Adrian Newey reckons 2014 Formula 1 nose designs are not only ugly but could cause fresh dangers.
F1 has adopted low noses this year in a bid to prevent cars being launched into the air in rear impacts with rivals. But Newey fears that the new designs could now be driven under rear crash structures if they hit a rival from behind.
“The regulations has been introduced following some research by the FIA that the nose height reduces the chances of cars being launched – like with the accident that Mark [Webber] had when he hit the back of [Heikki] Kovalainen at Valencia a few years ago,” said Newey at Jerez. “I must admit that I am concerned that the opposite may now happen, that cars now submarine effectively. So if you hit the back of the car square on, then you go underneath it and end up under the rear crash structure, which I think is a much worse scenario.”
Newey also echoed criticism of the noses’ aesthetics.
“I think it is a shame if regulations create ugly solutions, as we have seen in some of the cars that have been released,” he said. “It is not a strictly technical matter as we have to design a car that we feel gives the best performance regardless of the styling.
“But I think the shape of the cars, the sound of the cars, is all part of the drama of F1. And it is a shame if the cars are unattractive.”
BATTERY SAFETY A WORRY, TOO
The nose issues are not Newey’s only safety concerns, because he fears potential complications from a rule that mandates the new battery packs must be housed underneath the fuel tank in the center of the car.
Until now, Red Bull housed its battery packs under the gearbox for packaging reasons and ideal weight distribution.
“It was done on safety grounds but I am not sure why putting a battery underneath a fuel tank is safer than putting it behind the engine,” said Newey.
“I think it is unchartered territory. Boeing had an absolute nightmare with the batteries on their Dreamliner and had to ground the plane for a long time while they sorted it out.
“These batteries can suffer thermal runaway through impact, through causes that are difficult to predict, and once they go into that with such a big battery pack then it is very difficult to control that fire. It is probably [a case of] push it into the pitlane and watch it burn, frankly.
“I don’t think it is a driver safety concern, because you know about it in a reasonable amount of time, but it is still a danger.
“I think also the voltages now are very high. Large DC voltages are very dangerous, and much more dangerous than an AC voltage, so for the whole of the pitlane safety is a big challenge with these cars.”