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!
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…
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.
Wasn’t sure if I’d do this one, since we’d already posted the livery – but go on, then, we’ve had three launches today (and are edging towards it being the site’s most popular day in terms of hits), so let’s have the full set. It is a bit different from the Autosport Show version, what with having sponsors on it and stuff:
All opinions on the naming situation and their right to even appropriate this livery aside, the car itself is interesting. It does look pretty nice in places (especially in close-up) – although I still think their 2010 car was much more interesting. And the uniforms are good, to boot. But they just seem intent on ruining a good concept with poor application; we’ve discussed the red endplates (does anyone think they work? No, really, comment if you do), but there’s also the surplus of sponsors clustering the sidepod (yet none on the airbox – just a team URL), or the big yellow Lotus logo on the nose (and how funny is it that Lotus have a car with a big Renault logo on the nose, and Renault have a car with a big Lotus logo on the nose?)
When all’s said and done, it’s a pretty nice-looking car – flaws and all – but man, if it isn’t the most elaborate act of “making a point” I’ve seen in a long time.
We were all convinced this car was going to be light blue. Convinced.
Alright, so they’ve changed the nose pattern a bit. But come on. It’s still rubbish. It still looks like an early-90s back-of-the-grid outfit. None of the sponsor logos are in any way integrated with the livery – they’re just there, in whatever original colours they happen to be. The livery doesn’t give any sort of comprehensive team identity – it’s just a hangover from the BMW days, altered slightly. You have to wonder whether anyone at the team actually cares about what their car looks like. Terribly shoddy effort.
Phew, it’s all kicking off this morning. Sauber’s new car launch is due at 10am (and is, rarely for them, one of the more exciting launches of the year as they’re one of the few teams expected to change livery dramatically), with “Lotus” Renault an hour after that (even though we’ve seen their livery, we’ll get it on their new car for the first time)… but in the meantime, Team Lotus have already released pictures of their new T128 at the rather odd hour of 5am…
It’s certainly nice to see the green/white/yellow design making a comeback; but it’s also not as immediately, strikingly brilliant as the 2010 design. I like the flash of the yellow stripe that comes across the back of the engine cover and onto the rear wing, but that’s about the only alteration that feels like an improvement. The nose, in particular, is a major disappointment – with sponsor logos looking like they’re stuck on in differently-coloured boxes, rather than being “cut out” of the nose stripe. It makes it look a bit cheap. And I’m not keen on the new style of number-housing circle, either.
The configuration of sponsors is interesting to note: it’s quite impressive in this climate that the team have managed to pick up a new sponsor entirely, in the shape of EQ8 energy drink (although it’s entirely feasible that, as with other such drinks in the past, EQ8 is in fact a Fernandes-owned brand); and it’s notable that AirAisa now receives increased prominence on the car. Of course, as rumours persist that the team might not actually go into the season named Lotus (despite using the classic Lotus shield for their “Team Lotus” mark – meaning that unless Renault change it, it’s going to be on two different cars this year), the good money would seem to be on them becoming “Team AirAsia”, instead…
Looks like German newspaper Bild have stolen a march on the planned Tuesday launch of the new Mercedes Petronas – posting a picture of what appears to be the car, resplendent in its 2011 livery. And, in a pleasing development, the team do appear to have made some changes:
There’s no real reason to suspect this is phoney – if it is, someone’s done a good job of ensuring that the details we’d know would change (race number, Pirelli badge) are present, and it also contains new detail (the front-of-sidepod sponsor) that wouldn’t necessarily be expected by anyone creating a mockup. So on the assumption that it’s real… well, I like it. It integrates the Petronas turquoise into the livery far better than the 2010 car did – their logo looks significantly better in white text on a full turqoise background rather than black text with a wishy-washy splash of it underneath. Indeed, the colours complement each other well enough that it’s a surprise they didn’t go with this bold an application last year. Nevertheless, it’s a strong evolution of the team’s image, and when we see it properly should make for a good-looking car.
Thanks to Ned Flanders of this parish for the heads-up!
Update: The picture’s veracity has been confirmed by Mercedes, who’ve released a higher-res version (now above), which also turns out to be a rendering rather than a photograph.