Nobody can fail to notice that this season's F1 cars have quite an unusual and, as many have opined, ugly addition to their nose cones. All of the cars, apart from the Mclaren, have a strange 'step' on the nose cone near the front suspension. The reason for this step is that, at the point where the 'step' appears, the nose must be at a particular height and aerodynamicists have found that having the front half of the nose lower is more beneficial to the movement of air over the front of the car.
At the time of the cars being unveiled there were two very interesting developments. The first one was that the Red Bull Racing car, designed by the genius and often unconventional Adrian Newey, appeared to have a hole in the 'step'. It is currently unclear as to what the hole in the nose cone is for but it is relatively logical to assume that it is there for a purpose and since the car is designed by Newey then it will likely perform that function more than adequately.
The Second development was the shock revelation that the Mclaren does not feature the 'stepped' nose cone at all. I have a theory about this and it is based on previous evidence that Ron Dennis and McLaren are more concerned with aesthetics than they are with actual performance (the McLaren factory was lavishly and expensively designed and built a few years back, the pit crew have to look sharp and trendy, just last season the drivers wore different race overalls designed by fans for each race, etc...). I predict that the McLaren will under perform this season, simply because the designers were encouraged to make the car LOOK good over making the car perform well.
Only time will tell, but my prediction is that Red Bull Racing's unorthodox hole in the nose will make them extremely fast, whilst McLaren's stubborness to forfeit performance over looks will set them back to the middle of the field. As for the other teams, its going to be exciting finding out which ones have made big steps and which have moved backwards. Are the new 'stepped' noses ugly? Its fair to say that there have been numerous innovations, over the years, that have looked a little unusual and out of place, but in time they become familiar and we all forget that we were shocked by them. The same will apply to the new noses, I'm sure.