News and views on motorsports

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

If Looks Could Kill...

then McLaren are in trouble. There is an old saying in motor racing that if the car looks good then it generally is good. I think the Ferrari F2004 is the most gorgeous racing car I've ever seen and just look at how it went. The new McLaren MP4/20 at first glance looks... strange. Then I logged on to the McLaren website and it had a picture of it from dead side on and it reminded me of an elephant. Ok so it doesn't look like an elephant but it sure as hell got me thinking about one. The engine cover is short but tall and looks a bit fat. The rear end though looks incredibly low and narrow. I'm not a terribly technical but perhaps this is a consequence of the new rules. The nose section is slightly broader than the MP4/18/19/19B design. The sidepods to an untrained eye such as mine nevertheless reminds me of the Ferrari F2004. The chimney exits of the sidepods shoots off at an angle. The flick ups at the rear of the sidepods ahead of the rear wheels look like they are pieces independent of the sidepods, so narrow has the end tapered off. has a pictures here.

Well I won't pretend how the aerodynamics of the car works so I'll just wait for some expert commentary elsewhere and the times from testing. On related news though, rumours aplenty about Adrian Newey taking a sabbatical, perhaps going off to design an America's Cup challenger during that time. It is generally well known that Adrian has had interest in trying his hand at other design challenges outside Formula 1.'s story here. The story also mentions rumours about Adrian possibly leaving McLaren for Williams, his former team, where quite frankly, he enjoyed far greater successes that established himself as the top technical director in the paddock. After the MP4/14 and MP4/15, his cars leave much to be desired, although part of that blame must be taken by Mercedes.

If the rumours are true, then Williams must be dying for a brilliant new technical director. Losing Geoff Willis to BAR must have hurt quite badly. Geoff Willis is a key member of the BAR team, more indespensible than Jenson Button. As much as it was David Richard's success in pushing BAR to second last year, acclaim must also be given to Geoff Willis. Had Williams retained him, then perhaps last year's FW26 disaster could have been avoided. 2004 was a complete waste of time for Williams as it really should have been a championship win for them. I'm sure the BMW lads after 5 years in Formula 1 without championship success must be getting really nervous. Beating arch rivals Mercedes year on year isn't enough. With the investment they put in, only championship wins will do.

I read somewhere that incest is rife in Formula 1... or something to that effect. Rival teams only recruit people from other rival teams into top positions. Very rarely do you get new blood in senior positions, despite the fact that other pretty technically advanced motorsports goes on outside Formula 1. So if you look closely in the pitlane, there really isn't that much of a choice for Williams. Gascoyne and Willis are perhaps the only other choices and they are pretty tied down to their Japanese employers. Brawn and Byrne rule the roost at Ferrari and why would they leave considering they get everything and more from the Italians.

I'm sure Adrian would want to leave but I feel he should leave Formula 1 altogether. I feel as though this person has battle fatigue (a term once used by Ron Dennis) and he really needs a break from this ultra competitive atmosphere.

In other news, whilst the latest McLaren looks largely different from last year's challenger, the new Renault pretty much looks the same from the outside. The R25 is being shaken down at the Valencia track whilst McLaren has exclusive running in Barcelona. Hmmm.... I wonder how Bob Bell is coping running the technical department once Mike has left. Still sometimes, an evolution works better than a revolution. Just ask Ferrari what it did for them last year. New rules however would probably dictate a completely new direction but Renault seems to be sticking to the tried and true.

Another month and half till the Australian Grand Prix. That's probably going to go in a flash. I can feel the excitement already. Hopefully, the season will be a competitive one, so we can all focus on the on-track action rather than the politics. Smart money however wouldn't place itself against Ferrari. New rules however just might change the landscape. But just one set of tyres???? 'Tis not Formula 1 methinks.

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