Ladies and gentlemen, a drumroll please…
The clues were there, if you were paying attention. Indeed, some of you guessed it (not all of you – some were convinced that a Rothmans Williams or a blue Tyrrell was going to be in there). I like green cars. I like cars with blue on them. I like cars with smart, clean use of sponsor logos. I like cars whose lines flow well with the shape of the chassis. I like cars with an inherent sense of charm or individuality. And my favourite era of F1 is the early ’90s. With that in mind… was there any great surprise that this site’s Top F1 Livery of All Time would be the 1991 Jordan-Ford 191?
Whatever way you look at it, this car is A-grade, absolute classic. Even leaving the livery aside for a moment, the machine itself is beautifully sculpted, strangely tubular in a way that few cars of its era were; and Gary Anderson’s design showed a maverick flair that a brand new privateer team had simply no right flaunting. But then, Jordan apparently had the right to do very little of what they achieved in that amazing year – tearing up the form book by coming into the sport and being a points-scoring competitor from day one. An incredible seventh-place finish in the constructors’ championship will – if you scale it down proportionally to the number of teams now competing, so that really it’s equivalent to about third or fourth in a 22-car grid – probably never be bettered by a completely untried team with absolutely no manufacturer or major sponsor support. And, of course, this was the car in which Michael Schumacher made an absolutely unforgettable debut at Spa.
But that’s the car – and we’re here to talk about the livery. Which is utterly beautiful – there’s simply no other word for it. The shade of emerald green was not only a perfect choice for the team’s visual identity (why oh why did it only last a year?), but looked great on camera as well. The flashes of lighter green, while you sense they’d look terrible in a greater quantity, are well-judged in order to break up any potential monotony of colour and give some lines to the livery. And the dark blue, separated from the green by a strip of white, matches perfectly. It’s simple, yes, but it’s completely effective – and once you’ve seen it, you never forget it. If there’s a flaw, it’s not even with the colour scheme, but with the driver’s uniforms – which were a more washed-out shade that simply looked naff. But hey, it was 1991.
Thanks to the red on the 7up logo, meanwhile (and that logo itself looks utterly marvellous on the engine cover and airbox), bits of red can be used elsewhere without seeming incongruous – and on the wing in particular, fit in nicely. You’ll note that there are two variants of sponsor on the sidepod – Fujifilm and, later, Tic Tac. The latter works better, I think, as the red of Fujifilm’s logo is less effective when surrounded by blue. But the Tic Tac logo looks like it was always meant to be there, though its lingering in the memory is probably due, at least in part, to it being on Schumacher’s car.
It’s hardly a controversial choice, I think – I’ve seen people discussing the car in positive terms on many occasions. It’s one of those universally popular designs, like the West McLaren or the JPS Lotus. Others might not give it the top spot, but I doubt many would quibble with it at least being top five. As far as my own personal preference goes, it ticks just about every box going – it is, quite simply, the best an F1 car has ever looked, and probably ever will.