Yesterday, we looked at some of the greatest examples of F1 eye candy to this date. Today, we flip to the other side of the coin. Here are the top 10 ugliest Formula 1 vehicles to ever exist. Machines we would rather forget, but unfortunately aren’t able to get out of our heads!
10. Ferrari F310
At the start of the 1996 season, the F310 was the only vehicle on the grid still using a low nose section. This made the Ferrari look quite outdated in comparison to the rest of the field.
Furthermore, those detached sidepod intakes did nothing to improve the aesthetic appeal of the car. The overall design was admittedly bulky and cluttered.
While 1996 was an improvement performance-wise compared to a dismal previous year campaign, Ferrari were no match for the dominant Williams force who ran out as clear winners. This was even with Schumi at the helm.
9. Renault R29
2009 saw a whole host of technical regulations being tweaked. This led to vastly different looking vehicles across the board.
While the likes of Brawn and Red Bull produced some real lookers, Renault’s R29 looked plump and portly alongside it’s sleek competition. The main issue with the design for many was the front nose section. It was almost twice the width of the narrowest competitors!
It didn’t help that the R29 was also near the rear-end of the field at most races. Even the mighty Fernando Alonso wasn’t able to drag the Renault to the sharp-end of the grid.
The Spaniard only scored 26 points in 17 races. Meanwhile, his two teammates for the year, Nelson Piquet Jr. and Romain Grosjean, could not muster a single point between them!
8. Tyrrell P34
The fact that the P34 has six wheels is not what makes it look so ungainly. But as a consequence of it having to fit six wheels, the proportions of it do look kind of weird. It’s length-to-width ratio feels off; it is very thin and long, somewhat reminiscent of a four-man bobsled!
The purpose of the additional pair of wheels was to increase cornering grip while still allowing the wheels to completely sit behind the front wing.
Beauty was deemed to be a worthwhile sacrifice for Ken Tyrrell and his team and the P34 was quite a successful car. It got a 1-2 finish at the 1976 Swedish Grand Prix and a total of 14 podiums in the 2 seasons it competed in.
If you want to learn more about six-wheelers in Formula One, click on this link.
7. March 711
The 711 is genuinely not so bad from most angles, until that ghastly front wing comes into view! Many say it looks like a tea tray, but it’s not the shape that’s ugly. It has more to do with its location.
Why March Engineering decided to place the wing so high off the ground is beyond my limited aerodynamic understanding. If anyone can let me know, please put it in the comments!
Nevertheless, this March was piloted by Ronnie Peterson, otherwise known as the “Super Swede”. He managed 2nd in the Drivers’ Standings with the 711, despite not winning a single race. So it was at least fast.
6. Williams FW26
Nicknamed the “walrus nose”, Williams’ car for 2004 not only looked like a walrus, it was about as fast as one too.
While the FW26 showed promise in testing, it struggled through the whole season. Williams slumped to 4th in the Constructors’ Championship after a championship-contending campaign in 2003.
From certain angles, the nose section really juts out laterally from the rest of the body. It looks as if someone hit the front with a hammer and flattened it out. Truly abhorrent.
5. Ferrari F2012
Rules were changed for the 2012 season, which meant the maximum height of the nose was reduced. Several teams went for a stepped-nose solution to this problem, often referred to as the “platypus nose”.
Ferrari’s iteration was by far the worst-looking. The angular shaping of the F2012, completely devoid of curvature, as well as the location of the driver numbers on the stepped bit drew all the attention towards the horrid nose.
Furthermore, Ferrari inexplicably went for a really bland and monotonous livery in 2012, which a single red hue covering the whole body and sponsors on the car being few and far between.
To top it all off, the car was also sluggish. Alonso being Alonso nonetheless dragged the car into contention for the Drivers’ Championship, eventually losing out to Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.
4. Ligier JS5
There is probably no better way to make a bold first impression than to come out with a downright ugly design as your debutant vehicle.
Ligier’s introductory design, the JS5, turned heads for all the wrong reasons in 1976. Especially as you literally had to tilt your head upwards to take in the glory of that airbox on top of the engine.
Towering above the driver’s head at 140 centimetres above ground, the design was outlawed on safety grounds after 4 races of the calendar.
F1 fans came up with a couple of ingenious names for the airbox, such as teapot and periscope.
3. Ensign N179
A car with a whole-ass radiator as its nose sounds about as outrageous as it looks.
The whole point of the large front radiator was to provide both cooling for the engine and airflow underneath the car for ground effect purposes. Basically to kill two birds with one stone.
While this sounded like a genius idea, the 1979 Ensign was woefully off the pace. The N179 either failed to qualify or retired at all of its 11 races bar one, a 13th position finish at Silverstone.
2. Eifelland E21
Taking part in 8 rounds of the 1972 campaign, the Eifelland was designed by Luigi Colani, who created pianos and pens among other things.
F1 car design was not his area of expertise, and you can clearly tell from the way the E21 looks. His curved design philosophy was evident, but made for an unsightly racing car for sure.
Also, take a look at that central rear-view mirror! Rolf Stommelen drove this car 50 years ago, but I suspect he would be well prepared to drive the halo-equipped F1 vehicles of the modern era were he still alive…
1. Caterham CT05
I could have adorned this top 10 with several 2014 cars, but I decided to stick with the ugliest one of them all, the Caterham CT05.
The rules were changed for the first hybrid-era season, which banned noses above a certain height. But since teams wanted to maintain a high degree of airflow beneath the car, many went for a thin appendage sticking out of the front section to allow air to pass around it.
The CT05 was definitely the most radical design of the bunch. The boxy nose bridge accentuated the cylindrical nature of the “thing” sticking out of it.
And for some reason they thought it would be a good idea to colour it in black while the rest of the car was a bright green, making sure all eyes were on that “thing”. Nice one, Caterham!
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