I’ll be honest with you upfront: this isn’t going to be the most interesting year for this. Remember back in 2010, when we had all the new teams coming in but didn’t know what most of them were going to look like? Ah, happy days. Skip forward to 2012, however, and it’s a very different story – twelve teams on the grid that, with the odd exception, will almost certainly run in liveries identical to the ones they had in 2011 (and, in some cases, the ones they had in 2012).
But tradition is tradition, and with the launch season starting so late this year (at the time of writing, no team is scheduled to launch their car before February), I need something to write about, so let’s do a rundown of what we might be expecting to see this year…
Red Bull Racing
Will probably look exactly the same as last year.
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Will probably look exactly the same as last year (although wouldn’t it be lovely if those persistent rumours of switching to a black-and-red livery came true?)
Will definitely look exactly the same as last year.
Mercedes AMG Petronas
I wouldn’t expect as much of a change as they made between 2010 and 2011, but some continued evolution of their distinctive silver-and-turquoise design would be nice. If I could fix one thing on the Merc, it would be to have the entire sidepod in turquoise rather than that odd halfway measure we saw last year.
Lotus F1 Team
Well, having fought so hard to win the Lotus name outright, The Team Formerly Known As Renault (And Also Benetton And Toleman) are hardly going to give up their JPS-inspired black-and-gold livery in a hurry. I’d like to see the red Total-sponsored endplates toned down, perhaps, although even those grew on me by the end of the season.
One potential hiccup, mind, is the lingering question over whether or not they’ll be allowed to race in the livery in Canada. I doubt this will cause them to change the season livery outright, but could we see them granted special dispensation to run in a one-off scheme? If so, perhaps they could make the same change they occasionally did with their uniform last year, and flip the colours? A gold car with black trim would undoubtedly look rather special (hey, if any Photoshop whizzes want to mock one up, I’ll gladly post it).
EDIT: And someone has! Brilliant, thank you Theo, aka “Vert”, for this excellent job (seen left).
Sahara Force India F1 Team
There are rumours that the buy-in of the Sahara Group might prompt a change in Force India’s livery – but with the team’s identity so closely tied to that of their country, that seems unlikely (particularly as Sahara themselves use the Indian flag in their logo). Expect more of the same orange/white/green scheme (if possibly applied in a slightly different pattern) – unless a sudden bout of even further patriotism leads to a switch to Indian sporting blue.
Sauber F1 Team
Sauber don’t do liveries.
Scuderia Toro Rosso
As with Force India, a large investment partway through 2011 led to rumours that Toro Rosso could change livery altogether for 2012. I think it’s unlikely, though – certainly, they might integrate the various Aabar-owned brands into the livery a little better this year, and we might see a bit more red and white on there (courtesy of rumoured new title sponsor CEPSA). But it’s still a Toro Rosso, it’s still selling cans of Red Bull, and so it’ll still be the same predominant blue, red and gold.
A once-proud team searching badly for an identity, Williams have now even lost their title sponsor – although it’s not like AT&T ever really had anything to do with the livery anyway. If a potential new sponsor doesn’t end up having an influence, then I wouldn’t be surprised to see last year’s retro-themed design continue; or perhaps alternatively, they could switch to another classic from their glory years – this one, perhaps?
Caterham F1 Team
They’ve lost the Lotus name, but they’ve already said that the green-and-yellow livery will be continuing for at least another year. Hurrah! AirAsia might see more prominent display on the car this year, too.
HRT F1 Team
Anyone’s guess, really. The 2011 livery was brilliant/mental (delete as appropriate), but the “plea for sponsors” idea was a spectacular failure. I wouldn’t mind seeing them keep the colour scheme, but please, no “YOUR NAME HERE” gubbins this time. Find some sponsors, or just leave it plain.
Marussia F1 Team
You know, if any team were going to make a major change this year, I’d expect it to be Marussia/Virgin. Now fully in the hands of the Russian sportscar manufacturer, they could well switch to a red-white-blue design to match the company’s logo. On the other hand, we know that Virgin are still around as a sponsor – so although their logo would fit quite nicely on such a design, that piece of continuity might be enough to justify keeping the smart red/black/white livery. But still, don’t be surprised if they roll up in something akin to a mid-90s Footwork…