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In the brave new world of budget F1, times are hard. Money is difficult to come by, since potential sponsors have been empowered by the realities of a recession-riven world and are pushing the marketing men and their teams hard for the best deals.
This not only makes it difficult for the money men of the sport, but also – it would appear – the graphic designers and marketeers of a number of teams.
It’s a fact that iconic F1 liveries can achieve near legendary status in our image-obsessed sport: Lotus’s JPS black and gold; the 1960s Honda ivory; and McLaren’s stunning chromed affair, to name but a few.
Sadly, I doubt that many of this year’s wayward colourways will be present in the classic archives of the future.
Surely Renault’s entire graphics team will be for the chop sometime soon. What were they thinking? For a little inspiration, perhaps they should take a look at the new Lotus team’s livery.
Anniversary green and flashes of yellow harking back to the classics of yesteryear in a wholly pleasing and contemporary way. Classic British kit.
Further up the pit lane, the oh-so-go-ahead Red Bull guys have surely missed a trick by sticking with last year’s design; and what’s the point of painting your second-string team – Toro Rosso – in the same dark tones?.
A Red Bull ‘light’, anyone?
Sure, times are tough, meaning that some cars are nearly naked – but if the graphic designer’s mantra is to plan, analyse and create visual solutions to communications problems, then what’s going on at Sauber?
Last year the Brawn team were in a similar situation and solved the problem by running an almost unbranded car that looked right in almost every way. Flashes of fluoro yellow added interest and form.
It’s a shame the team’s new German paymasters didn’t take note, rebranding the car in battleship grey with an airbrushed black smudge bearing the Mercedes logo. Add Schumacher’s red helmet to the mix and confusion reigns.
When all’s said and done, a grand prix car’s branding, livery, colourway – call it what you will – is all about creating atmosphere and excitement while getting the various brands’ message across.
“Make it as simple as possible,” as Albert Einstein once said. “But no simpler.”