F1 2014's lower noses might not prove safer, Red Bull designer warns
Cars could 'submarine' rather than launch in the event of an accident
By James Galloway in Jerez. Last Updated: 29/01/14 7:43am
Adrian Newey: Not in favour of new nose designs
Red Bull technical chief Adrian Newey has expressed safety fears over the new lower noses that have proved a striking feature on Formula 1 cars in 2014.
In an attempt to avoid a car being launched over the back of another in accidents, the 2014 Technical Regulations have stipulated the lowering of the tip of a car's nose from a height of 550mm to 185mm.
The regulation change has prompted a raft of different designs, and subsequent talking points, as teams decide how to manage airflow under their cars for aerodynamic gains.
However, while some of the designs themselves have been labelled as ugly, Newey thinks they also could prove problematic - with a potentially more dangerous 'submarine' effect occurring in crashes.
"The regulation has been introduced following some research by the FIA which suggests that nose height reduces the chances of cars being launched," he told reporters in a press conference on day one at the Jerez test.
"So [the rule changes is to try and avoid] the accident that Mark [Webber] had when he hit the back of [Heikki] 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 [Michael] 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."
The veteran designer also pointed out that there had been examples in the past when lower noses hadn't prevented cars being launched into the air.
Newey cited the spectacular crash involving Riccardo Patrese and Gerhard Berger in the 1991 Portuguese GP, when the Italian's Williams launched off the back of the Austrian's McLaren.
"If the following car hits the rotation rear wheel it's going to get launched - I look back to Patrese's accident on Berger in Estoril many years ago. That was a low-nose car and it still got completely launched," he added.
"For me it's, possibly, introduced more dangers than it's cured."
Red Bull revealed their eagerly-anticipated RB10 on Tuesday morning, with their single low sloping nose design more closing resembling rivals Mercedes and Ferrari rather than some of the more ungainly looks elsewhere on the grid.
The Sky Sports F1 Online team will be providing live commentary of all three winter tests, starting in Jerez on Tuesday January 28, with live updates from trackside also on Sky Sports News.