3 down, (maybe) 10 to go…
So, we have now seen the launches of the 2010 Ferrari and McLaren and the shakedown of the new Williams, the first cars of the big 3 of the 1990s in the 2010s. All 3 are slick-looking, beautiful cars and the teams have high hopes for them.
The Ferrari was the first to appear, and is a departure from recent designs with a thin, high nose instead of the usual low, chunky ones on their cars every year since 2001. It also has the pronounced V shape in the nose like the Red Bull RB5. But other than that, the general feeling is that it is evolutionary rather than revolutionary. Unfortunately, what may prove to be the key element of the design, the diffuser, was covered up, as on the McLaren the following day, and it is around this that concerns are starting to mount. A few weeks ago, Motorsport Aktuell reported that the figures in the windtunnel had not been hitting the team’s targets, and now Aldo Costa has gone on the offensive, attacking other teams for pushing the limit of the diffuser rules, even though we haven’t seen any other diffusers yet – this to me suggests they are not confident about their own car, and may not have pushed the envelope out with their design, the same as last year when they refused to adopt the double decker diffuser until after it was officially declared legal. If so, it is another disappointment for the team, as they will be lagging behind once again.
McLaren launched the MP4/25 in Newbury today and there are some subtle differences. They’ve gone for BGP 001-esque severely undercut sidepods and a high but wide nose without a V on top, similar to last year’s BMW Sauber. It looks very attractive and feedback from the fans has generally been one of amazement, as opposed to last year, when fans generally thought it was quite a safe design. The reaction today has been much like that to the Red Bull and Brawn last year, so that can only be a good sign. It looks together – it looks like a race winner at least. And this looks interesting. As for the launch, it was interesting to note the drivers’ body language – Jenson seemed quite relaxed and revelling in the occasion, as he often does, but Lewis seemed quite tense, and reacted quite strongly to the suggestion that he received technical upgrades before Kovalainen last year. You have to wonder how that relationship is going to develop this year…
The Williams-Cosworth FW32 was shaken down yesterday at Silverstone (on what looked like the Stowe Circuit, the layout used by the Brawn team for their first shakedown last year) by Nico Hulkenberg. It is a brand new design, according to the team, and also has a higher nose, but it doesn’t look radically different from the other cars from both last year and this year so far. However, there were no pictures of the rear and the “illegal” (i.e likely PR stunt) video of the car in testing don’t really show it.
If it’s going to come down to anything this year, it may come down to those diffusers. Last year they proved the difference between front-running and midfield at the beginning of the season, and that set the tone for the rest of the year. Now we await Sauber and Renault on Sunday.
Car launches to come:
Renault – 31st January @ Valencia
Sauber – 31st January @ Valencia
Mercedes – 1st February @ Valencia
Williams – 1st February @ Valencia
Toro Rosso – 1st February @ Valencia
Virgin – 3rd February @ virginracing.com
Red Bull – 10th February @ Jerez
Force India – 10th February @ Jerez
Lotus – 12th February @ London
Campos – 17th February @ Jerez
US F1 – ?th February @ Barber Motorsport Park