Well, they’ve now done it for two races, so I think we can assume it wasn’t just a one-off for Australia, and thus it’s worth reporting: McLaren have made a change to their livery, replacing the usual Vodafone logo on the rear wing with that of Lucozade. Interesting.
Obviously, the main point to make about this is that it drastically increases the prominence of Lucozade as sponsor of the team – and, as an energy drink company, this places them in direct competition with Red Bull. Traditionally, the two companies have tended to pitch at different areas of sport – Lucozade, and notably its offshoot brand Lucozade Sport, is much more closely associated with athletic sports, while Red Bull have the market cornered in high-speed, machinery-based events. In this instance, however, they seem to have decided to capitalise on their existing relationship (as already established partway through last season) with a team who now look like a much closer competitor for the Red Bull team than last year – so every win for McLaren over Red Bull can also be seen as a victory for Lucozade over their competitor.
I’d be interested to know, in fact, whether the initiative for this came from Lucozade themselves – and by how much they had to increase their investment to get it – or if it might even have been McLaren’s idea. There’s also the question of whether Vodafone – still very firmly the team’s title sponsors – were happy to give up the valuable rear wing space.
It’s also worth noting that this is possibly the first time since the banning of tobacco sponsorship that two major teams have had similar, competing brands so prominently on their cars – particularly when you roll in the fact that Monster energy drinks sponsor Mercedes (albeit in much less obvious fashion). In the years since the ban (well, not counting Ferrari’s invisible Marlboro sponsorship), we haven’t really had that – and although it’s a telecoms company that are still McLaren’s major sponsor, the increased prominence of Lucozade will surely attract attention. And if Red Bull continue to be beaten by it, as they have been so far this season… well, it could be a very prudent investment indeed.