The first pre-season test session at Jerez has already produced plenty of talking points, but one of the rather more trivial matters has been the distinctive livery being used by Red Bull Racing.

It’s called a ‘dazzle’ camouflage – also known as ‘razzle dazzle’ – which was developed for use by the British and American navies during World War I and, to a lesser extent, in World War II. Featuring a series of interrupting geometric patterns in contrasting colours, the idea was to make it difficult for enemy craft to estimate a target ship’s range, speed and heading and therefore make it more difficult to hit.

The automotive industry subsequently picked up the technique in the late 1980s to prevent erstwhile photographers from being able to capture in any level of detail how a new car design looks. As a camera’s focus works by detecting shapes by colour and light, a dazzle camouflage makes it tough to focus on the underlying shapes on a car’s body.

While a handful of teams have resorted to all-black test liveries to try and keep their designs a closely guarded secret for as long as possible, this is incredibly the first time that a Formula 1 team has used a full dazzle scheme.

Sebastian Vettel, 2014 Italian Grand Prix

Red Bull Racing’s ‘dazzle’ livery was inspired by a helmet scheme Sebastian Vettel used at the Italian Grand Prix

The idea was spawned by one of the one-off helmet designs run by former driver Sebastian Vettel, according to Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner.

“Seb’s helmet was quite fun, so we thought it would be interesting to extend that concept to the rest of the car,” he told the Daily Mail.

“Dietrich [Mateschitz, Red Bull boss] liked it when he saw it, and it epitomises Red Bull that we like to do things a bit differently.

“To see a Red Bull in a different livery is striking and it makes it difficult to get detailed photographs of the car, as it confuses the eyeline, at a time of year when we’re all trying to be as secretive as we possibly can.

“But it’s obviously had a great reaction [and] it’s been extremely well received.”

However, that doesn’t mean that the team will continue to run the concept when the Formula 1 season officially gets underway at the Australian Grand Prix on March 13-15. The FIA has to sign off on all livery schemes the teams wish to use, and it’s unlikely that the sport’s governing body would endorse an ‘in competition’ colour scheme which is deliberately designed to foil its rivals.

“The livery will be even stronger [in season],” Horner continued.

“[Our] livery is different every year, although you may not have noticed. Every year it has evolved, so just wait and see.”

The general consensus is that the team will revert to its traditional blue/purple hue, but one clever fan has given the current camouflage scheme a bit of a tune-up and developed these concepts, which we think look pretty awesome!

Red Bull Racing Camouflage Livery Concept #1

And here’s a concept using the Red (Bull) – this looks pretty good, but it’s also a throwback to the HRTF1 Team, don’t you think?

Red Bull Racing Camouflage Livery Concept #1

A concept livery merging the ‘dazzle’ livery with Red Bull Racing’s traditional colours.


Images via WTF1 and XPB Images 

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Geoff Burke

Journalist at MotorsportM8
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