Teams roll out wild and wacky rides
WHAT do anteaters, crab claws and dolphins have to do with Formula One?
Plenty, it seems, as F1 teams go about unveiling a refreshingly different range of front-end solutions following new regulations - dictated by safety - to lower the noses of this year's cars.
Toro Rosso's new car, for instance, sent gasps of astonishment and a flurry of ribald comments rippling through social media after it was unveiled on the eve of the first pre-season test on Monday.
Russian rookie Daniil Kvyat and Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne lifted a red sheet off the first new car to be seen "in the flesh", after other teams had done their presentations online, to reveal its full glory.
The STR9's nose - emerging long, thin and gently drooping like a half-inflated balloon from a fuller body - drew immediate attention, with plenty of phallic references.
But Kvyat said the looks did not matter. What's "important (is) that it's fast", he said. "What I see from the cockpit when I'm driving is the steering wheel, the mirrors and the road," he added.
McLaren opted for an online-only presentation of the silver MP4-29 on Friday, with a series of photographs immediately drawing attention to the car's protruding nose and "nostrils".
Ten of the 11 teams are in Jerez for F1's first pre-season test but it is Lotus, the absentees, who have triggered the most debate by showing a car with a split nose.
The Lotus nose seen last week had twin "prongs" or "tusks", one slightly smaller than the other.
When asked whether he had seen anything so far that looked to be pushing the regulations to the limit, Toro Rosso technical director James Key suggested that could lead to the first technical showdown of the year.
"Apart from the Lotus nose, no," he replied. "Not at the moment. The Lotus nose needs a bit of clarification. It's a very clever idea. The question really is, is it within the spirit? But we'll see."
This year's regulations have forced teams to create unusual front ends - some likened to an anteater (Sauber's C33) or, in the case of Ferrari, a dolphin.
The F14-T's "broken" nose, with a pronounced hump in the middle section, then drooping wide and low, is far from the most beautiful car produced by the most glamorous of teams.
But Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, like Kyvat, said he is happy with his car's new look.
"If the car is like this, it is because the designers found it better like this," he explained.