Okay, so Brawn may only have been in Formula 1 for less than one year. But undoubtedly it is a name and a team that will go down in history.
There was a magnetic attraction to the Cinderella story that was the life of Brawn GP. Until March, the existence of the former Honda team hung in the balance. A last-minute lifeline and some punchy Mercedes engines (which required the incredible generosity of McLaren) saved the day for the employees at Brackley.
The car turned out to be devastatingly quick. In its short life, the Brawn team achieved some juicy records. This made it, by many measures, the most successful new team there has ever been in F1. Today it secures a status as the only team ever to have a 100% championship-winning record.
The shortest-lived legendary team
Despite a lifespan of less than a year, Brawn will go down in legend. Its rapid success ensured that it had become a household name. And its livery — with the distinctive chartreuse swooshes highlighted by bold, black borders — will surely become as iconic as a JPS livery, a Marlboro livery or a Gulf livery.
People quickly became attached to the Brawn colours. Just look at how many of this year’s F1 books are decked out in a snot green that tries to replicate the fluorescence of the car itself. It is such a strong image.
A livery change was widely expected as soon as Brawn started to get more sponsors. But a livery change never happened. Despite the fact that most of Brawn’s sponsors over the 2009 season actually had red logos, thereby clashing awkwardly with the neon yellow, Brawn stuck with the original livery because it worked so well.
Mercedes to ignore Brawn heritage?
Maybe I am over-egging the pudding a little. But I genuinely think the sport has lost an icon. Today’s announcement that the Brawn team will be bought by Mercedes brings to an end this incredible story of the plucky underdogs who won against all odds.
It is yet another stage in the rollercoaster existence of the Brackley-based team whose history can be traced back to Tyrrell. In the past five years alone, the team has been owned by British American Tobacco, Honda and Brawn. The Mercedes era should finally bring some stability to this team.
In its press release today, Mercedes has included a mock-up of the sort of livery it presumably wants to run with next season. All trace of the Brawn heritage has apparently vanished.
Maybe I am just too romantic for my own good. But I would like to see the splashes of Brawn chartreuse remain, with the rest of the car remaining silver. After all, the current McLaren livery has “Rocket Red” in more or less the same places as Brawn’s chartreuse.
There is much talk about how the “return” Mercedes to F1 as a works team will mean a return of the legendary “Silver Arrows”. That’s funny, because I seem to remember everyone saying the same thing when McLaren switched to a silver livery in 1997. Maybe it doesn’t count any more.
McLaren’s colours: If not silver, what?
Speaking of McLaren’s silver livery, their press release today says that it will remain the same. Against expectations, McLaren have extended their engine deal with Mercedes to now last until 2015. But Daimler AG will be selling back the bit of McLaren that they own, and McLaren will become a Mercedes customer team rather than the pseudo-works team they had become.
As speculation increased over the past week or so, I began to wonder what colour scheme McLaren would adopt were they to part ways with Mercedes. Obviously that is a bit academic now, but it’s interesting to think about.
Nowadays most people think of McLaren as a silver (or, for the less charitable among us, grey) team. But it is probably more accurate to think of McLaren’s main colour as being red.
Red is the most prominent colour of the most evocative McLaren livery — the famous Marlboro scheme it ran in its 1980s heyday. Historically, McLaren ran with an orange livery.
The team describes the red colour that features in today’s livery as “Rocket Red”. It is not a scarlet or a Ferrari red. It is rather orangey, perhaps in a nod to the team’s history running in orange.
In recent years, McLaren have been known to run test cars in an orange livery from time to time. It would be really neat if McLaren toned down the “Rocket Red” a notch or two, and made its colour orange once again.
Or am I just being too romantic again? Maybe not. It is a good sign that McLaren Automotive use orange prominently in their marketing.