Cool name, not so cool looking car. C’mon now, will the folks that wrote these rules please stand up so we can throw our TV remotes at you? Ferrari threw a launch party for its new F14-T — (yeah, F14 as in Top Gun) and it’s a cracking looking car… except for its horrible nose. Is it better or worse than the Williams, McLaren and Lotus noses, you’ll really have to tell us, but one thing is certain and there can be no complaints all F1 cars look the same this year. Unusual maybe, but you could tell them apart unpainted.
And once again F1 designers have amazed us with just how neatly these new V6 turbo hybrids appear to package. Maybe it’s the fact there is less of an imperative on exhaust outlet positioning now all gasses are discharged from one single pipe slung out behind the rear axle, but these cars look just as small behind the driver as last year’s, despite the extra cooling they require. The F14-T doesn’t even seem to have the big side pods of the McLaren and the Williams.
In a development of last year’s livery, with lower areas and the tail now painted black, the F14-T would have been a cracker, but oh… that nose. At first it looks Ferrari hasn’t even tried and just lazily flatten the nose down via Google Sketch Up or whatever CAD software they use. Of course it’s more complex than that, and driven by the need to retain the pullrod front suspension Ferrari has raced for the last two seasons. McLaren tried it last year, but have reverted to the traditional pushrod arrangement for 2014.
The need to keep the pullrod’s upper mount high dictates the abrupt and steep slope of the nose which ends up low and flat and wide, like a sulky dog wanting a walk. The front wing it carries is remarkably simple compared with what we’ve seen at McLaren and Williams — surely this is smoke and mirrors? The solution itself seems the least imaginative, especially when compared with the asymmetric ‘southpaw’ twin nose arrangement on the Lotus. Oh well, we will see next week when we begin to get some representative relative lap times. Not that next week’s test will tell us much. Most teams it appears will be happy if their cars actually work.
Ferrari meanwhile will be hoping its two drivers can work together, and they didn’t exactly sound like Torvill and Dean at the lunch party. Kimi Raikkonen was once brought in when Ferrari decided Michael Schumacher could no longer deliver World Championships. Fernando Alonso was brought in after Kimi delivered only one before losing interest. Fernando has not delivered any, but not through lack of trying. Let’s hope inviting Kimi back suggests Ferrari has given up blaming its drivers for six years of failure.
Is the F14-T a winner? We have no idea yet. Well done to all of you who voted for the name. Now we’re just trying to remember how it played out between The Iceman and Goose, but can’t get beyond Kelly McGillis…