Formula One began as a single seater racing competition, hoping to showcase innovation and engineer cars in a manner that they displayed speed and finesse. While the focus normally remains on the driver as the ‘man’ is the one that brings the ‘machine’ home, it is the car that enables the racer to do so.
The engineers that develop these cars in the background are responsible for delivering mind-numbing speed. They are also required to design the car in a manner which is likeable for the masses.
‘Formula’ in Formula One stands for the set of rules which all the participants must adhere to. In recent times, these set of rules have become more stringent, not allowing for innovation quite as much as was possible in yesteryears. Some of the previously developed cars did not tend to stick to an orthodox template, they were always experimenting with each new model.
Developers have been quick to find loopholes in these rules and give way to concepts which, even if they sounded or looked funny, were mostly effective. A recent example would be Ferrari mounting mirrors on the halo, which the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) later banned.
While some cars are iconic for their liveries, like the papaya orange or even more recently, the Force India pink, some are famous for their quirky designs. Let’s have a look at a few of these oddly designed cars developed for Formula One racing-
#1 1979 Ensign N179
Designed by Dave Baldwin, the 1979 Ensign N179 was used by team Ensign. Up until then, the side-pods of a car were used to stow radiators, but Baldwin decided to transfers the radiators to the nose of the car, in what turned out to look like a ladder-style design. This was done to increase the downforce by reserving the side-pods for wing-shaped tunnels.
The radiators were used to keep the car cool, but the design grabbed eyeballs for all the wrong reasons. The concept was binned when it proved to be a failure on track and Baldwin was replaced by Nigel Bennett and Ralph Bellamy.The N180 succeeded it for the 1980 season.