2014: The Year Formula One Went Phallic!

When I was a kid, I loved auto racing.  IndyCar, NASCAR, Sprint Car, any of it.  I especially liked Formula One.  Why, I’m not entirely sure.  It was more than just a preference for open wheeled race cars, cause I had that in Indy.  I suppose it became my favorite because it was so exotic.   The races were held in faraway locales such Monaco, Brazil, and even Japan.  Also, the drivers were, with one exception, from outside the USA and spoke with strange accents.   Looking back, I guess it was my own desire for something different from my hum-drum little Southern town which fueled it.

That all changed as I got into my teenage years.  As I got older, I lost interest in a lot of things I’d previously been passionate about and found new hobbies.  That’s a natural part of growing up, I’d say.  Then Gillies Villeneuve, my favorite F1 driver, got killed during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix.  That put a real damper on my enthusiasm for the sport.   A little while later, I attended a NASCAR race with my Dad and his buddies, which turned out to the last straw.  I was bored to tears watching cars go around in circles without the TV commentary to hold my attention.  I completely quit following any kind of racing after that.

That all changed this past Fall when the Ron Howard film Rush came out.  While I was too young to remember the events in the film, they took place only a couple of years before I fell in love with racing as a small child.  I remembered both James Hunt and Niki Lauda from when they were on the F1 circuit.  The movie captured perfectly the feel and the look of the Formula One racing of my childhood and got me curious about the sport again.

To say things had changed in the intervening 30+ years is an understatement!  Most of the teams I remembered were gone and the cars were radically different in look and sound from the late ’70’s/early ’80’s when I’d last watched.  And to say the technology behind the sport had changed exponentially would be an understatement.

I’d come in to the 2013 season with only a few races left. By that point, it wasn’t a matter of if three-time defending champ Sebastian Vettel would clinch a fourth title as much as when.  He did so soon afterward, going on to win 13 of sixteen races last year; including all of the final eight.  Oh, no, I thought: is it always going to be this one-sided?  Not to fear, I was told!  2014 was bringing a host of rules and regulation changes which would shake things up.

So now, the new year is upon us and the new regulations are in force.  They include changes to the type of engines used (V8’s are out, turbocharged V6’s are in), fuel flow restrictions, and new minimum weight requirements amongst a host of others.  The most noticeable change to the casual observer has been to the nose of car, with the maximum height being lowered from 550mm to 185mm.  This, along with other changes to reduce downforce, has led to some rather… interesting… nose designs.

For comparison, this is what an F1 car looked like in 2013:

Fernando Alsono driving the Ferrari F138 in the wet.

The front end was pretty much a straight plane which, depending on the car, reminded me of an ironing board or a surf board.  The front wings were generally attached below the nose to allow for maximum air under the chassis, and thus maximize downforce.  (I’ll probably be corrected on that by someone more fluent in the sport and it’s aerodynamics.)

To comply with the new regulations, yet still allow enough air to flow under the chassis to maximize downforce, F1 designers have come up with some… creative… designs.  Some would say, rather phallic one’s in fact.  Take the Toro Rosso STR9:

Yes, folks; that’s a giant blue penis on the front of the car!  Here’s a closer look:

Top Gear has already made the obvious joke: you wouldn’t want to be rear-ended by that!

But, you might say; I’m more into BBC.  Well, you’re in luck!  First, there’s the Force India VJM07:

Don’t they look proud?

As well as the Sauber C33:

And their lesser endowed cousin, the Marussia MR03:

At least the Marussia designers managed to camouflage it’s… appendage… within the livery.  At a distance, you don’t notice it’s manly qualities quite as much.  If fact, it’s one of the nicer looking cars in this coming year’s field:

Not all the cars look like they’re competing in a dick measuring contest, however.  The McLaren MP4-29 looks more like a Proboscis Monkey than a porno actor:

mclaren_monkey
Separated at birth?

Unless you view it from above, in which case it’s definitely flipping you off:

But, this isn’t a complete sausage party.  A few teams took a different tack.  None more so than Lotus did with their E22.  The only word I can use to describe it is “cameltoe”:

Particularly when viewed from the proper angle:

Reddit user ZoidbergTheHero made the obvious connection.  I’m sorry, too.

Ferrari also took a different take on the new regs.  It’s mostly drawn comparisons to an anteater:

Ferrari was always my favorite F1 team and, to me at least, they’ve always had the best looking cars.  But not this year.  That thing is just ugly!  Even their lead driver thinks so.

Mercedes took a similar approach with it’s W05, but it’s a bit nicer looking than the Ferrari to me anyway:

At least it doesn’t already look like it’s had it’s nosed pushed in during a front end collision.

And I don’t even want to discuss the monstrosity that is the Caterham CT05:

The less said the better.

But I can’t knock on the entire field. You have to give credit where credit is due and two constructors did manage to come up with a decent looking car and still comply with the new regulations.  One is the Williams FW36:

That’s a slick design, if ask me!  Unfortunately, it won’t be that nice blue color when the season gets underway.  Williams didn’t manage to secure a major sponsor, Martini, until it was almost time to unveil the car.  If it looks anything like the fan made liveries produced online, it should still be a great looking ride.  Although, it might be added to the BBC list before all is said and done.

The best of the lot, IMHO, is the car that will be driven by Mr. Vettel in his fourth title defense, the Red Bull RB10:

Their nose design is the only one of it’s type that would be permissible in polite society. Also, they took a tip from Marussia and camouflaged it’s John Thomas in the livery. Unfortunately for Red Bull, however; the Renault engine that powers this beauty has had a LOT of issues.  Vettel and his teammate only turned in 21 laps over several days of testing a few weeks ago.  Twenty-one laps COMBINED.  Eek!

As for how these cars will perform, it’s anyone’s guess.  Hopefully better than they look.  We’ll just keep our fingers crossed that 2015’s designs are patterned after the Red Bull and not the Caterham.  I’m planning to blog semi-regularly about Formula One this coming season.  Hopefully that will go better than my attempt to do the same thing with baseball did last year.

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