Not much stops For­mula 1 in its tracks. But Force In­dia’s eye­pop­ping new liv­ery? That cer­tainly did.


From the liv­ery of the VJM10 to the driv­ers’ hel­mets, Force In­dia have cho­sen to ‘think pink’

when he’s asked about the re­ac­tion to his pin­kliv­er­ied rac­ing car. “Back home in Mex­ico, they like it a lot,” he says. “Es­pe­cially the girls – they love it!” Force In­dia love it too, not least be­cause of the amount of cov­er­age it’s gen­er­ated since they un­veiled wa­ter purication com­pany BWT as a new ma­jor spon­sor at the dawn of the new sea­son.

In the rst week of the liv­ery launch, the team recorded 14.5 mil­lion tweet im­pres­sions. Even when ex-Force In­dia driver Nico Hülken­berg posted on his Face­book page a pic­ture of the car with the quote: “Now you nally un­der­stand why I left Force In­dia”, that notched up 16,000 ‘likes’. Not bad for a spon­sor look­ing to get no­ticed, and a tidy im­me­di­ate re­turn on the es­ti­mated $30mil­lion the deal has cost (cov­er­ing, in ef­fect, Force In­dia’s bill for a sup­ply of Mercedes en­gines).

For the same amount, BWT could have placed their lo­gos on a front-run­ner, such as Mercedes or Red Bull, but they found Force In­dia bet­ter value for money since the team were will­ing to re-colour their whole car for the same amount.

“I’m not sure how many other teams out there would have had the lat­i­tude to change the en­tire car to pink – prob­a­bly no­body,” says Force In­dia’s chief op­er­at­ing ofcer Ot­mar Szaf­nauer. “Do you think Red Bull would have done it? No. Mercedes are the Sil­ver Ar­rows, Fer­rari have al­ways been red. I don’t think even Wil­liams would, be­cause of their Mar­tini deal. We changed to the colours that BWT wanted and they got a pretty good rac­ing team, too.”

But while the liv­ery shock tac­tics have drawn a lot of at­ten­tion, it’s by no means the rst time that the team, who started out as Jor­dan Grand Prix in 1991, and who still op­er­ate from the same base in Sil­ver­stone, have scorched our reti­nas. Think of the all-green 7UP paint job from Jor­dan’s rst year in F1, or the gold, then vivid yel­low, Ben­son & Hedges colours that led to the Buzzin’ Hor­nets de­sign.

The deal with BWT came to­gether quickly, in just 12 days, and the part­ner­ship brought an im­me­di­ate boost in global aware­ness. Men­tion Force In­dia now and – in F1 cir­cles at least – peo­ple im­me­di­ately ‘think pink’.

The colour scheme will ex­tend beyond the VJM10 chas­sis, since both Ser­gio Pérez’s and Este­ban Ocon’s hel­mets have been in­cluded as part of the deal. And as soon as sufcient team kit can be made, the race team will be walk­ing around the pad­dock clad in pink from top to toe. Deputy team prin­ci­pal Bob Fern­ley sported a pair of his own pink trousers on Sun­day in the Mel­bourne pad­dock, tongue rmly in cheek and lov­ing ev­ery minute of it.

“From a spon­sor’s per­spec­tive it has worked, and for BWT it was strate­gic,” con­tin­ues Szaf­nauer. “They are a wa­ter­purication com­pany and their se­nior man­age­ment saw an


op­por­tu­nity. When­ever they go to a wa­ter show ev­ery­body else’s com­pany colours are blue, be­cause wa­ter is seen as be­ing blue. They’re the only ones that are pink. So now when­ever they do a show they stand out more than any­body – and that’s the same now in rac­ing.

“Yes, there have been some con­trast­ing opin­ions and in some coun­tries pink is con­sid­ered more of a fem­i­nine colour than a mas­cu­line one and that can be pos­i­tive or neg­a­tive,” Szaf­nauer con­tin­ues. “Some peo­ple think car rac­ing should be mas­cu­line… maybe hav­ing a pink car on the grid will at­tract more women to the sport.”

So the ‘Pink Pan­ther’ (the me­chan­ics placed a sticker of the car­toon char­ac­ter in the cock­pit) is most denitely here to stay. Ri­val spon­sors will have to put their think­ing caps on if they want to at­tempt to top its im­pact.

The all-pink liv­ery is the bold­est bit of brand­ing seen in F1 for years, en­sur­ing BWT and the ‘Pink Pan­ther’ VJM10 re­ally stand out

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