After a winter that has seen more change than I can ever remember in my time watching Formula 1, we’re finally back in business. The first race has been run and it was a relieved Valtteri Bottas who crossed the line first in Melbourne. Unfortunately it’s looking like more of the same in terms of performance and success, but while it may be the same guys winning for another year, at least the grid has seen some interesting changes to its liveries.
Alfa Romeo Racing
In both sad and uplifting news, Alfa Romeo is officially back in the sport for the first time since 1985, but has taken the place of much loved Sauber. However, I’m glad to see that the team should, with solid financial backing, work its way out of the doldrums and into some upper midfield battles. I’m also glad that Alfa has kept some of the Sauber roots, both with the ‘Sauber Engineering’ logo in front of the rear wheel, and with the similar blue and white design used last year.
The overall theme, however, has well and truly shifted to Alfa, expanding on the beautiful metallic red used in 2018. More red is what I wanted last year and it’s what we’ve got. They’ve brought the red forward to cover the cockpit and halo, and have also used a smoother, prettier curve along the sidepod. The main logo on the engine cover has also had a bit more thought put into it, and looks much better larger and cut off. Every aspect of the livery is more refined and improved. Great job Alfa Romeo.
Ferrari Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow
Ferrari have gone with as drastic a change as ever this year, firstly in hiring a very young, promising driver in Charles Leclerc who had a breakout 2018. Secondly, they’ve removed almost all white from the car and have followed Red Bull’s lead with a matte livery. Personally, I’m struggling to associate the livery with Ferrari, but it will come with time. It’s such a modern effort when we’ve always thought of Ferrari as an old school, conservative team.
What I’m a fan of is having black as a true second colour, as opposed to white. It’s still used sparingly, along the bottom of the car, the halo and some flashes on the wing end plates, but mainly on the very rear of the car, helping to contrast the white driver number exceptionally well. Whether it’s the lack of white, that black section being slightly more distracting, or the matte paint, the billboard of a sidepod is not as offensive this year.
Mission Winnow controversy aside, would the livery look better in glossy paint? Possibly. Would that help it look better from all angles? Yes – in especially sunny angles, the red does appear washed out. However, I’m excited to see this livery under lights. Bring on Bahrain.
Haas Rich Energy Haas F1 Team
There was quite a bit of pessimism around the validity of Rich Energy and their sponsorship of the Haas F1 Team, but so far we’ve gone at least winter testing and round 1 with their logos on the car. I was initially super disappointed to see a largely generic, uninspired livery turn up to Barcelona testing, but am heartened to see they’ve put some thought and creativity to good use come Melbourne, whether that was inspired or not. Probably not.
The car is mainly black, but for the gold lines on the front and larger section on the engine cover fin. I had the same idea myself pre-season, so suffice to say, I love the use of the black antlers on the gold background. However, whilst necessary from a marketing perspective, the white Haas logos create some disharmony on the car.
Whether it’s the shade of gold to blame (which should perhaps be lighter, but the reflective nature of it look nice above) or another aspect of the livery, it and the white don’t really get along well enough in my opinion. A two tone effort of black and hold only would have looked great. It’s a livery with fantastic potential, which I’m sure they’ll build on either throughout the season or in 2020, should Rich Energy still be around!
McLaren F1 Team
It has been a double driver change for McLaren with Sainz and youngster Norris in for 2019. The ethos of the livery has thankfully remained, while some clever additions have been made to the design. The papaya orange remains in all its beauty, with the slightly metallic blue encroaching ever so slightly on it’s territory, creeping up the engine cover in a quirky, almost tessellating triangular pattern.
They’ve also cheekily increased the amount of black on the car, in a deceivingly large portion along the bottom of the car. I love the look of this section, especially the old school detailing of the technical sponsors along it. The halo is still black, but given the presence of black has been upped across the board, it makes a whole lot more sense this time around. The half black, half blue rear wing end plate is an attractive touch. It’s improved in all aspects. Props to the McLaren livery designers, although I wish they hadn’t caved to having red on the back of the rear wing for Huski.
Mercedes Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport
They’ve gone and done it, Mercedes removed that patch of smokey black below the airbox, so I’m already happy. It’s become redundant seeing as they’ve removed the large Mercedes logo on the engine cover, and instead gone with a repeating pattern of silver arrows, on top of a fading black to silver. It’s subtle from a distance, but makes a strong point from up close.
The turquoise section of the car follows the same shape as last year, but is a far simpler, cleaner rendition – just the one line from nose to rear. It looks like a smooth flow of energy along the car and am happy they’ve gone with this design. Another element I like is painting the halo black just on the underside. It’s been underutilised to this point but am glad a couple of the teams are taking the halo further in terms of livery. One last thing that I find odd is having the Petronas logo in black. It would certainly stand out more in white with a black border.
Racing PointSportPesa Racing Point F1 Team
We weren’t quite sure what to expect from Racing Point after their transition from Force India. The largely unfancied Lance Stroll has already proved some doubters wrong by scoring a couple of points when his teammate Perez couldn’t manage any. The cars have also remained BWT pink, and thanks to the new ownership have actually added some significant sponsors, most notably SportPesa. This has boosted the amount of blue on the car, and made it a deeper shade, which suits the pink better.
Aside from the big blue section on the engine cover, the remainder of the design has stayed largely the same. That said, the deep pink and silver lines have also been brought forward due to the aforementioned change, now pleasantly connecting to the lines on the nose and finishing on the front of the sidepod. My only question is whether silver is needed at all, although it doesn’t take away any style points. I also have to point out the similar thinking to the halo design as Mercedes – looks just as good with a light colour on the underside here, as dark does for Merc. Side note, I wish Stroll had kept his blue helmet. It would have contrasted the pink and complemented the blue on the car perfectly.
Red Bull Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Gasly will have a tough time to replace Ricciardo and match Verstappen in 2019, and after a disastrous round 1, he has a lot to prove. On the livery side of things, it’s the fourth year for this design and it is virtually unchanged from last year, bar a couple of logos, such as Honda at the rear. It’s still nice, but would have liked to have seen some more design variation.
With Ferrari now encroaching on Red Bull’s point of difference in matte paint, I wonder if this will spur some changes to design philosophy in 2020, or whether they’ll wait it out until the bigger set of rule changes in 2021.
Renault F1 Team
Renault have brought in Aussie favourite Ricciardo for 2019, but have stuck with their design for a second year, only making a couple of improvements rather than another redesign like they had done the last three years. The most obvious and one I’m happiest about is the removal of the yellow around the edge of the sidepod entry.
Another change is the front halo support being half yellow where it was all black last year. Not sure what the thinking was for this, perhaps to lessen the appearance of a black beam jutting out, but it isn’t bad. The pinstripes over the car are still good and similarly, there’s a really nice touch with the very front facing edge of the rear wing end plate being painted in yellow.
Toro Rosso Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
The Red Bull junior program is really stretched at the moment, so much so that they’ve re-enlisted the unfortunately maligned Daniil Kvyat alongside debutante Alexander Albon. Toro Rosso has had my top livery pick for the last couple of years, partially due to the relief of ridding the grid of their previous boring efforts, but also because it just looks really good. The shades of blue and red are beautiful and match perfectly, and are complemented just as well by the metallic silver. However, the longer a livery exists, the more time we have to pick flaws.
It’s due to the shape of the sidepods, but the Red Bull logo appears more and more squished every year, tapering off from huge to tiny in dramatic fashion, far more so than the Red Bull. They really need to take it easy here – just because the real estate exists, it doesn’t mean you have to use it. Less would be more in this case. It also looks like they’ll be promoting their organics range on the inside of the rear wing end plates, although that really doesn’t receive much visibility. A neat touch regardless.
Williams ROKiT Williams Racing
Everyone was aboard the Kubica train and nobody is more glad than me to see him back in action, alongside youngster George Russell. However, the car looks to sadly be the slowest by far. At least they’ve given us something interesting to look at. My initial thoughts are who’s child did they get to play with a gradient tool in Photoshop? The Orlen and Rexona logos look terrible on the blue they’ve used, like they’ve used the screen tool to make them a little harder to read.
The nose is also a bit strange, and perhaps it’s a camera angle trick, but the gradient at the tip just never quite seems to sit directly in the centre of the nose which is annoying to say the least. However, it has grown on me since testing. The choice of blue and white is a new take on classic Williams colours, and the black along the side of the car helps to even out the ratio of blue and white. If blue had gone all the way to the bottom, it may have been overpowering. The use of gradient was an odd choice in my opinion, as were a couple of the other design decisions, but I can’t get myself to dislike this livery.
Best Looker Award – McLaren and Racing Point
Two completely different design philosophies, but both fantastic liveries in their own right. They’ve dethroned Toro Rosso and I’m happy that they have!
Least Attractive Award – Haas
I have to say that we’re lucky to see an abundance of beautiful liveries on the grid this year. I don’t any of them are ugly by any means, but Haas did receive my lowest rating. So much potential in the colours and design, especially with the antler logo to work with, so hoping for even better things in the future.
Breaking Tradition Award – Ferrari
It kinda just FEELS wrong that Ferrari is in matte, doesn’t it? I’m not sure Mr. Enzo would be spinning in his grave by any means, but they have taken a big step, and it does look really different. Keen to see it under the floodlights in Bahrain.
Best 90s Feel – McLaren
This car isn’t quite retro, but some of the design elements to irk back to the 90s. The listing of the tech sponsors along the side certainly gives off that vibe, and the triangular pattern could well have been taken from a textbook (or a mid 90s Footwork Formula 1 car). I think we’re really lucky to have such an attractive grid overall.
I think we’re really lucky to have such an attractive grid overall. Personally I’ve rated almost all the cars over 4 stars our of 5, so I’m enjoying this era as much as I can. Blink and we might be back to 6 grey teams and only Ferrari with some colour! Have your say on the people’s favourite below..