… Actually, let’s do the Renault first, since it’s the only one of the new launches really worth talking about with any urgency.
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Well, I suppose the best you can say is that at least they’ve bothered to change the livery.
Actually, let’s be fair. The main problem with the 07-08 Renault livery – although, I’ll admit, it did eventually grow on me a bit by simple virtue of hanging around for so long – was that it was a combination of colours that didn’t make sense. Yellow, orange and white – fine. But throwing in the dark blue just made it all off-kilter. They should have either dropped the orange or the yellow. Well, for 2009… they’ve dropped the dark blue, and replaced it with red, courtesy of new sponsor Total (who you may recall as a long-time Jordan sponsor in the mid- to late-90s).
Now, on paper, the combination of red, orange, yellow and white doesn’t sound too bad. I still don’t agree with an F1 car having four “main” colours (three should be the maximum), but at least they could be said to complement one-another. No, the problem here is in the application of the colours. Over the monocoque, it’s not bad at all – taking away the blue means it still wants for a defining colour, but there’s no clash and everything blends quite nicely. The two main problems I have, though, are in the use of the red, and with the engine cover.
The red, first, is clearly a mistake. Yes, the endplates immediately mark out the car as looking different to last year – and in a climate where we’ve only got nine definite teams, and at least half of those are expected to run near-identical designs, that’s something for a livery buff to cling onto. The problem is that they’re the only use of red on the car, and so they stand out absolutely horribly. Even moreso than the blue parts on the old car, they simply look like Renault have run out of wingplates and nicked them from another garage (a Jordan garage circa 1997, perhaps). They also ruin the effect of the new, yellow rear wing – something which would otherwise be quite nice and traditional in a “classic Renault” kind of way.
The engine cover, meanwhile, is a bit of a mess. Orange and yellow stripes? Really? What are they there for? They seem completely at odds with the theme in the car’s front half of using the orange to separate the yellow from the white – here, orange is just liberally strewn wherever. The reddish nature of the orange means that from a distance, it looks like the team are being nice and patriotic for Fernando, but I can’t imagine that Nelsinho is hugely happy with that…
And then, finally, there’s the nose. Now this is bizarre. Quite aside from the ugly shape of it (and I don’t know what’s going on with these new regs, but all the teams seem to have taken them as a cue to make their nose cones hideously ugly in completely different ways), the weird thing is the way there’s a quite good, simple white-to-orange-to-yellow pattern running down the top half… and then suddenly on the nose itself, for no apparent reason, you’ve got a sudden cut to white, as if they suddenly ran out of paint, or something. Honestly, I bet you we see that altered and flashed with orange before the first couple of races are out. It’s just sloppy-looking.
Overall, while I was pleasantly surprised to see the Renault livery change in quite significant ways – particularly as it no longer looks like the Mild Seven car with the blue bits tipp-exed out – it’s clear that they’ve still got no idea what they’re doing. The new regulations means that F1 cars are all going to be naturally ugly this year – and it’s the job of the livery designers to counteract that with simple, effective designs. The time for swooping, dramatic layouts that follow the lines of the car is gone – because there are no nice lines on the cars any more. It’s why the Ferrari will probably turn out to be the only half-decent one – one colour, trimmed with another. Not FOUR, all vying for attention.
Come on, Renault. Ditch ING. Back to yellow, black and white. You know it makes sense.