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.
First things first – the car in and of itself: it’s great. I worry it might get “old” quickly (and there’s something quite mid-to-late ’90s about it, don’t you think?) but at the moment it’s a breath of fresh air, something genuinely distinctive and interesting. It’s perhaps a little too self-consciously “race”-y, but you can’t deny that the fading chequered flag motif and nose-tip racing stripe are fun, quirky features. The colour scheme is great, too – you can’t go wrong with a white/red car accented by black, it instantly calls to mind certain Marlboro cars. And, of course – it’s got GREAT BIG RACE NUMBERS on it. I don’t have to tell regular readers just how much I love seeing GREAT BIG RACE NUMBERS on a car.
As with the Marussia-Virgin revealed yesterday, it’s perhaps a touch American-looking – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing (in fact, how good would this have looked as the USF1 livery instead? Try imagining the black bits as blue, instead…). Interesting to note, too, that the colour scheme’s not entirely dissimilar to the cover art of Daniel’s book Cosmic Motors. So are the colours his choice, or Hispania’s?
Now, though, to the downsides. First of all, it has to be said – we’re going worryingly back towards 2009 levels when it comes to the number of predominantly white cars on the grid. Two – in the shape of Sauber and Force India – is just about acceptable (and this is assuming FI do stick with their usual design – we’ll find out in about twenty minutes), but three (a quarter of the cars on the grid) is starting to push it. It’s at least a distinctive look (despite using the same primary colours as Virgin), but let’s hope it can stand out on the track.
Secondly, the sponsorship situation is undoubtedly worrying for anyone interested in the team. The car wasn’t exactly awash with logos last year – but this time out, everyone who sponsored the team has disappeared (presumably most departed with Senna), and there’s not even a “Hispania” logo on it. Instead, there’s just one sponsor – Tata, meaning Narain Karthikeyan’s likely in a very strong position regarding the retention of his seat – and the usual prime sponsor spaces are given over to phrases like “This could be you” and “This is a cool spot”. Are these placeholders for an upcoming deal(s)? A bit of witty self-commentary on the lack of sponsorship? Evidence of a new marketing scheme involving the general public getting their names on the car? Or really just a simple, desperate plea for new sponsors? Time will tell.
Despite these concerns, it’s undoubtedly a cool-looking car – I do wonder about Hispania’s own role in all of this (it seems their identity’s been pushed right back into the background, which leads me to wonder whether they’ll be in charge of the team for much longer or if someone new’s waiting in the wings), but it’s undeniable they’ve made an immeasurable improvement over last year. Whoever ends up joining Karthikeyan in car #23 this year is going to have one of the most camera-friendly cars out there.