The new season hasn?t even begun yet and already there is clamour from some quarters for F1 to ban one of the off-season developments.
The vertical engine cover extensions known as shark fins have been furiously criticised by some for making F1 cars ugly.
Shark fins were previously seen in F1 until the end of 2010, when they were banned using a regulation which banned bodywork ?situated between 50mm and 330mm forward of the rear wheel centre line [and] more than 730mm above the reference plane?.
The possibility of banning shark fins for 2017 was discussed but rejected. All ten teams have since produced cars with shark fins of various types. Should they be forced to get rid of them?
Critics of shark fins have a straightforward case against them: they don?t like how they look. Part of the thinking behind the change in the regulations for 2017 was to improve the appearance of the cars, so anything which makes them appear unattractive is likely to be a cause for concern.
Whether they look good or bad is down to personal preference. But even those who don?t like their appearance should appreciate F1 is supposed to be about the pursuit of performance, not a beauty pageant. Banning ?unattractive? elements will only make the cars look more similar.
Red Bull introduced the shark finIt?s amusing that Red Bull, the team which introduced the shark fin to F1 nine years ago, is now lobbying hardest for it to be banned. But I don?t think ?it looks ugly? is a good enough reason to ban something.
I do have some sympathy for their position, however. The rule book already makes it difficult to avoid creating designs which I don?t like, particularly the clumsy ?thumb tip? noses. If the rules are going to be tweaked in the name of aesthetics I?d prefer to see problems like this being prioritised.
But ultimately I think F1 is trying to do enough already by balancing the teams? insatiable desire for more performance against the needs to ensure the cars are safe and costs are kept (somewhat) under control. Throw aesthetics into the mix and not only do we have yet another variable to master but one which is highly subjective.
Take a moment to look at the different shark fins we have seen so far this year. Some are blunt, some are curvy. Some have T-wings, some do not. This variety is what F1 should be all about. Instead of fixating on whether they?re ?ugly? or not, we should be pleased to see a mix of designs.
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