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.
First up Manor Marussia. Just a couple of minor and yet instantly recognisable changes. The rear wing endplate now has a super patriotic American flag on it, which is has been added for Alex Rossi’s home Grand Prix. He is the first American to race at home since Scott Speed. The best part is that it suits the car just fine. The colours match and that’s important. Another addition is that of sponsor Coupons.com. Not the classiest logo to appear on an F1 car, but props to them for adjusting the colour of their logo to match the Manor livery as well.
The Manor livery is the empty livery it once was and every single one of the new sponsors matches the colour scheme. This makes me very happy!
V8 Supercars – Prodrive
Prodrive unveiled a new livery for the #6 car as a nod to the Back to the Future series, most likely thanks to its Pepsi sponsorship. The livery mocks the look of the DMC DeLorean made so famous by the series, with a distinctive silver colour, as well as some extra decals to give the livery an extra feel of Doc Brown’s time travelling machine.
Pepsi have cleverly used the Pepsi Perfect logos, which was the version of Pepsi used in the “future” in the movie. It’s a nice touch which gives the car some authenticity. Overall, the livery is a little bit all over the place, with a few too many colours and the extra decals cluttering it a bit, but I don’t think it was meant to be taken too seriously, so good on Prodrive for making this. Also, if you haven’t checked out their “unveiling” video, go watch it!
James Moffat and Taz Douglas’ Nissan also has a new main sponsor. Faresin, which is a maker of industrial farming equipment, adds another green livery to the field. Unfortunately, it looks like just another Nissan livery. Nissan have changed sponsors so many times this year and each of the liveries have been quite similar to each other. This follows that trend and puts up a livery, that if you changed the green to blue and put Carsales on the side, I would not think twice about calling Todd Kelly’s name upon seeing it.
A great opportunity to make a unique and stand out green blue and yellow livery has been missed here. I guess Nissan will stick to their cookie cutter white, black + sponsor colour designs. This livery is very much a nagger.
The trend these days seems to be for teams to come up with short term sponsorships or just special liveries for the enduros, or even just for Bathurst. I’ve decided to go through the liveries the teams will be racing in this week, and look at what’s changed.
Holden Racing Team
The HRT machines will be promoting the latest Star Wars film at Bathurst this week, with two cars in similar yet opposite colour schemes. The cars will represent either side of the force, with car #2 in ‘dark side’ colours and #22 in a ‘light side’ scheme.
The car driven by Garth Tander and Warren Luff is a mean, aggressive livery with a smooth matte black paint job, bright red flashes and different Star Wars character images on either side of the car. Usually images don’t work on racing liveries, but they definitely get away with it here, as it matches the rest of the livery perfectly. The matte black is the most impressive part of the livery and everything else supports it well.
The other car, piloted by Jack Perkins and veteran Russell Ingall in James Courtney’s absence, is in matte silver/grey. It features the same red flashes and also has character images on either side, although they don’t quite seem to work as well. The problem with this livery is that it fades from silver to black quite suddenly, and it would certainly have been better off in all silver, giving the livery a more rounded look.
Charlie Schwerkolt Racing
Lee Holdsworth has partnered up with Frenchman Sébastien Bourdais for this year’s enduros. Starting in Sandown, the team had a new main sponsor Preston Hire. This livery design is virtually the same as it was prior, only that now main colours are silver, black and yellow. The colour combo is great; black and yellow usually look good on race cars. Something irks me about the silver though. It looks like they’ve just placed the design decal straight over a stock road car paint job. In terms of logos, Fuchs stands out in the wrong way as it doesn’t suit the livery at all. Oh and Hog’s Breath…I’ve been over that before.
Lucas Dumbrell Motorsport
The #222 driven by Nick Percat and Oliver Gavin also has some slight modifications. OPS Gateway replaced Repair Management Australia as the car’s main sponsor for Sandown and with it, a somewhat different livery. It’s an interesting design, mainly in white with a large chunk of black on the sides. It is complimented by some blue lightning bolts surrounding the OPS logo on the black sections and some neon red sections on the front, rear and wing. A nice livery but not exactly ground breaking, nor unique or a stand out.
Both Erebus cars are also in different liveries this weekend. After seemingly switching sponsors race by race throughout the season so far and awkwardly patching their logos on top of the standard silver and black designs, it’s a relief to see them have liveries tailor made to their sponsors.
Ash Walsh is partnered by Matt Le Brocq for the enduros and together they will drive a rather striking car at Bathurst. Pink liveries are hard to get right, but the Wendy’s sponsored machine is very well designed. Being a chain of stores that sell mainly ice cream, the hot pink is complimented cleverly with splashes of what I would call ice cream splashes on the hood and behind the wheel arches. The use of off white for the ice cream component of the livery matches the hot pink really well and thankfully the secondary, lighter pink colour is only used minimally as possible.
The #9 machine is driven by brothers Will and Alex Davison. This car is less of a stand out, but looks great in its own right. It’s a clean and simple design, with gold and red lines running along the edges of the car and breaking up the mainly black livery. The Penrite logo looks like it was made for a race car and looks great, especially on the bonnet. I must take away points for the sponsors on the side skirts, which are a little jarring with their chunky borders (nit-picking, I know), but on the other hand, the honeycomb grille painted in gold is a very nice touch.
Prodrive Racing Australia
For the Bathurst 1000, Prodrive will have a much publicised 3rd entry (or 5th, depending on how you look at it), driven by the all-female team of Renee Gracie and Simona de Silvestro. The livery, sponsored by Harvey Norman and HP, is a clean red and white effort, with silver dividing the two. The bright red used it very nice, but I’m not sure silver was the way to go. It seems to get lost depending on what angle you view the car from and perhaps charcoal would have been a better option, or perhaps a simple black. Chrome silver would have also been nice and although it would have had the same viewing angle problems, it could have been forgiven as it is a much more striking colour. Not sure how I feel about designs on the edge of the bonnet.
Four cars and four new liveries for Nissan.
Todd Kelly has had a number of different sponsors this season, but for Bathurst and beyond, his car, co-driven by Brit Alex Buncombe, is sponsored by Carsales. The design is quite similar to other Nissan liveries, but has some minor differences. The black, blue and white combo works very well, a shame it isn’t used more often. There’s not much to say about the design other than it is complex, yet quite attractive. A tough livery to describe. Props to Nissan for having every single sponsor on the car match the livery (apart from their own, but it’s on the windscreen so I’ll let it slide).
The #15, driven by Rick Kelly and David Russell isn’t too different to the usual car. Much like HRT, they have gone with matte black, which is a nice effect. For Bathurst, Jack Daniel’s have decided to promote their Zero Sugar product and with that, flashes of red are added to the usual black and white colour combination. It adds a touch of colour whilst still unmistakably being a Jack Daniels livery.
Much like last year, Michael Caruso will be sporting a retro themed livery. Partnered once again by Dean Fiore, the livery is a throwback to the 1990 Nissan in which Jim Richards won the championship. The livery itself is simple, but quite beautiful. The only real difference between the new and original liveries is that they have used chevrons rather than straight lines on the side in the transition from red to white to blue. Despite the huge difference in shape between the two cars, the livery works extremely well on both. Good to see a big number on the front door too. Great looking livery.
The #99 car driven by James Moffat and Taz Douglas also has a new livery. Sponsored by Mack for the enduros, the livery has changed since Sandown, with the red lines being removed, giving a design more unique to Mack, but one that isn’t very memorable. The livery is mainly white, with the black and silver on the side. Plenty of potential here but it doesn’t look like they’ve got the most out of it. It still looks like a semi blank canvas with work to do. The Mack logo, however, does look very good on the side of the car. Would like to see them tinker with this livery again before the Gold Coast 500.
Overall, I’m very happy to see Nissan make use of both complex and simple liveries.
DJR Team Penske
For the enduros, the Scott Pye/Marcos Ambrose machine was unveiled in a bright green Xbox sponsored livery. It brings back memories of the Xbox One Racing entry in the 2013 Bathurst 1000 as well as the car driven by Ambrose in the final round of last year’s championship. This time around the green is not metallic and is a much brighter shade of green. The design is simple, but uses the shape of the FG X Falcon well. A pleasing livery, but I’m not sure The Bottle-O is very happy about it!
Last but not least is Novocastrien Motorpsort. The second set of brothers in the field, Aaren and Drew Russell, will be at the wheel of the #62. The team, which is coming up from the Dunlop Series for the Bathurst 1000, will be racing in a VF Commodore. The livery is based on their Dunlop Series car, and is mainly royal blue and sponsored by Plus Fitness. Unfortunately, it does have the distinct look of a car from a lower category. The design is too simple and the sponsors all over the car seem to fighting for attention, rather than singing in harmony. However, it isn’t a disaster. The design on the roof and bonnet works well and the orange tinted headlights are a very nice touch. Shame about the design on the side, which looks like it was made in 5 minutes and brings the overall look of the livery down. As a small team with a small budget, I imagine their priorities were elsewhere, and that’s fair enough if you ask me.
It’s fun to look at beautiful liveries, it’s even interesting to pick apart awful liveries, but there’s something in between that doesn’t quite fit in either. I’m not talking about mediocre liveries, I’m talking about the “naggers”, the liveries that annoy you. A perfect example of this, are the liveries on the Team Penske machines in IndyCar this year.
What’s wrong with them you ask? On their own, they actually aren’t bad at all, in fact, they suit the car very nicely when you see it from above. It’s the fact that they’ve used the exact same livery on each car, with the colours swapped around, that grinds my gears. This is common in football (soccer), where the kit manufacturer has some cookie cutter template designs and the team just puts its colours and logos on it. Most football fans will tell you they hate this too. Why? Because a team deserves its own unique design and identity, and sharing a design with another team entirely contradicts that. Same goes for Team Penske.
Putting the same design on each car gives the impression that the team is being lazy. It looks lazy that each car doesn’t have its own identity. However, I have to cut Penske some slack. Every car is sponsored by Verizon, so there’s no real need to change up the design. In fact, it’s probably in Verizon’s best interests to keep the design static on each car. Secondly, it seems as though the colours on the cars are changed to match each driver’s helmet. It’s actually a cool idea and one I have to give Penske kudos for.
The livery design itself is quite basic. A half and half design, with a third colour splitting the two in the middle. The middle line wraps around the nose cone very nicely, but the squiggle on the sidepod doesn’t really look special unless you are looking at it from the top. The design works best in my opinion, on Power and Castroneves’ cars, with the white top and black bottom split with a strong red. Pagenaud’s yellow and white split by blue doesn’t quite work for me, and neither does Castroneves’ Indy 500 effort, with the red and yellow. If all the colour combinations worked well, maybe I wouldn’t be annoyed by the liveries at all. Props to the reflective burgundy used on Montoya’s car on one or two occasions though. Lovely colour!
At the end of the day, these liveries still somewhat annoy me, but not really for the same reasons that I had initially. Now, I’m more annoyed that the design itself lacks any real excitement, hit and miss colour combos and that each driver’s identity could have been put onto the car in a similar but more interesting fashion.
The best part of this blog is that I come into a post with an idea in my head and quite often, by the time I’ve done all of my research, my thoughts have changed considerably. I came into this with a deep seeded annoyance with the Team Penske liveries and after doing just a little bit of looking around, the annoyance has almost completely dissipated. How about that for a life tip: Do your research before you put your foot in it!
Manor have surprised us today with a new sponsor and a coinciding updated livery.
Flex-Box are in the shipping container business and have decided to put their advertising money to use on the Manor’s sidepods. Adding a fourth colour to any livery is very risky, but Manor have done well, seemingly replacing the white sidepods with blue. Upon closer inspection, the design has changed slightly toward the rear. There is now a diagonal black area separating the blue and red from the rear of the car, instead of the black stripe splitting the red and white along the sidepod.
The Flex-Box logo itself matches well, as it is red and white, although the large blue area will take some getting used to. The blue area is cut off by white just before the front of the sidepods, which is a great way to split the new area and the old white area. This will be seen much more obviously in other angles.
The only thing that doesn’t quite work now is the rear wing endplate. I feel it would work much better in plain black, especially since the diagonal black area has been added to the rear of the car. It would much more seamlessly with the rest of the car that way. Alternatively, if all black areas were replaced with white, the livery would have one less colour, would be a little less complex and could be easier on the eye. Here’s a quick mock-up of how it would look.
Very glad to see more colour on the grid and hopefully these extra dollars can get Manor kicking on a competitive 2016 car.
The Kiefer Racing bikes ridden by Kent, Vazquez and Ono this year have taken after the naming rights sponsor Leopard Natural Power Drink. It brings with it a colour not often used in Motorsports.
The sky blue, black and white machines bring something unique to the Moto3 grid this season. In a championship where super close racing is commonplace, where 1st to 15th can be mere seconds apart at the chequered flag, being able to stand out in the crowd of bikes is important. The Leopard bikes grab your attention, not by choosing an obnoxiously vibrant colour, but by selecting one that is different.
The livery itself is supremely colour coordinated. Apart from Dunlop (which is yellow on all Moto3 bikes), every sponsor is black or white. It makes the livery extremely neat and tidy and allows the livery to flow beautifully.
The livery’s design is rather simple. A tricolour series of stripes running from the front wheel to the exhaust, with the bottom half separated almost equally between sky blue for Leopard, black for Anonimo and white for Came. The rims too are coloured sky blue and add to the overall theme of the livery.
I’m usually very critical of sponsors taking over drivers/riders helmets (such as Red Bull removing all originality from their sponsored driver’s helmets), but I’m being lenient in this situation. Having all three riders in a standardised helmet design is a big no-no, but I’ll let it slide for their first season. It is great for the team and sponsor and I’m slightly ashamed to say that it works really well.
Overall, it’s a lovely livery. Uniform sponsors, great use of colour and a classy design, all tied together by the unique sky blue.
Unlike the recent seasons of bland grey and silver liveries in other championships such as Formula 1, the V8 Supercars championship has been treated with all sorts of vibrant colours.
David Reynolds is driving his 4th season in the #55 car for Rod Nash Racing, which is dressed in one of the most distinct liveries on the grid. I can’t think of another racing car that has sported a green as bright as this. Thanks to main sponsor The Bottle-O, the team has a bright and vibrant green to work with as a main colour. They’ve also had to work secondary sponsor Devil’s Cut into the livery, which brings black and gold into the frame. This results in a two tone design; mostly green, with black covering the hood, some of the rear bumper and side window areas.
The design itself is still FPR inspired; not fully departed from the falcon design on the livery a few years back. It features lovely sweeping curves and sharp points, with all the black areas bordered by gold trim and then shadowed by similar white areas. Gold is used sparingly, with the inside of the rear wing endplates and the rims being the exceptions. It’s an intricate design without being clumsy or too busy. It’s an aggressive livery which matches the similarly aggressive looking body shape of the car.
If anything hurts the livery, it’s the Hog’s Breath Café logo. It doesn’t fit the livery at all, but then again, I think any designer would be hard pressed to make it look as though it belonged. Unless it was a team’s main sponsor and could dictate the design and colour scheme, I can’t imagine that Hog’s Breath Café would ever look good on a racing car.
It’s a nice looking livery and one that unambiguously promotes The Bottle-O, something that sponsors pay good money for and which many don’t get.