Jerez on January 31, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ JORGE GUERRERO (Photo credit should read Jorge Guerrero/AFP/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Getty Editorial
  • F1 Testing in Jerez - Day Four
  • JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN - JANUARY 31: Jules Bianchi of France and Marussia drives during day four of Formula One Winter Testing at the Circuito de Jerez on January 31, 2014 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. (Photo by Ker Robertson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Getty Editorial
  • F1 Testing in Jerez - Day Four
  • JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, SPAIN - JANUARY 31: Adrian Sutil of Germany and Sauber F1 drives during day four of Formula One Winter Testing at the Circuito de Jerez on January 31, 2014 in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
  • Image Credit: Getty Editorial
  • No, this Tyrell 019 isn't a 2014 Formula One car - it's from the 1990 season - but it does wear the first elevated nose that began the trend. Noses climbed higher over the next 22 years until the FIA began mandating they be dropped in height from the 2012 season.
  • Image Credit: Norimasa Hayashida - Flickr
If you're a serious fan of Formula One, you already know all about The Great Nosecone Conundrum of 2014. Those given to parsing each year's F1 regulations predicted the strong possibility of the so-called "anteater" noses as far back as early December 2013. Highly suggestive visual evidence first came after Caterham's crash test in early January, with further proof coming as soon as Williams showed a rendering of the FW36 challenger for this year's championship. That car earned a name that wasn't nearly so kind as "anteater."

Casual followers of the sport – or anyone who gets the feed from this site – probably don't know what's happening, except to wonder why the current year's F1 cars are led by appendages that would make Cyrano de Bergerac feel a whole lot better about himself.

The short answer to the question of ugsome F1 noses is "FIA regulations and safety." The reason there are various kinds of ugsome noses is simpler: engineers. The same boffins who have given us advances including carbon fiber monocoques, six-wheeled cars, double diffusers and Drag Reduction Systems are bred to do everything in their power to exploit every possible freedom in the regulations to make the cars they're building go faster – the caveat being that those advances have to work within the overall philosophy of the whole car.

So let's take a rhinologic look at how we got here. It all started with an incident between Mark Webber and Heikki Kovaleinen at the European Grand Prix in 2010...



Actually, it starts 20 years before that, with the Tyrell 019 that raced in the 1990 F1 season. Team technical director Harvey Postlethwaite and chief designer Jean-Claude Migeot realized that they could get a lot more air underneath the car if they raised front of the nose up and out of the way. Doing so would increase the airflow under the car, and getting more airflow under the car relative to the airflow going over the top of the car would achieve more aerodynamic downforce. And aerodynamic groundforce is the Father, Son and Holy Ghost of Formula One.

From then on, the tips of F1 chassis noses began their climb up to the level of the bulkhead, which is the section of car that the nosecone is attached to, whose top surface runs back to the opening of the cockpit. And that gets us to Webber and Kovaleinen in Valencia. On Lap 9, passing backmarkers after an early pit stop, Webber in a Red Bull was right behind Kovaleinen in a Lotus. Webber expected the Lotus to move over for him, which didn't happen. Instead, Kovaleinen hit the brakes as Webber was pulling out of the slipstream to pass at nearly 200 miles per hour, and Webber's nosecone hit Kovaleinen's rear right wheel, launching the Red Bull into a spectacular flip. At the time Webber hit the wall, his car was still said to be traveling at 173 mph.





There was also the issue that noses had gotten so high that they might strike a driver's head in a T-bone crash. The Safety Working Group within the governing body of the sport, the FIA, got to work and made changes in 2011 that resulted in the "stepped" noses of 2012 that were covered with vanity panels in 2013. At that point, the maximum height of the bulkhead of the car was 62.5 centimeters and the maximum height of the nose was 55 cm relative to the reference plane of the car. The reference plane is the flat undersurface of chassis, which has a skid plate attached to it that drops 1 cm below it. There is no fixed level for the reference plane, since a car's suspension and tire settings can alter its height relative to the ground, but there is a maximum limit: the reference plane cannot be more than 7.5 cm above the ground.

To codify even more safety, the regulation changes effective this year ban stepped noses and dictate several measurements concerning the tip of the nose. First, the center of the nose of the car can be no higher than 18.5 cm from the reference plane of the car, which automatically makes the nose start to do the limbo, having instantly dropped 36.5 cm compared to 2013. The anteater look comes from that and one more line in the regulations that requires "a single external cross section, in horizontal projection, of more than 9000 mm squared at a point 50 mm behind its forward-most point."



So let's work our way forward from the bulkhead to the tip of the nosecone instead of backward from the tip of the nose. What teams like Williams and McLaren have done is design a front nosecone section that descends from the bulkhead and gets to the area with the pylons that support the front wing. They want to keep this area as open as possible in order to get airflow under and around the car. However, the wing pylon area wasn't low enough to meet the nose tip requirement of being 18.5 cm above the reference plane. To fix that, they added a proboscis that extends forward and down to be the "forward-most point." Furthermore, 5 cm behind the tip of that nose, the area of the nose is 90 cm squared. Voilà, they are now within the regulations.

The variation in the anteater noses – for instance, Red Bull's "paper-thin" nose compared to Caterham's bulbous figure – is merely about how designers want to hang the front wing according to the aero needs of the entire car determined by the engineers.



As we've seen with the Ferrari and the Mercedes, though, a wholly different solution is possible within the same guidelines. The "DustBuster" front end out of Maranello and the staple opening from Brixworth have run the functional front of the car all the way to the 18.5-cm forward-most point instead of using a finger extension to do so. Five centimeters aft of that, the regulations don't stipulate any shape for that 900-cm-squared surface area; it can be round like a finger or, as seen on the Ferrari and Mercedes, squared off.

The unsightly sag in the nosecones on both cars exists because the regulations have also lowered the front of the bulkhead, where the nosecone attaches, by 10 cm. Teams didn't want to have to change their suspension designs, though, so the drop begins slightly forward of the suspension arms. They still want to keep the nosecone surfaces as high as possible within the regulations, so there's a steep decline forward of the bulkhead face that relents so that the nosecone surface doesn't drop below the minimum required height. As long as they make the numbers, they've satisfied the regulations. Next year, the regulations will outlaw that maneuver, forcing the stretch of bulkhead from its face to the cockpit opening to form one linear angle as seen on the Lotus.



After the safety imperative, every F1 team designer has said their number-one priority in 2014 is – as it was before this year – aerodynamics. And after that, team officials have various takes on the nose situation. Ferrari technical director James Allison, who worked on the twin-pronged Lotus nose, thinks the uproar is "overplayed" because "it isn't actually that sensitive an area, and there are lots of different solutions that work." Toro Roso's chief designer agrees with Allison, but Toro Rosso team boss Franz Tost thinks the new noses are so ugly that they don't belong in F1, and Caterham boss Cyril Abiteboul agrees with Tost, saying, "I think F1 is still show business and it should still be attractive to people." Going off the reservation, Red Bull chief designer Adrian Newey thinks the low noses are more unsafe than before, alluding to the possibility of snowplowing under the car in front instead of being launched over it. And rumors are that the FIA is looking at the "spear-like danger" of the new cars.

It's likely we'll see different noses by the end of the year compared to now. But as long as one's favorite car wins, it's likely people will be willing to forgive how the cars look. At least until the end of the first race in Australia.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 45 Comments
      deere2011
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't know about any other casual fans, but while that technical explanation made some sense, an infographic pointing out what the height restrictions are on the car and a general visual representation with arrows would be great. I'm a visual person and was struggling to make it make sense in my mind. I sort of get it, but not entirely.
        Jonathon R. Ramsey
        • 1 Year Ago
        @deere2011
        You're looking for this: http://badgergp.com/2014/01/f1-tech-nose-jobs-all-round/
        Jonathon R. Ramsey
        • 1 Year Ago
        @deere2011
        Or to get really technical but with photos, go here: http://scarbsf1.com/blog1/2014/01/23/f1-2014-finger-noses/. And the "early December 2013" link at the beginning of a piece goes to a tech piece with renderings.
          deere2011
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Jonathon R. Ramsey
          You sir, are great! This is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!
      cypherxx666xx
      • 1 Year Ago
      so this year we have lots of dicks inside but also outside the car, perfectly fitting imho. :))
      Ferris Macau
      • 1 Year Ago
      I don't have time to read all this can someone in one or two sentences explain why the noses are fugly?
      12Boss302
      • 1 Year Ago
      Just a heads up, 9000 mm squared = 90 cm squared, not 900
      Arturo Rios Jr.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I just don't agree with the redbull nose, instead of flaccid it should be an erect nose.
      evansdwm3@gmail.com
      • 1 Year Ago
      as a long, long time f1 follower i'm actually embarrassed by the form the cars have taken over the past few years. a big part of the appeal of car racing and what makes a young kid become a lifelong fan is aesthetic appeal of the cars. f1 must field cars that appeal aesthetically to audiences and be, well...cool. the current cars are both hideous and ridiculous at the same time. they are quite uncool. and it's not just the bizarre nosecones - it's also the disproportionately narrow rear wings relative to the overly wide front wings. i understand the rear wings were narrowed to reduce turbulence that was hindering passing, but there are other solutions such as limiting the number of elements and angle of attack. besides, drs has done far more to promote passing because it puts the leading car in a relative aerodynamic disadvantage. i'm hopeful that because the cars are just so damn fugly this year that the governing body will take action. it wouldn't be the first they did - recall the tyrrel and ferrari x-wings?
      lostjr123
      • 1 Year Ago
      No one has commented about the wings themselves, which don't look like wings at all. My guess is that these are more vortex generators than wings?
        Jonathon R. Ramsey
        • 1 Year Ago
        @lostjr123
        The front wings are 150 mm narrower this year (also on safety grounds), so they don't run all the way to the edges of the front wheels anymore. The engineers have had to completely redesign ways to get air around the car and away from the turbulence of the front wheels, which is (part of) the reason why the front wings look like they do.
      Robert Harrold
      • 1 Year Ago
      I wouldn't be surprised if next year they require a protrusion sticking up on the front of the the car as well. Looking at that lotus, I could see it t-boneing a car that is already a little bit airborn, and the car riding the ramp right up the front into the driver.
      Jim R
      • 1 Year Ago
      They could solve this problem if they just drove the cars remotely. No driver? No problem. Put the driver in a cockpit simulator in the infield and load up the cabin with sand or water equal to the driver's weight. Put a camera just under the air intake and you're good to go. No more worries about driver safety!
        Brian
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jim R
        that's no fun... please remember, this is autoblog. the majority of us would rather drive our own car while the rest of the world sits and fondles with their thumbs in their autonomous cars.
      sixspeedclutchhh
      • 1 Year Ago
      if i were a republican or vlad putin i would deeply offended by this homosexual propaganda. but in reality, i'm a godless new yorker, so i support each team's right to be homoerotic in whichever way they see fit. to each his own (nose).
        Bungle
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sixspeedclutchhh
        I guess I just have no idea what you're talking about.
        AngeloD
        • 1 Year Ago
        @sixspeedclutchhh
        @Six Ted Olson and Margaret Hoover, noted Republicans, have led the legal fight in the US to legalize gay marriage in the past 10 years. Your comment is steeped in ignorance and partisanship.
      Bobby Robinson
      • 1 Year Ago
      Oh good grief people! It's a Formula 1 car for cryin' out loud! It's supposed to be designed for SPEED not beauty. Will people just stop with all this nonsense?
      dlopez1501
      • 1 Year Ago
      Since when have they ever been pretty in the first place?
    • Load More Comments
    Advertisement

    From Our Partners

    2014 Jeep Cherokee
    MSRP: $22,995 - $30,095
    2015 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
    MSRP: $51,800 - $103,200
    2014 Chevrolet Cruze
    MSRP: $17,520 - $24,985