2009 F1 cars and 2008 cars compared

Ferrari F60 and F2008 (click to enlarge)

Ferrari F60 and F2008 (click to enlarge)

It’s only when you get a look at pictures of the 2009 F1 cars alongside their 2008 predecessors that you realise how drastic the new 2009 rules are.

Here’s some pictures of the 2009 Ferrari, McLaren, BMW and Toyota alongside last year’s cars.

Update – Pictures of all the 2009 F1 cars here:

Ferrari: F60 (2009) and F2008 (2008)

Ferrari F60 and F2008 (click to enlarge)

Ferrari F60 and F2008 (click to enlarge)

Ferrari F60 and F2008 (click to enlarge)

Ferrari F60 and F2008 (click to enlarge)

The top picture of the F60 and F2008 alongside each other shows not just how much wider the front wings are this year – but also how much lower they are. This is a major change over recent seasons where on several occasions the FIA has required teams to increase the heights of their front wings in a bid to make them work less effectively and reduce cornering speeds.

The incredible intricacy and sophistication of 2008-style F1 aerodynamics is out the window this year – with a few small exceptions. The odd pile of squiggles in front of the Ferrari side pods (also on the Williams FW31 and Toyota TF109) shows the rule makers haven’t been entirely successful in eradicating complex aerodynamics.

Ferrari have reduced the size of their exhausts which, as seen on the launch car above, were thought not to comply with the 2009 regulations. See this picture from testing yesterday.

McLaren: MP4/24 (2009) and MP4/23 (2008)

McLaren MP4-24 and MP4-23 (click to enlarge)

McLaren MP4-24 and MP4-23 (click to enlarge)

McLaren began testing this week using the 2009 car but with the 2008 rear wing. Am I the only one who thought it looked absolutely brilliant? The lower, wider rear wing looked great with the front wing in similar proportions. I’m not sold on the high, narrow rear wings yet – unless it turns out they really do allow the cars to follow each other more closely. See video of the McLaren testing here.

McLaren didn’t provide many studio pictures of its car when it was launched but some more recently became available. You can see them in the launch picture gallery here: McLaren MP4/24 revealed – pictures and video.

BMW: F1.09 (2009) and F1.08 (2008)

BMW F1.08 and F1.08 (click to enlarge)

BMW F1.08 and F1.08 (click to enlarge)

BMW F1.08 and F1.08 (click to enlarge)

BMW F1.08 and F1.08 (click to enlarge)

From its launch specification BMW’s F1.08 sprouted yet further aerodynamic appendages, becoming one of the visually complex creations on the 2008 grid. Much of that is gone now, but you have to wonder whether their famed Computations Fluid Dynamics-calculating supercomputer Albert II has helped them find better solutions to the challenges of the 2009 rules than their rivals have.

The square endplates on the front wing make it one of the less attractive 2009 racers for me.

Toyota: TF109 (2009) and TF108 (2008)

Toyota TF109 and TF108 (click to enlarge)

Toyota TF109 and TF108 (click to enlarge)

Toyota TF109 and TF108 (click to enlarge)

Toyota TF109 and TF108 (click to enlarge)

The high, narrow nose distinguishes the TF109 from its rivals rather like McLaren’s MP4-16 did in 2001. Many of these side-on shots give the impression that while the cars total overall length remains roughly the same in 2009, the wheelbase has gotten shorter.

If we get some studio pictures of the Renault R29, Williams FW31 and the other cars yet to be launched this year I’ll re-visit this post with some more images.

As ever I’d like to hear your opinions on that so please leave comments below. Editable versions of these images can be found on the F1 Fanatic drop.io for you to have a look at, and of course you can upload your own versions there as well. Here’s IDR’s mash-up of the Ferrari, Williams and McLaren:

2009 F1 car launch pictures

Images copyright: Ferrari – Ferrari spa; McLaren – www.mclaren.com; BMW – BMW ag; Toyota – Toyota F1 World

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55 comments on 2009 F1 cars and 2008 cars compared

  1. I’m going to stick my foot out and say I still prefer the older looks.

    True, the 2009 specs look like cars of yesteryear glory days, and they are much more elegant than their recent counterparts, I can admit that. But the lines and the curves just don’t do it for me – not in F1 at least.

    When I tried to describe what goes on during an F1 race (the ongoing telemetry monitoring, the strategies, the reactions to weather) to a non-F1 fan, she later proclaimed “wow, it’s like they’re all at war.” And I think the 2008 machines probably epitomised that look – as war machines, as fighters.

    And before the 1998 rule changes, the cars were wider, had bigger engines, and looked mean. They looked less mean in 1998, but they still had an edge. In fact, in most years throughout F1 history the cars seem to have an edginess, or some other quality without a name…something which the 2009 cars seem to lack, they just look so….tame. Elegant – but tame.

    In other words, I feel these 2009 cars no longer retain the soul of aesthetics (and I’m talking aesthetics alone) of F1 cars that I have been accustomed to. It’s like the machine has been taken out the garage and placed into a lab…it’s almost clinical, and softened to the point where it might as well purr when started.

    Judging by the responses already, I know I’m probably alone in this respect, but I just can’t go with the flow on this one quite yet.

    It’s not just the disproportionate look of the front and rear wings for me now, it’s just the car as a whole doesn’t light anything up for me :(

    I really hope now that the racing is much better as a result of all these changes.

  2. I’m not a fan of either year. The 08’s were way too busy to be attractive and the 09’s are ungainly. The out-of-proportion wings make them an aesthetic disaster.

    Is it me, or are the cars so similar that it looks like NASCAR designed the things? I think it’s sad when the most obvious differentiator between the cars is the paint! It makes me more appreciative of the wilder experiments that happened in the 1970’s and 1980’s.

    Ah well. I’m sure I’ll watch the racing, as ever.

    Carolyn Ann

  3. Alastair said on 23rd January 2009, 18:07

    Does the front wing have to be so wide? Seems to me that a team with a narrower front wing, like the 2008 car, will be less likely to knock it off. The loss of downforce could be compensated by an extra wing, like the Fokker WW1 fighter.

    That front wing is SO wide and SO close to the ground that drivers will be knocking them off on the kerbs (Imola springs to mind) barriers at Monaco. I can see drivers being too afraid to overtake, lest they clip a rear wheel.

    Add to that the extra complexity of the movable flaps making the nose more difficult to change and I smell an rule change in April!

  4. beneboy said on 23rd January 2009, 19:27

    I prefer the new cars.

    I prefer the clean look, they look a lot more sleek without bits hanging off of them.


    McLaren began testing this week using the 2009 car but with the 2008 rear wing. Am I the only one who thought it looked absolutely brilliant?

    No, I thought exactly the same thing, from side on the new rear wings look good but from any other angle they just look silly.
    I don’t mind about the height so much but the width of them makes them look like the teams brought the 70% models they use in the wind tunnels.

    Surely they could reduce downforce & turbulence with a single horizontal element of reduced surface area & curvature in the rear wing but still have it the same width of the old ones ?

    I thought the front wings looked a bit weird when I first saw them but they’ve grown on me.

  5. The fact that the cars look “sleeker” because the appendages that made them faster are now removed is only ironic. But so it goes. Keeping speed and costs under control is necessary, but celbrating aesthetic Luddism is heresy in the temple of speed.

    In any event, its good to see the designs vary significantly. You dont have to look closely to see signficant variations in wing design, nose profiles, barge boards, sidepods, and that’s just what we can see from the outside. The engineers clearly had a struggle with a new variety of concepts and solutions.

  6. 09 cars look sleek and clean compared to the 08 cars.

  7. HounslowBusGarage said on 23rd January 2009, 21:05

    Interesting that MacLaren is the only team (so far) to have gone with the short, stubby aerofoil between the nose and the front wheels.

  8. They really look incredibly primitive!

    I loved all the curves, sculpted bits and apendages of the old cars, they were a result of science applied, form following function, and while the new cars look slicker and purer, they also lack that “edgy” look, that “hey look at that, that’s got to be some incredibly advanced racer!” look.

    I stand, they new cars are primitive as IRL. We’ll end up with nascars in no time.

    I totally agree with Loki, they looked like fighters and now… well, they are dull.

  9. DanielPT said on 24th January 2009, 3:28

    Sorry to go against almost everyone, but i prefer the complex 2008 than 2009 cars. 2009 cars seem like early 1990 cars, and so they don’t look modern and technological (and they aren’t. Aerodinamically speacking of course). I hope it is worth it in terms of racing. And i bet it does since they cant get much worse, even though someone will utterly dominate 2009 and we must wait a few years to have a field as close as 2008 to see if the cars can run close.

  10. I prefer the 2008 cars. Always a huge fan of aerodynamics.

    Also; interesting to note that; the sidepods of Ferrari and Toyota are almost unchanged from last year. While those on Mclaren, BMW are hugely different.

    Theoretically; the sidepods should get smaller on account of reduced engine RPM, but also get bigger for cooling of KERS system. So, my assumption is they should be roughly of same size again.

    Funny, we see the 2 teams against KERS (Ferrari, Toyota) who adhere to the above theory, while the 2 teams who are ahead in their KERS development have extremely small sidepods.

  11. F1 Yankee said on 24th January 2009, 9:56

    the 2009 cars look fantastic, except for team R. i hope williams keep their white lettering on blue.

  12. Hollus said on 25th January 2009, 3:37

    Keith, care to make a graph with how the opinion of posters has shifted from 2009 F1 cars look ugly to “the new cars look better than last year’s”?
    As for me myself I’ll take credit for saying the the 2009 cars did not look bad the day BMW showed the new wings in December (posting as Jose back then, I changed my nick since there are too many spanish fans called Jose). I agree that the front wing is a bit too wide, but the cars look mean, as a racing car should.
    Less elegant and more aggressive? Sure, bring it on!
    Anyways, anyone wants to bet that the wings will be way more curvy and sophisticated come march?

  13. PatrickL said on 25th January 2009, 14:29

    I’m amazed how similar the cars look to the 2008 models. Just think away all the flaps and aero crud and the overall shape lying beneaht is pretty similar to what is presented now.

  14. Stealthman said on 26th January 2009, 0:51

    I love the deeper shade of red Ferrari has used for the F60. It makes my mouth water. :)

  15. I definitely prefer the ’08 cars, the new ones are boring to look at.

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