It is often said that if you painted all F1 cars the same colour then they would all look the same. That’s not quite true. They might all look broadly similar, but all of the cars have their own characteristics. For instance, McLaren have their distinctive ‘horns’.
Nevertheless, it is rare to see any teams doing anything all that radical. And whenever they do innovate, there is often a feeling in the back of your head that there is probably a reason why nobody else has done it before. Remember Williams’ radical nose? It turned out not to be up to much, and they haven’t looked up to much since.
BMW came to the French Grand Prix with interesting new aero parts. The radical fins on the nosecone are being used in conjunction with McLaren-style horns to help the rear wing work. It is certainly nice to see a team trying something different, but the fins surely hinder the drivers’ visibility and are therefore fairly unsafe. Apparently the drivers are used to it though. It would certainly put me off a bit though!
But I can’t help being reminded of X-wings. These unusual sidepod-mounted winglets were first used by Tyrrell in the mid–late 1990s before being adopted by Jordan, Sauber, Prost and Ferrari at certain tracks. As I recall, these were actually banned for being too ugly!