2017 Liveries: The Verdict!

Well, then. It’s been quite a livery season, with a flurry of activity all in quite a short period of time, as several teams introduced bold and striking changes in direction – and then just like last year, one team gave us a late twist by unveiling a much brighter and more unusual replacement design for their initially poorly-received one.

At the start of last year’s roundup, I wrote: “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 several teams really need to find themselves 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!”

And while there’s still no green car, and some teams do still need some sponsors, I think that’s basically held true. Certainly, if there’s a recurring theme for 2017, “engagement” would be it – several teams have made a statement with their liveries, and for the most part they’ve done so with consideration of what their fans wanted to see.

So without any further ado, let’s run through the teams – once again, I’ve given them a mark out of ten (and I’ve also reminded of last year’s score, for posterity), but rather than running through in championship order, this time I’ve sorted them into a countdown from worst to best.

Haas F1 Team

I was already distinctly unimpressed by Haas’ 2016 livery, so the fact that they’ve made it worse this time around doesn’t exactly fill me with joy. The grey is simply not a strong shade for an F1 car – neither one thing nor the other, it doesn’t have the shine of a silver or the dramatic effect of a full on matt black. There are some nice uses of the secondary red here and there – and it would be scoring a full point lower if it weren’t for the pattern on the shark fin – but coupled with a near-total absence of external sponsors, this just isn’t good enough. They’ve Saubered it.

4/10 (last year: 6/10)

Scuderia Ferrari

It was inevitable that Ferrari would move away from the 1970s-inspired white engine cover look after such an unsuccessful year on the track, but it’s still a shame. This isn’t an especially ugly car, and the white shark fin is a good use of an appalling car design feature; but it could also be just about any Ferrari from the last ten years. It’s also becoming a little too cluttered by sponsors – which may seem a churlish complaint when I’ve criticised other teams for not having them, but they could plaster them on with a little more care. Come on, Ferrari – what say you to a darker red and going back to black wings? You know it makes sense.

5/10 (last year: 7/10)

Williams Martini Racing

Yep, okay – this is the year we start to dock marks for it not changing. Come on, Williams – it’s a lovely set of colours, but it’s not 2014 any more, you need to do a little more to stand out in 2017. This has had a few tweaks since its initial introduction – the Rexona logo on the sidepod really helped, as does this year’s addition of JCB to the rear wing endplate – but it would be lovely to see them mix it up a bit more strongly next year.

6/10 (last year: 7/10)

Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport

Point gained on last year for reducing the amount of black and improving the way the turquoise is applied. Point taken back off for still being essentially the same livery, and for the fact that the casual observer wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between every Merc since they started winning titles. It is what it is.

6/10 (last year: 6/10)

Sahara Force India F1 Team

You might have expected me to give a higher mark to Force India given the dramatic surprise of their new pink livery – and indeed, for the fact that they’re using a colour that’s basically never been seen on the grid before. But I’m reserving judgement until we see it on track. Yes, the relaunch gets them a lot of kudos – they would have been sitting flat bottom of this list with the previous effort – but I’m still not certain of just how good that shade of pink is going to look, and whether it’s going to look slightly washed out. I love that they’ve made the grid brighter, I’m just not sure this is an especially good-looking car in and of itself.

7/10 (last year: 5/10)

Red Bull Racing

No major changes from last year, and while the matt colour is still very sharp (it grew on me more as the season went on), they’ve been somewhat overshadowed by their sister team this year. But this is a stronger visual identity than they had throughout the Vettel years, so I’m happy to see them stick with it – for now. Just treat Williams as a cautionary tale.

7/10 (last year: 8/10)

Renault Sport Formula One Team

After spending last year’s pre-season seemingly unable to decide whether to have a black car or a yellow car, Renault have finally done what we all knew they should have all along: have a black and yellow car. Well, actually, in this writer’s view they should have a black and yellow and white car, but this will do until then. Again, much will depend on how this looks out on track – last year’s yellow had a tendency to look flatly orange on some tracks, and spectacularly vididly yellow at others – and it would have been nice to see the colours mixing across the car a little more, rather than essentially being split in two (aside from on the top down view, where the yellow stripes look fantastic). But these are nitpicks – it’s still basically what we want to see from a Renault.

8/10 (last year: 7/10)

Sauber F1 Team

Force India may have made a late play for this year’s “Didn’t see it coming” stakes, but it’s still a title that’s claimed by Sauber – it can’t be underestimated just what it means for this team to run a livery with a bit of style and invention. Aside from the fact that the colours are just lovely (never mind the jibes about it looking like a Ligier or a packet of Embassy Regal, it does so in a good way), this really gets the marks for addressing a specific comment I’d made about the last couple of years (“That blue would look better if it was metallic”). Take heed, Other Teams.

8/10 (last year: 5/10)

McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team

It may not be the exact orange McLaren we were hoping for, but who cares? It’s an orange McLaren. It’s basically this website’s raison d’etre. And actually, while I might have liked to see just an entirely orange car with black/grey sponsors on it, like the fabled West testing livery, last year’s Renault showed how such an approach can actually look kind of dated. This is a 2017 livery for a 2017 car, and I actually really like the design philosophy (did you spot that it’s basically a giant version of McLaren’s speed motif? DID YOU?) It’ll look even better with a title sponsor, but for now let’s just enjoy what might be the greatest discrepancy between livery quality and on-track performance since the 1997 MasterCard Lola.

9/10 (last year: 6/10)

Scuderia Toro Rosso

She is beauty, she is grace, she will probably never win a race. But in the championship of 2017 liveries, there is only one winner. This is utterly magnificent, it’s almost certainly my favourite livery since the 2010 Lotus, and I just can’t stop looking at it. Boom, metallic Prost-style blue. Boom, shiny silver sponsor logos. Boom, random bright red bits. When it was rumoured that Toro Rosso were finally going to change their livery this year, I assumed I’d only be happy with a “Sugar Free” light blue. I was wrong. And I can’t wait to see how it looks at Singapore.

10/10 (last year: 6/10)



    March 23, 2017 at 8:35 pm

    Podiums spots go to Sauber, Toro Rosso and Williams for me. In that order.

    Obviously it makes more sense for this blog to dock points for a lack of creativity, but a good looking car is still a good looking car whether it’s brand new or sporting essentially the same strip. JPS Lotus for example.

    As for the McLaren, even after a few weeks to get used to it, I still think it looks like what it is – a mess.


      March 24, 2017 at 2:19 pm

      I thought I was alone in my opinion of the McLaren, it’s a really poorly executed livery and feels like a huge missed opportunity.


        March 29, 2017 at 12:04 pm

        It looks like a 2000-2002 Orange arrows, but even more backmarker-ish. It looks uninspired and the black part on the fin doesn’t go well with the shape of the car. The entirely orange rear wing is ugly as sin. looks like a cheap plastic thing. I was exited to hear they were getting an orange car, but this is a huge letdown.


          March 31, 2017 at 5:58 pm

          Totally. I’m truly surprised by how much people seem to like it. Also, on track the Haas doesn’t look nearly as bad as it does in the early pictures.


    March 24, 2017 at 1:03 am

    My personal rank, from best to worse:

    1 – Toro Rosso (they should have real points given for this livery)
    2 – Sauber (nice, classy, BIG racing numbers, great work on that shark fin)
    3 – Force India (new colour to the grid, looks very distinctiv, looks good in real light)
    4 – Williams (because it’s a Martini livery, it’s a Martini livery on a classic team and still looks great)
    5 – Renault (looks like a Renault should look, great improvement from last year, very good looking car, yes, white would be cool)
    6 – Mclaren (finally an orange Mclaren – despite I really liked last year’s scheme -, not exactly what I expeted but kudos for them for make it. Personal taste, I would like to see a white-red Mclaren Honda – those are Honda colours also, not just Marlboro. But again, good to see an orange McLaren)
    7 – Red Bull (still a very good looking livery and it was a good evolution from the traditional Reb Bull livery – and thank God, no purple)
    8 – Mercedes (the same as allways, silver with some turqoise, may regain some credit if they put back the with circles with red numbers – and must be BIG)
    9 – Ferrari (ok, looks like a Ferrari should look – a red car – but it seems that’s just a red car with random logos splashed in it. And the sponsors logo should be withe on red and that’s all. It’s Ferrari, if they wanted the sponsors logos to be pink, they should be pink, so, they should be in a colour that fits Ferrari colours)
    10 – Haas (no, just no. Ok, it’s not ugly but that’s all. It’s an american team, the only one in F1 grid, they should have stars and stripes all over. The shark fin paint job should be the main livery).


    March 24, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Toro Rosso 33rd constructor to win a best livery of the year based on my stats from a few weeks ago.

    Carlos Dinis

    March 24, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    1 – Toro Rosso: nothing to add, everything was already been said about it, it is a fantastic livery scheme, one of the best I can remember.

    2 – Sauber: somehow reminds me the former Williams Renault from Senna, which is great because is one of my favourite liveries ever.

    3 – Force India: it’s different, in a good way, a fresh air in the grid.

    4 – Renault: they are back to the basics, and in a good time they did it, nice livery.

    5 – Mercedes: despite the fact that is basically the same livery from last years, I like the way they use the turqoise, with that linning paint.

    6 – Red Bull: that matte paint was really a good choice, it’s great they stick with it this year, however I don´t like the way they cut the tail to the bull in the engine cover/shark fin, it’s weird

    8 – McLaren: it could be sooooo much better.. I was thrilled about the orange, but I think the livery is a bit of mess, wrong choose of orange, that white in the sidepods, the racing numbers with just the line, I don’t know, maybe the fact that my expectations were high is the reason I put them so above.

    7 – Williams: they have it all, an iconic team, an iconic sponsor, great color scheme but in the end the result is poor. The livery is not bad, but with all this condiments they can and should put more effort on it, because it’s like they’re not even trying.

    8 – Ferrari: wrong choose of red, the sponsors are a fruit salad and bring back the black wings for god sake. Just like the Italian flag in the shark fin.

    9 – Haas: is just a poor livery, nothing more to say about it. Point for the paint of the shark fin.

      Carlos Dinis

      March 24, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      I’ve noticed a bug. The order is right, but the numbers are wrong, sorry about that! I’ve made a few changes while I was writing and forget to correct the numbered list..


    March 26, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    My ranking:

    1st- McLaren: There may be some bias here, but I think it’s a really pretty car. It’s orange,black and white (which is kind of how I imagined it would be) and they’ve chosen to do something stylish with it rather than just plaster it all over the chassis. Just a shame the Honda engine is so poor, and it’s stuck near the back as a result.

    2nd- Toro Rosso: Another beautiful car, just pipped to top spot.

    3rd- Sauber: One of the surprises of the year; another nice looking car that will sadly be near the back of the grid

    4th- Renault: Why didn’t they do this last year? (not that there was nothing wrong with last year’s all yellow effort)

    5th- Red Bull: Same as last year, but bumped down the order due to the surprises at the top.

    6th- Force India: I know I’m in the minority but I liked their original livery better. I’m not sure about the pink and it will take some getting used to but they get points for being the car that will stick out the most this year.

    7th- Ferrari: A shame about the loss of the white engine cover so it’s good that it’s on the shark fin.

    8th- Mercedes: Same as it ever was, but points for the way they’ve done the turquoise this time round.

    9th- Haas: Not great, but they definitely have the best shark fin design.

    10th- Williams: Again, same as ever but I do like the way they extended the Martini stripes to the fin.


      March 27, 2017 at 8:55 pm

      And as for the comparison with the Lola, I can see where you’re coming from (and this from a McLaren fan), although it is a touch harsh surely? After all, at least the car is able to qualify for the races!


    March 26, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    The problem with the McLaren is that a fast car is a beautiful car. It is a pile of it.

    ^Link to my blog where I am going to discuss all the races of 2017 and more. Australia already out.


    March 27, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    Woop – my favourite post of the year 🙂
    here’s my rankings and thoughts:
    1. Toro Roso – no argument/no long statement – just winners
    2. McLaren – Agree with you Seb – I was excited when this came out and still am (shame about the performance)
    3. Force India – I have had the advantage of seeing this on track so now can say that it’s a refreshing change and a good one that i hope will stick for a bit.
    4. Renault – maybe this is a bit preferential but this car has exciting views from every angle – plus I fell in lurv with the matt yellow last year so
    5. Sauber – that’s a great new livery, even if it does stick to a somewhat similar colour scheme. plus the number placements on the side pods look amazing. good work.
    6.Red Bull – would be on a par with Sauber if this was a new Livery. its changed yes and that makes it look that little bit more classy, but like you say Seb – don’t be falling into the willams/merc trap.
    7. Williams – really it’s a never dying lovely livery, but could really do with a change and it doesn’t take a genius to arrange that. but we won’t ever hate it (unless it’s still around in 20 years time:) )
    8. Haas – no its not pride of place but I still think this is better than the last too. yes I like this team for their spunk and fight but I do genuinely like this livery. there’s actually something corporate about this one that’s still racey/sporty.
    9. Mercedes – the change makes the turquoise look cool – close up. yes the black is now dark grey, but from a distance this car hasn’t changed.
    10. Ferrari – these guys where high on my list last year, purely because of the call back to the retro 70’s. the all red design got first tedious under Michel Schumacher and then more than annoying under Alonso/Massa/Vettel (the list could continue). they diverged for a year and fans went ballistic about it. and now it’s back (DAMN!!)

    one final comment. what I don’t like the most about this is that the two front runners are my least favourite cars, and I’m not a hater because of this fact, cus I really like both teams (drivers) again this year.


    March 28, 2017 at 6:28 am

    I think Renault needs more yellow, Haas, Ferrari and McLaren needs more white, Williams needs more oldschool design, Red Bull needs can-like design. That’s it


    March 28, 2017 at 8:51 am

    To be fair to the Haas it looks really good from the front when you can’t see the grey, with the black and red and big white numbers.
    Also, seeing the Williams on track on Sunday made me realise what a lovely livery it is. I don’t mind if they keep it for ever


      March 28, 2017 at 11:54 am

      williams have to keep Martini as the sponser – certainly doesnt look the same without it.


    March 29, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    My top 10

    10. McLaren. litteraly worse than an early 2000s backmarker…. uninspired and poorly fits the shape of the car 2/10
    9. Force India. It is a bold try for sure, but I really dislike the pink. quite cluttered, and an ugly car anyway.. 5/10 for the balls and nothing else
    8. Renault. Looks a bit boring, but acceptable, 5.5/10
    7. Williams. Nice livery, but could use a little change. 6/10
    6. Mercedes. Looks a bit better than last year, but I am gonna deduct a point for that wierd T-wing-on-a-stick, 6/10
    5. Red Bull. Matte colours make the car stand out, and are way prettier than the cluttered 2010-2015 cars, 6.5/10
    4. Haas. Dark Grey actually works reasonably for this car, IMO. Shade of Red goes very well with it. Little sponsors, but the HAAS just gets away with it without looking like a backmarker. Sharkfin looks like it is stolen from an Audi R18 6.5/10
    3. Ferrari. last year’s livery look pretty ugly, with too much white. red could be a little darker, but the Sharkfin design is good. Relatively plain livery goes well with the cars complicated shape. 7.5/10
    2. Sauber. Last year’s cars were very uninspired. the more complicated livery with darker and more garish colours, and the dash of white, are pretty, and allow the Sauber to get away with the lack of sponsors, 8/10
    1. Toro Rosso. It’s new, it’s exiting, it’s pretty. The STR car looks like a shiny blue Mercedes, has got just enough area used by sponsors, and the red makes sure the blue doesn’t get too bland. 9.5/10

    and for Force India launch livery, I give 2.5/10. too grey, too boring.


      March 19, 2018 at 8:07 pm

      Okay, I changed my mind quite a lot during the season

      1.) Sauber. Beautiful colours that worked very well even when the car moved, clever design and placement of the “25 years” marking allow to get away with the clear lack of sponsors. Black sharkfin worked better than it had any right too. 9/10

      2.) Toro Rosso. looks great on photos, but a bit less on the track IMO. Still beautiful 9/10

      3.) Renault. I quite liked the shade of yellow they used in 2016, and the car stood out quite well. I got used to this livery a lot though, and it worked quite well with a chassis that looked the most aggressive/fast of the 2017 cars. 8/10

      4.) Ferrari. People should stop fussing about the white. It was used as a secondary colour for years, going back to the 70s. It also works much better on this car than black would. 7/10

      5.) Red Bull. The Matte look gives the RB a much more distinctive look than they had in their glory days. 7/10

      6.) Mercedes. weaker than their previous efforts, did not like the way they applied the torquise. they did the personalisation thing pretty well though. 6.75/10

      7. Williams. It got dull now. 6/10

      8. Haas, early. Dark Grey actually works reasonably for this car, IMO. Shade of Red goes very well with it. Little sponsors, but the HAAS just gets away with it without looking like a backmarker. Sharkfin looks like it is stolen from an Audi R18. 6/10

      9. Haas, Late. dull 5/10

      10. Force India. This was quite a surprise, and looked unique, but IMO, the livery itself is pretty weak. the secondary colours work poorly with the pink, and the way they did the numbers from Monaco onwards was unbelievably hideous. should have used more blue. 3.5/10

      11. McLaren. Arrows did this before, and way better. looks more backmarkery than Sauber. 3/10

      12. Force India, launch. Dull. 3/10. should have sticked with the 2016 livery

    A 1997 MasterCard Lola

    August 20, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    10. Ferrari: Thankfully Ferrari have removed most of the white from last season, though there is still too much and the shade of red is too bright. It also looks too cluttered with sponsors with three on the sidepod alone. I like the early 90s black and darker red of 2008.

    9. McLaren: Bonus marks for adding the orange, though it was very poorly done. The black is alright, could be done metallic or matte, but the white flow ruins everything. A single orange stripe would work much better with no white. Looks a bit like a 2007 Spyker

    8. Mercedes: A solid and classy livery, though a bit dull. They’ve used the same colours in the same places for 8 seasons now. The silver and turquoise surprisingly complement each other, but I would like a predominantly turquoise car.

    7. Williams: Still a nice livery. I think the Martini stripes look decent, but disproportionate on the engine cover. Needs a bit of change from white to silver as well.

    6. Sauber: As much as I like the gold, the white sidepods look empty and quite strange. You can just see the lack of sponsors. They could have gone with a dark shade of grey, which would give an extra sense of class to the livery. Still an improvement on last year however.

    5. Force India: A real shot in the dark, and despite the fact I hated it at first I think the pink really stands out, complements the carbon and matte black and adds new colour to the grid. The BWT logo needs to be downsized a bit though.

    4. Haas: On paper, a very dull, typical F1 livery. On the track, it looks very good. The colours are placed very well to create a look of speed and match each other, and the Audi-like flares on the shark fin make it look cool and futuristic.

    3. Red Bull: Practically the same as last year. I still love it, though it’s not my favourite any more. The matte look really goes well with the colours, and it is the only livery that has ever matched red, blue and yellow together well, with previous Red Bull liveries (ahem, 2007, 2015) looking frankly terrible.

    2. Toro Rosso: Out of nowhere, Toro Rosso have churned out an amazing metallic electric blue livery. The blue with the silver and red accents is just beautiful and adds a nice shiny touch to the grid.

    1. Renault: After donning the yellow colours last year, they have added lots of black. The two are simply perfect with each other. I also really like the gloss and carbon paint effect which tops it all off.


    September 4, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    i dont know if anyone else has seen the Sure Williams F1 Deoderent can ‘Livery’ – but i would love to see the team emulate that on their car – the martini stripe set all the way up the nose and spliting at the front of the cockpit and continuing down both sides. – anyone here prepaired to mock that up ??

    A 1997 MasterCard Lola

    February 25, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    I know I’m late, but personally I think the Williams could do with a switch to the 2000-2005 metallic dark blue and white livery – one of the only white liveries to ever work. It works well with almost any sponsor, not just HP. In fact, the liveries were good until 2011, by which point it was gloss navy blue, which was very dull.


      March 18, 2018 at 2:08 pm

      Perhaps yes, but the 2000-05 colour scheme was more BMW than Williams. Similar to the silver arrows from 1997-2014 which were more Mercedes than McLaren themselves.

        A 1997 MasterCard Lola

        March 21, 2018 at 11:48 pm

        Fine then, 2006-2010, if you like. Still the same colour scheme and design, without BMW. Once Martini goes, they could easily jump back, as their existing sponsors would fit in, with the exception of JCB, which is another problem in itself.


    March 23, 2018 at 6:52 pm

    True, that would work nicely. I wasn’t trying to say that the BMW scheme wouldn’t work, I was just saying that some people would look at it and think of that instead of Williams themselves.

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