So, apologies for being a bit late to catch up to this – but hey, they were a bit weirdly late to launch it. Red Bull have made a few tweaks to their livery as they prepare to start the Post-Vettel era, although perhaps not as many tweaks as we might have anticipated or hoped for. And actually, it’s the kind of tweak that almost makes you wish they hadn’t bothered.
I didn’t like the “purple spray paint” motif that Infiniti added when they came on as title sponsor a couple of years back, but it surprises me that removing the “spray paint” part of that – instead turning the purple sections into solid blocks of colour – makes it worse rather than better. Now that it’s a full on solid colour, it basically makes this a four-colour car – and as we’ve discussed in the past, those rarely work.
If the team were so keen to include this purple on behalf of Infiniti – and I’ve no problem with the colour in its own right, I loved the mid-90s Simteks and it would have been great if F1’s tobacco-sponsor heyday had ever included a Silk Cut car – then you wonder why they desperately needed to keep the blue, red and yellow. I know those are Red Bull’s corporate colours, but it’s not as if anyone’s in danger of not associating the team with that brand, now, is it? As it is, this car is just a cluttered, ugly mess – nothing about it works, with the possible exception of the “Red Bull” wording alongside the monocoque. And it yet doesn’t feel like it would take too much – just a smarter distribution of the chosen colours – to make it work.
Elsewhere in livery news, both Sauber and Force India revealed minor tweaks in testing to the liveries that they’d initially launched. Force India have added a small green stripe to the lower half of the car, which better strengthens the application of their original branding but also slightly throws off the smart look of the orange/silver/black combo. And Sauber have made a couple of changes to fend off the accusation that their new blue-and-yellow job was a little dull to begin with – a new yellow stripe on the nose (which does well to break up the otherwise plain block), and massive race numbers on the side of the monocoque. Regular readers will know just how much we like massive race numbers, so yeah.
And finally, there has of course been confirmation by the FIA that they’re banning drivers from changing their helmet designs over the course of a season. We’re slightly conflicted by this: on the one hand, it was kind of annoying to see Vettel rock up with a different design for every single race. But on the other, as a rule it’s just absolutely bloody mental. It does nothing to help the sport to introduce it, and while it’s a shame that the classic days of immediately distinctive driver lids are (mostly) gone, an artificial rule like this isn’t going to change that (the designs themselves will still be as they currently are – often quite detailed and intricate compared with the block-colour jobs of old, and in some cases very heavily influenced by sponsors).
Indeed, the question is raised of just how strongly the FIA will enforce this: if a driver is at (say) Ferrari, but then moves to Red Bull mid-season, would they have to keep the Marlboro badges and not add Red Bull logos? And if not, then will we see drivers claim that in fact their designs are entirely sponsor-based, to give them the freedom to change them?
It should be a driver’s prerogative to wear whatever design he wants on his race helmet, and if Vettel’s decision is to change it every race, then (annoying as that is) he should be allowed. To completely take away the possibility of fun one-off single-race designs, as had become something of a trend in recent years, feels like an incredibly dog-in-the-manger move by the FIA; and it’s a case of inventing a problem then pretending to solve it, rather than dealing with any number of the real and serious problems that currently threaten the credibility and integrity of F1.