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Monday, 6 February 2012

Three More F1 Cars, Three More Stepped Noses

2012 Sauber C31, with (from left) Kamui Kobayashi, Sergio Pérez and Esteban Gutierrez
2012 Red Bull Racing RB8
2012 Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7
It's becoming clear that McLaren are the only ones not going with a stepped nose this season. Whether that's to their detriment, we'll see in Australia, but what we can see now is what the entrants from Sauber, Toro Rosso and most importantly Red Bull will look like. Pre-testing, at least. The F1 world now gets to see what Adrian Newey has made of the new rules, and it essentially just meant lowering the existing nose and moving the exhaust upwards. Pretty straightforward, as it turned out, as the rest is simply an evolution of the dominant RB7. Toro Rosso and Sauber appear to have gone for very similar noses, with a round front and a top surface so flat you could use it as a dinner table. I think the phrase is "ugly but effective".

Red Bull were actually the ones that invented the "bull horns" you see here on the sides of the nose jump, which have been adopted and interpreted by most teams, apart from Ferrari, who just went with an unceremonious bump. Like the Lotus E20, the cool livery helps tone down the height change (although not as well IMO), and the smooth curves on the edges of the nose look much better than the other two cars revealed today. Red Bull's "B-Team" - which actually has to operate as a separate entity to satisfy the FIA that Red Bull aren't somehow running four cars - have gone for narrower sidepod openings, but otherwise the basic wings are very similar, although the "A-Team" has an extra ¬ shape on it. It also has the aforementioned ironing board on the front, which does not look pretty, although the rise inside the bull horns is more gradual on the Toro Rosso. Sauber carries it off better somehow, perhaps because the very straight nose is followed by an also-very-straight front half of the chassis and a straight-edged fin on the spine of the car.

All three have again gone for the long front wing struts, although the Sauber's gets shorter as it goes down from nose to wing, which the Toro Rosso's kind of does, but is shorter overall anyway. Err, what else can I say? They all have pushrod front suspension and pullrods at the rear, whereas Ferrari is the first team since Arrows in 2000 to use pullrods at the front. The way you can tell is by looking straight-on at each end of the car and seeing whether the diagonal piece of carbon fibre is sloping upwards (push) or downwards (pull). There's no particular advantage to using one or the other, the only real difference is that pushrods need the rockers (which connect the rods to the inboard springs) to be high up, hence the higher front ends using them, whereas pullrods are the opposite way round, lowering the centre-of-gravity and lightly improving the aerodynamics. McLaren could've experimented with pullrods for their lower front nose, but maybe they did and decided it made no significant difference.

So yeah, that's pretty much it. You can see the rest for yourself, below:

It sort of looks like the chassis horns are sitting on top of the nose
Red Bull RB8
Toro Rosso STR7
Toro Rosso STR7
Toro Rosso STR7
Sauber-Ferrari C31
Sauber C31
Sauber C31
Sauber-Ferrari C31
Click them to enlarge them if you haven't already. This weekend is the first full testing session in Jerez, so I'll try to pick up on what happens there and report it here. Stay tuned! I write non-F1 stuff as well.

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