mario wrote:For now they are (literally) keeping that under wraps - it is possible that the teams further up the grid will have more optimised nose cones with a smoother transition than the CT-01 (the team have admitted that only part of the design of the car - mainly the front suspension configuration and the rear bodywork - has been reasonably well optimised, with other parts of the car still to be refined due to budgetary constraints)
Here's a thought - if Caterham discover that the hideous step in the CT-01's nose acts like a barrier and the air slamming into the step at 180-odd mph loses them a tenth of a second or two per sector, are they stuck with it with these homologations rules we (apparently) have now? The Virgin VR-01 did have something of a duck's beak shape to it, but at least it was a lot smoother - not that it worked particularly well, but it was mentioned earlier in the thread that other low-nosed cars might have a similar shape, and presumably a team with a larger budget would be able to optimise Virgin's crude CFD simulation to what it should always have been.
I'd thought that these new "low nose" rules meant the cars would end up looking a bit more like an early 90s model at the front, at least one that wasn't a Tyrrell or a Benetton.
Probably not, or at least not without difficulty - the only way to smooth the transition would be to modify the monocoque slightly by lowering it, but that would then probably impinge on the front section of the drivers survival cell (which has to extend a minimum of 300mm in front of the drivers feet). Given that the survival cell is a homologated component, the only way that they could modify that would be on safety grounds; the team might be able to change the design between now and the first race, but after the first race they are effectively locked into that design (remember that Mercedes had to resort to changing the front suspension pick up points to lengthen the wheelbase in 2010 because they couldn't produce a longer monocoque?)
Admittedly, when you inspect that area a little closer, you realise that the team have thought about that problem to some extent (they've used the permitted minimum bodywork radii to try to smooth out the transition a bit). Still, it's probably going to be a reasonably common theme, especially amongst the smaller teams, since the benefits of greater airflow under the nose and floor of the car outweighs the penalty of less efficient airflow over the nose of the car, and this sort of design is one of the quicker and easier ways to meet the FIA's requirements.
As for the low nose rules, whilst the intention of the FIA was to move the rules towards something akin to the BGP001, most of the teams were diametrically opposed to that proposal because it'd decrease the airflow under the car (potentially leading to another significant cut in rear downforce on top of the cut resulting from the blown diffuser ban). So, the only compromise the FIA could bring in was to lower the nose tip to the same level as the lowest height of the side crash protection (55cm, since the FIA was also getting worried that the tip of the nose could pass over the cockpit side protection padding); in the longer term, it is likely that the FIA will force the noses down further, but most teams are likely to resist the move if possible.