How the 2015 rules aim to fix ugly F1 noses

F1 technology

Liveries aside, the 2014 season has been the first for several years where even casual fans could tell the cars apart with a quick glance.

Formula One’s regulations on nose design, which have caused problems before, have been responsible for this. Designers responded to the ever-stricter limits on how they could design the front of their cars with some outlandish creations.

While the twin-pronged Lotus is the most immediately recognisable of the various designs, the differences between the other styles are a little more nuanced:

2014 F1 nose designs

The rules specify that the nose must be between 135mm and 300mm above the reference plane. In addition the cross-section area must be 9,000 sq mm. This gives designers considerable freedom on how the nose looks.

The Mercedes (top-left) and Ferrari (bottom-right) are similar in that the nose section forms a closed section with the front wing. A small venturi is created below the nose section, which allows air to expand creating downforce. The difference in the shape comes down to how the designers have chosen to meet the cross section area requirements.

The Force India (top-right) sports the more unsightly protruding proboscis. This unmistakeably phallic interpretation of the regulations is what has created the ruckus about nasal aesthetics. Unfortunately it is the most common on the grid with at seven teams adopting a similar design. The advantage it has is that creates substantial space below the nose to ensure maximum airflow.

The Red Bull (bottom-left) is a neater interpretation of the more common snout design. It features a drop-down keel below the tip of the nose to meet the cross-section requirements. The nose mergers with the front of the car and is probably the most pleasing on the eye of all the noses. It is believed that the lap time difference between the various nose designs is minimal.

The fourth category of nose design is the Lotus ‘fork’. One end is slightly longer than the other as it is the main crash structure and the regulations only allow a single cross-section area at the tip of the nose. The Lotus design is probably the least efficient as the two forks double the effective area facing the airflow and also require reinforcement (and therefore further weight) to meet crash test requirements.

2015 nose design

This all came about because the FIA wanted to force designers to lower the height of F1 noses to improve safety in the event of contact with another car. Whether they have succeeded in this respect is a point of debate – as Adrian Newey pointed out at the beginning of the season they could prove less safe in some scenarios.

What few deny is they have produced a generation of cars which are comically unattractive, sapping the sport of aesthetic and emotional appeal. The FIA has responded to this with further changes for next year in an attempt to push designers away from creating cars which invite ridicule.

For 2015 the nose regulations now require the following:

  • The nose tip cross section remains the same at 9,000 sq mm
  • The nose will be lowered further and must sit 135mm to 220mm above the floor
  • The tip must be no wider than 140mm
  • The nose must widen to a second cross section 150mm behind its tip, which must be no less than 20,000 sq mm
  • Again a maximum width is stated of 330mm at this second cross-section
  • Both cross sections have to be symmetrical about the centre line
  • Remaining length of the nose going back towards the chassis must have a tapering cross section
  • The nose tip will have to start about mid-way along the front wing

What does this mean in practice? The rules specify two cross-sections, supplemented by a tapering requirement to avoid any odd shapes as the nose merges with the front bulkhead. The tip also has a maximum width requirement of 14cm. Teams will likely deploy a oval or rectangular nose tip that then merges in to the chassis.

The following drawing shows a very simple schematic of how a 2015 nose could look. There is still a nose, but it is shorter, a bit more stubby, and hopefully less unattractive than the some of the snouts on show this year.

2015 F1 nose design

The regulations also restrict some of the more innovative designs. Lotus’ tusk design falls foul of the requirement that the nose be symmetrical either side of the car centreline. Also the Mercedes’ design is not allowed as the tip is back behind the rearmost part of the rear wing.

The revised nose regulations will fortunately avoid some of the aesthetic atrocities we have to put up with at the moment. This comes at a cost of uniformity through a design straight-jacket. Though perhaps in 2015 we’ll be lamenting the loss of this individuality.

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53 comments on How the 2015 rules aim to fix ugly F1 noses

  1. dragoll (@dragoll) said on 3rd September 2014, 12:36

    Another very good technical piece…. Although the regulations seem strict, i’ll be interested to see if anyone can find a way around the rules and find something different that might give them the edge over competitors…

  2. ajokay (@ajokay) said on 3rd September 2014, 12:39

    If they’re so desperate for the cars to have low noses, why don’t they just say that the noses have to look like Exhibit A.

  3. taurus (@taurus) said on 3rd September 2014, 12:41

    Now to sort out the hideous front wings

    And IF ONLY they could look something like the 412T2 @ajokay :-)

    • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 3rd September 2014, 14:06

      Pre-2009 front wings were pleasing on the eye, and some of the noses back then were low (not as low as now but low enough to be safe). I am slightly biased though, as I long for a return of the pre-2009 cars (they looked fast and futuristic).

      Although I like how complex today’s front wings are, they have created quite a few punctures over the last five years, and even the reduced width this year is unlikely to help. I’m not just saying this because of last week, as I don’t like to see punctures. Also, a change in front wing might help cars follow those in front without the use of DRS.

      • Actually it’ll have the opposite effect. If you reduce the width of the front wings it’d be harder to follow closely.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 3rd September 2014, 19:22

        I disliked the 2005-2008 front wings. They were generally too high, and as they became more folded in the middle the endplates looked even higher. Much though the folded wings looked cool and very honed to their task independently, when looked at in cohesion with the rest of the car they did not fit. To me, modern era F1 cars need to look somewhat squat, and that is generally achieved at the front by have wings of a similar height to now (although possibly narrower, particularly if the rear wing is still so oddly narrow).

        • Deej92 (@deej92) said on 4th September 2014, 0:03

          It makes me wonder what the ultimate front wing and nose would look like, with different interpretations to help with the differing rear wings of pre-2009, 2009-present, and other eras of F1 car design.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 4th September 2014, 18:29

            I think the current rear wing is too narrow full stop, although they might look better with pre-’09 width front wings. With the rears currently placed so high, maybe a higher front wing wouldn’t be as bad as they were from ’05-’08- with the back of the car looking high already, even a higher front wing could still give the leaning forwards stance which is what’s needed. The current front wings (or even slightly wider from ’09-’13) do look a bit messy at the ends and plain in the middle, but the width would probably be okay if the rear wing was pre-’09 width or possibly even full width (although I find it difficult to picture a modern single-seater with a rear wing like that). In that situation a too narrow nose looks silly with such an expanse of wing, although it’s a fine line- the original RB5 looked silly to me but that year’s Toyota was just about passable.

  4. Mark in Florida said on 3rd September 2014, 12:47

    The car’s were very individual this year. Individually ugly for the most part. Only a few team’s came up with a nose that was not offensive to the eye. IndyCar has better looking noses this year. Hopefully the designers will come up with a style that is beautiful and efficient.

    • Sorry to have to disagree but as the overall look of the 2014 indycar is sooo hideous that even noticing the nose is debatable. Nothing flows aesthetically on the car from the front wing back.

      The noses of the Redbulls, McLarens even the Mercedes in MHO are far nicer than that of the indycars.

  5. f1alex (@f1alex) said on 3rd September 2014, 13:07

    The best sentence in this entire article:

    This unmistakeably phallic interpretation of the regulations is what has created the ruckus about nasal aesthetics.

    Such a beautifully bizarre sentence that could only appear in a technical article about F1 noses. Great article!!

    • Sven (@crammond) said on 3rd September 2014, 13:24

      Sometimes sentences just scream “I want to be taken out of context!” :D

      Best shot to apply it elsewhere is probably in character-customization of various PC-games.

  6. Toxic (@toxic) said on 3rd September 2014, 13:30

    This again… As much as some of these noses are horrible I am very much against another “forcing” change on the teams. Let’s ban testing but keep changing the rules every year so the teams need to develop everything from the start every year.
    I don’t like the current look of F1 and I very much miss the pre-2009 designs but I prefer to have the F1 of so many new and distinctive designs instead of limiting the teams every time someone is unhappy.
    It actually reminds me the F1 of the past when all the cars were different. It’s odd but it’s interesting and at least there is some freedom in the rules which is something that should be the principle in the “pinnacle of Motorsport”.

  7. Andy (@turbof1) said on 3rd September 2014, 13:32

    Love the article, Beamer. Though I think you are a bit wrong about the similarity between Mercedes and Ferrari. They might be similar in what they try to achieve, but Mercedes achieves a much higher nose tip. What they have done is integrating crash structure in part of where the pillars are supposed to be, effectively creating an upside down U-shaped crash structure around the physical nose tip. They succesfully argued that the theoritical nosetip “floats” at the 160mm max height, as a calculated height in the U shape. This allows them to have a higher physical nose tip, at a small disadvantage of having thicker wing pillars.

    Ferrari on the other hand just planter the physical on the max height of 160mm.

    Important to note from this is that the Mercedes concept is still legal next year. The new, lower 145mm will of course also influence this, but it stilm gives you an advantage over others who just interpret the rules literally.

    • It says in the article that the Merc nose will be illegal due to the physical tip terminating behind the back edge of the front wing and the new regs state it must be “about” level with the middle of the wing. It will only be a small change aesthetically as the just have to move the mounting point forward, but that means the wing is further back and that may start to mess with their air flows due to reduced space between back edge of the front wing and where the splitter starts.

      • Andy (@turbof1) said on 3rd September 2014, 14:18

        That’s a different thing altogether. In the last few years, teams wanted to place the pillars more and more to the back of the the mainplane, in order to have the least disturbance and to maximize the “turning vane” effect of the pillars. Mercedes their solution puts them a bit compromised in that regard since the piece of crash structure acting as partly wing pillar, has to to be completely in front. This year they solved that by having an extra short nose, while next year that option is indeed closed.

        However, they are still very much allowed to have a ‘floating nosetip”, a geometrically middle point of the crash structure. And since everybody needs to have the nosetip at the vertical line starting from the middle of the main plane, relatively speaking it isn’t disadvantage. Everybody has to deal with the same problem.

        • John Beamer (@john-beamer) said on 4th September 2014, 5:42

          Yes – this is correct. When I said the Mercedes design was not legal this was in reference to the positioning of the nose relative to the front wing and not the fundamental concept, which as you point out is legit.

          • I realize this post is a little late coming, but everyone is missing the importance of reducing the width limitation to 140mm for the required 9000 sq mm nose. This effectively bans the fundamental concept of the Mercedes nose solution because that solution needs a much greater width than the allowed 140mm max…. otherwise the thicker pillars of the (upside-down) U shape that comprise the 9000 sq mm nose will be far too close to each other to be an effective solution. This is why most teams will end up with a solution that looks like Ferrari’s current nose. I think Red Bull’s nose will look somewhat similar to their current one (given Newey’s tendency for consistency in his car designs) but with a wider nose up front on top of the keel design rather than the current more pointy one. The wider nose on top of the keel will help make up the needed area for the now required 20000 sq mm 150mm behind the tip.

  8. Desingns is important, but its better to have a really fine racing with bad looking car compare to a boring racing with nice looking car, thats my view, and despite poor car looking this year, its never stop producing a fine racing, as we know we had a really good car looking in the last decade, but somehow its lacking pure racing. So i dont care about the desingns as long I still able see fine racing in f1.

  9. UNeedAFinn2Win said on 3rd September 2014, 13:53

    I don’t like restrictions, I love variety in design. Yes, they are ugly, but they are different, instantly recognizable shapes from each other.
    Restrictions, taken too far, kill innovation and you end up GP1. Ask Indycar how viable a spec series is.

  10. kpcart said on 3rd September 2014, 13:54

    I thought all the flaps were banned a few years ago, but look at the wings now, they are back just look at those merc and force india pictures of the wings

    • John Beamer (@john-beamer) said on 4th September 2014, 5:44

      There is no restriction on flaps. In fact there is a minimum surface area restriction, which if anything encourages proliferation of flaps. It is interesting to look at the top-most illustration and notice the difference in complexity between the Force India flap arrangement and the Ferrari …

      … maybe worth an article sometime

  11. Spawinte (@spawinte) said on 3rd September 2014, 13:56

    There should always be some wiggle room in nose design as it’s been a big differentiator in car appearance going back to the 60s.

  12. Casanova (@casanova) said on 3rd September 2014, 14:19

    The phallus noses came about as a workaround for the overly-prescriptive regulation on cross-section. Rather than fixing the phallus issue by taking away the offending prescriptive regulation, the FIA’s answer is to tightly prescribe the shape of the nose of the car. The FIA have clearly failed to recognise the benefit to the sport of the current visual differentiation of the cars. If I was an F1 designer I’d be wondering why I bother – where’s the scope to actually design anything? The rulebook is so locked down that the teams are almost designing to a regulation visual template.

    The frustrating thing is that the safety case for lower noses is far from convincing, as Newey pointed out. When I first discovered F1 towards the end of the 1994 season, I remember being fascinated by how equally-paced two cars as aesthetically different as the Benetton B194 and the Williams FW16B could be. I’m always excited to see new aesthetic innovations on F1 cars – the tusks on the Williams FW26, the upper beam front wing on the McLaren MP4-23 or the L-shaped sidepods on the McLaren MP4-26 spring to mind. They generate interest in F1 at all levels, from the casually-interested to the ardent F1 fanatic – why can’t the FIA wake up to this?

    • pxcmerc (@pcxmerc) said on 3rd September 2014, 19:36

      don’t be so negative :) I completely agree. The FIA is awake, but they are hoping the fans absorb the do as your told mentality, its all the rage these days, don’t you know :(…. Formula1 is a reflection of society, just as art can be. The free market is not interesting to people whose self interest is satisfied by quelling competition. The FIA are too big to fail, another way of looking at it. And this is a bigger threat to people who genuinely are interested in innovation, efficiency and performance.

  13. Bruno (@brunes) said on 3rd September 2014, 14:36

    Since the at “new” aero rules of 2009. The Brawn GPs had the lowest and IMO best looking nose of them all.
    Why not follow a design like that?

    • @brunes
      Yeah the brawn nose looks pretty good. The problem is that you can’t tell the team to “make a nose like that” you have to specify a certain set of rules within which the most optimal design is also going to create a good looking car. Probably not easy, as aerodynamics these days sadly do not follow the same rules as it did (or at least they thought it did) in the 80′s and 90′s when something pointy and low was aerodynamic like crazy. : )

  14. Liam Radford (@lrgamerad99) said on 3rd September 2014, 14:41

    I would rather the noses were like the MP4-27 from 2012

  15. I’d like to see a return of 2008 style front wings at least. The noses were low, the pylons were short, and part of the front wing was over the nose tip, as in the STR3 and the MP4-23.

    • PeterG said on 3rd September 2014, 17:36

      The problem with the Pre-2008 wings were that been higher/narrower put them right in the worst area for the turbulent air coming off the car infront.

      The Lower/Wider noses from 2009 are designed to get as much of the wing as possible away from the majority of the turbulent airflow. The Taller/Narrower rear wing was done to work in tandem with that, Have the worse of the turbulent airflow directed higher & over narrower area to keep the worst of it off as much of the front wing as possible.

      One of the bigger problems with the Pre-2009 front wings was more the height, They raised the front wings for 2001 & raised them further for 2005 to reduce downforce/cut cornering speeds by reducing front grip.
      The side effect was the higher wings made the cars much more prone to understeer which was made even worse in the turbulent air which the higher wings were in the worst affected area for.

      The current wing height is pretty much as it was Pre-2001, Its just the width & complexity thats different.

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