The first team to use a ‘Pelican Nose’ under the current regulations is Renault in 2009. Renault then scraped the concept for 2010 but Force India adopted it and used for the whole season and the whole of 2011 as well, before scarping it as well for 2012.
Lotus though, ex Renault team, revived the concept in the summer of 2012 after they brought a new version of the pelican nose in the Hungarian GP. Unlike Renault’s and Force India’s versions, the bump on Lotus’ nose is shallower near the front wing pylons and bulgier in the middle.
After Lotus, Williams followed in Singapore, with a small alteration in Japan. Williams’ Singapore version featured a much smaller bulge while the Japanese version a much bigger one.
Furthermore, Red Bull introduced their own version in Japan (along with a new front wing), with a smaller bulge than the other two, much like Williams in Singapore.
|Red Bull's Nosecone|
All three teams follow a similar concept to the one Lotus introduced this year rather than Renault and Force India in previous years.
The aim of the ‘Pelican Nose’ is to increase front downforce. What it exactly does though, is not produce downforce itself but extract some downforce from the middle neutral section of the front wing which is designed by the rules in order to be, as its name states, neutral and do not produce any downfroce or lift.
To better explain this, I will use screenshots a 2D CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) application. Although not nearly as accurate as the CFD programs F1 teams use, it is accurate enough for the purposes of this analysis.
In the screenshot above of what is a normal 2012 F1 car nose with the front wing’s neutral section below it, you can see the color above and below the neutral section almost identical. The color illustrates the pressure of the air around the bodywork, red and orange for higher pressure and blue for lower pressure.