I’ve never thought anything barring even the slightest resemblance to a platypus looked good before. If I ended up on a blind date with a platypus I’d be polite and everything – I’d go through the motions of having dinner (presumably crayfish and moss), making conversation and maybe going for a drink afterwards – but I definitely wouldn’t ask it to go out again. Not unless it was a really charming platypus.
And yet, despite my lack of attraction to the platypus – and anything resembling it – I’ve started to think the new breed of Formula One cars look quite good. Why, I have been asking myself, am I failing to see what the rest of the world is seeing? That is to say, why don’t I find them ugly?
The Badger mailbox has been bursting with angry letters about the look of the new car for the past week and a half now. Brian in Rotherham wrote us that they are: ” stomach-turningly disgusting,” before adding: “I’ve decided I won’t be watching F1 this season, which is just as well: I hurled my TV out the window at a wheelie-bin when I heard about the Sky deal because I thought I saw Rupert Murdoch riffling through it.”
Now, that isn’t real – I made it up (and our lawyers have insisted I clarify that we’ve never seen Rupert Murdoch anywhere near a bin, wheelie or static). But it’s not a million miles away from the reaction some have had to the new style of car. They think it ugly, with its stopping nose resembling a poorly made snowplow, or the aforementioned platypus that I went on a blind date with and decided to ask out for a second time.
In terms of real-life complaints, Pirelli’s Paul Hembray commented: “I think I will have to be in agreement with the general sentiment that they’re damn ugly,” whilst Ferrari admitted that their F2012 is “not aesthetically pleasing.”
Many fans keep asking why – why do the cars look like this? But frankly, racing cars look bloody weird as it is, like steroid-stuffed toboggans with wheels and man’s head popping out of them. This small aesthetic alteration makes them look weirder, rather than being the reason they are weird in the first place.
And isn’t how odd they look part of the appeal? I think they look brilliantly aggressive, as grand prix machinery always should. Too many smooth lines and perfect contours create a sense of sedateness and calm that I’m not happy for the so-called ultimate racing cars to have.
Best of all is the Force India, which looks particularly demented. It’s not just the nose: the sidepods are wonderfully sculpted, adding to the manic effect the cars need. It looks strange at rest, but on track the thing looks frightening, an effect only added too by the its lurid colour scheme and the angular, jagged nature of its livery. It looks like it would mug you in broad daylight and kick you whilst you lay cowering on the ground – just ‘cuz it could.
It also helps that Force India have one of the youngest, most exciting line-ups on the 2012 grid, with two potential megastars piloting their cars this year and a brooding Ferrari protégée giving them the hurry up from the reserve bench. All this added together means they may be my second team this year.
Elsewhere it’s a mixed (but not always awful) bag. The Caterham looks sleek from the side, albeit quite naff from above (like a lego platypus); the Toro Rosso looks menacing (and has been decalred pick of the platypuses by Badger editor Adam Mills) whilst the Red Bull just looks plain ominous.
I will, however, admit this: the Sauber looks truly awful. A child would come up with a better livery than that, because children have immaginations and a penchant for the bold and exciting, whereas whoever came up with the Swiss squad’s effort exists within the grey cube of boredom that is the adult mind.
I digress. Whilst you may yet to be a convert to the aesthetic of the new cars, I urge you to look again – and to look deeper. The aggression the new design conveys really is startling, and in their natural habitat they can truly be a thing of beauty (much like the noble platypus). Added to that the regs. will probably change to render them obsolete in 2013, meaning this very specific look will always take us back to the 2012 season.
But ultimately, whether I like them and you hate them, or any variation on that, the proof will be in how they perform on track. Because, if they aren’t fast they’ll soon disappear into the night, just like the aforementioned platypus that I went on a blind date with, decided to ask out for a second time, and was subsequently turned down by.