It's very simple, really. The best racing cars tend to be gorgeous. And while the 2011 crop of F1 cars is generally very handsome, it is Mercedes’s W02 that's the flat-out drop-dead beauty.
This will not be the most scientific of pre-season Formula One posts. For that, please refer to Craig Scarborough’s site, written by the man who explained this year’s new rules here on Jalopnik. But the fact of the matter is that a great number of Formula One world championships were won by cars which happened to be very pleasing to look at.
You don’t even have to think immediately of Mario Andretti’s Lotus 79, generally considered to be the ultimate in riveted aluminum porn. But think of Fangio’s Mercedes, his Lancia, his Maserati, think of Clark’s Lotus 25, Sir Jackie’s Matra, Piquet’s BT52, Senna’s MP4/4, Häkkinen’s MP4/13, Schumacher’s F2002, Button’s Brawn. All of these cars have the ephemeral, instantly recognizable quality of beauty. It’s like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s 1964 definition of obscenity: you know it when you see it.
As teams rolls out their generally good-looking contenders for 2011, the one car that stands above all in the beauty department is the Mercedes W02, the successor to last year’s not particularly pretty nor particularly successful W01. The W01 was a chunky, inelegant car, but the W02 is all swooping silver curves highlighted by the most beautiful nosecone I’ve seen on an F1 car in a long while.
Winter tests are not very useful for predicting who will be a winner and it will be a while until we’ll see just how good Ross Brawn’s latest effort is. But should Michael Schumacher or Nico Rosberg claim for Mercedes their first Grand Prix victory since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix, we’ll perhaps hear Brawn recall on the podium these lines from John Keats’s Ode on a Grecian Urn: ‘Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all/Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’
Photo Credit: Paul Gilham/Getty Images
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