It’s been a bit of a stop-start livery season for us in 2019, but you knew we’d get to this eventually – so read on for our take on the colourful and (mostly) surprising 2019 grid!
First off, though, a bit of housekeeping. Regular followers of the site may have noticed that we haven’t done our usual full slate of coverage of the launches this year – we started out doing so, but then a combination of work pressures, holiday and illness meant that I fell behind and wasn’t able to catch up before all the cars were out, and by then it was a bit too late. This, coupled with a few other things relating to the site (how it’s a not-for-profit site but one that has grown in size and audience over the years) have caused me to have a bit of a rethink regarding F1 Colours and its general purpose and ongoing future – you can read more about this at the end of the post.
But for now, given that I haven’t commented on most of the 2019 liveries yet, I’m sure you’re aching to see what the official F1C take on all of them is… so let’s get cracking!
Mercedes AMG Petronas
A really pleasant surprise here, with a new interpretation of the usual silver/turquoise/black that actually feels somewhat fresh. Turning the Petronas colouring into what looks like an illuminated strip gives it an on-trend, Formula E kind of feel, the dialling down of the black (actually now more of a dark grey) to just sit at the back of the car works well too – and the new pattern of mini Mercedes three-point stars is unusual but creates a strong motion effect. The only thing I don’t really like is the white race numbers – they sit well on the side view, but it’s a real shame not having Hamilton’s red 44 on the nose. Maybe that’ll change once the season kicks in. But otherwise, top work from a team we’re not usually used to seeing push their designs positively.
Score: 8/10 – Possibly the best livery Mercedes have ever had
Another pleasant surprise, given that the initial addition of Mission Winnow to a so-called “new livery” partway through last season was somewhat disappointing. But here, the big news is that black has returned as the trim colour to a Ferrari – and while I’d still prefer to see it done in a way that looks more early ’90s-ish (that is, with fully black wings), it’s good to see, and sets apart Mission Winnow from the usual Marlboro stylings. Not certain that the engine cover logo looks brilliant in black lettering, and it’s a shame those lovely retro race number boxes have gone – but still, with what looks to be a different shade of red from recent years, this is a more striking Ferrari than we’ve generally been used to.
Score: 7/10 – Marks for changing the secondary colour, even if the application doesn’t fully work
Aston Martin Red Bull Racing
Well, yes. It’s still a decent-looking livery, but the differences between this and 2018 are imperceptible – just a Honda logo where previously there was TAG Heuer. Appreciate that they want to stick with something they think works, and the matt job does that – but what’s wrong with giving it little tweaks as the years tick by?
Score: 6/10 – It’s a nice-looking car, but one we’ve seen too many times by now
Renault Sport Racing Limited
See, like Renault have done! At first glance this looks identical to last year’s superb effort, but they’ve actually made minor tweaks to make it even better. The race numbers have been filled in (just like we asked!) and there’s also the really neat touch of making the inner wing endplates yellow – just to give the colour scheme a bit more of a pop. Would still like to see some more white thrown in there, but this is still a very smart car overall.
Score: 9/10 – Looks like a Renault ought to look, and pops off the track
Rich Energy Haas F1 Team
Oh dear. On the one hand, it’s not as if a largely black car with gold and white bits is terrible-looking. But if you’re going to appropriate the JPS livery with no actual connection to it you’d better make sure you get it note-perfect, and this look just hasn’t, with the white-logo half of the car working at odds with the gold-logo half. It’s definitely the best-looking Haas so far, but that’s not by very high standards, and the antics of their title sponsor have done little to inspire affection for the thing.
Score: 6/10 – Smart enough, but could be smarter, and has a distasteful air over it
McLaren F1 Team
The 2017 car was really nicely designed but wasn’t the right shade of orange. The 2018 car was the right shade of orange but wasn’t very well-designed. This is the right shade of orange… and actually designed. It’s fantastic. The team have wisely made more of a feature of a shade of blue that counterpoints the orange beautifully, and laid it on with a smart triangle-based design arrangement. Better yet, although still lacking an actual proper Title Sponsor, there are at least enough logos all over the place that it doesn’t look like the disappointingly blank canvas of last year. Even the red rear wing, which I should hate for being clashy, kind of works – with a big bold logo that makes the car look a bit Indy-ish. And then there’s those uniforms! All around, this is a massive win.
Score: 10/10 – Gorgeous, the best orange McLaren yet and their best livery full stop since the early West days
SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team
Well, that “new era” turned out to be something of a damp squib – the 2019 livery is basically just the 2018 livery with new blue sections added to account for new title sponsor SportPesa. And… it doesn’t really work, frankly. We know that an electric deep blue and the BWT pink can work well together, because we’ve seen plenty of fan mockups that do just that – but somewhere along the way they’ve got this wrong. It feels like they should have committed more fully to the blue, maybe keeping the pink as an accent colour, because this just feels like a cut-and-shut job of two different liveries hacked together. And given that the 2018 car was already a bit of a broken-up mess (but one that just about made it work in a mid-90s kind of way), it just leaves the whole thing feeling neither one thing nor the other. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if we see a change, with SportPesa taking over more prominently, before the season is out.
Score: 5/10 – It’s still nice to see the bold pink in the sport but this is a mess
Alfa Romeo Racing
The Sauber name may be gone, but their livery spirit lives on – and it’s baffling to me why the team have chosen to keep the boring white and blue front section of this livery, when it felt like a temporary job all the way back at the start of 2018. The metallic red is gorgeous and the adjustment of the Alfa logo compared with last year is an improvement, as is the extension of the red onto the halo – but I don’t understand why it hasn’t been allowed to take over the entire car. There’s a great livery in here just bursting to get out – maybe next year we’ll actually get to see it.
Score: 7/10 – Really nice colours but only half the car is pretty, the rest is dull
Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda
As you were for Toro Rosso, but honestly, did we ever want them to change? Not really, although I think around about now is the point where they could start to do something slightly different with the layout while keeping the utterly gorgeous colour scheme intact. With McLaren hitting an absolute home run with their livery, it could be said that this is only the joint-best livery on the grid this year, rather than the absolute best as it was for the previous two.
Score: 9/10 – For the first time, we’re knocking a point off for being identical to last year
ROKiT Williams Racing
I liked this more than most people seemed to at launch, but I have to admit that on track it’s not coming off as the most inspiring colour scheme – and given Williams’ current woes, it may yet end up being associated with the final decline of one of F1’s greatest teams. I still think the main blue colour is strong, even if the blurred/spraypaint effect where it blends into the white isn’t the best; and the red of new sponsor ROKiT could be better integrated into the livery itself rather than just being part of their logo. It also suffers from a problem the last couple of Martini liveries had, which is that too much of the car is in unpainted carbon – from the front view in particular, you can barely discern the livery, it looks like they’ve forgotten to paint the car.
Score: 5/10 – Wouldn’t be surprised if, one way or the other, this livery isn’t on the grid next season
So there we have it – and a bit of a surprise as, purely on points, the Toro Rosso doesn’t take the title this time around, thanks to an absolutely brilliant effort from McLaren. It remains to be seen whether performance on the track will live up to the livery quality (it’s McLaren, so… probably not)
There’s disappointment here and there, with a feeling that the likes of Haas, Alfa and Racing Point could be doing more with what they’ve got; but with particularly strong efforts from McLaren, Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari, the current trend for a colourful grid and a spirit of invention in the livery game remains very much alive. We’re looking forward to seeing how all of these look up against each other on the track in Melbourne next weekend!
As for the update on F1 Colours in general – well, don’t worry, the site’s not going anywhere any time soon. I certainly don’t want to stop writing on here, but it is a one-man-band operation done entirely in my spare time. I was finding myself under a bit of pressure and anxiety to get the launch updates done this year, which is partly what led to just throwing my hands up and not doing it at all. But what I have found is that I still enjoy commentating on designs and rumours as they happen on Twitter. So from now on, while I will still do an annual roundup (like this one) every year, I’m not going to bust a gut doing news and launch coverage as site posts any more. Things move too quickly, teams don’t tend to launch in the same staggered way that they did when the site launched in 2007, and social media has picked up the baton for a lot of the chatter that goes on around the pre-season.
With that in mind, I’ve also undertaken a bit of a review of the archive content on the site – if we’re not doing new news coverage any more then I don’t see the point in having an outdated news section any more either, so I’ve taken the archives of news and launch coverage down (does anyone really want to go back and read a story about Toyota’s 2008 launch?) I’m also in the process of reviewing some of the older feature content, to ensure that the site is on a sound legal footing when it comes to image use, so you may notice some posts either come down or change as this is worked through (I’ve also been taking the opportunity to do minor rewrites/corrections here and there!)
In short, the site will keep on going, new features will continue to be posted from time to time (as I get the chance to do them!) including a new Livery Histories entry (finally!) that’s being worked on as we speak. And I do still intend to remain active with commentary on Twitter – possibly even moreso than before. But if you’ve wondered why some older/less relevant posts have disappeared from view, why images have changed or why there’s no new launch coverage – that’s basically the long and short of it.
Hope you enjoy sticking with us whether you’re new to the site or have been around since 2007, and I’ll be bringing you more in the way of the classic F1 Colours livery content you know and love before too long!