Super Formula received exposure in western sports media for the first time in years last week when it was announced that McLaren junior driver and new GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne had secured a test in the category. People may wonder if this is a bad move for Vandoorne, but with no seat in F1, Super Formula is a solid move. The category (formerly known as Formula Nippon) has been a stepping stone to F1 for a number of drivers in the past, such as Ralf Schumacher, Pedro de la Rosa and Ralph Firman, all of whom won the title and proved their worth along the way.
This news got me looking at the current season’s cars. They are aesthetically much nicer than a few years ago and look just how a good single seater should. However, the car and livery the stood out to me was the Team Mugen machine, driven by Naoki Yamamoto (no relation to Sakon, I believe).
The interesting thing about this livery is that it breaks a common rule of livery design; symmetry. Asymmetry may get you thinking of BAR’s famous 1999 livery, but unlike that weird zipper design, this one is actually pleasing to the eye. It uses Mugen’s black, gold and red colours like a ribbon, which wraps diagonally across the cockpit, from the left front to the right rear suspension, avoiding the top of the sidepods. Whilst this results in an asymmetrical design, it works very well.
The sidepods are white, with a thick red line through the middle and a big white Motul logo on the red area. This reminds me a little of my McLaren mockup from the beginning of the year. As mentioned above, the top of the sidepods are plain white, which is a great decision. It breaks up the black/gold/red section nicely, preventing it from being boring and looking like a lazy slapped on design. It also may have wrapped poorly on that surface. I also like the, black rear wing endplates and the front wing, where the top element is white and the bottom one is red. They are subtle bits of design, but are big positives when you look closely at the livery.
The most ‘eye catching’ part of this design (sorry) has to be the design on the side of the nose and front wing supports. What many will instantly associate with Jordan’s late 90s and early 2000s liveries, is a big eye on either side of the nose. It’s aggressive, matches the livery’s colour palate and gives the car a unique and stand out element. I’m not sure it entirely suits the livery, but it doesn’t detract from it. I’m not sure if there’s a meaning behind it, but it definitely looks cool and ads some flair to an otherwise traditional-ish livery.
Super Formula has some good looking cars and some even better racing. It’s a shame we don’t hear about it very much, although we might more often with Vandoorne heading over to participate.