Why Are F1 Noses Raised?

This topic contains 11 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by  Scootin159 6 years, 8 months ago.

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    I apologize if this has been asked before, but here’s a question that I’ve wondered for a long time: Why do F1 cars have raised noses?

    Being from the U.S., I grew up watching Indy Cars instead of F1, so I’ve always been more used to the low nose. Since I’ve started following F1 in recent years, I’ve noticed up until the early 90’s, they looked pretty much like Indy Cars. Then around ’92-’93, the raised noses began to appear (was Benetton the first? Correct me if I’m wrong). By ’97, pretty much all the cars sported this feature. The real niggling problem in my head is why would this be preferable? My less informed brain imagines it would cause more undesirable lift than if it were lowered. But being that it’s been essentially a unanimous design for years now, there’s got to be some sort of practical or scientific reason.

    Anyone know why?


    Adrian J

    I am by no means an expert, but I believe it all has to do with allowing better airflow to the underfloor and rear end…

    And far from causing lift, I think the designers are actually able to design the raised nose in such a way that it actually produces downforce…


    Ned Flanders

    I once read that the difference between low and high noses is purely aesthetical. But I’m a bit sceptical about that- every little car changes seems to produce a gain or loss in time to some extent, and the nose is more than just a small part. Perhaps someone with more aero credentials than me can explain?

    Also, I wouldn’t say it’s that unanimous. Maybe in the last couple of years since the rule changes, but remember it was barely a year ago that Brawn won both championships with a droopy nose



    Tyrrell’s 019 in 1990 was the first F1 car to sport a raised nose.



    And yes, Benetton followed the year after with a rasied nose slightly more akin to what we have today, with the front wing carrying on underneath the nose.

    No idea exactly why though, probably to do with improved aerodynamics.

    Although towards the end of the grooved tyre era, with the cars looking like badly-put-together Airfix models, the front wings were raised up and the noses dropped so much that the front wings had big dips in them, always made me wonder why they didn’t just make them low-nosed again. Like the below photo of the McLaren MP4-24. If the front wing was straight, it would pretty much join the nose like the low front wings of old.




    Bump for knowledge, someone fetch John Beamer!

    Erm, I’ve personaly only a very basic grasp of the concepts involved, essentially gathered from aero blogs such as his contributions, Scarbs’ thing etc but i’m fairly certain it’s about feeding the diffuser and manipulating the air around the main body more effectivley, not certain why running the wing lower makes it more effect then, but again, that’s probably the diffuser.

    Modern low noses tend to be more of a weight distribution thing, with the bias shifting backwards last year Brawns advantage was lost, the noses came up for aero benefit, Merc had a shocker Redbull tried incredibly hard and still couldn’t loose either title.

    Make a good article this question.


    Adam Tate

    As an American, one thing that puzzles me is why don’t Indy cars implement high noses for the road and street courses and then revert to the traditional low noses for oval races? Would it just be too hard to integrate into the overall design of the car?



    I think the reasoning behind it was that raising the nose gave you more front wing surface area with which to generate downforce (in Benetton’s case anyway), and to improve the airflow under the car (in Tyrrell’s case). I remember hearing that a loooooooooong time ago, probably in the early 90’s when all the teams started adopting it, but I could be wrong.

    And ajokay is right, it was the Tyrrell 019 that introduced the concept, I think that because Benetton seemed to get it right (or because the teams followed their example rather than Tyrrell’s) they get the credit for it.



    I would argue it’s to allow for greater flexibility (design, not movement) with the front wing, allowing the vanes to direct more flow to the tyre/brake duct area?



    From a mechanical point of view a low nose would be the best. This would allow you to make pullrod suspension which lowers the centre of gravity which gives less weight transfer, which gives more traction. So it must give some kind of aerodynamic advantage that exceeds the advantage given by a lower centre of gravity. And that is a huge one!



    This has been an interesting and enlightening discussion, so far! I agree that it’d make a neat article if there’s someone knowledgeable enough to whip up a guest article.



    “The main advantages of a higher nose need some thinking and knowledge of the complete car to see. At first sight the higher nose is equal to less downforce as by itself it pushes less air up over the nose. However if you have a look at Prost’s Williams FW15C and even more the Williams FW16 of the year after, surprisingly the nose is not aimed to push air up, but instead small at the front to allow air flow aside of the nose. The air that passes the nose forms the basic concept of a high nose cone. Having such a nose allows air to go straight through under the nose instead of having to bend around it. While it reduces drag for sure, the front wing planes can span the complete width of the car which in fact allows more downforce to be generated at the front. All air that passed under the nose is then guided under the car or split to either side of the car by the splitter located just in front of the sidepods.

    Why now would we want so much air to nicely pass the nose and go into the sidepods or under the car’s floor? Quite simply where the most downforce can be generated, exactly the diffuser that locates at the end of the car’s stepped floor. The more air you get under the floor and the faster it can exit out of the diffuser the more downforce will be generated. The advantage of such a floor is even more obvious as downforce is generated not only in the diffuser but also under the complete floor.”

    Full article on F1technical:




    To add additional insight – a wing is more efficient (better drag::downforce ratio) the cleaner the airflow on the underside is. This is why you see all of the little “wing gap supports” on the top side of the wings, and not the bottom. The inverse of this is why airplanes typically have the engines hung under the wing instead of above them.

    Thus a front wing that is “hung” from the nosecone will be more efficient than one that sits above the nose cone, as the wing supports will then be on the less critical top side.

    This isn’t a concern in the rear however, as they can support the wing through the endplates/beam wing.

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