Grapevine: Daily Grapevine Thursday Analysis - Australia

The first race of a season is frustrating for hardened hacks.

Grapevine: Daily Grapevine Thursday Analysis - Australia

The first race of a season is frustrating for hardened hacks.

Unless personnel movements since the previous finale have been logged and tracked, familiar faces no longer in familiar team wear can cause initial bewilderment.

Of course, a Juan Pablo Montoya in McLaren garb or a Jarno Trulli in Toyota gear is now a sight familiar from launch and test photographs, but a PR previously with Team A unexpectedly bearing allegiance to Operation B can be slightly confusing.

When an entire team have swapped colours, the impact is magnified by the size of the team, and so it is this year: in triplicate.

Whilst Ferrari, BAR and BMW have retained their red, black/olive/red and blue/white uniforms respectively, the fifth garage along â€" that of McLaren â€" is filled with rather gaudily clad team members.

Where last year staff wore black and silver gear, this year the colour scheme is black fading through silver to bright orange. Orange thread has been used in the sewing process, with a range of mix-and-match garments available to cater for all weather conditions.

One may, of course, question the use of orange in McLaren's uniforms, but the colour is very much a part of their heritage â€" founder Bruce McLaren won his eponymous team's maiden Grand Prix, the 1968 Belgian, in an orange M7, and the company dominated the CanAm series in a range of like-coloured sports racers. Black and silver grey are McLaren's present corporate colours.

Moving on, Sauber retains their blue/turquoise hue, but next door the green/white of Jaguar Racing has given to the blue of Red Bull Racing. Smart and elegant, yet rather workmanlike, but a rather surprising choice by a parent company better known for its raves and brashness than protocol. But, the team have promised mega after-race parties.

"Packing up the motorhome on a Sunday night is a thing of the past," Red Bull Racing's Hospitality Manager has told his staff.

Toyota's operation is squeezed between Jordan, who retain yellow/black with hardly a logo whilst Midland Group plans for 2006, and Minardi's plain black-outfitted staff.

But, as though to make up for the scarcity of colours on its neighbour's uniforms, Toyota's people are kitted out in red/black/grey and white track suit-like outfits, with a raft of sponsor logos embossed diagonally across the upper garments. Already staff are being asked whether dressing gowns and slippers will be compulsory at European rounds.

(Before calculator-punching anoraks complain that the pit garage sequence is incorrect as the Japanese team finished ahead of Jordan in 2004, note that Toyota requested the facility as it offers larger storage area.)

So new colours for McLaren and Toyota, whilst newcomer Red Bull Racing have added to the various blues already in the paddock. But, will it make their cars faster?

A novelty has been added to pass readers controlling paddock turnstiles. Where, in the past a swipe past the reader would rotate its stile sufficiently to allow only the bearer access â€" thus preventing creative juggling of passes â€" 2005 versions have in-built monitors which flash up images of bearers.

Why Formula One administration has gone to this trouble (and expense) has not been explained, as passes contain photographs of the holder. The system, though, has caused much mirth: such is the processing delay that images are displayed up to five seconds later â€" long after holders have passed through â€" causing successors to wonder about their own appearances.

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