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Formula 1 2012: The Cars [w/video]

Tue, 07 Feb 2012

Nine of the 12 Formula 1 teams have released images and details of their cars for the 2012 World Championship as the first day of pre-season testing draws to a close at the Jerez circuit in Spain.

Motor sport may fall slightly outside of Car Design News' usual remit, but the big story this year is the new 'stepped nose', which all teams bar McLaren have introduced to comply with new safety regulations, much to the chagrin of aestheticists.

And with designers such as Daniel Simon (he produced the livery for HRT last season) and Peter Stevens (most notable for the Brabham cars of the 1980s) involved with the sport over the years, it's always interesting to check out the season's new machines.

But of course, as those in the sport will tell you, no racing car is beautiful until it wins.

Red Bull RB8
Those with even a passing interest in F1 will know that Red Bull Racing has dominated the sport over the last few years. The RB8, which will again be driven by Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, features larger Infiniti logos on the side of its chassis and airbox, after the company teamed up with the brand last year, along with an evolution of the now familiar blue, yellow, red and white speed lines, reminiscent of the classic Martini livery.

McLaren MP4-27
McLaren unveiled its 2012 car, with the MP4-27 on 1 February by drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton at the team's factory in Woking. Aesthetically it's the closest to a 2011 car thanks to that lack of stepped nose. The McLaren avoids an unsightly protuberance thanks to its lower chassis floor. Chrome and rocket red paintwork remains as distinctive as ever.

Force India VJM05
Force India revealed its 2012 car, the VJM05, at Silverstone on 3 February alongside drivers Paul di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg. The green, white and orange graphics have taken on an edgier twist for this season.

Ferrari F2012
Ferrari launched its new car, the F2012, at Maranello, of course. It's perhaps most visually compromised by its new nose which is exceptionally angular in comparison to the riot of sculpture behind its cockpit. Is this the ugliest Ferrari F1 car ever?

Lotus E20
The 2012 Lotus E20 was unveiled by its new drivers for the 2012 season, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. The forward exhausts have been ditched, but the iconic black and gold livery continues to stir memories of JPS sponsorship from the 1970s and '80s.

Sauber C31
Revealed yesterday by Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez, features as much white space as last year, such is the paucity of the team's sponsorship. The red strip that runs amost vertically up the engine cover gives a good impression of its complex surfacing but unfortunately last year's distinctive five-spoke wheels have been ditched.

Toro Rosso STR7
Toro Rosso's STR7 was unveiled by Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne, the team's 2012 lineup and is distinguishable from its Red Bull sister by gold accents and blood red bull across its airbox. Hotrod-style pinstriping and chequered flag graphics on the inside surface of the barge boards are neat details.

Williams FW34
Williams-Renault's challenger for 2012, the FW34, was revealed by this season's drivers, Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado. According to the team behind its design and production, the FW34 carries fewer than five per cent of the parts from last year's FW33. Its graphics may be uninspiring but the team will be more concerned about avoiding a season like last, the worst in its history.

Caterham CT01
Caterham was the first team to unveil its 2012 car, the CT01. The team has changed its name from Team Lotus but retains the green and yellow paintwork of Colin Chapman's 1960s racers.

The no-shows
HRT has not yet revealed its 2012 design and hasn't announced whether Daniel Simon has again been involved in its graphic design. Marussia (formerly Virgin) has delayed the release of the 2012 MR01 until the second test at Barcelona. Mercedes' 2012 car is anticipated to be revealed on 21 February.

Related articles:
Interview: Daniel Simon, Film Vehicle Designer and Automotive Futurist
Daniel Simon creates livery for HRT Formula 1 car

By Rufus Thompson