Head and heart




We’ll all miss Patrick Head, one of Grand Prix history’s greatest characters in every respect. I sense that his heart isn’t really in what he says about today’s technical challenges — a case of trying too hard to convince himself, let alone the rest of us. Those challenges haven’t proved sufficient to keep him in the paddock, after all.

Of course F1 is more advanced than it was 20 years ago; no-one could doubt that when every bit of a contemporary F1 car looks as intricate as a Swiss watch. But the challenge today is essentially to reach a bar that has been set very high by someone else, rather than to start from scratch and see how far you can jump on a `sky’s the limit’ basis. Colin Chapman, I’m sure, would have walked away in sheer boredom years ago. Gordon Murray indeed has, and John Barnard gets more satisfaction today in designing chairs, for heaven’s sake. Adrian Newey remains, but for him the stimulus has been in leaving a top team for an erstwhile middling one and then clawing his way back to the top.

There is a lot of emerging chatter about the ugliness of the sunken nosecone/protruding bulkhead layout of the new cars, but my goodness, it’s desperate stuff really. We’re talking millimetres — the nose as a whole remains fundamentally raised, on which tightly prescribed basis almost all F1 designs have been not only ugly but damned near indistinguishable for the best part of 15 years. Indeed, when the first picture of the Caterham leaked, in profile, I thought ‘take off the paint and I wouldn’t know whether it’s a 2012 Caterham or a 2006 Toyota’.
Adrian Muldrew, via Motor Sport website