Jordan had some of the most loved liveries of all time in Formula 1. Their Benson & Hedges sponsorship got off to a sketchy start with the gold cars which ended up looking brown on camera, before moving to the yellow that they became so well known for. There was a fantastic progression with these liveries, each year evolving just enough to stay fresh. While they were all great, I can only choose one to single out, so let’s look at the 198.
1998 was a coming of age for the team. In came stalwart champion Damon Hill after a brief and very frustrating year with Arrows to partner the promising young German Ralf Schumacher. It turned out to be a great move, as Hill scored Jordan’s maiden Grand Prix victory (albeit controversially) on his way to 6th in the Championship. Jordan would finish 4th in the constructors championship, the best result in their history up to that point.
For me, this livery is possibly the strongest of the B&H era, and probably my favourite ‘Buzzin Hornets’ iteration. The most important part of the livery is perfect here. The strong, warm yellow is so pleasant to look at in any light, where the fluorescent yellow in later versions was slightly jarring. This also meant the black accompanying it worked in perfect harmony, and there was plenty of it here. The large dark presence on the sidepods and nose left a strong impression, but ended perhaps to abruptly on the latter.
Then there’s the part that many remember so fondly, even though it’s quite a minor part of the livery in terms of scale. The hornet on the side of the nose is a brilliant idea, replacing 1997’s snake, and I wonder if this or the non-tobacco slogan came first. It’s a fantastic graphic, despite not exactly being an attractive creature, but really sets the tone for the theme of the livery, which other sections add to so well to. It makes clever use of the front wing supports and ever so slightly bleeds onto the top of the nose, creating a 3D feel.
The creativity in this design comes to the fore when looking from a higher angle. The jagged, angled, black stripes work brilliantly along the engine cover, as they do creeping over the top of the sidepods, bringing the hornet theme to life in exceptional fashion. Even the straight, rectangular Mugen Honda section fits in nicely when it really has no right to.
The black wings with yellow end plates are exactly what is needed to complete this design. It helps the nose blend into the wing, although as mentioned above, I’d have loved to see this section worked into the yellow of rest of the a little more softly.
It’s a great looking car from every angle. The design makes perfect use of every curve and crevice, and despite having potential to be a brilliant two tone livery, the MasterCard colours blend in very well and end up being very welcome third and fourth colours.