End of an era as McLaren puts ‘normal nose’ in front

So far in 2012, McLaren stands all alone – with not only the fastest car, but also the best-looking one. With almost every other team fielding an ‘ugly’ stepped nose, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button dominated qualifying in Melbourne with their sleek silver machine.

A report in the Mirror suggested McLaren’s rivals have all made “a design blunder”.

“We felt it (the conventional nose) was the right decision and we’re pleased it looks good and it’s reasonably quick as well,” smiled team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

As for the direction taken by McLaren’s rivals, including Red Bull who pioneered the ‘high nose’ philosophy for the now-past blown exhaust era, Whitmarsh insisted: “It’s not a question of right or wrong.

“But there’s no doubt which one looks best. Ultimately, it’s which one is quickest.”

Writing in Autosprint, Alberto Antonini wondered if Saturday in Australia marked “the end of an era”, after Red Bull dominated the past few seasons in formula one.

“A new era in F1 has begun,” agreed Marca newspaper’s Marco Canseco.

At least for now, there is no obvious signsof panic at Red Bull, with Mark Webber telling Speed Week: “There is nothing fundamentally wrong with the car, we just haven’t got everything out of it.”

As for Sunday’s Melbourne opener, former driver and RTL commentator Christian Danner predicted: “I think the McLarens are unbeatable.

“Behind them we will see a wonderful fight for third place, with Grosjean, the two Mercedes drivers and, of course, Sebastian Vettel.”