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FORMULA FUGLY Ð THE LAWS AND UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

  When the F1 rule makers wrote the new regulations regarding the height of the nose of a Formula 1 car for 2012, I’m sure that their main concern was the safety aspect, but I reckon that they also had in mind that the lower nose would make the cars more pleasant to the eye. Something along the lines of the McLaren MP4/27 whose nose slopes gently and gracefully and yet stays within the new parameters. Unfortunately the three other new cars that have been launched so far look as if they have been built using Lego blocks and have all the aesthetic appeal of a dog turd in a swimming pool. A couple of years back folk were dismayed by the appearance of the cars with the very wide front and the narrow rear wings. Sure, they were ugly but you sort of got used to them, they were just different from what we had previously been used to and so after a while you just stopped noticing them. They were just wings after all. But the cars launched by Ferrari, Force India and Caterham? Yee Gods, I have seen more attractive Soviet era apartment blocks.  Genital warts have more appeal.

 

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  One of the things that appeals to young boys, and these are the future F1 fans, (I mean, lets face it, motor sport is mostly followed by blokes – hence grid GIRLS), is that they can bung a picture of a beautiful car up on the wall of their bedroom and dream of racing one. For me, in the ‘70’s these were the Gulf Porsche 917, the JPS Lotus 79 but the one that really grabbed my balls was the 1975 Ferrari 312T. Maybe not your favourite, but as always beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that red car, with the high white airbox, silver wings & huge rear wheels was that ten year olds drool inducer. I simply cannot imagine anybody, any boy, any girl, any sane man or woman looking at the nose of the Ferrari F2012 and finding it any more attractive than the rotting face of a dead wart-hog. Maggots included.

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 Nikolas Tombazis, Ferrari’s chief designer has already had to defend the look of the car as the scorn of the public has poured in. His defence is, that he doesn’t care what the car looks like as long as it wins. Well Nik, old son, all I can say is that it bloody well better, ‘cause the rest of the F1 viewing public does care. And so to do the sponsors of the sport.  If no kid is going to pin a poster of their car on the wall then they know that they aren’t getting value for money either. After all, it is brand exposure that they are paying for and the most susceptible to this exposure are kids. How many of us that grew up in the 70’s have forgotten any of the main sponsors? Gulf Oil or ELF Petroleum. The fags packets on wheels, John Player Special, Marlboro, Gitanes etc. Martini. All of these adorned, and help make, beautiful cars. Not too many will recall LEC Refrigeration with any great excitement. And that’s the point. Some 30 to 40 years down the line we still remember the brands fondly, even if they were cancer tubes. Will any of today’s kids remember Acer or Santander in 30 years time?

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  But to be fair (sort of) it’s not just the Ferrari that has been belted with the ugly stick. The Force India and the Caterham are almost as hideous. Almost. I was, as I am sure you all were, looking forward to this coming weeks testing at Jerez. As much to see the new cars as get any idea who may have the right stuff this year. Now I’m almost dreading it. Hoping against hope that the other teams have not gone down this horrid path. Oh, and while we’re at it, stop insulting the poor bloody platypus. It may be a mildly strange looking creature but it’s not that damned ugly.

 

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   And while talking about Lego, the final few blocks were put in place this week with the announcement that Narain “I’m not a masochist” Karthikeyan has signed on for another year at HRC and that Giedo van der Garde has been named as Caterham’s test and reserve driver. That completes the race driver line-up for the Australian GP at least, barring any Kubica type disasters and sadly confirms that there is no longer a place for Rubens Barrichello on the F1 grid. He may have been getting a bit long in the tooth but would still have been a better bet than some that have secured a place. As one of the nicest guys around, the F1 paddock will be a much poorer place without his presence. I hope he enjoys success in Indycars where it seems he is now headed off to and the Indy 500 should now have an interesting story within a story, who will do better, Alesi or Barrichello?

Sam Snape

05/02/2012