Throughout its history Formula 1 has had a plethora of short lived teams, but few experienced such tragic events as Simtek did in their short history. For their debut season, Simtek brought Australian David Brabham back into F1 after a 3 year absence, as well as a new face in Austrian Roland Ratzenberger, who would make is debut at the ripe old age of 33.
Unfortunately, things quickly went sour for the team, with Ratzenberger failing to qualify for the opening race of the season. Both cars started the second Grand Prix with Ratzenberger finishing a decent 11th as the final car still running. Then, in only his 3rd race weekend, Roland Ratzenberger was killed in qualifying for the tragic San Marino Grand Prix. It was a catastrophic blow for the team and the sport and it would only get worse, knowing the events that were still to take place that weekend.
The rest of the season was predictably mediocre for the team; switching drivers no less than 5 times for the second car (Andrea Montermini for one race, Jean-Marc Gounon for a bunch, Domenico Schiattarella for one, Taki Inoue for Suzuka and then back to Schiattarella for the finale), scraping through qualifying, and usually finishing last or there abouts of the cars still running.
While it didn’t produce the desired performances, the car did at least look quite beautiful. The chassis flowed wonderfully in the same style as the Williams and Jordan cars, but the livery is what helped it stand out from the rest.
Purple is a colour almost alien to Formula 1. Apart from the Simtek team and the recent Infiniti sponsored Red Bull liveries, I’m not sure that purple has been seen at all on another car. The shade of purple itself is very unique and pleasing to look at. The black and purple sections are simply split, but they make use of the cars natural lines perfectly, creating a pleasantly clean livery.
The MTV logo stands out a lot, as a main sponsor should. Light blue may not have been the best choice on the purple background, but it isn’t ugly and doesn’t really bring the livery down. Red is used as an accent on this livery, probably due to the Barbara sponsorship. The bright red does bring some vibrancy to the livery and works well enough, seeing as there are other red logos on the car. However, this top section, as well as other logo placement, changed as the seasons progressed.
From Spain onwards, Barbara moved to the sidepods. The yellow and red logo now being a lot larger threatened to throw the livery out of balance as yellow now had a bit too much car coverage and was really one colour too many. However, this left an empty space beside the airbox. Simtek chose to run a brilliant tribute to Ratzenberger in this space, with a red and white striped area, closely mimicking Roland’s helmet design. This design stood until the last few rounds of the season, where it was replaced by Korean Air sponsorship, on a white background. The livery also looked nice with white as the third colour instead of red.
As the season progressed, a number of smaller sponsors joined the team, causing the car to look more and more cluttered. The Ujbrato logo on the front wing was particularly jarring, with the large yellow area clashing against the red and purple. Despite all the changes, it was still the purple colour that stood out along with the MTV logo.
Isn’t it funny how at the end of the day, it’s these short lived teams that stick in our heads with some of the most memorable liveries in the sport.