Red Bull’s chief technical officer, Adrian Newey, has warned that the new mandatory low nose cones could cause cars to ‘submarine’ in a crash.
In an attempt to stop cars being launched into the air in crashes, the 2014 regulations state that tip of a car’s nose cone must no higher than 185mm, as opposed to 550mm which the previous regulations allowed. Airborne crashes are the final frontier for those trying to make F1 safer, with crashes like Mark Webber’s airborne adventure in Valencia 2010 or the pile-up in Belgium in 2012 all caused by cars mounting other cars.
However, Adrian Newey has warned that the opposite could occur in a crash, and cars could be forced down – potentially prompting a more dangerous situation.
“The regulation has been introduced following some research by the FIA which suggests that nose height reduces the chances of cars being launched,” Newey told reporters in Jerez, where the first of three pre-season tests are ongoing.
“So the accident that Mark had when he hit the back of Kovalainen in Valencia a few years ago. I must admit I am concerned that the opposite may now happen, that cars submarine effectively. So if you hit the back of the car square-on, you go underneath it and you end up with the rear crash structure in your face which I think is a much worse scenario.
“And there have been some accidents where you think if a low nose would have possibly made things much worse? There was the accident a couple of years ago where Schumacher spun at the first corner and somebody mounted him – with a low nose that might that have made that worse.
“I guess it’s like all these things; it might help in some scenarios, it hurts in others. It’s one which I must admit I’m personally not in favour of.”
Aside from the job that the new noses are supposed to do, much has been made by the aesthetics of the new rule. With most teams opting to put a pole sticking down from the main nose cone instead of affecting aerodynamics by putting the entire nose cone close to the ground, the finished product looks like a cucumber hanging from the car.
Image courtesy Getty Images.