March 24, 2017

F1 Pr0n: The Cars 2017

After the debacle learning experience that was my last attempt at this post, I gave it another shot last night.  After about 20-25 minutes of work, my internet connection went out.  In this case, however, it wasn't my provider's fault.  Instead, it was like my ethernet card forgot how to ethernet.  I wound up having to create a new network altogether, which wound up being deathly slow because it didn't understand the concept of IPv6.  After exchanging a series of text messages with Ben, the lovely and talented proprietor of Midnight Tease, who happens to be the inventor of the cable modem can create networks with the power of his mind understands Windows networking, everything... just started working again.  Unfortunately, by then it was stupidly late and I still had to work the next morning.  Which is why this F1 Pr0n post is happening just a few hours before qualifying for the first race of the season.  I'm half expecting a meteorite to hit my monitor while I'm working on this post now.

So.  The cars.  Sure, we talk about the drivers, the tracks, the glamour and glitz, but the real reason we watch Formula 1 is the cars.  There were a bunch of changes in the tech regs for 2017... the cars are wider, as are the tires.  The rear wing is wider and lower.  The dorsal fin has returned, as have aerodynamic fiddlybits.  And the upshot of all of this is that the preseason pundits prognosticate the cars will be a full five seconds per lap faster than they were in 2016.  What does this mean?  Well, Lewis Hamilton's 1:24.220 fast lap in Practice 1 compares quite nicely to Australia's lap record of 1:24.125 set in 2004.  By a car with a V10 engine that rev'd up to 19000 rpm, which sounds something like this.  Oh, and the 2004 cars are generally considered to be the fastest ever.  So, guess the new tech regs worked!  Wanna see the results?


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March 05, 2012

F1 Mini-MegaPr0n: The Little Sisters Of The Poor

Preseason testing is over.  Twelve days of (essentially) unlimited running is complete.  We're now less than two weeks away from the first race of the new F1 season... and the worst two teams on the grid, HRT and Marussia (the team formerly known as Virgin, or TTFKAV), have finally debuted their 2012 runners.  Just in time to pack 'em up and ship 'em out to Melbourne.  No testing, no practice time, no nothing... but hey, the cars are ready.  I guess.  Maybe.  Meh.  Both HRT and TTFKAV failed mandatory crash tests, keeping them off the track.  Not a good sign, but they're ready now.

Y'know, say what you want about the team, and lord knows I will, but HRT has a good sense of what livery colors look good.  I mean, last year there was the "begging livery", which pretty much captured the essence of every kid's idea of how a racecar should look.  This time, it's a bit of a cap-tip to Force India's first two paintjobs.  Appropriate, considering that Tata Motors is a major sponsor.  Oh, the car?  Well, the F112's nose seems weird.  Maybe it's the paint, with the gold outlining the underside, but it sure looks like it's higher than other teams'.  The platypus seems to be less pronounced, as well.  From there back, though, it kinda looks like the team put last year's chassis in an oven and let it get all melty.

Otherwise, it looks quite a bit like other team's cars... which is a good thing for HRT.  Means they are getting closer to the rest of the pack, design-wise... and with two season's worth of data under their belts, they should start getting results.  In theory, at least.

Now, onto the team that's been the worst on the grid for their entire life: TTFKAV!

If you had told me that Marussia/Virgin/TTFKAV would be the only other team to use McLaren's styling for the platypus, I would have laughed at you.  Red Bull, Ferrari and Mercedes couldn't/didn't, but Marussia did?  Pshaaaaah, right.  Except for the whole "technical partnership" between the two teams that I forgot about, but still, c'mon.

According to the team, the MR01 has very little in common with last year's VR-02.  That's undoubtedly a good thing, but it could also be a case of "starting over from scratch."  We'll find out soon enough.  I'm still stunned by the nose.  No shelf, no drop... just like the McLaren.  The rest of the chassis looks pretty conventional, at least by the 2012 definition of "conventional."  Just like HRT, they'll begin the season on the wrong foot, with no testing and no idea what problems are waiting to bite them in the butt.  A team like one of the big four?  They could maybe get away with no testing, but you know they'd hate it and they'd probably wind up flushing the season early.  If Marussia or HRT are smart, they'll be using this season as nothing more than a really long testing session for 2013.

It's almost back. 

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February 21, 2012

F1 Pr0n: Mercedes W03

The last of the heavy hitters is late to the party, but at least they've finally showed up.  Ladies and Gentlemen, might I introduce the Mercedes W03!

Apparently, Merc is kinda cheating just a little bit on the platypus.  Only the outside edges of the bump are at the legal height... which fits the letter of the law, if perhaps not the spirit.  Since this is F1, it's already been declared legal. 

Small sidepods, small radiator intakes, not much of an undercut, a pair of extra intakes just behind the airbox... and oh my gawd the platypus looks completely hideous on the W03.  Ross Brawn hisownself came out and said that the nose design "is certainly an acquired taste."  So is the barrel of a shotgun.

The team says that there's 4500 parts to the W03, up 200 from last year's car.  They say that like it's a good thing, but isn't that 200 more things that can go wrong?  I dunno; Merc is saying that they're going to make a run at the championship this year, and more power to them.  But I just don't see it happening.  They've been 4th the past two years, and while I'd love to see them jump Ferrari, McLaren and Red Bull, it seems like a stretch.

But then, they were once known as Brawn GP... and we all know what happened there.

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February 10, 2012

F1 Pr0n: Williams FW34

Sir Frank's team is one of a regal history having fallen on hard times of late.  The team has been around for 35 years, and is one of F1's historical "Big Four" teams (with Ferrari, McLaren and Renault).  In the time I've been an active fan of the sport, however, they team has, at best, just been okay... and at worst, they've been bad.  So will a return to Renault engines, paired with the new FW34 chassis bring a return to prominence?

No less an individual than Sir Frank Williams hisownbadself has said that the new car has less than 5% parts in common with last year's FW33.  In some ways, this is good: that car was a dog.  It's also quite the risk, as F1 teams have historically found that evolution, not revolution, is the way to success.  Again, though, the 2011 car was just bad and there probably wasn't all that much worth keeping.  Having said all that... the Williams' paint job is terrible for seeing details.  The platypus step looks like it's a vertical wall.  It's not, but that's the way it looks.  Big air intakes, maybe the largest we've seen so far.  I'm amused by the Gillette sponsorship on the multi-level front wings... ladies and gentlemen, the twin-bladed razor of F1 cars!

Wacky rear wing!  The sidepods are small-ish, but nicely shaped.  No undercut on them at all though.  I HATE the the "flying" fin on the airbox.  I'm sure it's aerodynamic, but I just don't like it.  I'm kinda struggling for stuff to talk about with this car.  Of course, I've talked about what, six or seven others already?

I've lowered the contrast by 50%, I've boosted the brightness by 30%, and increased the saturation, and the car still looks like it's sucking in all light within 20 feet.  Ugly nose.  Having said all that, I really hope there's some speed in this chassis.  Formula 1 would be much better off with Williams being good. 

I'll admit it: I got nuthin' here.  The team sounds like they're excited about the FW34, but they would do, wouldn't they?  On the other hand, I can't get excited about it.  If everything goes right, does anybody realistically see them finishing any better than 5th in the constructors?

That's a darn shame.

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February 07, 2012

F1 Pr0n: Red Bull RB8

While the boys from Milton Keynes debuted their 2012 challenger yesterday, it wasn't much of a much.  Instead of actually showing the car in any way, they released a couple of renders and a crappy video.  However, with today being the start of Winter Testing in Jerez, Spain, we got to REALLY see the RB8 for the first time today.  Or, at least, we did once it finally took to the track some four hours late.  Seems the delivery of some important part of the car was delayed by fog at the airport.  Whoopsie.

Well, that's different.  Red Bull's solution to the platypus nose is to hollow it out... which makes sense, once you think about it.  That vent is certainly being used to cool the driver, the electronics, or both.  It probably does away with a lot of the drag caused by the stairstep, too... or at least removes much of the disturbed airflow from where it'd do the most damage, aerodynamically.  The sidepod inlets are smaller in comparison to last year's runaway winner, though not dramatically so. 

In fact, there aren't all that many changes from the RB7 (above, bottom).  I mean, beyond the obvious platypus nose.  The airbox cover doesn't have the thin fin any longer and the verticals on the rear wing are now square with dangling "fingers", as opposed to the curved cut of last year's car.  The sidepods don't look as high, but they also don't seem to slope down as far.  So, not many obvious changes, but that shouldn't be a surprise... I mean, it's not like the RB7 wasn't the best car around in 2011 or anything.  As I mentioned last year, any changes are probably under the skin.

After looking at the slot in the nose, I think we've finally figured out where Mark Webber and Seb Vettel have to slide their timecards.  That nose might just be the worst of the bunch... what is it that it reminds me of?  Oh... oh yeah, I've got it.

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February 06, 2012

F1 MegaPr0n: Lotus, Sauber and Toro Rosso

It's been a busy couple of days in the F1 rollout season!  Four teams brought out their 2012 challengers... and only one of them, Sauber, released glamour shots of their car.  So for a F1 MegaPr0n, we only have a few workable pictures, and there's only one angle that all three of the teams in this MegaPr0n used.  Fortunately, it's the three-quarters angle, which is the most useful for our purposes.  Ladies and gentlemen, the first ever F1 mini-MegaPr0n!  First up, Renault Lotus!

Proof that it's possible to make a good looking platypus nosed F1 car.  Of course, this isn't surprising, because the Renault Lotus E20 appears to be last year's Renault Renault!  It appears that the team had to do quite a bit of engineering work to re-route the forward facing exhaust system to meet the tech regs, and as a result development on the rest of the car stagnated.  The platypus nose is nothing particularly difficult to accomplish, obviously.  However, Renault Lotus actually managed to make this one look good... or at least, not as awful as all the others.  It's not the hideous ramp that Ferrari has, nor is it the "hills and valley" used by the other teams.  Other than those changes, though, it really is the Renault Renault R31, all over again.  That may not be a horrible thing.

Like Renault Lotus, Sauber's C31 seems to be a C30 in 2012 regulations, there are a few changes.  Obviously the platypus nose is present... but the hump has a trick involved.  There's a thin gap where the nosecone meets the hump, apparently an attempt to disrupt a little bit of the drag that'll undoubtedly be created by the thing.  Will it work?  Who knows?  Other changes are a touch more subtle.  The sidepods, which were already cut down last year, have been even smaller and more rounded.  The top of the car from the cockpit to the front tires is flat; last year it actually was angled up from the cockpit to the tires.  The whole chassis is very clean, almost austere in looks.  I rather like it.  The biggest change, though, is the addition of Oerlikon as a sponsor.  Does this mean there's a 20mm autocannon hidden in the airbox?

Toro Rosso's STR7 has a "hills-and-valley" approach to the platypus, which is as good as any, I suppose.  I suppose it's boring to say that it's very similar to last year's STR6, so I won't... though it is.  The sidepods are shorter and more deeply cut than those on last year's car, which should remove quite a bit of parasitic drag from the chassis.  The airbox has an interesting support arrangement to it now, and under the main intake, there's a second intake, presumably for cooling the KERS unit.  Something that isn't particularly visible in the pictures of the cars rolled out to date is the position of the exhausts.  Toro Rosso's is set about as far back as they can legally go, and their position seems to be blowing right onto the rear wing.  "We can't use a blown diffuser, but nobody said anything about a blown rear wing," seems to be the plan.

In an interview with Toro Rosso's designer, Georgio Ascanelli, I finally heard an explanation for the new nose height.  It seems that the maximum height of 550mm is the same as the height of the anti-penetration panels on the sides of the cockpit.  It was done to prevent an impalement, which of course we've seen dozens of times in the past couple of years alone (/sarcasm off).  A solution looking for a problem...

Now, sharp-eyed readers might have noticed that I said that there had been FOUR rollouts over the past two days, yet I've only shown three.  That's because the fourth team was Red Bull, and all they let us see were a couple of cheap renders of the car they'll be defending their title with.  With the first offseason practice session beginning on Tuesday, I expect we'll be seeing a little more than that tomorrow, so I'll hit it and Williams then!

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February 03, 2012

F1 Pr0n: Ferrari F2012

You know something's kinda wrong when no less a light than Stefano Domenicali, team principal for Scuderia Ferrari, comes out and publicly says "Well, actually, it’s not really so pretty from my personal perspective.  But this is a value that doesn’t count in Formula 1... our chairman has already said the fact that it is ugly or very nice doesn’t count a lot. The most important thing is that the car has to be performing."  In other words, "winning fixes ugly."  Having said that, Ferrari better win a lot of races this season, because the new F2012 is a lot of ugly.

Though to be honest, from the front it looks not so bad at all.  The front wing is supposedly evolved from the flexi-bendy wing they ran at the end of the 2011 season.  For their sake, I hope they got the "oscillating like a USGS seismometer in a magnitude 9.5 earthquake" feature fixed.  There were times when I wondered how the Red cars were able to stay on the track, even going in a straight line, because of that wing flapping like an ornithopter.

From the side, it still doesn't look so bad.  Like the McLaren, there appears to be an angle (back-to-front) to the floor.  The sidepods are deeply undercut, more like the Force India than the McLaren, though not the same sort of profile.  Amazing how so many teams can do the same thing, but come up with completely different designs.  It'll be interesting to see which one comes off the best.  One thing that comes back from past designs is the weird double rear bodywork thingy on the engine cover.  I've never been fond of that design element, and it doesn't look any better here.  It looks like the engine cover came off the sprue badly and nobody bothered to trim the flash off.

...and now the hideousness of the nose becomes apparent.  Yeesh... if anything, it may be worse than the Lotus Caterham and the Force India solutions.  However, this does raise an interesting question: just how did McLaren's nose fit under the technical regulations while a team like Ferrari does... this?  Interesting that there's another fin between the front wheels; haven't seen that before, have we?  According to the team, the car is almost all brand new, with very little coming over from the F150° Italia.  I gather the rear wing is pretty much the same, with just some very minor tweaking.

The Scuderia was to have a huge blowout at the Ferrari factory at Maranello, followed by a few laps at the team's test track, literally right across the street.  One little problem, though: it's been snowing in Northern Italy.  A lot.  So instead of the big media presser and hot laps, we got... well, this:

I'm pretty sure they trucked it to the track.  I mean, could you imagine driving a F1 car... in the snow... on slicks?  I suspect the car would be in the wall, on its back, and on fire, within a few feet.

Renault Lotus is next up on Sunday, followed by a F1 MegaPr0n on Monday, when Sauber, Toro Rosso, and defending constructor's champion Red Bull all roll out.  See ya then!

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F1 Pr0n: Force India VJM05

We've had two rollouts to date, and the score is one normal nose (MP4-27), one platypus nose (CT01).  The question is, which way would Force India's fifth design, the VJM05, go? 

Platypus.  Definitely platypus.  The people who know these things say that Force India used the same wing for two years, with the team issuing upgrades and developments at various points over those seasons.  It appears that the VJM05 is rockin' a new, more complex, front wing that some suggest will be flexi-bendy, like the Red Bull's.  If they can pull that off, it'll be a major coup.  Remember, Ferrari couldn't make it work, ending up with something that flapped like a hummingbird's wing.  This had a rather unfortunate effect on the structural stability of the car.

The sidepods are longer than the McLaren's, but seem to have a bigger undercut to them.  Other than that, the chassis seems to be fairly conventional.  Smooth airbox. 

The platypus nose looks hideous in this picture.  Unlike the CT01, this one has a rounded nose, again similar in appearance to the Red Bull designs.  Though we can't see it in these shots, I gather that the underside of the nose is also rounded, better to shed air in the direction of the underside of the car and increasing the downforce.  The, for lack of a better term, "barge boards" just to the outside of the sidepods seem much more prominent than they do on the other two chassis that have been rolled out thus far.  I'm sure they're perfectly legal, but I'll be switched if I like 'em.  The nicest rule change in the past five years was the one that got rid of the proliferation of such things; these bring back unpleasant memories. 

I suspect this is a make-or-break season for Vijay Mallya's team.  It's been five years without a win, only one podium and just one pole, both of which look like flukes.  There are reports that Mallya's financial empire is showing cracks;  Kingfisher Airlines paid their salaried employees late four months running, for example.  If this is truly the case, one could reasonably assume that F1 would prove to be something totally disposable... unless good things start happening in a hurry.  We'll see how the VJM05 does down the road!

Ferrari's rollout will be covered tonight.

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February 01, 2012

F1 Pr0n: McLaren MP4-27

McLaren has always seemed to have been of two minds when it comes to their F1 cars.  Either they're a little boring or they're completely goofball.  Last year's MP4-26 went full goofball, what with the L-shaped air intakes on the sidepods and all.  For 2012, it looks like the team from Woking has gone button-down collar and pocket protector on us.  Ladies and gentlemen, the MP4-27.

The first thing that leaps out at you is... the more or less normal looking nose.  As we'll see in the next picture, all is not as it appears, though in comparison to the Lotus Caterham, it's boring.  The air intakes on the sidepods are back to something a little more staid than last year, though they are somewhat... elongated.  The section directly under the nose is a little busier than last year.

As with the Caterham before it, the MP4-27 has teeny sculpted sidepods, clearly to steer more air towards the back.  As mentioned earlier, the nose doesn't have the stonking great stepdown like the CT01, but it does rather plummet.  It's a graceful plummet, but compare it to the MP4-26, and you'll see the difference:

The rear wing of the new car also has... fingers at the bottom of the rear wing assembly.  These started to appear on the cars last season, and I'm sure there's something good aerodynamically involved with them, but I'll be switched if I can figure out what it is.  I'm not the big brain though, as anybody who's read The Pond could attest to.

No matter how fast the MP4-27 goes, there is one thing you can say about it: it sure is purty.  I think they need to go back to the silver rims though.  The black just doesn't work.

Now for the best thing of them all: the annual McLaren centerfold!  Just click "more" for some sweet sweet Glare On Wheels action, sans staples!


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January 26, 2012

F1 Pr0n: Caterham CT01

Historically, the opening of the F1 season comes when Ferrari debuts their new challenger.  They are always the first.  Pride of place should be with them, truth be told.  It's not like they aren't the oldest and most famous team in Formula 1, after all.  Which makes the first debut of the year all the weirder, because it's not the oldest team, but one of the newest, which rolled out their steed.  The team that was Lotus and now is Caterham stole a march on the big guys today, releasing pictures of the CT01.  Ladies and gentlemen, F1 Pr0n is back!

Some interesting stuff here from Caterham.  The sidepods are shorter, making for a more compact, almost wasp-waisted, chassis.  Unseen in the picture above is that there's a vent in the back of the airbox to add cooling to that which the smaller sidepods lose.  The exhausts are low-mounted and positioned in the lee of the sidepod's airflow.  The leader at the clubhouse turn is that they'll blow over the lower elements of the rear wing, trying to claw back some of the downforce lost by the banning of blown diffusers.  However, the F1 sites across the interwebs are all abuzz over the nose.

To be charitable, it's not pretty.  To not be charitable, it might be the ugliest nose since the 2004 Williams "Walrusnose"... or this one.  Unfortunately, that stepdown is mandated by the new tech regulations.  Yes, really.  It's a safety feature, designed to keep cars from being launched, somehow.  I think it accomplishes the feat by being so repulsive that no self-respecting F1 chassis would deign to approach it.  I tells ya, Morty, it's like it got taken back behind the woodshed and got beaten with the ugly stick.  And because the rules require that the nose be no more than 550mm above the ground, but the rest of the body has to be 650mm above, we'll probably see this on EVERY car this year.

BEHOLD!  The era of the ugly F1 car is upon us, and woe be unto those who think that the individualism of the teams is being legislated out of the sport by the FIA.

The next rollout is McLaren on February 1st!  See you then for more F1 Pr0n!

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March 11, 2011

F1 Pr0n: HRT F111

Last season, HRT missed being the worst team on the grid by virtue of finishing 14th three times to Virgin Racing's two.  Despite this unlikely fact, the F1Update! team universally considers them to have been the worst.  This psychological block is probably caused by two things.  First, they did a grand total amount of zero pre-season testing last year.  Their 2010 car didn't turn a single lap until the practice sessions of the opening race of the year, and that was only one car for 20 laps.  Hard to make an impression when that's the limit of your experience, y'know?  The second reason was that their car, the HRT HRT, which they later retconned to F110, was the flat-out ugliest beast out there.  Mud-brown and orange, it just hurt to look at the thing.

Well, no longer.  This year, they're going to get their car on-track for one day's worth of preseason testing (UPDATE: see below).  And this year, the car looks oh-so-fine.

When HRT released renderings of the F111, I asked for a good nose-on shot.  Now that we've gotten one, I have no idea exactly why I wanted it.  It's definitely the steepest nose-droop out there.  The brake ducts are large enough to swallow a track marshal, just like last year.  Sidepod intakes are basically the same as everybody else, more or less.  One thing of note is that the nose incorporates the FIA-mandated camera mounts (the black horizontal structures to either side of the Spanish flag) into the actual design, where everybody else just mounts them to the side.  They're supposed to be aerodynamically neutral, but I can't help but think that doing this is to the F111's advantage.  The front wing is much more complex than I expected to see from the team.

From the side, the most striking thing about the car is the livery.  I said it earlier and I'll say it again: this is how a race car should look.  The eye-catching graphics appeal to the eight-year-old in me, I admit it.  The sponsorship begging is a bit of a turn-off, but hey, they need the money and they've got the space, why not?  Other than the low, droopy nose and the paintjob though, the rest of the car looks pretty average.  It looks like a F1 car, and that's not a bad thing at all.

Team boss Colin Kolles claims that the car will be "significantly faster" than last year's charger.  They've got the same powertrain that the Williams team is using, and we know how that worked last year; in theory they could be a surprise.  My guess?  They might get a point or two for the entire year, if they last that long.  Let's hope they do.

UPDATE:  Late news from Spain is that HRT will not be participating in Saturday's testing session.  They have important parts of their car held up in customs, and nothing they've been able to do have managed to get Spanish officials to release them.  That can't be a good thing.  Even one day of testing would have been a boon beyond measure for the team.

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February 24, 2011

F1 Pr0n: Williams FW33 Livery

After the nuclear announcement of the cancellation of the Grand Prix of Bahrain, it's been kinda quiet around the F1 Circus.  Instead of traveling to Bahrain for the final test session, the teams were already at the new location for the test, Barcelona.  Other than Robert Kubica leaving intensive care and beginning his rehab, and the release of a new biography of Bernie Ecclestone,  there just hasn't been much going on.

Which is why I'm going to do a quick look at the newly revealed livery for Williams' 2011 challenger, the FW33.  As you may remember, the paintjob has remained the same for Williams for a few years, pretty much looking like this:

...and that's fine.  It's bland and conservative, but that fits Williams' institutional character to a T, at least recently.  Then, as usual, they began the offseason sessions in a testing livery:

I'll be honest, I really like that plain look.  Glossy dark blue with just a simple car number in a white circle?  Classic, give me more of that please.  But of course, testing liveries never last (anybody remember Force India's original paint job?  Baby, was that one good!) and we knew that this one would be no different.  So today Williams brought out the official livery for the FW33, and what do we get?

Well, it is different from the past few years, I'll give it that... just not particularly different.  Supposedly it's supposed to be paying tribute to the mid-90s livery, when the team was sponsored by Rothmans, and I guess I can see that.  I guess.  Sorta.  It's got stripes.

And the stripes have colors other than blue and white!  Cue the marching bands and parading elephants, a miracle has occurred.  But there's something missing... something important... oh yeah!  The name "WILLIAMS"... you'd think they'd want to have that somewhere on the car, wouldn't you?  Most of the other teams have their own name some place on the chassis; it seems weird for Williams not to.

Oh, there it is... sure, everybody'll see that.

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February 08, 2011

F1 Pr0n: miniMegaPr0n 2011

Two teams debuted their challengers today, and since neither of them were kind enough to provide me with the usual low-nose-side-front-quarter views of their steeds, I've decided to lump them both together in a sort of miniMegaPr0n.  So without further ado, let's take a look at the 2011 Force India!

Sort of a big, chunky kinda nose on this one.  Ferrari-style sidepod inlets, Lotus-style split intake above the driver's seat, Red Bull-style high nose, McLaren-style flat forward section... it's a Frankencar!

I kid, of course.  I'm sure nothing here is copied from other designs, it's just the way F1 cars look these days.  Is it just me, or is the very front of the underside of the nose... hollow?  Covered with a smoked-glass-like thing?  Like a sensor pod on a jet plane or something?  It's hard to tell, but it'd make for some hellacious camera shots if that's what's going on there!  Force India is talking seriously about contesting for fifth place in the constructor's championship in 2011.  If that happens, that'd be a huge step for the fourth-year team that's shown occasional flashes of brilliance.  For it to occur, Vijay Mallya will have to pour a lot of cash into the team over the course of the whole season.  If you remember, Force India started out quite strongly, but as the bigger teams developed their cars, they couldn't keep pace.  It'd be cool if they could... I'd love to have a team to root for again.  Also in passing it turns out that FI has decided on their driver lineup for 2011 but forgot to make a formal announcement: Adrian F'n Sutil and rookie Paul di Resta, with Nico Hulkenberg as reserve driver (for now).  Di Resta, a Scotsman, was the team's reserve driver last year and won the DTM championship as well.  So yeah, he's got that going for him, which is nice.

Onto last year's winner of the ugliest car of the year award, HRT!

HOT DAMN!  Now that's what a race car should look like!  Except for all the begging for sponsorships going on that is... "Your Logo Here"?  "This Could Be You"?  "This Is A Cool Spot"?  Guys, I understand how desperate you are for cash, but geez....  To be honest though, the checkered flag really should be replaced with a blue flag... truth in advertising, y'know?  Helluva nose on the HRT F111... actually, come to think of it, didn't the F-111 Aardvark have a droopy nose, too?  Throw in the movable (rear) wing, and I'm more and more amused by the comparison.  I wonder if it can do a dump-and-burn?

Darn it, I really want to see a nose-on picture of this beast now.  It'll be taking the track at the third test session in a few weeks, hopefully we'll get some good pics then, as opposed to these, which I'm almost positive are really good computer renderings.  I wonder what their cost schedule is for some of those sponsorship locations?  I might have to put up a tip jar, see about getting a rubber duckie on the car for a race.  Now that'd make it the single coolest livery of all time!  Still no idea who their second driver is going to be... "This could be you" takes on a whole different meaning all of a sudden.

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February 07, 2011

F1 Pr0n: Virgin MVR-02

It's time for the second of the "new" teams to debut their car!  Ladies and gentlemen, the Virgin MVR-02:

As with last year's car, this one was again designed and tested entirely in a computer, using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) software.  No wind tunnels for these guys, no sir.  One could say that the CFD technique worked acceptably last year, though the team ended up dead last in the championship standings, behind even lowly HRT.  To be fair, that wasn't so much the fault of the car design as it was the innards... it seemed like every race, one or both of the cars were breaking down due to a hydraulic failure or the gearbox turning itself into a wide selection of Neutrals.  The chassis itself was fairly quick, all things considered.  However, last year the body was built by Dallara and reminded me of another Dallara product, the IndyCar chassis.  The needle-nose in particular stood out.  Well, this year the team is doing the building on their own, and the nose immediately leaps out as being different.  Much wider, though still lower than everybody else.

So the computers are suggesting that everybody else, with their high nose, is wrong.  The rest of the chassis is pretty conventional.  Nothing leaps out at you and says that Virgin is taking a risk here, though Nick Wirth, team technical director, says that they looked at using the Renault forward-facing exhaust.  They decided not to use it, mostly due to the costs involved. 

Y'know what?  This might just be a generic F1 car.  That's not a bad thing, by the way.  "Generic" is a huge step up from "Dead Last" like last year.  "Generic" is also a pretty solid strategy for a new team.  If you make radical changes all over the place, you might never figure out which ones work... and which don't.  Virgin is claiming that they'll be playing with the Toro Rossos and Saubers of the world this season... that'd be a heckuva improvement, and I wish them luck with that.  That'd mean they'd be consistent point scorers in 2011, quite the leap in one year.  It took Force India three years to get to that point, after all.  Well, we'll see soon enough.

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February 04, 2011

F1 Pr0n: McLaren MP4-26

It's always hard to tell what you're going to get from McLaren.  Without a doubt, the car is going to be good (well, usually), but they can be fairly... bland with their designs.  Now when you're one of the God-Teams of F1, you can do that.  After all, when your chassis is consistently one of the top three every year, you don't need to go into ridiculous mode on your designs. 

But of all the teams out there, McLaren is the only one with an institutional sense of humor.  And McLaren occasionally does roll out the weirdness; witness the original "viking horns" on the MP4-21, for example.  So you never be sure what's coming from these guys... and without a doubt, the team went into full goofy mode this year.

What in the name of St Fangio the Quick is going on with those sidepods?  Oddly, I believe the viking horns might just give us the answer.  Besides the obvious increased airflow into the radiators, I wonder if the odd shape of the 'pods don't give much the same effect as the viking horns, just in larger scale, with air being channeling over them and back towards the rear of the car.  Should be fascinating to see how that works out.

Seen from the side, the car looks almost normal.  Lower nose than on many of the others, with a very long, shallow descent all the way from the cockpit to the tip.  Still, the odd sidepods make the MP4-26 look like it has hunched shoulders.  I rather like the look of the car, honestly.  Very clean.  Swoopy, but not looking like it was drawn in the middle of a fever dream.

Even prettier from this angle.  The odd shape of the 'pod intakes are quite visible here.  I wonder... does that shape allow it to claim more of the air coming off the front tires?  It might be rather roiled up air, but it's still air to cool the engine. The front half of the car is just gorgeous... so clean, and such a change from the front of the Ferrari and Red Bull.  One thing that you might notice is the double air intake above the driver's head.  The one in the normal position is for the engine, as you might expect.  The one farther back along the fin is probably for cooling the KERS unit.

One last picture, the annual McLaren centerfold.  It's a big one, but there's no staples to get in the way.  Enjoy!


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February 03, 2011

F1 Pr0n: Lotus T128

The chassis I've most been looking forward to hit the track for the first time on Wednesday, and again today.  Let's take a look at the new car from Lotus:

Last year, the T127 was very much a throwback car, all slab-sides and table-flat.  None of the aerodynamic swoops and curves we've come to expect from a F1 car there!  Now, however, they seem to have jumped right into something more like the old teams.  The big surprise is the air intake over the driver's head... they're using a split inlet, like the one Mercedes started 2010 with.  I'm unsure as to what the advantage of using such a thing is, while there is at least one known disadvantage, namely unsettled and unbalanced airflow in a turn.  When the car turns, the side opposite the direction of the turn gets less air, and in some cases airflow may be blocked altogether.  Perhaps the Lotus engineers don't think this is a problem, or the lessened drag caused by a blanketed air duct balances the reduced airflow, or the whole problem is overblown in the first place.  Still, Mercedes dropped it fairly quickly.

Lower nose than most of the other cars this season, though it's a sharp dropoff.  The body surely isn't as slab-sided as it was last year, though it still seems less swoopy in the sidepod area.  I suspect the biggest improvement to the car will not be in the aerodynamics, but in the Renault engines they'll be running for 2011.  No knock on Cosworth, they did a great job last year, but the Renault is a definite step up, and will probably be enough on its own to keep Lotus as the best of the new teams.  Will it be enough to let them play with the established teams?  Well, if any of the newbies are going to, it'll be these guys.  I'm sure they're aiming for points this year.

According to the team, the T128 has been designed up from scratch, using none of last year's car as a basis.  It certainly looks more modern, but I wonder if that's a good way to go.  The good teams got that way by building on the experiences of their previous seasons, for the most part keeping the good parts of the older designs and improving the not-so-good parts.  Evolution, in other words, not revolution.  To be sure, evolving a bad car isn't exactly an easy thing to do, but at least they'd have some running data to work off of.  If this one was indeed begun from scratch, they'll be back at square one again.  Guess we'll see... they get paid a lot more than I do to do this stuff, so they must have a better handle on it, right? 

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February 01, 2011

F1Pr0n: MegaPr0n 2011

Over the past two days, seven F1 teams brought out their cars for the 2011 season.  Unfortunately, only one, Sauber, actually bothered to take glamour shots for our perusal.  They, of course, got a F1 Pr0n entry all to themselves.  Lotus released a couple of grainy and poorly exposed pictures and some computer renderings of their new car, so they don't get nuthin' until it hits the track on Wednesday. 

But Renault, Williams, Mercedes, Red Bull and Toro Rosso?  They get to share a post... the first ever F1 MegaPr0n!

We'll start with the team that got the least amount of worthwhile photos, Toro Rosso.

As near as can be told, the STR6 is merely an evolution of last year's chassis, which was, in effect, a Red Bull RB4 taken in a different direction than the parent team's chassis, the RB6.  That's hardly a bad thing, considering that the RB5 fought tooth and nail with Brawn for the constructor's championship.  Still, I was hoping for something a smidge more exciting from the Red Bull "B" team.  It's a lower nose than that being copied by... well, just about everybody.  It's possible that Toro Rosso is running an interim design, one that uses pieces from last year's car, until the whole package is complete and tested.  Of course, they might be trying to step out of the shadow of the "A" team, too.  Might be interesting, that.  On the whole though, it looks pretty vanilla, or at least as vanilla as any F1 car can look.  I'll pay attention to the car over the next few weeks and if there's any major change I'll let you know.

Next up, 2010's Disappointment of the Year, Mercedes!

First off, I love the new paint job.  Last year's all-silver livery was historical, a hearkening back to the "Silver Arrows" of Mercedes' past, but it was a little dull.  The addition of the Petronas green livens it up a bit.  As far as the chassis, named the MGP-W02, goes, that nose reminds me somewhat of a platypus' bill.  It's certainly higher than the W01's, though.  Sidepod inlets are huge, but a triangular shape as opposed to the rectangular of last year's.  Is that because the designers are trying to move away from the BrawnGP design?  Or just an inevitable design evolution?  Kinda hard to tell from this photo, truth be told.  I suppose we should get used to rollouts like this, as opposed to the high-end, no-expense-spared affairs of the past.  Darn shame, though.

Our next entry comes from the World Champions themselves, Red Bull!

If there was one chassis I wasn't looking forward to seeing, it was the new RB7.  I mean, let's face it: the RB6 was the best car all season; on those few occasions it didn't win, well, it wasn't usually the fault of the chassis.  With uber-aerodynamicist Adrian Newey on the payroll, it's not like there were going to be many external changes. 

And indeed, there aren't.  Oh sure, there's a new thing on the centerline of the rear wing, which I assume is part of the actuator for the new movable bits, but otherwise?  Pretty much the same.  Sidepod intakes look to be a smidge smaller, but it's really difficult to tell: black on dark blue does not visibility make.  I'm sure there's something different, perhaps many somethings, but my guess is that they're all internal.

Speaking of black on dark blue, allow me to present the Williams FW33.

I really do hope they keep the car number in a white circle like that on the real livery; this is just the testing color scheme.  I'm going to do something I've avoided this year... I'm going to post a picture of last years' car for comparison purposes.

Sharper downward turn on the nose, angled strut connecting the front wing to it as well.  The thing that lept out at me instantly, though, was the sidepod.  It's definitely more graceful in the FW33, more angled across the top where the FW32 was rounded.  I'm sure some of that is due to the dark color preventing details from coming out, but not all.  The rear wing is different as well, with a notch taken out as opposed to the whole upper-rear corner (if you get what I'm talking about).  It's a bunch of subtle differences that, to me, add up to a chassis that's more pleasing to the eye... or maybe it's the livery, I dunno.

Speaking of liveries, it's time to bring out the best-damn-lookin' paintjob of the year.

Renault this season will be more correctly known as Lotus-Renault, for reasons that are much too confusing to get into here, and this livery is a tribute to the classic Lotus "John Player Special" livery used from 1972 to 1986... and my all-time favorite to boot.  It's certainly better than the bumblebee colors used last year.  And while the body seems pretty normal, there's something very clever going on with the R31... very clever indeed.

As you're all aware, the trick diffusers of the past two years have been outlawed.  No more double diffusers, no more blown diffusers where the exhaust gases flowed directly onto the diffuser, none of that is allowed now.  Of course, that removes a small (or not that small, perhaps) but measurable amount of downforce from the equation.  Now, look carefully at the rear end of the car, right around where the word "elf" is located.  That's roughly where the exhaust pipes should be, yet there are none visible.  Good reason for that: they aren't there.  In fact, there aren't ANY exhaust ports anywhere on the rear of the car.  Instead, Renault has trunked the exhaust to the bottom of the front of the sidepods... where they blow onto and underneath the floor of the chassis.  This introduces faster (and hotter!) airflow under the car, which in turn increases the downforce as it passes beneath the flat bottom, just like an airplane wing induces lift... except opposite, of course.  It's a brilliant idea, and one that Renault deserves to have pay off big.  Of course, there are potential problems here.  Extra cooling and insulation will be needed around the pipes, since F1 engines kick out exhaust gases at approximately 800°C.  Instead of going right out the back, now the piping is running around such things as the fuel tank, the radiators and the electronics... none of which play well with high heat.  Look for the chassis to perhaps have overheating problems in Bahrain, Malaysia and Abu Dhabi.  But it might just be worth it, considering how clever the idea is.

So that's it for the F1 MegaPr0n!  The real Lotus should be taking the track on Wednesday, and with any luck we'll get some good pics of that challenger.  Check back tomorrow!

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January 31, 2011

F1 Pr0n: Sauber C30

Of the three rollouts today, only Sauber released studio glamour shots of their steed, so let's give them the attention they richly deserve!

Yes I know, that's not a studio shot.  Well, they didn't do a studio shot of the nose.  We take what we can get 'round these parts.  Again, let's compare to last year's car.  Unlike the Ferrari, the sidepod intakes sure look larger than on the C29... in fact, the sidepods as a whole seem bulkier, at least from the front.  It's a high nose, but that's more of a carryover from the 2010 chassis than a copy of the Red Bull.  However... has more of a droop than the C29.  Maybe it's an optical illusion, but the nose seems more pointy than last year's.  The shark's fin stretching to the rear wing is gone as well.  After looking at the side view, I'm pretty sure the sidepods are bulkier.  That can mean one of two things: one, the KERS unit takes up more space than I expected, or two, they expect to have cooling problems, leading to bigger radiator units (ergo, the larger inlets).  Or something else altogether... it's so hard to tell with a F1 car.  It might be simple aerodynamics, too.

I dunno... I think I prefer the looks of the C30 over Ferrari's F150.  I'm just not sure if that's because it's really a better looking car, or if it's because I despise Ferrari so much.  The addition of sponsor logos is welcome; it might let Sauber actually advance the design during the season.  I was going to comment on the proliferation of Mexican-based business logos (Cuervo tequila, Telmex, Telcel, Claro), until I remembered that Sergio Perez is driving for Sauber this season.  The addition of some color to the livery helps the looks, too.

Of course, looks don't win races... if they did, Lotus would have won every race last year.

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January 28, 2011

F1 Pr0n: Ferrari F150

The offseason is over.  F1 has come back for 2011 with the traditional first rollout of the season, Scuderia Ferrari!  This morning they debuted their new chassis, the F150 (nope, no truck jokes here... yet).  So what does it look like?

Like this:

Pictures of last year's car can be found here, and may be useful for comparison purposes.  Two things immediately leap out at me.  First off, the nose is higher. It's more like Red Bull's 2010 challenger, the RB6, then the Ferrari 2010 car, F10.  Well heck, it worked pretty well for Red Bull last year, and in Formula 1 if it works, it gets copied.  The second thing visible is that the air intakes on the sidepods are more horizontal than last year.  The intake above the driver's head is rounder as well.

Let's take a look at the rest of the car, shall we?

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September 18, 2010

F1 Pr0n First Look: Korean International Circuit

Usually, F1 Pr0n deals strictly with the rollout of the cars for the new F1 season.  However today we've got something special on tap: a whole new circuit.  The Korean International Circuit at Yeongam is due to play host to the first GP of Korea on October 24th, but there's been talk of the place not being finished in time.  Well, I'm here to tell you that it sure as heck looks like the talk is true.  But first, here's the track map:

Okay, let's play "Guess The Track Designer," shall we?  Nah, what's the point, it's pretty obvious that Hermann Tilke's scat is all over the layout.  There is one series of turns that I'm fascinated with on here, Turns 4, 5 and 6.  I'm fascinated because I can't imagine anybody thinking that a hairpin followed by a tight 90-degree turn followed by another 90-degree turn in the opposite direction could possibly make for good racing.

I can see Tilke's design process at work here:  "First let's draw some straight lines.  Then I'll let the cat push a piece of charcoal around the paper.  Okay, that's the layout!"  Remember once upon a time I mentioned how all the good circuits in F1 had a flow to them, how one part of the track should lead to another in a natural, organic way?  Well, the KIC doesn't do that anywhere.  It honestly feels like Tilke set out to avoid that at all costs.

To make matters worse, there's much doubt in my mind as to whether or not the whole place will be finished in the five weeks remaining until race weekend.  "But Wonderduck," I hear you asking, "how do you know that???"  Well, allow me to show you an interesting picture:

This is the view of the main straight from right around where the start/finish line is marked on the trackmap.  That's the main grandstands on the left, the paddock area is to the right.  Does that look even remotely like someplace you'd want to go to to watch a race?  Does that grandstand look like it's completed?  Other structures around the track are much the same, looking like concrete shells with nothing inside, just the exterior walls.  The actual race track asphalt is laid, but the curbs, the runoff areas, everything that allows cars to race safely?  Missing or incomplete.  But don't take my word for it, just take a look at this video.

The race organizers and Red Bull had a demonstration run a couple of weeks ago using the 2008 Red Bull chassis and the FIA's super-hard demo tires.  Surprisingly, Cowboy Karun Chandhok was the driver (the usual RB drivers weren't allowed to run, as it'd be an unfair advantage, I guess).  The FIA and Hispania Racing, Chandhok's normal team, let him do it, which is a pretty clear indicator that we won't be seeing him again this year.  I can only imagine what he must have felt, actually getting into a real F1 car and being allowed to turn some laps. 

Anyway, watching that video just confirmed all my opinions from the track map: it looks like disaster-in-the-making, as far as racing goes.  Now driving the circuit looks like it'd be a blast, but that's not the same as racing around it.

We'll see in about five weeks.  Stay tuned.

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