McLaren could be preparing to ditch the silver livery that team principal Martin Whitmarsh insists is a vital brand marker in order to take on a new identity in 2011.
According to GMM
, the Woking team is investigating way of differentiating itself from the Mercedes works team which, since replacing Brawn ahead of the 2010 campaign, has adopted a similar livery in deference to Germany's motorsport heritage. Although marked apart because of their respective sponsors, McLaren clearly feels that the unique appearance it gained from 'going silver' has now been lost, despite former shareholder DaimlerChrysler remaining as the team's engine supplier.
While no obvious clues as to the new colour scheme - even if there will be one - have been revealed, speculation in F1 circles is trending towards black, which would be accented by the vivid dayglo red of main sponsor Vodafone. A year ago, such a livery would have stood apart from the rest of the field but, since then, backmarker HRT ran a largely unpainted carbonfibre black car in 2010, while both Lotus Racing and new Renault partner Group Lotus have announced plans to run in black-and-gold combinations in 2011. Tony Fernandes' team has since backed down in that battle, with the Group Lotus mock-up being unveiled before Christmas.
McLaren, of course, became synonymous with the red-and-white of Marlboro during the 1980s and '90s, and could feasibly revert to something similar with Vodafone this year, although the colours would hardly mark them apart from the rest of the field, with Ferrari and Virgin already running largely red machines.
Indeed, with green featuring heavily on the Lotus Racing entries, and highlighting the orange used at Force India, there appear to be few unique colours left for Whitmarsh and Co to choose from, unless they want to go entirely dayglo - vivid pink or tennis ball green anyone? - or take up the yellow abandoned by Renault. Perhaps a return to the original shade of orange used by founder Bruce McLaren might be in order.....