2016 Liveries: The Verdict!

So, a new year brings with it a new team entirely, new names and identities for two others, and a brand new style of paint altogether for yet another. Is it one of the better grids we’ve had in recent years? Very probably, yes – things were looking troubled earlier in the launch run with an awful lot of black and grey out there, but with the arrival of the Manor and the (replacement) Renault, we’re now looking at possibly the most colourful grid since the glory days of 2010. We could still do with some green or orange out there (and in more than just the thin stripes on that Force India) and several teams really need to find themselves some more sponsors; but on the whole, I think things are moving in the right direction, and I also suspect teams are starting to think again a little more about how their visual identity is engaged with by fans. Let’s hope the trend continues positively next year!

For our team-by-team run-through, this year I’ve (again) dropped the category points system and just gone back to a simple mark out of ten. Because that’s just how I felt like judging them this year. To give an idea of how the marks fall, to get a 10 you’d basically have to be the 2010 Lotus, whereas a 5 represents something that’s disappointing but not downright dreadful. So, on with the ratings!

Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team


Once again it’s evolution not revolution for the champions; and once again, it’s a mixture of good and bad changes. The sidepod pattern is stronger than before, but it feels like there’s a little too much black on the car now, drowning out what should be a more predominant silver. 6/10

Scuderia Ferrari


A remarkable change in approach, with the decision to take inspiration from the 1970s apparently arrived upon at random. I really like this design (it looks especially good from the front), although it does feel weird to see a modern-style Ferrari with so much white on it. The things that harm it are the not-Marlboro flag on the engine cover, and that hugely incongruous UPS logo. Otherwise, this is their best in around a decade. 7/10

Williams Martini Racing


At what point do we start docking marks for them not changing it at all? Yes, the Martini design is lovely, but we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t getting a little old hat after three years. We don’t want to see them get rid of it, obviously, but mixing it up a bit would be nice. 7/10

Red Bull Racing


The matte colour job has grabbed all of the headlines, and it certainly is striking. I’m still not keen on the non-outlined “Red Bull” lettering (nor its slightly fluorescent colouring when out on track) but otherwise this is an excellent attempt at doing something new. Even without the matte, mind, it would be a huge improvement purely by virtue of going back to only three main colours, in a much more simplified design. 8/10

Sahara Force India Formula One Team


After all the excitement of potential linkups with Aston Martin and/or Johnnie Walker faded to nothing, we’re left with… basically exactly the same design as last season. Which isn’t a bad one at all, but is fairly easy to get bored of, and some variety would have been nice. 5/10

Renault Sport Formula One Team


Glory be, some colour! It’s striking just how much this adds to a field of 22 cars when they’re mostly dark colours, and for that alone we have to applaud it. But the yellow is still a little more muted than we’d hoped for, and while a very simple design means there’s nothing egregiously ugly about it, it really doesn’t feel very designed at all. Just a few lines here and there to define the shape of the car, especially around the nose, and this could have been an absolute classic instead of merely pretty good. 7/10

Scuderia Toro Rosso


There’s something oddly retro about this year’s Toro Rosso – having lost the CEPSA branding from the rear wing, they’ve replaced it with the Red Bull Cola ad they used to run a few years ago. Sponsor losses aside (other long-time partner Nova Chemicals are also gone), this is otherwise pretty much exactly the same as last year, and looks a little dated now that Red Bull have got their jazzy matte design. It would have seemingly made more sense to come up with something new for the sister team as well. 6/10

Sauber F1 Team


Also almost exactly the same as last year, except with a few sponsors added to the rear wing. I quite like the early 90s backmarker stylings of just sticking multi-coloured stickers on a white endplate like that, but otherwise both the good and bad aspects of this car are the same as in 2015 – that is, it’s nice that it’s a bit colourful (and the big race numbers are excellent), but that blue is far too plastic-looking. 5/10

McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team


I find this to be a really odd take on their much-improved second 2015 livery – I still like the “graphite” colour scheme, and I thought taking the weird stripe off the nose would be a good idea. But it hasn’t really been replaced with anything, and as such the whole front end of the car looks only half-designed. And while I love big race numbers, the font chosen for McLaren’s 14 and 22 looks really weird and slapdash. Still, nice to see they’ve actually got a few sponsors now – even if they’d look much better with one on the sidepod. 6/10

Manor Racing MRT


So for all the time that Marussia were in charge of this team, they never got around to painting the cars in their logo colours of red, blue and white. Then it finally goes back into the hands of Manor full-time… and it’s the first thing they do. Aside from that, I’m really impressed with this – I like the new team identity they’ve come up with generally (the uniforms are especially great), and it’s a neat, smart livery that cleverly masks the fact that they’re so badly lacking in sponsors, with lovely detail such as the shadowed “M” logo on the engine cover. But the best thing about this is that metallic shade of blue, which really does show Sauber how it should be done. Comfortably the prettiest thing on the grid this year. 8/10

Haas F1 Team


By contrast to Manor, this is a big disappointment. There’s nothing inherently wrong with silver/red/black as a colour scheme, it’s just that we’ve had too much of it on the grid lately, and the way it’s applied here is pretty uninspired. The front view, with a striking race number font, is probably the best angle – but with a complete lack of sponsors to boot, pretty much the only thing I really like about the car is the stars and stripes flag on the side. 6/10

So that’s my take on 2016. What do you reckon?



    March 21, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Where did you got these side car views from?


    March 21, 2016 at 5:39 pm

    Great review, but you should update your take on Haas now they changed their scheme to a surprisingly much improved white/grey/black/red mix.

    Luiz Gabriel Sandes

    March 21, 2016 at 11:44 pm

    Renault ‘re that neither yellow chick


    March 22, 2016 at 5:00 am

    From attending the race, the Red Bull was really striking, and the Manor looks good too. The Renault looks great in sunlight but a bit dull otherwise. Williams still looks great, but the Mercedes is starting to look a little dated.

    Bert van Marenswoud

    March 23, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    All the cars show a disturbing lack of proper sponsors. I do not like the new Ferrari look, too cluttered. I love the new redbull look, very fresh, and the best car on the grid for me, especially in the rain is was nice.
    Sauber, haas, Williams, McLaren all should have done better. I mean if I had a company I would not want to be on the dull McLaren car this year.
    Mercedes is 50/50, not bad but not great either. Toro rosso went back to a 5 year old design, not great either. Force india is OK. And I like the renault for it’s simplicity. But overall the class of ’16 is disapointing.

    And still all the cars should have bigger numbers, so we can see who’s car it is. With the cluttered helmet designs it is difficult to distinguish which one of the the drivers is in which car.

      Seb Patrick

      March 23, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      >And still all the cars should have bigger numbers

      You’re never going to hear argument from me on that point!


      March 23, 2016 at 7:11 pm

      I don’t see why you mean that Toro Rosso went back to a 5 year old design, but I think that you were referencing to the Red Bull Cola logo. I don’t like the Force India very much. Personally, people doesn’t have to recognise only the helmet design – they should recognise the drivers’ number too. If all cars should have bigger numbers, then I must say; Sauber only applies for that! 😀 😛

    Márcio F.

    April 8, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    My view:

    Mercedes – the silver/turquoise combo looks good, and I agree maybe there’s too much black already for a car that should be predominantly silver. I think they should play around a little bit with the turquoise instead. They only have Petronas as a main sponsor, so they can take as much space as they want… I guess…

    Ferrari – I like this one, although I don’t know if I like it because it looks good or because it’s something completely different from these last few years. I like the 1993 and 1976 liveries (which seems to have inspired this one), so maybe that explains something. But yeah, that Marlboro’ish logo on the engine cover looks hideous, and always has.

    Williams – Boring! And not just because they don’t change it. This livery always looked boring from the beginning. They could do so much more with those Martini colours. It makes me mad really. I mean, look at the Martini Lancias in the WRC, from the mid 80’s/early 90’s. They changed something every year to make them look different. It’s not difficult, so please Williams, change it!

    Red Bull – Fresh and nice! Kudos for changing it the way they did. I agree that it would be even better if those letters were outlined (with that “fluo” yellow, maybe), but nevertheless, looks great.

    Force India – Best colour combo on the grid… Best livery on the grid. Simple as that 🙂

    Renault – Nice colour, and although the livery is simple, it looks great. To be honest, it actually looks like something from a winning team. I think it would look a bit “normal” if the yellow was “brighter”, like we saw in the Jordan team, for example, so it’s nice. This and the Mercedes are the two best looking cars on the grid this season.

    Toro Rosso – Doesn’t look bad, but yeah, a bit dated indeed. Maybe they should just swap that blue for something else from the Red Bull branding. Yellow, silver, white, maybe even red, something other than that blue. It has just become boring and looks too much (as always) like the “big team”.

    Sauber – Worst livery on the grid! Well, I’ll go as far as saying it’s one of the worst liveries ever! The colour combo (blue/yellow/white) isn’t bad at all. One of my favourite F1 liveries is the Williams from 1991/92/93, which was mostly blue, white and yellow. But, in this case, it’s just dull, dull, dull! Not surprising coming from Sauber really… they seem to like dull liveries more that anyone else judging by their last few years. I mean… Come on, they have a SINGLE sponsor, couldn’t they do something else? Play around with those colours? It’s like they are waiting for a big sponsor to put in those huge dull spaces of blue, but that’s what I thought one year ago… and one year later, they haven’t changed… Time to really go away from F1, Sauber.

    Mclaren – Disgraceful. The colours are nice, but how come one of the best and most recognizable teams in the history of the sport have such a dull an plain livery? They are on their third season without Vodafone, and still they don’t seem to bother finding a title sponsor. Well, they have Chandon standing out on the livery, but if they were THE title sponsor, I think they’d be on the sidepod instead of only on the side of the cockpit. It would look miles better if they simply put their logo (Mclaren) with white letters on the sidepod.

    Manor – The colours are nice, but that’s just it. Come on, it’s just plain and dull, with no sponsors at all! Boring…

    Haas – Again, the colour combo isn’t bad (even though the silver would look better if it was more “metallic”), but yet again it’s just a dull livery with no sponsors at all…

      Bert van Marenswoud

      April 17, 2016 at 9:22 pm

      You hit the nail on the head by mentioning the lack of sponsors with some teams (Mercedes, Williams, Manor Haas and Sauber), and that you like the Williams from 91/92/93, and that their martini livery is not getting the max out of it’s potential. Nice sumary, but I respectfully disagree about the Ferrari livery, I do not like it this year. The white is only for Marlboro and should not be on a Ferrari.

        Márcio F.

        April 17, 2016 at 11:19 pm

        I accept your opinion about the white on a Ferrari. Like many other people you don’t agree with it. To be honest, I’m fine with it, and actually I’m glad they tried something different from these last few years. But anyway, you say that the “white is only for Marlboro”… well, I think it isn’t really, if you look back at the early/mid 70’s you’ll see most of those Ferrari’s had big white spaces on them, and back then it wasn’t because of Marlboro, and also these last few years it has been because of Santander (although Marlboro seems to be somehow “hidden” in those liveries).

    Khairul Islam

    April 18, 2016 at 2:11 am

    Although I didn’t like the Red Bull livery at first, it has started to grow on me and I regard it as the best.
    Closely followed by Manor, that livery is stunning. And the best individual feature by far, out of all the teams, is the “shadowed” M on the engine cover of the Manor. Don’t know why they adopted LWT’s logo


    April 25, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    I don’t understand why you’re all saying Haas have no sponsors. Think of it like Red Bull, they are the owner of a team and the title sponsor, Haas make tooling and automation equipment for manufacturing so they are the sponsor.

    That Renault paint job is gorgeous though.


    May 7, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    My ranking for the liveries this year:

    1. Red Bull – Wasn’t too sure initially, but the more I look at it the more I like it. As an aside, the team uniforms look quite good too, with the camouflage.
    2. Ferrari – Same as above but it was striking from the start.
    3. Force India – My favourite livery last year and just as nice this time round, but ousted from the top by the Red Bull and the Ferrari.
    4. Williams – May be starting to wear thin but still a lovely car to look at.
    5. Renault – Probably stands out from the pack the most, due to it being yellow.
    6. Sauber – I may be in a minority but I liked this livery last year, it was something a bit different and it stood out. Same again this time round, I don’t see anything wrong with it.
    7. Manor – A nice surprise, simple but quite effective. Shame about the lack of sponsors.
    8. Mercedes – It’s OK, but not as good as previous efforts.
    9. Haas – Not brilliant, but from the front it’s not too shabby.
    10. McLaren – I’m torn between their current colour scheme. Sometimes it seems alright, but at other tines it just seems a bit too dull for what a McLaren should be. I’ve watched F1 throughout their era with Vodafone and I’ve always liked their livery (even if it hardly changed each year), but they’ve got duller since 2013 (although personally I don’t think that 2014 wasn’t that bad).
    11. Toro Rosso – Never been my favourite livery, just a darker version of the Red Bull. Now it really doesn’t look good compared to the sister team.


    May 10, 2016 at 2:51 pm

    I left my comments this year until after I watched a few races, I was a bit disappointed after the launches with each of the liveries this year. The fact that there has been so much written and said about Red Bull’s matt paint pretty much sums it up. I would rank the teams pretty much the same as the article this season but I can’t help but feel each team has missed a massive opportunity, there may be a lack of sponsorship around but if a team came up with a decent identity and team kit, after selling enough t-shirts sponsors would be keen to get a piece of the action. DTM, Indy car and other series have grasped the concept already of having a team template that they can tweak to suit the sponsors but its literally just changing the colours, F1 is not the pinnacle in this aspect, must try harder!


    June 14, 2016 at 7:45 pm

    Update: I admit that the McLaren is starting to grow on me (although from onboard shots it looks like there’s something missing on the monocoque directly in front of the driver, maybe the Johnnie Walker logo could go there, I liked it there last year). I’d now put it at around 7th or 8th best


    December 16, 2016 at 8:59 am

    Seasons over i know but better late than never and probably a better time than most to reveive the season.

    Renult – love it. – you mention muted, but the pearlised/matte effect makes it striking (in the light), and did you see it under the light of Yas-Marina
    Manor – love the scheme – and like the renult the fade out to black at the back keeps it eciting (for me)
    Red Bull – almost back to the older styles with the stand out Red Bull down the side and just enough yellow to stand out from the crowd (and again that matte finish – excelent
    Ferrari – saw an artical on another wbsite that linked this back to the cars of Lauda’s rcing days – absoulty love the change – just drastic enought for me.
    Haas – unlike most – i like this. the only other (nearly) all white car on the grid, and the flashes of red keep the ecitement up – plus the big branding. – obviously have some additions id love to make – but otherwise fine.
    Williams – do love this design but its been around for a bit. not tht im board of it – loveley to see them back in F1 and making their branding BIG
    Force India – Dark, yes – but i like the stripe system – but there could be more green for me – otherwise i like.
    Mercedes – on few occations have i liked the colour match – like that they have brought a little bit more dark in – but otherwise – it sits here.
    Toro Roso – never changes – and dull colour scheme doesnt make it a winner with me.
    Sauber – ok its colour and its bright, but the lack of sponsers (and i appreciate they are hard to get) or some flashes of yellow elseware on the car dont make this stand out.
    Mclaren – PPL what happened. Bring Back Ron Dennis all is forgiven – is it nessaserry to be quite such the dark side – and if you are going to do it – do it Saubers way and make it matte and larger sponsers (i did actually like that version or car)

    so a post season report – and thats me done. now for next year (bring on March)


    March 29, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    my top 11

    11. Sauber. bland colours, empty car, ugly white rear wing, which, with the actual presence of sponsors, looks like it has been ripped off another car. 3/10
    10. Ferrari. the car itself isn’t that pretty, and the livery is ugly. black dash on the engine cover doesn’t work, livery looks cluttered and inconsistent, the white airbox is plain ugly, 4.5/10
    9. Renault. It’s yellow. and that’s all there is too it. Matte specks on the rear are nice. 5/10
    8.McLaren. the dissapearance of the red streak on the nose, which made the nose of last year’s original spec car look swollen and sore, is thankfully gone, but the black livery makes the car look like one which belongs in the midfield at best, which it does, but it’s still a McLaren… 5.5/10
    7. Haas. Colours are just strong enough to keep the car from looking like a backmarker. Glad they used a white-ish tint during the season though, the light grey was a bit of a bore. flag looked nice. good start for a new team. 7/10
    6. Red Bull. Matte is great, car is not as cluttered, and the purple is thankfully gone. 7/10
    5. Williams. Yeah…. 7/10
    4. Mercedes. I like the darkness that the black adds to the car. 7/10
    3. Toro Rosso. Dark blue, Dark red and gold have always made this cars look like the richer and more stylish version of the main team. it doesn’t look as cluttered as early attempts, 7.5/10
    2. Force India. reminds me of the West McLarens, and the streak of orange keeps the livery from getting dull. It’s like what a McLaren could’ve been…. 8.5/10
    1. Manor. Strong colours, good pattern, lack of sponsors doesn’t even matter because it keeps the livery “pure”. The little fin on the back of the airbox shouldn’t have been all black. 9.5/10

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