Formula One car launch season is now well underway, with McLaren, AlphaTauri, Alfa Romeo, and Red Bull all unveiling their challengers for 2021.
This year’s car launch season was always going to be a relatively low-key affair due to COVID-19, but the stable regulations between last season and this season has made it even more low-key than perhaps what was expected.
We find ourselves in a unique situation going into this season.
After all, it’s not every day that a global pandemic stops the world in its tracks.
2021 should have marked the beginning of new technical regulations, but they have been delayed until next year because of the COVID-19 shutdown early last year.
Instead, apart from some tweaks here & there and a new lick of paint, the cars that were pushed into the garage at the end of the 2020 season will be pretty much the same cars that are driven out of the garage in a few weeks time.
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And so the focus has switched to what are known as team launches, where the car doesn’t take centre stage.
Yet that concept doesn’t appear to have spread to the wider world, for whom the reality has not matched the hype.
Yes, it was easy to be duped by the build-up to some of these launches, but they weren’t supposed to be spectacular.
The liveries aren’t supposed to be spectacular either, that is in terms of any possible changes to them.
A case in point is Tuesday’s launch of the Red Bull RB16B, where some sort of ‘shakedown’ livery-branded merchandise fooled some to think that might be what Red Bull would have gone with this season.
Alas, Red Bull went with the same livery they have been using more or less since the energy drinks brand bought Jaguar’s F1 team in 2004.
Why was this not a surprise? Or am I the one who has been duped in this scenario?
Anyway, the livery shouldn’t be the most important thing about the car, it should be how the car drives and how it performs.
It’s why you are encouraged to test drive a car before you buy it.
For sure, things like introduction of the papaya to the McLaren, an homage to the team’s early days under founder Bruce McLaren in the 1960s, are great to see, but such changes aren’t necessary, especially when things are stable.
The changes to the AlphaTauri livery for this season raised a few eyebrows, so it can sometimes be a case of you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t!
While car launches like the famous one by McLaren in 1997, which featured the Spice Girls, are brilliant, you don’t want to have them all the time, for the same reason that we don’t wear our dinner jackets every night.
It’s just too much.
2021’s car launch season may have been low-key out of necessity, but it should serve as an example of what car launches should be going forward.