If you said newspaper or a penguin in a blender (#childish), give yourself half a point. However, I’m actually talking about this year’s Williams FW43 if all the clues in the lead up to its February 17th launch add up.
Firstly, there’s ROKiT’s increased involvement with the team.
In July of 2019, the British Telecomms firm extended their existing title-sponsorship deal with the team for an additional two years up to 2023.
Then in October, in the wake of Robert Kubica‘s Orlen backing disappearing with the driver to Alfa Romeo and the loss of key sponsor Rexona to McLaren, ROKiT’s drinks arm stepped in to plug the void, with a ‘major new multi-year partnership’ commencing in 2020 that would potentially give ROKiT a bigger say in (non-sporting!) team matters.
ROKiT’s logo is red, black and white. They sponsor Venturi Racing in Formula E, Nicholas Hamilton’s Motorbase Team in BTCC, NHRA drag racer Alexis Dejoria and W Series, all of which sport red, black and white liveries.
On 24th January, Williams’ logo in the header of their website that was predominantly blue (in various guises) switched to black, and this change was echoed across all its social media platforms and communications.
And most tellingly, on January 31st Williams teased a pre-launch video that strongly featured red throughout.
Are we about to see Williams Racing’s first red car since the Winfield sponsored 1998 and 1999 seasons?
Well, whilst blue has always been closely associated with Williams, it’s never been known to let ‘tradition’ get in the way of a commercial opportunity.
Title sponsor Saudia dictated the cars were green and white from 1978 until 1985, and when Rothmans wanted to push their Winfield brand (as mentioned above), the team switched from blue to red for two seasons in the late 90s.
One thing just struck me. If I were the brand man at @rokit and I was chucking money at #f1 with @WilliamsRacing and #FormulaE with @VenturiFE I’d want both cars to look like they’re part of the same family. This is their FE car. Will we see similar for the #FW43? pic.twitter.com/i0UsULHOUh— Michael // Wi77iams.com (@Wi77iamsF1) January 18, 2020
If the Roy Nissany deal (FP1 outings for a driver without any racing pedigree to speak of in return for Israeli £££) tells us one thing, it’s that Williams Racing are prepared to be creative on coming up with ways of bringing cash to the team ahead what’s likely to prove to be a very expensive 12 months, with the concurrent development of both the 2020 and 2021 cars, the latter being built to a completely different set of regulations.
With that as a backdrop, any desire from Williams to keep a primarily blue colour scheme might quickly ebb away with the promise of a few extra quid in the coffers.
I’ve spoken to a few Williams fans about the potential change, and feelings are mixed. Some want to keep the blue, and some like the look of ROKiT’s Formula E livery.
Most, though, aren’t overly concerned as long as it’s quick!