Arrows Grand Prix had a tremendous reputation for their impressive liveries, at least in my book. More often than not, their cars were a pleasure to look at, showed off their sponsors well and stood out from the crowd.
Arrows kept a hold of the well-funded Brazilian Pedro Diniz and brought in Finn Mika Salo for the 1998 season. The 1997 livery was a beauty, so it was interesting that they decided to change it entirely, despite having almost exactly the same sponsors on the car the next season. While it’s a bit of a shame that blue and white livery had not lasted more than a season, what followed it was just as easy on the eye.
It’s uncommon in Formula 1 for a team to change its main colour without the arrival or departure of a main sponsor. However, that is what Arrows decided to do, going with a completely two tone livery (spare a small bit of red on the nose for a sponsor, as well a miniscule amount on the Bridgestone logo). The main colour was jet black, with the secondary colour, white, shown through the sponsor logos. To put up such a plain car is a big risk. It can often look empty, uninspired and boring. However, it was none of those things and it looks all class.
What’s important in this livery is that all the sponsors’ logos work well together. All are mostly lettering, but are placed perfectly on the car and being all in white makes the car brilliantly uniform. Danka, Zepter and Parmalat, despite all being the same colour are easily differentiated and stand out superbly on the car. Apart from the logo placement, there’s no real ‘design’ to speak of. It’s almost unfair that this livery, whether through laziness, cuts in the budget, or perhaps a stroke of genius, looks as good as it does.
What did break up the monotony were the drivers’ helmets; especially Salo’s. The bright sky blue on his helmet was a massive contrast to the jet black of the car and it looked superb poking out of the cockpit. Actually, kudos to Salo, as his helmet looked great in almost every car his was in, especially this one and the contrasting reds of Ferrari and Toyota. A simple, bold helmet design. Something I resent the most about modern Formula 1 is the busy helmet liveries.
It’s funny how an all-white car can be perceived as plain and boring, but an all-black car is striking and classy. I’m surprised this route hasn’t been taken by more teams, especially considering how fondly remembered this and the 2007 Honda winter testing livery are.