A brand new car has brought Formula e to the next level in season five, and I have to say that while I’m not usually a fan of ‘futuristic’ looking cars, it’s marvelous. It’s a wonderful livery template that many teams have taken advantage of; some to greater extents than others.
Audi Sport ABT Schaeffler
Audi Sport is one of a few teams to have an unchanged lineup for the new season and perhaps with continuity in mind, also have a very similar livery to last year. The colour scheme looks great once again despite essentially having five colours, with yellow being more prominent than last year thanks to Deutsche Post.
It looks slightly neater too this year, thanks in part to the removal of the broken up design along the sidepod from last season. There’s a lot of white front on but is counteracted by the abundance of colour further back on the car. Overall, it’s a nice evolution of last year’s livery. Aggressive, but relatively neat.
BMW i Andretti Motorsport
Andretti have teamed up with BMW, bringing another huge manufacturer into the series, proving how Formula e is gaining popularity, relevance and overall moving from strength to strength. António Félix da Costa has hung around from last year, whilst Alexander Sims has joined the team, after driving for BMW in sports cars in 2018 and being development driver for Andretti. BMW have taken charge of the livery design with an unmistakably on brand blue and white effort.
Despite some fundamental differences, I can’t help but be reminded of the HP/Compaq era Williams F1 liveries, whilst also wondering if a similar design would have worked for a ‘can’ based design for Red Bull; I’d attempted something kinda similar in the past. Not to mention that the quartered design is rarely seen, last I remember being the short lived Kronenbourg Larrousse livery. Regardless of the now to be expected gimmicky electric circuit board design elements, the quartered design (inspired by the BMW logo) is a fantastic effort, very eye catching from the side and top. I wish the purple slice wasn’t there as it’s a little jarring being the only purple element of the design, but it isn’t a deal breaker.
However, the design is asymmetric. I’m not against asymmetric liveries, but when one side looks so nice, and the other is so boring, it’s hard to see why they didn’t just make it a regular mirror image. Clearly they’ve given priority to the rear view angle of the car, but who actually views the car from this angle? A large majority of the time, the car is viewed from either the sides, or the nose, so I find this decision unusual. It’s also a big shame that they’ve left this side so blank; even if not quartered, there could be a lot more love put into this side of the car.
DS Techeetah Formula e Team
After winning the championship with Vergne, Techeetah have piled on the gold for 2018-19. However, it’s been done in a positive fashion. The shade of gold that has been used is thankfully a little closer to orange than brown, giving the car a warmer feel. They’ve also simplified the design significantly. Gone is the cartoon cheetah and the flashes of white and instead, they’ve followed the lines of the new chassis beautifully. This is a perfect instance of less is more.
The colour placement is distributed well, with gold only on the top portion of the car and black only on the sides (apart from the gold barge boards). As of Riyadh, the halo is also gold, furthering this effect. There’s not too much more to say, other than they have limited the Total red, which has ruined many a livery in the past.
Envision Virgin Racing
Boy am I pleased about this! The silver and black on the Virgin liveries has been a gripe of mine for a few years now and I’m so happy to see that they’ve gone without them this season. As with Techeetah’s gold, the shade of purple selected is lovely and it’s actually a relief to see matte paint over the hyper reflective variation.
The white gradient design is reminiscent of Dragon’s two seasons ago, and works perfectly in adding some texture to the simple delivery. The red flashes are also distributed very well, especially in the piping along the bottom of the car and the rear diffuser – a neat use of the complex bodywork.
Dragon have brought in 21 year old Max Günther, quick in F3 and slightly less so in F2 last season, to drive alongside Lopez for 2018-19. They also have a new main sponsor in Geox, who have painted the car in black and white as of Riyadh. Some of last year’s Dragon identity has rolled over in the form of the thin stripes on the roll hoop.
The design itself is strong; the white contours along the shape of the body and contrasts with the adjacent black, giving the car the ‘coke bottle effect’ and looking very attractive. The black in the front of the cockpit is a nice touch, and is generally a very well balanced design. A nice, above average livery.
Mercedes affiliate HWA has also joined the series this season, pairing McLaren reject (harsh wording perhaps) Stoffel Vandoorne with stalwart McLaren test driver and Merecedes DTM driver Gary Paffet. The livery, however, gets a yawn out of ten. Frustratingly, they’ve gone for a similar colour scheme to Jaguar, where we already had the issue of NIO and Andretti using near identical shades of turquoise/teal as them last season. Why use colours that make your cars indistinguishable from another team’s, from a distance? Corporate colours or not, if another team that’s already in the series uses them, choose something else, or get creative. Or both.
The blue does give the car a cool ‘Tron’ effect with the piping, but you can barely see the design in front of the rear wheel (which seemingly has n place on this livery), or the HWA logo, as the colour difference is so slight. The piping does use the car’s edges well, but the livery in total annoys me a little.
With d’Ambrosio making the switch from Dragon and Pascal Wehrlein set to take over from Rosenqvist in the coming races, Mahindra are surely set for some success this season. On the livery front, they’ve opted for evolution this season, building on their red, blue and white design of 2017-18. They’ve decided on a mainly white top body section, along with single orange and green stripes, harking to their Indian heritage. However, it clashes with the rest of the colour scheme, so it may have been better off placed elsewhere on the car – I feel the wheel rims were enough (and look quite nice).
The rest of the car is mainly red, and features some swooping red and white stripes along the edges of the bodywork, whilst maintaining the blue ‘engine’ cover for sponsor Renesas. A solid effort and marginally better than last season’s.
NIO Formula e Team
After having the ridiculous situation last season of NIO and Andretti bearing almost identical liveries, both have pivoted. Andretti have partnered with BMW and taken on their colours, whilst NIO have gone in another direction entirely. The result is a half turquoise, half white effort, which fails to impress. What this reminds me of running out of ideas when designing a livery, using the gradient tool over an entire car out of desperation, and hoping something interesting would happen.
It’s usually a disappointment, as this is to an extent. There is an attempt to spice it up; the charcoal section just below the NIO logo on the sidepod looks good, but that’s about it. There needs to be more going on. Whilst I like how neat it is, it does feel a little empty overall and leaves me wanting more.
After the announcement that Renault would pass the baton to subsidiary Nissan, I’m sure we all expected something in black, white and red as per Nissan’s recent corporate liveried cars, but I’m not sure how many of us expected silver. Starting with the positives, I’m happy to see the black and silver split cleanly along the body lines from the front angle; it’s a design technique I’m a big fan of. I also like the red piping, which multiple teams have used to great effect, contrasting very well against the black.
However, from the side, I see a familiar foe in smokey black against silver. I’ve dislike this for a number of years with Mercedes, and I’m not the biggest fan of it here either. That said, the more I look at it, the more I appreciate the thought in the placement and started to enjoy it as a whole. While I’m disappointed it isn’t more vibrant, it has to be scored at least just above average.
Panasonic Jaguar Racing
Much like their driver lineup, Jaguar’s colour scheme is unchanged this season. We have to embrace the fact that Jaguar have taken on this turquoise colour as their new racing colours, for electric racing at least, but it’s impossible to not wish this was British racing green. The design itself has evolved slightly with the some of the stripes slightly thicker than the last few seasons to suit the wider and curvier nose and body.
The tessellating pattern on the rear wheel covers adds some texture to the otherwise plain grey section, but from the side, it feels a little disjointed as not all panels have a second line parallel to the thicker section of turquoise. It’s nicer than last year, but I’m unsure how much of that has to do with the new chassis.
Venturi Formula e Team
Venturi have brought back Mortara for the new season, who showed promise and probably should have won his first Formula e race. They’ve also signed Felipe Massa, who last raced in F1 in 2017. Venturi have kept silver as the main colour from last season, but are now using blue as a secondary colour, as well as some black as a third. As mentioned for Nissan above, silver just fails to capture the imagination and ends up in most cases as a dull livery.
The design has a go at some form of piping around most of the panels but doesn’t do a great job of it due to the varying thicknesses at different parts. It also ends inexplicably above the Michelin logo on the front wing endplate, when it goes all the way to the edge everywhere else. Nitpicking, but very frustrating in my opinion. It just doesn’t feel like a very well thought out design.
A few surprises, but generally a pretty average field of cars for this season. A couple of exceptions though, with Virgin rising to the top with their new purple design. Let’s hope the racing looks as good as the new car does!