Race Blog
Hungary 2015

Paint it black

Imagine you have a racing team with a rich heritage of gorgeous orange-liveried machines that powered to victory after victory in both Formula 1 and sports car series, and that in these cash-strapped times, following the end of a mutually successful arrangement with a certain organisation whose preferred colour is silver, your team finds itself commercially becalmed.

A blank canvas: what a fantastic opportunity to let those creative juices flow and make a real impact in the all-important television, digital and print media worlds. Why not commission some bright young livery designers to pen an eye-catching and visually stimulating colourway – at once referencing the glorious past while being utterly modern, of course.

Pearlescent white, brilliant orange, optimistic and upbeat in its mien, you could have something to cherish… Oh no. Just paint it black, then.

What a dull world of F1 liveries we inhabit right now.

At the front of the field, of course, we have ‘The Silver Arrows’ looking all Teutonic in tone, with some aqua-bluey-green highlights to provide some colourful touches. It’s a design that works well, and, coupled with the awesome pit garage, the feel is one of total Panzer-tank-division-like efficiency.

Ferrari. Well as long as the Scuderia keep it simple they’re always on to a winner. What’s not to love about a bright red Italian racing car, surely the stuff of all young boys’ dreams…

Down at Red Bull Racing things are starting to look a tad tired. I was a fan of the predominantly blue, red and yellow look, but with the addition of iridescent purple – thanks to commercial partner Infiniti – and a year-on-year same-same design, it now presents a dated and somewhat untidy countenance.

For a brand that appears to pride itself on marketing genius they are showing a notable lack of creativity when it comes to their racers’ livery.

If we’re going to mention designs that challenge the aesthete’s eye then we must surely comment on the utter abominations that Force India and Lotus employ for 2015.

What on earth is going on in their ‘not-so’ graphic design departments?

There’s a clue in the name… Force INDIA. Can you think of a country that has a greater reputation for use of vibrant, life-enhancing and mood-stimulating colour? I can’t.

So why the hell is the team that should soar way above all others in their use of eye-popping hues painting their F1 car almost entirely black? What a wasted opportunity.

The less said about Lotus, the better. Ice-cream-vending-van drivers’ window displays show more inspired and artistic thinking than Enstone’s 'less than' creative dullards have achieved.

Sauber – resplendently Scandinavian in blue and yellow – looking akin to a car paid for by everyone’s favourite flat-pack furniture superstore; there’s almost no creative thought on show. I know the team is Swiss, so challenging design is anathema to them, but really... On the plus side at least they’ve dropped their recent grey-on-grey-on-grey tone!

Toro Rosso. Another dark, dull and dreary car that could sing with some brighter colours and challenging designs.

Manor do try, I suppose, but why not be about… 100% bolder and make an impact? Increased and wholly welcome media coverage would surely come their way if the car stood out from the crowd.

Thank heavens for Williams!

Not a line one would expect to read when it comes to how the engineering-led English outfit usually decorates their cars. After decades of ‘functional’ liveries, not even the most conservative of F1 teams could mess up arguably the most iconic brand colourway in the history of the sport. You’ve gotta love the Martini stripes. Granted, they could be employed in a more flowing and therefore car-flattering way over the FW37’s bodywork, but that’s maybe something for next year.

My point is simple. When it comes to persuading well and not-so-well-known commercial partners to part with millions of dollars in return for having their brands proudly displayed on (what should be) a beautiful thoroughbred Formula 1 car, surely they’d be more inclined to do so if those brands are part of a visually stimulating livery that shows well on television and computer screens around the world.

Producing – as a majority of the teams so regularly do – staid, dark, predictable and jejune liveries serves no one well, and makes the sport as a whole appear, creatively, to be stuck in a quagmire.

There are some damned good graphic designers who’d jump at the chance to design something fresh and exciting for the teams. Trouble is, you couldn’t meet a more unadventurous group of guys than those who sign off on how their racing cars look, and so – sadly – nothing will change.

C’est la vie…

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