Home > 2013 Regulations, Formula 1 2013 > 2013 season – A goodbye to stepped noses

2013 season – A goodbye to stepped noses

A short piece of history about noses

The nose height reached the front wing level before 1991 but Benetton team (and now Lotus)  launched that season the first modern F1 car with a raised nose letting the front wing to hang under the nose cone via two vertical pylons ( Tyrrell was the first car in 1990 to have a raised nose but with a single pylon to the front wing, a designed once again seen in 1997 ) . Since then nose height went from high to low again and vice versa depending on technical rules changes taking effect from season to season .In 2001 new rules forced an  increase of the front wing height from ground level by 10 cm favoring in theory a high nose . But that’s only in theory because the inspired spoon curved front wings showed in 2001 surpassed the need of a high nose favoring shorter “banana” style designs . ( it is obvious why are called banana because they look like one ). Ferrari and Sauber pioneered the spoon feature while Minardi presented the so called dolphin or crocodile nose which started thick but becomes very thin at its tip . The dolphin nose was a promising design and adopted by McLaren someyears  later.

2012 birth year of the stepped noses

 In 2009 new technical rules stripped the car body off  the aerodynamic add-ons  and restricted the diffuser volume forcing  teams to develop a more aggressive chassis design philosophy, building higher chassis to the upper limit allowed by the rules. Such an approach raised worries about safety  because the high noses reached the cockpit area in height and potentially could penetrate into the cockpit and thus capable of harming the driver.

Safety  ringed a bell to FIA reflexes and so new technical changes forced the teams to adopt lower noses in  2012 .The new regulations gave birth to the so called stepped noses and are explained below  .

The maximum dimensions allowed by 2012 technical regulations are shown in the illustration

The maximum dimensions allowed by 2012 technical regulations are shown in the illustration

           The nose starts 450 mm wide (point A) and gets narrower where the nose box meets the chassis (point B , named also bulkhead ), being only 300 mm wide . Then the nose drops down steeply to meet the maximum height of  550 mm at a distance of 150 mm ahead of  point B . After the point C the nose becomes wider till the nose tip (easily noticed on top view image) in order to allow the maximum possible quantity of air to flow under the nose .

      Almost all teams in 2012 adopted the stepped design but only McLaren and Marussia  chose to follow the path of the lower “banana” nose . However McLaren opted to a higher hybrid nose later the season . The advantages and disadvantages of each design are summarized below


Stepped nose

Richer flow of air under the chassis and thus better aero efficiency

Higher chassis cause increase in centre of gravity (COG), uncomfortable driver position


Banana nose

Better front suspension geometry and thus enhanced mechanical grip

Poorer airflow under the chassis , stronger negative interaction with the front wing


Hybrid noses

Compromise the strong points of each design

2013 a goodbye to ugliness

     To improve the aesthetic  appeal of the 2013 cars, FIA meet an agreement with the teams and was decided to fix a fairing on the nose surface to cover the stepped nose ugliness . The new article coded 3.7.9. of the Technical regulations dictates that the fairing should consist of a single part and  describes the allowed dimensions and characteristics .

Article 3.7.9:

“With the exception of an optional, single piece, non-structural fairing of prescribed laminate (whose precise lay-up may be found in the Appendix to the regulations) which may not be more than 625mm above the reference plane at any point, no bodywork situated more than
1950mm forward of rear face of the cockpit entry template may be more than 550mm above the reference plane.

The external surface of any longitudinal or lateral cross section taken through the above fairing may contain no concave radius of curvature less than 50mm.     “

 2013 nose regulations 3

  The fairing is placed above the stepped area and may extend up to the nose tip

 2013 nose regulations 4

 The fairing aims nothing more than to improve the “beauty” of the car and any attempt to create aerodynamic advantage is discouraged . Additionally the fairing is optional and not obligatory for teams. However important details about how the fairing is placed on the nose cone and its internal structure are still grey zones and I believe designs like Sauber’s nose hole may be enhanced by such fairings .

As regards the fixing of the fairing on the nose, more attention should be required by FIA to guaranty safety . Multiple crash tests should be carried over to examine possible detachment of the fairing itself in a crash situation.A detached fairing is obvious a dangerous flying debris (remember Massa accident back in 2009 due to a flying suspension debris from Barrichello’s car).


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  1. February 19, 2013 at 6:19 pm

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