There was a fair amount of optimism about the 2015 livery season, with the prospect of several teams making significant changes and introducing bold new designs and sponsors into the sport. Of course, that was all somewhat dampened by that McLaren non-event of a launch, not to mention the growing threat of F1’s grid shrinking to the smallest it’s ever been; but even so, there have been at least a few small developments to get excited about. So let’s do our customary annual team-by-team run through…
For this year, I’m bringing back the points system that I used in 2012 and 2013 (but dropped for last year), to give a reflection of how each livery scores in an assortment of different categories. Each category has up to five points available, making for a score out of 20, and here’s what they all mean:
Colours: Are the individual colours themselves good choices? And more importantly, how well do they go together?
Design: How the colours are actually applied to the car, and in particular whether they fit well with the lines of it.
Sponsors: Having a good portfolio of sponsors scores points, but so too does integrating them effectively with the livery rather than just slapping on multi-coloured stickers.
Originality: Does it offer anything new to the grid’s portfolio? Or if it’s based on an old design, does it at least freshen things up?
Bonus points: Additional marks can be given for anything I like about the livery that doesn’t fall in the above (but can’t take it above a maximum score of 20)
In practice, a car that scores 14 or above is well-regarded, 10-13 is decent, and anything in single figures is a disappointment. And to keep a sense of suspense, let’s run through them in ascending order of their score. Bet you can’t guess which one that means we do first…
Honestly, in principle there’s nothing at all wrong with silver, black and red. They’re great colours for an F1 car. But…
They’ve been applied with no thought or care here, and look awful.
And McLaren are still without a title sponsor, which is an unacceptable state of affairs.
And they haven’t bothered to come up with a new livery despite pretending they were going to.
Manor Marussia F1 Team
Red white and black are a good combo, but I don’t really like this more orangey shade. The darker red on the team uniforms looks much better.
Well, it exists. It’s simple and workmanlike, neither stylish nor ugly.
Can’t give them points for sponsors when they don’t have any!
It’s basically last year’s Marussia, but they have at least made a small tweak by removing the black panels from the side.
Bonus points: 2
One because nobody ever expected them to have a proper livery at this stage anyway (they’ve been more concerned with just getting on the grid). And one for looking more like the McLaren should have done than the McLaren does.
Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Terrific shade of blue, which goes well with the red and yellow, but by gum the purple spoils it.
Making the lines more solid (as opposed to the spray-paint) has had a negative rather than positive effect.
Funny that a team who are basically themselves a sponsor are also one of the few to get a separate title sponsor. Really like how the Red Bull text on the monocoque now looks.
At least there’s been an attempt to mix it up this year, even if it’s not successful.
Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team
It still feels like the discovery that the silver and turquoise go so well together was an accident: but it’s a happy accident. A point off the usual 5/5, though, for there being too much black now.
It looks better now it’s less spray-painty, but both the black and turquoise sections still feel a bit wishy-washy.
Can’t fault how they’re integrated on the car, but it’d be nice to see more of them.
While they’ve tended to make subtle changes since its introduction in 2010, it’s still basically a five-year-old design now – and pretty much identical to the latter part of last season.
Scuderia Toro Rosso
Lovely combo of metallic blue, red and gold works better than Red Bull’s.
I say it every year, but I still think the bull should be got rid of. Otherwise, though, I like the gold/red flashes and the rear wing works well too. It’s a lot smarter than the earliest STRs.
Still a little sparse, but it’s good that they’ve got a few of their own that are distinct from Red Bull, and none of them clash.
Kudos for mixing it up a little bit each year, but not enough for the new car reveal to ever be exciting.
If they ever go back to proper rosso corsa, we’ll give them a 5/5. Until then, nope.
Nothing especially wrong with this, although nor is it particularly exciting. Lines flow better than last year, we just wish there was more black on the wings.
They’ve got a pretty good array of sponsors, and Santander suits the car well – but that UPS logo is still a glaring problem.
Nobody deserves credit for painting a Ferrari red and white. Not that it should ever be anything else, of course.
Bonus points: 2
To make up for the fact that, although it loses out on originality, Ferrari are the one team who are allowed to be that way.
Sauber F1 Team
Nice to see yellow back on the grid in some form, but there’s already enough blue around and that shade is more plastic than metallic.
Simple and smart. No great shakes, but doesn’t do much wrong, and the new nose bit helps enormously.
The ones they have are integrated nicely, but they don’t have very many, and could yet end up with even fewer.
I’ve slated Sauber so often on this site for being dull and boring with their livery that I have to applaud them for surprising us with something COMPLETELY new. Even if it does look like a mid-90s Ligier.
Bonus points: 1
MASSIVE RACE NUMBERS!
Lotus F1 Team
Well, you know what we’re going to say: this would be a 5 for the black and gold (and a cleaner shade of the latter than the metallic style of previous years), but a point dropped for chucking clashy red in there.
Much improved on previous years. Still doesn’t look much like a JPS car (only the 2011 one was ever close) but aside from the red bits it’s highly smart.
Once again: would be a 5, for a good array of backers who all fit the colour scheme, if not for sodding PDVSA.
One point above the standard “you just nicked the JPS livery” 1/5 for having the decency to actually come up with fresh lines (and change the colour tones a bit) this time around.
Sahara Force India F1 Team
Silver and black, with orange trim? Yes please. The addition of subtle green maybe overcooks it, though.
Perfectly functional, maybe just a little lacking in excitement.
Terrific work: they’ve actually got lots of sponsors (even if several are owned by the same two companies) and every single logo is coloured to fit in with the livery. That’s how it’s done.
I wanted to give them top marks for the way they blew our socks off on launch day: but I have to drop a point for its similarity (if in inverse) to the McLaren.
Williams Martini Racing
Definitely the right choice of base colour to go with those gorgeous Martini stripes.
The larger Martini stripe on the engine cover improves it, but still a bit sparse in some areas. Dark wings help to break things up, though.
A nice proper old-fashioned title sponsor, and adding Rexona helps to boost the overall portfolio.
Only a slight tweak from last year, and of course it’s piggy-backing on a classic design anyway.
Bonus points: 2
Because it’s still gorgeous even with the flaws mentioned above.
So there we have it: unsurprisingly, Williams hold on to top spot despite only minor changes from last year, but they’re joined by Force India, who get massive kudos for something genuinely new (for them, at least) and an incredibly smart application of sponsors. Even less of a shock is my thinly-veiled contempt for the McLaren, while Mercedes are disappointingly samey and Red Bull disappointingly ugly. Honourable mentions, too, for Sauber and Lotus, two teams who’ve copped flak from me in recent years but have done solid jobs for 2015.
So that’s my take: what do you reckon?