Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Fast Cars

Listening to: Liberation Transmission - Lost Prophets

We used the Labour Day holiday to check out the Formula 1 exhibition (link) at Te Papa yesterday (finally, a week before it ends. Its only been running since July). I was keen to have a look, not only as a sometime F1 fan, but also because I like seeing how designs evolve, and how function dictates form.

And because I wanted to take arty photos of really fast cars.

The oldest car on display ( Lotus from 1958) is almost frighteningly simple compared to a current racer. And somewhat scary. No seat belts, no roll bar, and tires narrower than my car.

By 1966 (Brabham) some safer looking wheels were in use, but the cars still have an almost home built look.
I like how on the older cars almost all the mechanical and engine components are totally exposed. It gives them an organic, almost bio-mechanical look.

Even grippier tyres by 1968, and aerodynamic aids like fins and wings are starting to appear. The basic stereotypical shape of the modern F1 machine is evident now.
Also noted on the 1968 car was the increasing presence of sponsorship, which would totally dominate the colours and appearance of the cars by the late 80's and early 90's
1988 McLaren in front, 1992 Williams in the middle, 2004 Ferrari behind.
1968 McLaren front wing:
2004 Ferrari

By 2004 the plane guy in me is starting to see a low flying aircraft rather than a car. There is an oft told but never tested theory that a modern F1 car generates so much downforce (inverted lift) aerodynamically that at top speed it could be driven upside down on the roof of a tunnel.

The extreme aerodynamics of the contemporary cars are almost like abstract sculpture rather than racing vehicles. 2006 McLaren.

And the modeller in me appreciates the detail painting on the Mclaren when seen close up. That car looks good in silver and orange red. Plus team founder Bruce McLaren was a New Zealander, so obviously that will be my favourite anyway.
I like the extreme form/function aesthetic of these cars, geared as it is not so much toward sheer speed as it is toward control and effiency.

Worth checking out if it comes to your town and you're interested in design evolution, even if you aren't a racing fan.

No comments: