2011 Liveries: The Verdict!

Right, then. We’ve now seen all twelve of 2011’s Formula One liveries. I wanted to wait, before doing the usual summary post, until we’d seen them all running on track in testing – but frankly, from the looks of things we may not see the HRT in motion before Melbourne itself. So there’s no point waiting for it, and I might as well run through each of the cars now and give my thoughts. It’s fair to say that 2011 isn’t really the vintage year for new liveries that 2010 was – but there are still some interesting paint jobs out there, and some teams have even managed to improve on the previous year. Let’s take a look in detail, then…

Red Bull: Same as it ever was. I’ve never been that keen on the nose design, but the car does look good in profile. The smaller “can” design on the rear endplate is an improvement on last year, as is the stretched out bull on the engine cover. Small improvements, but I still wish they’d try something a bit different one year. 7/10

McLaren: Same as it ever (recently) was. Again, it’s in the engine cover that this has improved – losing the orange from the tip (as with the Red Bull, the change is a result of there being no more “shark fin”) is significantly smarter. But I think we are all starting to get bored of this one now. 6/10

Ferrari: The new logo is nice, and the Italian flag on the rear-wing is a good (if slightly odd) touch. But once again, I curse one of the big teams for giving me so little to talk about. At least Ferrari have a bit more of an excuse, mind. 7/10

Mercedes: This is more like it – both in terms of actually being different from last year, and because it’s a major improvement on 2010. Bolder employment of the Petronas turquoise works a treat – although the way the white text overlaps the two colours on the sidepod troubles me. But in the head-on view in particular, this is a lovely car. 9/10

Renault: Okay, look, I promise I won’t judge this car any more on the external context, or on the fact that it isn’t the wonderful 2010 design. But even aside from all of that – well, it still doesn’t entirely work. The red endplates still feel like a major mistake, and with so many lines and sponsors, the gold looks messy rather than smart. But the benefit of a black car is that even if poorly-designed it’ll look decent, and this will at least be a distinctive on-track presence. Grr at it in general, though. 8/10

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Williams: I do like the idea behind calling back to the Rothmans livery (even though it makes no actual sense whatsoever), but the execution could perhaps be better. Parts of it are excellent – aside from inexplicably using silver rather than gold, the section from the cockpit to the rear wing is a proper updating of the design, looking like you suspect a Rothmans car would look if it existed in 2011 (darker blue notwithstanding). But I’m really not at all keen on the nose section, the additional colour stripes simply look too squeezed in alongside last year’s configuration, and a bit more white on there would have gone a long way. Nevertheless, after a few years of samey designs, it’s something with a bit of character to it. 8/10

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Force India: I’m getting a little bored of FI’s colour scheme now, although it’s hardly their fault that there are so many other white cars on the grid. The orange and green still look bold, but I don’t think this is a particularly modern application of them – the car looks like, by turns, an early-2000s Toyota and a mid-90s Footwork/Arrows. Something a bit more swooping and curvy would be more in line with current F1 fashion. I won’t mind if Force India keep turning out in these colours, but let’s hope the pattern is a bit more cutting-edge next year. 6/10

Sauber: Well, if they can’t be bothered to design a proper livery, I can’t be bothered to comment on it in detail. BOOOOOOO. 2/10

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Toro Rosso: Could they just once, just one year, consider using this car to advertise sugar-free Red Bull instead? No? Well, alright then, I suppose we’re stuck with this. And there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it, it’s just incredibly boring by now. Five years Toro Rosso have been in the sport. That’s as long as McLaren have had the chrome for. 4/10

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Lotus: Well, the only way it could be as good as last year is if it were exactly the same. But this is nevertheless another very strong effort. The shade of green chosen is just lovely, and the racing stripe along the back of the engine cover – spilling onto the wing endplate – is an interesting touch. In profile, this is 10/10, but it’s let down badly by a nose stripe that’s disappointing in the way it blends – or rather doesn’t blend – with the sponsors this time out. 9/10.

HRT: A really rather brilliant livery, let down by two pretty major flaws – firstly, there are already a couple of white cars (and another that uses the three colours of red/white/black), and secondly, it’s got no sponsors. Seriously. The small “Panda” logo is the only thing that hasn’t been brought by hiring Narain Karthikeyan. Yet nevertheless – it’s distinctive (in pattern if not choice of colours), it’s coming from an entirely fresh angle, and it’s got massive lovely race numbers on it. Although, you know, the last two occurrences I can think of of a team having race numbers on the engine cover were the ’98 Tyrrell and the 2005 Jordan. Both of which were those teams’ last years in the sport (and one of which also featured Karthikeyan). Something to think about. Anyway, it’s got imagination, even though I’m yet to be convinced we’ll actually see it race. 8/10.

Virgin: A slight let down after last year’s superb effort. Decreasing the prominence of the black makes it look that bit less imposing/menacing, as does adding grey into the mix (and, as discussed, that addition simply makes one think of Midland), and the whole thing has more of an air of CART than of F1. But it’s still a strong colour scheme on the whole, and the shape of the red pattern over the engine cover has a bit more thought in it than last year’s. I’d like the nose tip a lot more if it weren’t for the blue, though. Oh, and kudos for the pleasingly old-school stylings of D’Ambrosio’s helmet design, but more on that at a later point!  8/10

So that’s my take on them all. How about yours?


    Drake Ziggo

    March 14, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    Well, here’s my two cents.

    Red Bull: Indeed its again an inprovement on the last year’s car and more people would agree that a breath of fresh air would be nice for once, but knowing how RedBull is such a global brand we probably will not see change soon. 8/10

    McLaren: How I look forward to the year they decide to go back to their old Black/White livery in the time of Mika and David…or if other teams decide to remove white even further back to go into Orange/White of ze olden days. 7/10

    Ferrari: Call me a sucker for tradition but i preffered red wings over white wings…and this Italian flag on the back gimick is an eyesore, as for the logo: Yes it looks better then the old one and it actually fills the old Marlboro slot well, Ah well, next year this whole Italia 150 gimick will be over and we’ll see what they’ll do. 7/10

    Mercedes GP: Thaaaats it, the Teal from Petronas blending into the Mercedes Silver is done brilliantly and the white text in my oppinion does its task, regardless whether it crosses or not, very VERY well done. 9/10

    Renault: The red endplates…the bloody red endplates…its the only thing i can stare at…Its so close to bringing up the old memmories of so many people but again…its the endplates that ruin it for me, please please change it next year Renault Lotus, Relotus or whatever you are now. 6/10

    Williams: a Modernised Rothmans livery lacking the distinctive red and golden stripes that made the Williams stand out, to people that have no knowlage of the old Rothmans Williams (or forgot about it) it just looks a bit the same like recent years and thats a bit of a shame, I think if they added subtle red and golden stripes that it would actually make some sense, good effort but i hope for better next year. 8/10

    Force India: Having access to lime-ish green, white and orange you could have expected more then what they have given, its a rather lazy design wich requires more time spend being played with…perhaps an idea for FI to write out a color the car competition next year, all in all its okay but needs work. 6/10

    Sauber: Yes well erm… last year we hoped for the old blue, green and yellow for Sauber…we got white and grey. This year we were hoping for light blue…we got white and black…seriously did they even try? I hightly doubt it…clearly this is one of the worst liverys of the season and they definiatly need to re-think their car colors next year! 1/10

    Torro Rosso: Theres nothing to say about this really, altough its starting to get quite boring now its still an effective coloring with its almost purple-ish blue and the…red bull… but ofcource we all want something new now. 5/10

    Lotus: Yes Yeees, there was little room for improvement last year but they’ve done it again this year. The new choice of green mixing with minor mixes of white and yellow work fantasticly, and well i’ll have to agree…the ‘boxes’ around the number and sponsors on the nose are absolutely awfull, need to be changed for next year definiatly. 9/10

    HRT: As it shows, it pays off to pay someone to design your livery for you, something Sauber should really REALLY follow next year, not much to say about it as it looks quite well. As said its shame its another mix of white, red and black. Maybe an idea to go yellow next year? 8/10

    Finally – Virgin: Well, I think its a shame the tribal-ish markings have dissapeared in favor as you said yourself; An Midland look. I really hope they will get the tribal markings back together with more black for next year. 7/10

    So yeah, thats what i think of this years liveries.

    On a different unrelated note: The website of the Dutch formula 1 broadcaster (RTL 7) is holding a vote right now about the most outstanding livery in formula 1, the winner of that vote is getting an item about said livery and car on the 27th of march before the GP, I was wondering what you think about their picks.

    1. 1968 – Lotus 49 (Imperial Tobacco)
    2. 1977 – Hesketh 308E (Pinup Girl)
    3. 1979 – Shadow DN9 (Samson Shag)
    4. 1988 – Benetton B188 (United Colors)
    5. 1993 – Ligier JS39 (Spotted Cow)
    6. 1994 – Larrousse LH94 (Alken-Maes/Kronenbourg)
    7. 1997 – Lola T97/30 (Mastercard)
    8. 1999 – BAR 01 (Lucky Strike/555)
    9. 2007 – Honda RA107 (Earth Car)
    10. 2007 – Red Bull Racing RB3 (Wings for Life)

    PS: Currently the Honda Earth Car is ahead of the BAR and the Red Bull, then followed far behind by the rest.


      March 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      By ‘outstanding’ do they mean the best, or the most distinctive? As much as I like those 10 liveries, they wouldn’t normally be considered classics

        Drake Ziggo

        March 23, 2011 at 4:03 pm

        Distinctive, ones you’d look at and say: Hmm..thats interesting.


    March 15, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Can’t believe you gave Renault an 8…should be a 5 max. The gold colour looks bad, the red endplates look bad, it’s too cluttered, it SHOULD look great but it doesn’t and that’s what lost it points in my opinion.

    Diego Trindade

    March 16, 2011 at 4:50 pm

    Numeração fixa na F1? Confiram no blog http://wp.me/p1hcxs-c6


    March 23, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    I’ll have a go at marking them myself, not on how much I like them, but on whether no they are better than in 2010:

    + Ferrari: Very similar, but I like the new Italian flag on the wing
    + Mercedes: You can’t go wrong with more turquoise!
    + Lotus: I like the yellow engine cover
    + Sauber: OK, it’s crap, but at least it’s slightly less crap than it was in 2010. The nose graphics are nice
    + Williams: the front end is still boring, but the striped back end is pretty cool
    + HRT: Colours are slightly boring but it’s still pretty cool

    – Renault: I like it, but why oh why did they have to replace one of the best liveries of the modern era?!
    – Force India: I prefered the old one, but kudos to them for making some changes anyway
    – Virgin: The white nose tip just looks cheapy

    Red Bull/ McLaren/ Toro Rosso= Virtually the same as 2010 and thus not worth a mention

    So, there are more positives than negatives, but the fact that the waspish Renault design is gone alone means that 2010 was better


    March 25, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    The Williams now having big numbers on the sidepods has improved – even though the front still could be better, the blue in a white circle number makes the white bands around the edges of the nose seem a bit more fitting to me. Or maybe it is just the number :-p


      March 29, 2011 at 1:11 pm

      I’ve never understood the fascination with big numbers. Maybe because I’m quite a bit younger than some of you 😛


    August 4, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    Did you see this: http://wtf1.co.uk/post/8470387388 (Fantasy F1 manufacturer liveries)? I think I know your take on the Aston Martin, I myself like the Audi ones (but: two cars with different livery, didn’t we get that explicitly banned already thanks to BAR?).

    Nick T.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:40 am

    Anyone who favors HRT’s discount bumper car coupon-like livery over the McLaren with its chrome-shadow paint that transforms the car into some living sculpture akin to a muscle-draped panther stalking prey while falling rain reveals every tensed muscle and sprung tendon. Get real…

    Nick T.

    December 15, 2011 at 3:42 am

    *Anyone who favors HRT’s discount bumper car coupon-like livery over the McLaren with its chrome-shadow paint that transforms the car into some living sculpture akin to a muscle-draped panther stalking its prey in a light rain glossing and enhancing every tensed muscle and sprung tendon has no business judging liveries. Get real…


    March 5, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    My opinions on the 2011 liveries.

    1. Lotus – ” Last year the entire car was the best livery ever of 2010, now it’s new. It’s still looking good for me though. ”
    2. Renault – ” Going back to black and gold, this will be considered as a beautiful livery of 2011, just behind Lotus with their classic colours. ”
    3. Williams – ” The sidepods and the engine cover are retro-looking. It’s a modern Rothmans Williams back from the classics, but the front nose looks modern-styled to me. ”
    4. McLaren – ” Still a good looking car, but this livery might be getting old for me now. That’a why I’ve put it in the Top 5. ”
    5. Mercedes – ” That is a super-cool turquoise touch on the sidepods. Like that, so I’ve put it in the Top 5. ”
    6. HRT – ” It’s new, but it isn’t dull and it isn’t blank. This is what a HRT livery should look like. ”
    7. Red Bull – ” Well, this RBR placed 7th in this year’s Best Liveries for me…Not bad though, even if I describe it as the best car of 2011 as a Vettel fan. ”
    8. Ferrari – ” That Marlboro barcode is gone, but as that Italian stripe on the rear wing was so good, it should have been somewhere on the car, maybe on the airbox. ”
    9. Virgin – ” It might look the same for me, but it’s still good as it is. ”
    10. Force India – ” If you look at the touch on the monocoque from the right side to the left side, it’s good though. ”
    11. Toro Rosso – ” It still isn’t a changed livery for that bull on the engine cover, though. ”
    12. Sauber – ” Non! 🙁 I’ve hoped for a light blue Sauber to be the team’s 2011 livery but it didn’t happen. 🙁 Sauber, please do a better one. But BTW, I like a little bit of it because of Kobayashi. “


    March 29, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    12. Mercedes. The Livery isn’t that bad, and the colours go well together, but it does absolutely nothing to hide the woeful looks of the car itself, which in this livery looks obese, short and bulky. would have worked on a sleeker or longer car, such as the Sauber or McLaren. 6/10 for the livery, but overall only a 2.5/10
    11. Virgin. backmarkerish and uninspiring. 2010 livery was kinda good, but the black is poorly applied and the white nose seems random, 3.5/10
    10. HRT. Flag design look cheap, “this could be you” makes it look desperate. 3.5/10
    9. Sauber. It’s not THAT bad (ever seen their 1993 and 1994 cars, with especially the latter starting out being almost completely dark grey) as some people like to say, but it look a bit generic and lacks character. nose design goes well with the livery 6/10
    8. Force India. a tad messy, a bit too white, 6/10
    7. Toro Rosso. The colours are nice, but they are just too messy, 6.5/10
    6. Red Bull. too messy and not recognisable or memorable, 6.5/10
    5. Williams. The blue is a shade to dark, and the Rothmans refernce doesn’t work 6.5/10
    4. Ferrari. Nice concept, but only meh execution, 7/10
    3. McLaren. Classic Livery by now. the car looks sleek and smart, 7.5/10
    2. Lotus Renault. distinctive, pretty, but a bit too cluttered with Sponsors, and FFS, Total, why do you try to ruin so many liveries. red endplates are still more tolerable than having the red mixed into the rest of the livery on this one, due to the JPS reference. The endplates still look like they were stolen from another car, but they did that in 2010 too. the shape of the car is really pretty too, 8.5/10, due to a 1 point reduction for the endplates
    1. Lotus. Gorgeous. car still looks bulky, but the livery is glorious, 9/10

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