With Caterham taking the covers off their 2012 challenger, it’s clear that this season’s F1 cars may be a tad different than in previous years. But don’t fret, the Badgerometer can take that and raise you five of the ugliest! Be prepared to look away…
The British team’s final effort before bankruptcy wasn’t a bad car, it was just a modified version of the 1991 effort thanks to their non-existant budget. After desperately trying and failing to get a sponsor on board, the team painted the car in a palette of pastille colours. Gone was the clean cut blue and white, in was pink. Even Damon Hill – replacing Giovanni Amati, the most recent woman to compete in F1 – couldn’t drag the car onto the grid.
Here’s the 1996 champ spinning at Hungary, the final appearance for the once great Brabham name.
Long gone French team Ligier produced some great looking cars, and with the blue and white livery carried for 20 years it was hard to go wrong. But it’s a legacy born on ugly roots, thanks to their very first effort in 1976.
With aerodynamics not as fully fledged as they are today, the main focus was on mechanical grip and engine cooling, with large airboxes being all the rage. Like the hairstyles of the decade, they were overly large, and none were as big as the JS5’s.
Already covered in our Top 5 Genius F1 Ideas, the first ever 6 wheel F1 car was a great concept – it even brought a victory for Ken Tyrrell’s team – but let’s face it, it wasn’t the prettiest car on the grid.
The first incarnation was okay, blue with a flash of yellow, but as the second year of the design began to falter so did the livery. Elf took over the front splitter, and First National City Travellers Checks was splashed all over the upper bodywork.
Oh, and it had six wheels. Something just doesn’t sit right with us about that.
Following Colin Chapman’s experiments with Ground Effect, which led to the whole field developing the technology in some way, none were as radical as the little Ensign’s attempt in late 1979.
Dubbed “the Stepladder”, the radiators for water and oil were moved away from being in the sidepods – which got in the way of any aero designs under them – onto the nose of the car.
It was a bold move that didn’t pay off. The car only managed one finish, in a lowly 13th place. Google it. We dare you.
Wings are a staple of any modern F1 car, arriving where they are today through trail and error from teams and designers over many years. One such error is the front wing of the March 711. You know it’s bad when it’s been dubbed the “tea tray”.
Not that the car was slow: Ronnie Peterson took it to second place the championship. But in the next few years the development of the car nosedived (no pun intended) and it was replaced with a conventional aero package 2 years later.