Ah, testing. The F1 equivalent of that new car feeling, when hopes are high and nobody’s aware that they’re three seconds off the pace just yet.
This is the time for experimenting, and that doesn’t have to be limited to what’s under the bodywork either. Here are a few of our favourite alternate colour schemes from the off-season.
We’re suckers for yellow cars, and seeing a Jordan running in that colour, sponsor free, just adds to our love for it.
Don’t worry, it wasn’t a sponsorship crisis for the Scuderia in Michael Schumacher’s last season for them – the stickers were still being decided on when the ’06 car was driven for the first time.
ZOMG AN ORANGE MCLAREN ALL MCLARENS SHOULD BE ORANGE!!!
Long time sponsor Mild Seven left Renault at the end of 2006, and the French team ran this pretty sweet dark blue scheme until ING came in and replaced it with white and orange instead.
Red Bull 2004
The drinks firm ran a livery based on it’s can design the first time it hit the track after acquiring Jaguar. Tonio Luizzi even wore dazzling baby blue overalls to go with it. But by the time Australia came round, dark blue was the preferred choice.
As you’ll see later, Honda have an affinity for using black and/or white for testing. Here’s a good example of their growing influence over BAR at the time.
Force India 2008
We all know and love Force India for it’s tradition of running the colours of the Indian flag, but during testing in 2008 it ran a classy burgundy and white combination topped off with gold trim. They were even brave enough to put Ralf Schumacher in the car too.
The first test mule for the Williams marriage to BMW saw the 1999 car stripped of it’s Winfield red and recoated in a more on-brand BMW blue, which looked great, but not as good as the 2000 colours they’d eventually go with.
Red Bull 2015
WARNING – the most recent entry on our list can cause dizziness, nausea and spontaneous applause.
In almost an eerie premonition of what would happen later in the 2002 season, Arrows launched their car with barely any logos on it. This would come back to haunt them mid-season as they ran out of money and folded into liquidation.
Before the half Lucky Strike, half 555 monstrosity we eventually got from BAR first season in F1, there was this beauty of blue, sliver and gold that looked so good it was almost heartbreaking to see it disappear.
Remember when Sauber courted Red Bull AND Petronas as firm, long-time sponsors? Amazing to think that now, as they struggle to find cash to keep going.
Back in early 2000, the team ran a smart, basic blue livery with plain white logos for all their cash-rich backers. How times have changed.
BMW Sauber 2006
The Swiss team’s buyout by BMW meant a “new brand identity” was required, ie, let’s decide what colours to run once we’ve got a few miles on the clock.
Toyota’s eventual ginormous splurge on Formula One started with running a car for a whole season before actually entering the sport. This mainly red number was replaced by a white base with red flashes thanks to a sponsorship with Panasonic, which they kept through eight seasons of expensive mediocrity.
Jordan’s last race-winning car ran jet black in its first appearance on the track, harking back to the Irish team’s very first car in 1991. It look’s so good it almost made us forget about all the yellow. Almost.
The Japanese marque developed a penchant for simple test schemes throughout their last tenure in F1. 2007 saw the now customary black debut, but then followed it up with a bright white number during testing right at the end of the year. Not that they hadn’t used that before, however…
….as their test mule for a 2000 comeback also ran in an initial stark white colour.
With the French manufacturer buying the Benetton team in 2001, and finally re-entering the sport in 2002, the engine manufacturer harked back to its turbo days with this white and yellow number. Then they splashed Mild Seven blue all over it.
Since the mid-2000s Williams decided to run testing in a dark blue livery, which was used all the way up until 2014. It was sleek and cool, but the coolest alteration was the 2008 version, which celebrated the team’s 30th anniversary and impending 500th GP start by adding driver names and team achievements in white.
After purchasing Midland in mid-2006, Spyker went with a shade of orange so vivid that it became red when caught on camera, so reverted to a more normal hue with hints of silver instead.