Last year, the safety men changed the regulations for the height of a car’s nose, resulting in the rather unsightly ‘stepped nose’. This year, a small piece of laminate - known as a ‘vanity’ panel - is allowed to smooth the nose section, making them a bit less Owen Wilson and a bit more Kate Beckinsale. But Caterham have decided to stick with the stepped nose, deeming the panel as unnecessary weight. And Red Bull’s Adrian Newey agrees. “There is a small vanity panel [on his new baby, RB9]” the ace aerodynamicist told us, “but it doesn’t extend a huge way forwards, otherwise it becomes unjustifiable in weight.”
In fact, the rumour around the paddock is that these vanity panels could be ditched by teams at the first race. Aesthetics will always come second place to outright pace.
The only 2013 car that we’re yet to see is the Williams. Because regulations have barely moved from last season, like a lot of cars in the field, we’re guessing it’ll look a lot like last year’s. But there are some changes this season. Active double-DRS systems have been outlawed, stricter crash tests apply, DRS zones are now active during practice and qualifying, and the minimum car weight has gone up 2kg. This isn’t the FIA compensating for driver-overeating in the off-season, but to offset the new, heavier Pirelli tyre compound.