Do Appearances Matter?

Do Appearances Matter?
The livery on a Formula 1 race car is more than just a fancy paint job. It represents the brand image the team wants to portray to the public. The colors appear on everything related to the team, from uniforms to transport vehicles, garage cladding, and marketing materials and work to create the team's identity. Designers must also take into account aesthetics, so team liveries are constantly evolving. Over the last few months, teams have been revealing their new looks as a build-up to the start of the 2011 season.

Renault will become Lotus Renault GP this season in a title-sponsorship deal with Group Lotus. Lotus is sure to thrill their fans with a return to the much-loved gold and black color scheme from most of the 70's and and 80's. The John Players Special was one of the first truly recognizable sponsor-based designs, and retains that recognition today. The Renault name will maintain its pre-eminent status on the chassis.

Hispania Racing Team unveiled its bold new design, and its a dramatic change, thankfully. In an apparent effort to rebrand its image and using a HRT-designed car, the group hired Hollywood vehicles designer Daniel Simon to come up with a new look. The livery features a waving black and white checkered flag and bold red accents on the sides, nose, and rear wing. Obviously not all sponsorship space has been sold yet, because one of those bold accents, a big red oval on the side of the car, reads "this could be you". Not sure how looks affect speed, but hey it's worth a try.

Williams cars will be sporting a completely new look as well. What might be described as retro, the AT&T-sponsored vehicles apparently be solid dark blue with a simple white circle on each side just below the driver's head featuring each car's number. Their new sponsor will also be featured. PDVSA, Venezuela's national energy company, will have its name on both sides of the airbox as well as the bright white rear wing.

Mercedes has proven how just a few small changes can make a dramatic difference in the look of a car. More turquoise brightens things up, but the biggest impact comes from dropping the matte black sections from the engine cover and nose. Leaving them silver gives the car a much more dynamic appearance.

The Force India cars will feature the same color trio of orange, green, and white, but the scheme is rearranged and white is the dominant color. It looks good.

Red Bull is slightly different as well, with smaller Total logos on the front wing sides. A brand new Total logo is on the rear wing, replacing the Red Bull cola from last year. The #1 on the nose is disappointingly small.

Though there was speculation Team Lotus would go with the black and gold duo, they will stay with the green and yellow scheme. Renault Lotus won the battle for black and gold, and four black cars on the track would look ridiculous anyway. Little has changed on the Lotus, just a bit more yellow on the tail section and a bright white Air Asia on the airbox. They did manage to to add a brand new sponsor, EQ8 energy drink.

Ferrari is still orange-red, but this season each car sports an Italian flag on the underside of its rear wing. It is there in celebration of the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification, which is also where the car gets its name, the F150. Gone is the barcode from the top of the airbox.

Virgin offers little change. The cool matte lack has been replaced by a shiny black, and again, more use of white. Torro Rosso's only change is an another sponsor.

While some teams have made few changes for this season, others have done the exact opposite. In some cases, they completely re-invented themselves. Understanding the importance of image and appearance have on a team's image, we look forward to observing any influence they might have on the track.

Of course drivers and overall car design play the most significant roles, but...

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