2009 F1 cars: Hot or not? (Poll & Video)

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Ferrari were the first launch to launch their 2009 F1 car
Ferrari were the first launch to launch their 2009 F1 car

There’s been a huge amount of fuss over the looks of the 2009 F1 cars. Do you welcome the return to smooth sidepods? Do the wings still look out of proportion to you? Cast your vote below…

The 2009 F1 cars are...

  • Hideous abominations (6%)
  • Pretty ugly (22%)
  • Alright (25%)
  • Not bad looking (34%)
  • Beautiful (14%)

Total Voters: 1,246

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When I first saw the early drawings of 2009-style F1 cars and particularly the interim car BMW ran in pre-2009 testing, I was very worried.

I thought the wide, low front wing and narrow, tall rear wing were totally out of propotion with each other. And that impression hasn’t changed after seeing six of the 2009 cars hit the track.

I do like the clean shape of the side of the cars, though – particularly cars like the McLaren which haven’t got side pod wings like the Toyota. Charlie Whiting carefully dodged the question of whether the rules were supposed to outlaw these flow conditioners:

We write the rules to enable the teams to design cars as close as possible to the technical spec. They’ve been working in areas they hadn’t previously been trying to work in, so there’s not much we can do about that. I’m confident we’ve achieved a fairly significant reduction in downforce, but that’s not the critical thing: the critical thing is the effects. As long as we have the effects, we should be okay.

I think it’s pretty clear the intention was to get rid of them, but some teams have exploited a gap in the regulations in order to construct them. These teams aren’t doing anything wrong of course, but it goes to show that a fast car isn’t necessarily an aesthetically appealing one.

And according to Mark Webber, we haven’t seen the best looking car of 2009 yet

All these changes have been made in the name of allowing the cars to race each other more closely and if that proves to be the case then I’ll like the cars a lot more. I do think they’re easier to enjoy in motion – particularly when you see how much of a handful they are for the drivers. Here’s some video from testing last week:

More pictures and video of the 2009 F1 cars

45 comments on “2009 F1 cars: Hot or not? (Poll & Video)”

  1. Voted “not bad looking”, but there should be sixth option: beauty, but not all ;)
    Ferrari and McLaren are like piece of art compared to Renault and BMW.

  2. I’m not seeing that video properly. It’s 4:3 footage stuffed into a 16:9 box, so all cars looked flattened, which kind of makes the video miss its purpose.

    1. Even if you play it in full screen?

    2. Yes, even in full screen, since I’m looking on a 20″ 16:10 iMac screen. ;)

  3. Keith wat version of Flash Player do u use?I am not able to see any of the videos.Does it differ from the version of BMW testing video?I am only able to see that.

    1. Not sure, but it’s not the very latest one because it conflicts with WordPress.

  4. The cars look OK to me. What they seem is very LONG and big, now even more so with the large front wings. Could it be that the new rules were created so that these cars do not fit on historic venues and existing tracks , and the only way to race them is to go to the new tracks in the Middle and Far East where Bernie makes money for his company ?

    This I think is a serious issue to think about. Maybe some type of ground effect could be allowed in future regulations so that the cars do not need those protruding front and back wings.

    1. Could it be that the new rules were created so that these cars do not fit on historic venues and existing tracks , and the only way to race them is to go to the new tracks in the Middle and Far East where Bernie makes money for his company ?

      In a word, no. ;) I know Bernie is just chasing the money when it comes to new circuits, but they’d never design the cars specifically to suit newer circuits. The cars must perform well and safely on all sorts of circuits. Besides, the new designs were proposed by the Overtaking Working Group, not Bernie. Fun conspiracy theory though!

      Its strange that the cars now appear larger because I think in some cases (BMW?) the car is actually shorter than before. I think its more an effect of the massive front wings.

      I’ll go for ‘Not bad looking’ as the tidier bodywork is a big improvement and I’m getting more used to the new wings all the time.

  5. Pretty Ugly: I think the side views are more flattering than the end views (especially nose on), and I understand that cars generally do not show up well in pictures, so they will all look much better in the flesh, but to me its as if all the designers have gone on holiday (or been sacked to save money?).

  6. It always amuses me when people say things like “the new regulations make F1 cars look ugly” or “They don’t look like proper F1 cars to me”. To my mind they spoilt F1 cars when they put the engines in the back… :-)

    BTW I prefer this years cars – much smoother than the old ones – and if it promotes closer racing then so much the better.

    1. What on earth would they look like if they tried to put the engine in the front now!

  7. Bigger issues on hand for all F1 team, dwindling finances, sponsors cutting back on budgets and no new sponsors coming ahead. Limited Testing means inability to certify on car performance etcetra etcetra ….
    Beauty of the car is last thing on their mind.

    1. All of which I’ve covered elsewhere, before, many times. So what’s your point?

  8. Not Bad Looking: And growing on me all the time…

  9. Nice video :)
    Why is it the teams cover up their cars with a tarpaulin and try to prevent the cameras from getting shots of their cars when they break down?
    Is it because rival teams could see the more secret inner workings and design aspects and ‘copy’ them during the crucial testing period?

    1. I was wondering just why McLaren in particular seemed so keen to make sure the entire car was wrapped up and went to so much trouble to crane the car onto the pickup truck with the tarpaulin…

  10. I like the elimination of all the little winglets and clean lines. I think someone must have fell asleep while designing the nose of the Renault. The rear wings look better on the 08 cars. Id love to see the 09 cars with 08 spec rear wings on them, reckon they would look the bis.

    1. With the new Renault failing crash testing I think the nose they had at launch might be a stop-gap measure and I’d be surprised if it looks the same come Melbourne. In a way I hope it doesn’t change – some people complain about the odd ugly car, but the variety between constructors is good.

      1. There was an image on Renault’s website showing the car with a different nose: Is this how the Renault R29 was supposed to look?

  11. For what they are, they’re not bad looking – as I have said before, they have elegance…but not the kind that F1 cars traditionally had. They just look so soft and tame that I don’t feel like I’m looking at an F1 car.

    So for what they are, they’re alright – would’ve been a lot better had it not been the disproportionate wing sizes. But compared to almost every previous season, they’re just incomparable.

    The title pic of the Ferrari does look nice, though. Perhaps the best angle you could get on it.

  12. I dont like the new Formula 1

    I like the 2008 cars with al the spoilers and so. They let me think at spaceships, and that what the have to – formula 1 cars.

    But we’ll have to live with it..

  13. This years cars just look plain, clean, generic, and unoriginal. They’re far to similar to the boring A1GP cars. There’s no edginess and originality where you feel the designers and engineers have thought way outside the box to overcome the technical, regulatory, aerodynamic and other countless other obstacles to achieve maximum performance. It’s a shame but time will tell if the racing will improve, fingers crossed…

    1. Thanks for some of the supportive comments. Like I say, the 2009 cars just lack the je-ne-sais-quoi and joie de vivre that the 2008 cars possessed…

  14. Personally the wings stop the 2009 cars from looking great.
    From some angles the front and rear wings look in proportion to the car, but from other angles they look like they have been taken from a completely different class of car on plonked on an F1 car.

    If we had 2009 cars with 2008 wings, minus the front wing bridge such as the McLaren used, then they would be some of the best looking F1 cars for a while.

    The side pod wings/flow conditioners on the Ferrari stop it from being as good looking as the McLaren, aesthetically speaking those aero pieces were some of the worst on the old cars to my eyes.

  15. Not bad looking for me.

    I like the clean look but the rear wing looks silly from any angle other than side on, it’s too narrow and should stretch the full width of the car.

    I think Chaz has a point with the generic look of the cars, this has been a complaint of mine for many years and I think the tightening of the regulations is to blame, the introduction of standard parts is taking it further than I’d really like and makes me think it’s just Spanky’s way of getting a Spec series in through the back door.
    Not that long ago most cars were very easy to tell apart, these days it’d be easy to mix them up without their paint jobs.


    To my mind they spoilt F1 cars when they put the engines in the back…

    I know what you mean, although I’m far too young to have seen front engined cars racing I love the look of the old cars.

    For me anything up to the first few years of winged cars (is this the right description ? Doesn’t sound right, maybe cars with wings instead) are almost all far better looking than anything made since.

  16. I had to vote “Alright”. The cars are quite beatifull minus the front and rear wings. But with such a large front wing, and such a tall and small rear wing the cars become very disproportional, so I cannot say they are not bad looking, because they DO are bad looking! The complete package that is.

    One thing I’m not quite liking is the raised nose, which seems will be the rule here. I did however fancy the solution by Toyota, with the round pilars moving forward.

    The Renault R29 nose is just hideous, hope they can suit a better one before the Season starts…

  17. I think most people are looking at it from the wrong viewpoint. We are moving into a new era of formula 1. This is only the start of this new era. People are comparing these new cars to cars of the last era.

    Not that I am trying to criticise anybody (because everyone is entitled to opinion) but I think we should look at these cars with an open mind. Yes, I do think they look bizzare but still, its a nice change from some of the previous models.

    We should maybe take this season as an experimental one, then develop the cars into something more attractive and referring to Chaz, maybe if the teams were to design their cars so that they all look different from each other, so that you could tell the difference without the colours on.

  18. if it wasn’t for the huge front wing and anorexic rear wing i think the cars would look ok…but then again they will look like indy cars (but not as bad). Also as tom said above, these are the first of their kind. if bernie doesnt decide to change the regulations all over again next year or in 2011 etc the cars will be more developed with little add ons here n there and will once again be works of art!

  19. voted beautiful, but i have to say its only for a few cars. like mclaren which is the most striking and others as follows williams, ferrari, redbull etc bmw is out, toyota is out last but not the least i have to say i have some misgivings on the large front wings which look good but could be a potential safety hazard… we’ll see

  20. Of all the 2009 cars, I think the McLaren is the most elegant, although I love cars with silver wheels, not black. Black I find is old news. Sorry to be off-topic, but to me the pinnacle of beauty where those Lotus cars with chrome detailing all over – was it the late 60s or so ?
    I would love some silver or chrome detailing on modern cars, like in the front suspension bars – that would look great – a more “handbuilt” look. Just dreaming …

  21. I vote beautiful – I like the lack of wings and flip-ups and the new wings are growing on me more and more.

  22. I remember that the U.S. Grand Prix, when raced at Watkins Glen, was in the autumn, and there were lovely images of the cars racing among trees with fall colours of red and orange – it is one of my childhood memories from seeing these things in car magazines.

    1. Sorry this comment was meant to go in the “lost countries – USA” story

  23. Yeah, I also really enjoyed seeing the drivers struggling with the cars, but I wasn’t sure how much of that was down to the damp/mixed conditions of testing last week, and how much was as a result of the new regs.

  24. The cars from the previous year were so cool for me. Especially, their nose. But this time I feel them like a hammerhead shark.

  25. I voted beautiful…hehe

    I have never cared how the car looks like.
    I always look at performance and driving pleasure.

    That meens F1 cars will always be beautiful for me ;)


  26. jose arellano
    29th January 2009, 6:00

    why they cover them before the crank pulls them up ???

  27. Count me in for not bad looking. Its really only the truncated rear wing that I have an issue with, but the slick tyres more than makes up for that.

  28. I voted not bad looking. they are quite good looking, especially the mclaren, but none are beautiful. For some random reason I dont even mind the renaults front wing, Probably because they all look different this year so if one is ugly I dont mind.

  29. They’re alright. There’s some thing that I really like about them, like the lack of winglets making them look more sleek. Also slick tyres have returned adding to the looks slightly. I also like some of the wider front noses, aside from Renault.

    Then there’s things I dislike about the cars. The front and rear wings aren’t that bad, but they are very radical. The shark fins also look awful. They were fine with the smaller and wider rear wing, but with these cars they don’t look right at all. Then there’s the loss of the Devil horns. Although a winglet, the made the BMW and formerly the McLaren very aggressive looking.

    So for me they’re not bad, just maybe “over the top” so to say.

  30. Renault’s nose seems to be made out of Lego.

  31. It’s taken time, but as the McLaren and Ferrari came out, I realized that they didn’t look too bad with the new specs.

  32. voted: beautiful.

    the reason why i’m very interested in f1 because of it’s car. beautiful :)

  33. They don’t look as bad from the side, but from the top or front, it’s not a pretty sight…..

  34. I was wondering, do the “old” rules get scrapped or become illegal in regards to these modifications? In other words are these changes for the advancement of the sport or simply a change brought in to force teams to spend more money? Personally I think once you are allowed to do something then, unless it can be proven to be dangerous, you should be able to do it again. If a team discovers that they may be better off with the old setup they should be allowed to run with it. Furthermore they should also be allowed to integrate old with the new. For example, the front wing, it may not work as a team had anticipated yet when they throw the old wing on they discover that it has solved the problem.

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