F1 Soap Box – Car Launch Edition

Caterham Launch

Caterham is the only team so far to unveil their 2012 challenger. They appear to be taking some design cues from Red Bull with their engine cowling, which isn’t too unexpected since RBR were indomitable last year and since Caterham is using RBR’s KERS system and gearbox.

What immediately stands out is Caterham’s solution to the FIA’s new regulations on the nose. First, the nose had to be higher this year, also there are regulations calling for different heights for the top surface of the nose and the top surface of the chassis. Caterham’s solution is for there to be a step between the two surfaces around the front wheels.

Caterham’s technical director Mark Smith told ESPNF1,

“Now it’s fairly clear that there is always the option to bring the top of the chassis down to the maximum height of the top of the nose so that you would see a completely aligned upper surface of nose and chassis. We could do that, the reason we haven’t done that and I suspect the reason that a few other people won’t do that is we are trying to maintain the best flow of air that goes under the chassis at the front for aerodynamic purposes.”

So get used to this unsightly blemish in the car, since Caterham’s solution will most likely not be unique to them. My guess is that when the Ferrari is unveiled, it will exhibit a similar lack in comeliness. Way to go FIA! Thanks for the super high rear wing, the snowplow front wing and now the hunch nose.

For more images of the hunch nose, see the gallery on F1.com.


All the Other Teams

While Caterham is the only team to officially launch, the first test in Jerez starts Tuesday, February 7th running through the 10th. All the other teams except for Marussia and Mercedes are scheduled to launch before that. We shall wait patiently to see what everybody else came up with to combat the FIA’s new chassis blemish.

Marussia was originally scheduled to launch before Jerez, but has since punted on their original intent and is planning to have their new car ready for the third test at Barcelona March 1st-4th. They will run last year’s car at Barcelona for the 2nd test to give new driver Charles Pic some much needed seat time. The team has also opted to go without KERS again this season.

One really has to question Mercedes missing the first test. The team has fervently defended their tactic, stating that the extra development time is necessary to insure the design is as complete as possible before hitting the track. But with so little testing allowed in F1, it is doubtful that they will be able to make a convincing case to anyone other than Merc fanboys.



Bahrain continues to be a question mark on the 2012 schedule. Nothing much to say except that protesters are latching on to the international attention surrounding F1 and are planning to step up their demonstrations as the race approaches. It should also be pointed out that the anniversary of the so called “Arab Spring” is upon us and this also will bring the discontented out for public viewing.

The US has already issued travel warnings for Bahrain, and if the UK government follows suit, then team insurance policies could be null and void. It would be a huge black eye for the FIA if the insurance agencies are the ones who effectively cancel the Bahrain GP, while the FIA continues to placidly support the mess going on in Bahrain. Keep in mind how the FIA hammered the Turkish GP for bringing up a Turkish Cipriot political leader to hand out a trophy. The FIA wanted no part in endorsing either side in that conflict, so why is this situation any different? Lots of money, I guess.

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