I’ve often thought that the look and feel of the modern Formula 1 silhouette plateaued somewhere in the late 1990s.

Yes, they’ve got wider, then slimmer and now wider again. But since 1989, when normally aspirated engines were stipulated in the regulations, they’ve all had airboxes above the roll hoop, they’ve all had a Coke-bottle shape top-down from the sidepods back and they’ve all got two wings at the front and one at the rear. And in fact, since Tyrrell introduced Harvey Postlethwaite and Jean-Claude Migeot’s high-nose concept in 1990 (see below), they’ve all got one of those, too.

I know I’m vastly simplifying today’s complex application of aerodynamic development, particularly around the areas of front wing airflow and how it then relates to bargeboards, winglets, monkey seats and all the various ducts employed to manage air pressure to a competitive advantage.

I also realise that the law of diminishing returns requires gains and improvements to become ever more infinitesimal as understanding of a given science grows increasingly saturated with proven method. But as a basic template, the cars look largely the same, particularly to the layman, as they have for decades.

90 Mon43

Big concept change, the kind that tends to lead to futuristic thinking, the likes of which we saw from Renault earlier in the week with its imaginative RS 2027 Vision concept (pic below) during the Shanghai motor show, or those produced by Ferrari, Red Bull and Mercedes over the past 18 months, have long since become a thing of the past.

I was lucky enough to grow up through a period of rapid evolution in the sport. I was born when wings were still a relatively new concept. So I followed the downforce era, with its elongated sidepods, skirts and fan cars, as the technology was mastered. Then came the turbo era, with 1500bhp qualifying monsters wielded by globally recognised gladiators on super-sticky qualifying tyres and Bernie Ecclestone growing F1 into a world-leading sport. After that came the aerodynamic era, with its huge expense, minimal gains and precision performance, as F1 shifted into digital development and industrialised factories with wind tunnels as standard.