The silly theory that the beauty of a race car correlates with its performance on track is sometimes true—witness the McLaren MP4/4—but is also often not true. Mercedes’s rather pretty 2011 F1 car, the MGP W02, has not reached the podium in nine races, and even a lone race win for them this season would require 1996 Monaco levels of chaos.
But when a car is really, really ugly, it’s a safe bet that it will suck on track, and not in the manner of the Chaparral 2J. McLaren’s car for the 1995 season, the MP4/10, only scored two podiums, and those had more to do with the genius of Mika Häkkinen (below) than the car’s speed—or reliability: Häkkinen retired from an incredible eight races.
Perhaps fittingly, the ugly MP4/10 was also the last Formula One car raced by Nigel Mansell, who, unfit, overweight, semi-retired and out of form, drove the car at Imola and Barcelona in his two-race McLaren career. That’s him above in the Union Jack helmet, doing practice laps in the car which he would nurse to tenth place at the 1995 San Marino Grand Prix, two laps down the lead.
Photos by Ben Radford/ALLSPORT and Mike Powell/ALLSPORT