February is looming, the start of pre-season testing is just around the corner, and the Formula 1 teams are almost ready to reveal and then run their 'new' cars for the first time. But what exactly constitutes a new car?
The idea sounds simple enough, it's just the new machine for the coming season. All 10 teams will have one on track when testing begins at Barcelona on February 18, but as always in F1 things aren't that simple.
The regulations are now so closely defined that the opportunities to do something visually and 'engineeringly' different - the ground-effect Lotus, the Tyrrell six-wheeler or the Brabham fan car spring to mind from the '70s - are very limited. Back then, and for much of the history of grand prix racing, teams had enough latitude to stick their necks out and do something different, and only later would it be deemed legal, illegal or somewhere in between.