A change in format for the annual livery review this year, as I’ve decided to go through each team and award a rating out of five based on four distinct categories, giving a total score out of 20 to determine in truly scientific fashion which is THE BEST.
The categories should be fairly self-explanatory, but just in case they’re not, I’ll explain them anyway:
Colours – Er, the choice of colours (and shades), obviously. Specifically, do they work well together? How well do they make the car stand out? Are they colours that look good on a car full stop?
Design – How well are those colours employed on the car? Do any lines fit well with the shape of thing?
Sponsors – Have they got enough? Are they stuck in the right places, and – more importantly – do they integrate well, or clash, with the paint job?
Originality – Has the team come up with something new and dazzling, or simply photocopied a popular 1980s car?
So with that thoroughly clear and unambiguous explanation out of the way… on with the liveries!
Red Bull Racing
Strong primary colours go well together and make the car stand out.
The flowing lines and bull have always looked good; the red wing endplates are a bit jarring, however.
More sponsors would be befitting of F1’s top team, but the ones that are there are well integrated.
Fresh when first introduced… but that was seven years ago. Needs a change.
Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
Chrome/silver, black and red make for a menacing combo.
The edges and lines are bulbous, rather than the sharp feel of the West McLaren days. Lacking some dynamism despite the colour scheme.
A little sparse, compared to previous years.
It may be the team’s distinctive identity, but it’s feeling a little old hat, now.
Simple and classic. Only missing a dose of black, really.
Difficult to do this wrongly. The white sections on the wings work well.
Portfolio and placement are generally good, but that “Not Marlboro” logo on the engine cover really lets it down.
Not their fault that the car will always look basically like this, but still.
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
The turquoise shouldn’t go with the silver. It just shouldn’t. And yet… it does. It’s a better silver than McLaren’s, too.
Beefing up the turquoise sections last year really made a positive difference. Refreshingly free of unnecessary smaller detail.
Petronas stretching across two colours doesn’t work, and neither does red Aabar logo on endplate. Engine cover still feels lacking.
Basically the same as last year – but at least that was a change from 2010.
Lotus F1 Team
Black and gold are perfect. Only the red loses the point.
Despite being a poor colour choice, the red is actually used about as well as it could be. Line layout across car is lovely.
Every sponsor beautifully integrated except for the needless yellow Lotus logo.
Barely required any effort to put together, did it? I’ve forgiven them for last year’s naming fiasco, but still – this is a cloneasaurus and no mistake.
Sahara Force India F1 Team
More teams should race in their countries’ flags, shouldn’t they?
Top half of the car is terrific, bottom half less so. “Missing chunks” design is a bit dated.
Again, sponsors on the top half look great – but Sahara logo on sidepod is appalling.
It’s good that they make changes every year – but it’s still evolution rather than revolution.
Sauber F1 Team
Nothing wrong with white, black and red – if employed in an eye-catching fashion.
Inexplicable and dull from start to finish.
Much better integration of multiple logos than last year.
At least it’s not last year’s “effort”.
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Stationary, it’s a “classier” version of Red Bull’s colour scheme, but they’re not colours that translate well on track and at speed.
Red at the rear and gold at the front create a bit of an imbalance – having a bit of each at both ends would work better.
Good that the team have found some of their own, and worked them into the livery, but even in the later Minardi days there were more logos on these cars.
Dazzling and inventive when introduced, the rampaging red bull really should have been put out to pasture by now.
Williams F1 Team
Shade of blue a little dark, but it’s a good combo.
Not as good a recreation of the “Rothmans style” as last year’s was, and the nose section doesn’t really work, but it’s generally functional.
Missing, presumed scarpered. For a team like Williams, it’s more than a little sad.
It’s at least a different interpretation of a retro design.
Caterham F1 Team
Only suffers by virtue of not being the 2010 design.
Layout (why the blank engine cover/sidepod while the monocoque is clustered?) and integration both poor compared to previous years.
Another one simply carried over from last year.
HRT F1 Team
Not a colour scheme I would have thought up for them, but it’s interesting. Darker shades of the Spanish flag colours make it look less like a fight in a ketchup and mustard factory than it otherwise might have.
The swooshy pattern is nice, but there’s too much white.
It’s new! A new livery! CHERISH IT.
Marussia F1 Team
Would be a full five if the shade of red was as dark as in 2010.
Much better than last year – although also much better in profile than it looks from the front.
Fewer logos than before, but the only one not very well integrated is the team’s own.
We might have been entitled to expect a more dramatic change considering the change in team name – but it is different from each the previous two years.
So there we have it – and it turns out that, despite being pretty much exactly the same design as last year, my favourite 2012 car is proven BY SCIENCE to be the Mercedes, with a score of 15 out of 20 – though honourable mentions go to Lotus, Caterham and Marussia. I also like what Force India have tried to do, but the execution doesn’t quite come off and I think they could have been braver and made it more predominantly orange.
All in all, it’s not as vintage a grid as 2010 was (though I doubt any grid will be for quite some time), but while most teams have stayed the same as last year (leaving us little to talk about), a couple have at least improved and none have really gone backwards. So overall that’s a win, I suppose.
Agree? Disagree? Shrug casually, not really caring either way? Share your thoughts in the comments!