Back in 1999, British American Racing, the Brackley-based outfit that was to eventually morph into the all-conquering Mercedes F1 team, got up the sport’s powers-that-be’s noses when they attempted to run two cars with different liveries, one featuring one brand of cigarette (Lucky Strike) and the other another (555).
The FIA was quick to act, and in the end both cars featured dual liveries featuring the two brands.
Speaking at the Motorsport Leaders Business Forum in London, McLaren boss Zak Brown has suggested that perhaps the time is right for the sport to reconsider the idea, claiming that livery changes for specific races and one-off sponsor deal would benefit teams in terms of sponsorship and also promote interest among fans.
“I think what you could see and what I would be supportive of, and it’s not currently allowed, is… and IndyCar does this, as does NASCAR, is changing paint schemes throughout the year.
“I still think I’d like to see it as two cars, but if you were going to Monaco and you have a big programme going with one your partners, and for that weekend you wanted to turn it in to a Dell Technologies car or whatever the case may be, but both would be the same. So the fans still knew that’s McLaren, that it’s Ferrari, whoever the team may be.
“I think that might be a new innovation with partnerships in Formula 1 that’s not quite to the extreme of seeing different cars in totally different liveries, because I think those fans are more focused on the driver,” he added.
However, the American admitted that relaxing the livery rules to the point that all twenty look different would not work.
“It doesn’t happen in Formula 1 because each team is so recognisable by its livery,” he said. “I think if you had twenty different liveries out there it might start to get confusing as to who is who, whereas in NASCAR the fans tend to be more driver-centric, so they’ll recognise Jimmie Johnson in the Lowes car, whereas they recognise Fernando Alonso in a McLaren. So I think the sport is different.”