This site has moved!

January 5, 2012

Hello! As of January 2012, this site no longer lives at The existing posts have been left here so as not to break incoming links from elsewhere, but if you want to continue reading F1 Colours we would be grateful if you could follow us over to, where you’ll find all the latest posts and updates (seriously, there’s like five more years’ worth and counting).

That address again, in nice big letters:

Thank you!

Livery Histories #3: Benetton

August 11, 2011

The third of our Livery Histories looks at a team that were close to my heart in the mid to late ’90s – Benetton Formula. The team didn’t win a lot of friends in the early ’90s, thanks to a series of controversies including the “poaching” of Michael Schumacher from Jordan in 1991 and persistent rumours of skullduggery and technical infringements during their first title-winning season in ’94. But by 1997, they’d become underdogs of a sort, never challenging for titles but able to pick up a podium or even a win here and there and with the likeable driver combo of Alesi and Berger – so they were the ideal team to which to hitch my wagon at a time when I was disillusioned with Williams for sacking Damon Hill.

And, of course, it helps that they had some pretty smart liveries around that time. But the sky blue and white Mild Seven livery was just one in a series of multi-coloured efforts that the team would employ during their fifteen-year tenure in the sport – fitting, really, for a company whose main brand includes the words “United Colors”…

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Class of 2011: The Helmets

April 4, 2011

Each year, once the teams’ liveries have been rounded up, I’ve meant to do a post about the drivers’ helmets as well, and never got around to it. Well, SHOCK HORROR: for 2011, I’ve finally done it.

I’m not as into helmet liveries as I am those of the cars, but nevertheless, I think there’s a fair amount of interest to be found in paying attention to the changing trends, and to the habits that some drivers have of switching designs frequently, or using one-off paint jobs, and so on. Personally, I think helmet designs were at their best between around the 1980s and late 1990s – during that time, just about every driver had a distinctive yet usually simple design. The patterns would be large, and easily¬†reproducible¬†– in comparison to helmet designs in other sports (such as superbikes), they were never needlessly complex or detailed. This meant that there were a wealth of classic and memorable designs (and at some point, I’ll get around to doing another feature on some of my favourites from this era and beyond).

Since the turn of the century, however, there’s been more of a shift in fashion towards more elaborate and complex designs – helmets that look terrific in close-up, but from a distance are far less distinguishable against the backdrop of a car. There’s also tended to be a bit less reliance on national identity (in the past, an especially high percentage of drivers’ helmets would be based around their national flag), and a lot of drivers are far less concerned about having a single branded image following them through their career – instead changing their design at the drop of a hat, to please either the demands of teams/sponsors or simply their own whims. It’s an idea that surely seems anathema to fans of the likes of Senna, Hill or Mansell.

Among the 2011 helmets, there are a number of these more “modern” designs – but pleasingly, a number of drivers do still have what I’d call “classic”-style paint jobs, some of them among the more recent additions to the sport. So let’s have a closer look at them all…

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2011 Liveries: The Verdict(s)

March 14, 2011

Right, then. We’ve now seen all twelve of 2011’s Formula One liveries. I wanted to wait, before doing the usual summary post, until we’d seen them all running on track in testing – but frankly, from the looks of things we may not see the HRT in motion before Melbourne itself. So there’s no point waiting for it, and I might as well run through each of the cars now and give my thoughts. It’s fair to say that 2011 isn’t really the vintage year for new liveries that 2010 was – but there are still some interesting paint jobs out there, and some teams have even managed to improve on the previous year. Let’s take a look in detail, then…

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New Williams livery: just don’t say “Rothmans”

February 24, 2011

So, then. The new Williams is basically a continuation of the team’s post-BMW identity (with the layout of the nose section in particular deviating little from the 2010 version), but infused with a deliberate nod back to a certain era in the team’s past. Although, blimey, it’s a weird day when “mid-90s” can be straight-facedly referred to as “retro”.

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New Force India a bit different, too!

February 8, 2011

Did they know the Hispania was also going to be white and do this consciously? Kudos, anyway, to Force India for taking their basic colour scheme and actually changing it year on year. Although from the front at least, you can’t help but wonder if they’ve employed the same graphic designer that used to work for Toyota…

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Well, that’s… new…

February 8, 2011

Right, then. Let’s look at this in a bit more detail. Wow.

So given that they were the team with comfortably the worst livery on the grid last season, it would have been difficult for HRT to go downwards this year. As it is, with the hiring of a Hollywood design consultant in the shape of Daniel Simon, we knew something a bit exciting would be afoot. And so it’s proved.

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F1 Colours on Twitter!

February 8, 2011

I really should have thought to do this at the start of the livery launch season, but nevertheless – if you’re Twitter-inclined, you can now follow the site at @f1colours. As well as keeping you informed about when the site’s updated, I’ll also use the account to post smaller livery and sponsorship-related comments throughout the season that might not necessarily warrant a full post. And I look forward to chatting with any site regulars who also use the site!

Are You Midland In Disguise?

February 7, 2011

The 2010 Virgin was one of the best-looking cars on last year’s grid, so it was always going to be interesting seeing what sort of livery they’d roll out with this year in their new, Marussia-Virgin incarnation. The answer is that the 2011 car features an evolution, rather than a revolution, of last year’s design – and yet somehow, even though the changes are largely small and subtle, something about it doesn’t quite feel right…

I think the main problem with it is that the sleek matte black of last year’s car is no longer the dominant theme – the subtle shifts here and there (from the way the black section on the sides now starts further back along the sidepod and loops up at a sharper angle, to the increased amounts of white, to the fact that it just looks downright shinier) detract from it somewhat. The most notable change, of course, is the white section on the nose – where the blue in Marussia’s logo throws the whole thing off to a significant extent – along with the addition of grey to the white lines that separate the red and black. These additions, along with an increased number of smaller sponsor logos, make the whole thing somewhat reminiscent of the short-lived Midland team’s 2006 car – strangely, the last time a Russian company whose name begins with “M” bought into a small team with an established amount of character and spirit.

It’s certainly not a terrible car, by any means – and I quite like the driver’s uniforms, even though it’s a disappointment to see yet more drivers wearing white, particularly as there was nothing wrong with last year’s black-and-red suits – but after the gorgeous, simple effort last year that projected a clear, stark, unified team identity, this one already feels like it’s throwing too many different elements into the mix.

Above anything else, frankly, I think it looks more like a ChampCar racer than an F1 car…

Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Silver Arrows

February 1, 2011

Three launches yesterday, three launches today. No let up, is there? I’m a bit slower catching up on these – partly because I was busy at work today, and partly because none of them really involve anything we haven’t already seen – but let’s do a run-through for the sake of completeness. We’ll do the Mercedes first, as that’s the most interesting, then if you so desire you can follow the jump to read about the Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

Having now seen it in full, it has to be said – it’s a sterling example of how just a few changes can make a huge difference to the quality of a livery. This is a great looking car, and will in all likelihood be one of the best on the grid this year. The turquoise works so well alongside the silver in this new, increased quantity that I’m amazed they were so scared of it last year; this makes the 2010 car look like a wishy-washy, test prototype, while this is The Real Thing. Dropping the black “carbon” sections from the engine cover and nose has worked superbly, too – it gives the car a much more dynamic feel now that, down to the tip of the nose, it’s just one shard-like piece of silver.

There are quibbles: it’s a shame there’s been nothing done with the airbox area (how nice would a huge, three-point-star Merc logo look there?); I’m not sure the red sponsor detail works as well on the rear wing as it does on the nose (where the classic-style race numbers allow them to get away with it); I still don’t know what’s up with those black-and-yellow wing mirrors, which date back to the 2009 Brawn; and there’s something up with the way the PETRONAS on the sidepod partially creeps out into the silver. Really, though, these are minor issues. All in all, Mercedes have done a terrific job this time out.

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