It’s very easy to be cynical about Rich Energy’s title sponsorship of Haas – we’ve already asked the question of whether they’re going to turn out to be another Red Bull (as they claim) or another T-Minus (as many suspect). So let’s put that to one side for now, and instead focus solely on the team’s new livery, unveiled yesterday, on its own merits.
As an attention-grabbing exercise, painting the car black and gold to evoke the classic JPS Lotus livery has certainly worked – and has also attracted many admiring glances from fans on social media. But just as when the “Renaultus” team began using the livery in the first half of this decade, it’s hard to shake the feeling that they’ve somewhat missed the point of what made that classic colour scheme work.
Black cars are hard to get truly wrong – you can cover for a lot by having your car painted a sleek black, even if you’re having to deal with a number of conflicting sponsor considerations. But the way you make a black car truly iconic is to have it be two tone – to have every single logo that appears on your car be in one colour. It’s what worked for Lotus, and it’s even what worked for the 1998 Danka Arrows.
But that’s not what Haas have done here. Instead, Rich Energy’s logo appears in the same gold that’s used to trim the livery – but Haas’ own logo, as well as those of sponsors Jack & Jones and Richard Mille, are rendered in white. And Peak, who adorn the rear wing endplates, get to keep the blue in their logo as well.
As such, the car comes off as slightly ill-thought-out. It’s understandable that Rich Energy, who use the black and gold as part of their branding anyway, would want to have this kind of impact on the car – and so we wouldn’t suggest that they switch their logo to white (although alongside the other logos that would look much better). What really seems to throw it off is using Rich’s gold for the trim on the nose and mirrors, and for the race numbers, but having all the other logos in white – it looks like two different liveries have been jammed together.
It could be argued that having Rich’s logo itself in gold, but keeping everything else white, would have worked much better. Or alternatively, come to some kind of arrangement with the other sponsors to render them in gold – of course they’ll have their own brand guideline considerations, but would any of them really have objected to being made a part of a properly successful recreation of such a classic livery design?
Given our general level of disappointment with Haas’ liveries to date, we’d still call this comfortably the best-looking car they’ve put out. But the sense that it could have been so much more, coupled with the slight sense of unease over the nature of the sponsorship deal (whoops, it slipped back in there a bit) means it’s hard to really call it a success.