2018 Liveries: The Verdict!

It’s that time again. As ever, on the eve of the F1 season it’s F1 Colours’ duty to give you our full and official verdict on every one of the paint jobs that will adorn the cars competing to come second behind Mercedes in this year’s F1 World Championship.

Over the eight previous years we’ve done these roundups, we’ve been annoyingly inconsistent when it comes to the scoring system applied to the rankings – but for the sake of allowing some kind of comparison with recent years, let’s once again go with a nice and simple “marks out of ten”.

Remember, as if it needed stating, that these are the personal opinions of F1 Colours, and your mileage may vary significantly (just as McLaren’s did in testing from everyone else yet again, lol). Also, these are not a judgement on the aesthetics of the cars themselves – a badly-shaped car can still have a fantastic livery, although in some cases the liveries are judged by how well they’re applied to whatever the shape of the car is.

(What we really mean by this in 2018 is that all the cars are kind of ruined by having the halos, but we got through stub noses in 2014, we can get through this as well. But as a general rule, if halos are going to have to stick around, then for the love of god actually paint them in a colour relevant to the car. We didn’t dock any points for carbon-coloured ones this time, but if we see them next year, we might start doing.)

Anyway, without any further ado, let’s get on with the rankings! To increase the tension, they’re once again being presented in ascending order of goodness. But straight away, there’s a change at the bottom of the pile…

Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport

They may be champions on the track, but they’re not champions of coming up with interesting liveries. Okay, so they do actually change how the turquoise Petronas pattern is used each time, and they get points for having differently-coloured race numbers for each driver. But they’ve been back in the sport for nine years now, and every car has been a variation of the same basic colour scheme. I know they’re Mercedes Petronas, and those two names carry a mandate for two very specific colours, but surely they could do something a bit different by now?

5/10 (last year: 6)

Scuderia Ferrari

The new all-red Ferrari has certainly got its fans, and I’d agree it’s better than the last one, but there’s still something about it that just doesn’t work for me. It’s not that I necessarily think it needs black wings (although I do), but whether it’s the shade of red, or the inconsistent sponsor application (loads clustered in some places, nothing at all in others), it just doesn’t connect for me. It does, however, have comfortably the best halo.

6/10 (last year: 5)

Williams Martini Racing

If this weren’t going to be the last ever year of Williams Martini, I’d probably dock them further points for this. But as it is, I will be sorry to see the colour scheme leave the sport, so I’m being slightly kinder to it than I otherwise might have been. When it does go, it’ll be hard not to see it as a wasted opportunity – could they not have done a bit more with it year-on-year? This year is actually the most different it’s looked since it was introduced, although that’s mainly down to the bizarre decision to leave the bottom half of the car completely unpainted. But they do still have comfortably the best teamwear gear, so that’s something.

6/10 (last year: 6)

Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team

Oh Sauber, you’ve gone back to being all Sauber-ish again. Just because you came up with a rush-job livery to announce the Alfa Romeo partnership doesn’t mean you have to stick with it when the season comes around, you know. The metallic deep red is absolutely gorgeous, and if it were on the majority of the car this would be, like 2017’s blue/gold/white effort, one of the best things on this year’s grid. But as it is, too much of the car is just in a plain dull white with barely anything on it. Such a shame.

6/10 (last year: 8)

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

If they hadn’t shown us the camo livery, I’d have been happier about them just sticking with the same matt job as the last two years. What would be even better, of course, would have been the introduction of a proper Aston Martin colour scheme – but I doubt that was ever really likely to happen. As it is, this is still a very good-looking car, but it’s not good-looking enough to justify being pleased with being basically identical (give or take some logos) this time around.

6/10 (last year: 7)

Sahara Force India F1 Team

Embed from Getty Images

It feels odd giving this the same score as last year’s car, given that I do actually prefer it by some way. But last year’s car was a middling design that got added points for the surprise factor and introduction of a (n almost totally) new colour to the grid. This is a better design that doesn’t have that “wow” to it. The shade of pink is a vast improvement, and while others have declared the use of white among it to make for a cluttered mess, as I mentioned at the time, it’s got a quite retro 1990s feel that works for me. There’s still a nagging feeling they could be doing something better or more dramatic with this sponsorship linkup, but this is still a massively distinctive livery that makes you forget they used to be black-and-silver for a couple of years before it. Good halo painting, too.

7/10 (last year: 7)

Haas F1 Team

Vast improvement. I didn’t like last year’s launch Haas, and I liked the replacement one even less. This time around, you can actually read the logos on it, the colours are better-chosen, and the layout more appealing. White, red and black aren’t the most exciting of colour choices but they work well together, especially on a team that has always felt slightly more like it ought to be in IndyCar. Haas have still to have a truly great livery, but at least for the first time they’ve managed “decent”.

7/10 (last year: 4)

McLaren F1 Team

I so wanted this to be a 10. I loved last year’s livery at launch, but I acknowledge in retrospect that it wasn’t quite the McLaren livery we were all looking for, especially after seeing the Indy version. So changing to an all-over papaya look, with added blue bits, should have absolutely nailed it. But it just… doesn’t. The problem is the sponsors – or, rather, the lack thereof. In the side view, it just looks terrible – so flat, so lacking in any kind of life or dimension. It’s improved between launch and the race weekend, as they’ve now got the Chandon and Dell logos on the side, but they’re just too small, especially from a distance. Which is a shame, because from the front or top, it is absolutely perfect, basically everything I could have wanted an orange McLaren to be. The blue tints work better than just going grey (and conversely the dark grey sponsors work better than if they were all in blue) and I even like the detail of the lighter blue outlining the race numbers. But man, that side-on view. It just brings it down so much. Gutting.

8/10 (last year: 9)

Renault Sport Formula One Team

Renault keep getting progressively better with their liveries each year – if only they’d introduce some more white (not just on the sponsor logos), and we could really get closer to the platonic ideal of a 1980s Renault livery. But this will certainly do for now. Like the Sauber and, to an extent, the McLaren, it has an odd effect of looking almost completely different from the side to how it does from the front – but in this case it actually looks quite deliberate, and works really well. It’s hard to deny that these colours work absolutely perfectly together, especially with that revised and slightly brighter shade of yellow. They need to fill in the race numbers, mind, but otherwise: spot on.

9/10 (last year: 8)

Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda

This was a 10/10 livery last year, and while the only real change is the addition of Honda logos this time, there’s nothing that means it’s not a 10/10 livery this year either. In fact, the Honda logos arguably make it even better. Will it still be a 10/10 livery if they keep rolling it out year after year? Well, the rule of Diminishing Williams Martinis suggests not, but equally, I can’t imagine a time when I ever won’t love this.

10/10 (last year: 10)

So that’s 2018. In one sense it’s a pretty good year, in that there’s no livery that I actively dislike – but there’s also an awful lot of middling ones, and only really three genuine standouts, the best of which is also identical to last year. What’s pleasing, though, is that only Sauber have really gone backwards – and even then, they’ve introduced a nice new colour tone to the grid (it’s just that they haven’t covered enough of the car with it).

This maintains, then, the current trend of a reasonably bright and colourful grid, and one upon which we can actually tell most of the cars apart when they line up. Sponsorship deals also continue to rise, although I’m not sure we’ll ever again see a time when full-on title sponsorship deals are commonplace, and Williams’ imminent loss of Martini is a worrying step backwards.

So that’s my take. Which are your favourites?



    March 23, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Here we go then:

    1st- McLaren: I said when it launched that it would probably end up top, and sure enough it has. I agree that while the lack of sponsors on the side are annoying, overall it looks great. A better livery than last year? Debatable, seeing as the MCL32 had some design elements to its livery but for McLaren it’s just about perfect. Simple but effective. Hopefully they’ll be at the front of the midfield behind the big three, I’m predicting either 4th or 5th in the Constructors at seasons end (hopefully 4th).

    2nd- Toro Rosso: Same as last year and just as gorgeous, will be really interesting (and potentially annoying) to see where they end up with the Honda.

    3rd- Renault: Improving year on year, this car seems to be near the top in terms of livery in a lot of people’s eyes and it’s easy to see why. The yellow and black make for quite a menacing combo. Will be another dark horse this year, like McLaren.

    4th- Force India: Much, much better than last year. I like the brighter shade of pink and I also like the white. Granted it looks like a sweet (I showed it to a friend of mine and she immediately compared it to candyfloss), but this stands out more than 2017 and is all the better for it.

    5th- Red Bull: Still a great looking car, no change in the ranking compared to last year (like the top two), the Aston Martin logos are bigger which doesn’t do it any harm at all.

    6th- Haas: I saw the livery when it launched and I immediately thought 2016. It’s as though they realised that last year’s liveries weren’t great and went back to their debut year and improved on that. And perhaps they have, it’s hard to tell as it looks so similar.

    7th- Ferrari: I wasn’t a fan of the all red prancing horse the last time they did this (2007-09), and I’m not particularly enamoured this time around. I prefer the red and white Ferraris of the Schumacher era and since 2010, and now that’s gone (along with Santander) I feel like it needs something particularly on the wings, like McLaren have done with the blue. White, black, anything. Just put something on there (a sponsor wouldn’t go amiss on the rear wing either). The main bright spots are that it still looks as though they have a lighter shade of red and that they’ve retained the white fin.

    8th- Williams: I was probably too harsh last year in placing the Grove sqaud bottom of the livery rankings, as the Martini cars do look nice and have done since the first one was launched in 2014, it was just that nothing really changed each year (kind of like Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull over the last couple of years). It’s nice to see that they’ve done something to it this time, even if it looks a bit odd at first sight.

    9th- Sauber: What happened here!? Last year’s car was really pretty, this one’s lost something. The colours themselves are fine, I like the red but they could have done something more with it.

    10th- Mercedes: Not a terrible looking car by any means but I’m not sure about the black on the sidepod. It seems to overpower the turquoise while at the same time making them stand out. The turquoise lines looked good last year, but now it feels like they need more (although maybe not as many as the W08).

    Arthur Rule

    March 24, 2018 at 1:44 pm

    Am I the only person who wouldnt mind the white of the Williams turning into a dark blue and just have the Martini sponsor red


      March 28, 2018 at 2:23 pm

      that would make for an intresting livery


    March 26, 2018 at 12:19 pm

    Here’s my list:

    1. Toro Rosso – Still amazing, but the color of the inner rear endplates clash horribly with the design. 9/10 for that.

    2. Mclaren – Would be perfect if it had any decent sponsors. It’s a shame that the same could be said about the 2016 Manor. 8/10.

    = Mercedes – The application of the blue with the turquoise of Petronas turned an okay design into a really strong one last year, they were right to keep it. But what were they thinking with that horrible Tommy Hilfiger logo? It’s not like Mercedes needed that little money for bread. 8/10

    = Haas – Back to their original livery with some tweaks, it works really well. The US flag should be in colour, mind. 8/10.

    5. Red Bull – The hue of the sickening pinkish red logo on the sidepod ruins it all. Also, it’s disappointing how they didn’t extract anything from the possibilities offered by the arrival of Aston Martin. A strong design otherwise, but also a case of what could have been. 7/10

    6. Williams – The last Williams in white with Martini stripes, it’s not half bad, but it’s nowhere as iconic as the first one was in 2014. The black areas don’t seem to be designed at all, their only purpose is to hide certain part of the bodywork. (Which is a bit pointless, seeing as that Williams became one of the weakest cars of the field during the winter, it’s quite unlikely anybody is going to copy their solutions.) Should have tried shaking up the livery along with the changing of team wear. 6/10

    7. Ferrari – The choice of red is wrong, the logo placement is wrong, the portfolio of their partners seems to be getting weaker. Plain airbox, plain rear wing, plain front wing endplates, what is this, a 2003 Jordan? Also, that gray stripe. 5/10

    = Renault – Point off for the ridiculous flourescent shade of yellow from the launch pictures, for starters. The amount of black areas are just too much now, and I’m not impressed at all with cars that look like different cars from the front and the side. Both versions of their 2016 livery (the noir and the yellow) were easily better than this one. Decent sponsorship, though. 5/10

    9. Sauber – They really should have just turned all blue surfaces to crimson from last year’s design. It would have represented some continuity, as well as some class. Also, their halo would have looked less bulky in carbon. A very poor attempt. 4/10

    10. Force India – If you try to look like a ’98-’99 Williams in pink, expect the same treatment from F1 fans that those cars got. Some will like you, but the vast majority won’t. 3/10


    March 26, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    OK…maybe I’m a bit biased – but isn’t opinion what its all about here 🙂

    1. Toro Roso: again take the pip – and the clever ise of the cola logo on the rear wing to continue the red line. that, along with the placement of sponsors etc. wins them this round
    2. McLaren: i can see what you mean Seb, but for me, i just love that they are heading in the right direction, and honestly, if you a space is going to look sparse on sponsors, do it properly 🙂
    3. Force India: this has to be one of the biggest improvements in a winter break. if you look at the details you see that they (kind of) have a theme and stick to it from front to back of the car.
    4. Renault: Likewise Seb, love the ‘2 views’ of this car, and the lighter yellow is great. other than that – its a good remake of last years.
    5. Haas: just a really good remake of 2016’s livery with some added extras. good work.
    6. Red Bull: One livery that always manages to look good. and this year is no different. i don’t think anyone will be too annoyed at seeing this again, although putting out the Camo livery wasn’t going to make it more popular.
    7.Williams: although its essentially the same, i like that they have finally remembered that the front and rear wings are black and so ensured that the black is riding higher so it meets the martini stripes at both ends of the car.
    8. Sauber: just because its new. not the most exciting livery ever but nice
    9. Mercedes: yes its the same old – but limiting the lines to only 4 is a good idea. makes them flow all the way along the car.
    10. Ferrari: they have kept some good features, but not filling the top piece of the rear wing was not one of them. if nothing else continue the white strip from the small fin or put the word Ferrari across it?


    March 26, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    I think you’re doing this year a disservice, I though the liveries in action on Sunday looked amazing. Renault from the front is the best for me


    March 26, 2018 at 4:41 pm

    (2018 score) [2017 score]

    Orange & blue, check. Sponsors, oh dear. Attempt to hide lack of sponsors, ah.
    Never mind though because it’s orange! (9/10) [7/10]

    Nearly as good as the Mclaren, just missing something for me. (9/10) [8/10]

    VERY RED!!! Those wings should be black though. (8/10) [7/10]

    Sure I’m bored of it, but I quite like the random black. (7/10) [6/10]

    Where’s our camo livery?! 0/10
    No only joking still like this one. (8/10) [8/10]

    Force India:
    Very cool & eye catching. (7/10) [6/10]

    No I’m sorry I’m getting bored of this already and I don’t know why. (6/10) [9/10]
    (I’ll go to the doctors don’t worry, maybe I’ll like it later, but not in Melbourne apparently)

    Well as usual it’s alright but not exactly great. (5/10) [5/10]

    Please send sauber a bucket of any paint that isn’t white. (2/10) [1/10] (Yes I actually disliked last years Sauber, it was too busy for me)

    Dull as ever. (2/10) [0/10]

    Kevin Johnson

    March 27, 2018 at 5:23 am

    I think the Ferrari looked good on tv.

    Carlos Dinis

    March 27, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    1 – Toro Rosso: they refined the already great livery from last year. The red line flow is better and the sponsors placement, especially Honda, is great .

    2 – Renault: for me the best livery since last years. Better shade of yellow and I really love the way the car looks all yellow from the front and all black from the side.

    3 – McLaren: finally the papaya is back! Although at first I thought it was too simple (maybe due to the lack of sponsors) it’s a great livery, and those blue details are very smart.

    4 – Ferrari: it’s not the best Ferrari livery but I kinda like it overall. I like the effect of the silver line and the way the numbers fit in the engine cover. Point down for the all red rear wing (I would love a return to black wings), point up for the best halo design of the grid.

    5 – Mercedes: well they are nicknamed the silver arrows and turquoise is the main sponsor color, so it they are sticked to those colours they at least try to do something diferent every year. They are small details, is a fact, but I do like the movement effect of the turquoise lines in the dark background.

    6 – Force India: better shade of pink, the white areas are a great add-on, but the sponsors placement make the livery a bit confuse. I liked the new Havaianas sponsor in the halo though.

    7 – Haas: back to original livery thank god. I like the colour combo, but too simple, too boring.

    8 – Williams: it’s a good looking car and we will do miss the Martini sponsorship but it’s like they don’t even try to change the livery a bit each year.

    9 – Red Bull: it’s a Red Bull and it looks like a Red Bull, clase closed.

    10 – Sauber: it really annoys me because they had all the ingredients to make a new and refreshing livery and they screwed it. It’s like they have designed a quick livery to announce the Alfa Romeo partnership and then just forget to design a proper one.


    March 28, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    10th: Force India. Last year was a rush job, and it was quite visible, but as it became progressively worse over the season, I should have known they weren’t gonna make something i’d personally like. The brighter pink helps the car stand out from a distance, but the secondary colours don’t work at all. The white is illogical, the red jarring. IMO, It’d be better if more blue was added, which would also integrate BWT’s logo a bit more 4/10

    9th: Sauber. Trashed a great livery for this. this has promise, but the execution is lackluster. The shade of red is glorious, but there;s not enough of it. could have gotten more points if they didn’t scrap last year’s best livery for it. 5/10

    8th: Ferrari. Looks rather dull and heavyset. I don’t have anything against all red liveries, but this shade looks too cheap too pull it off. I don’t get all the nagging about the white of previous cars. White has been a secondary colour for the scuderia since 1970. 5/10

    7th: Haas. Still dull, 5.5/10

    6th: Williams. The added black gives the car a more worksmanlike look, but that doesn’t really work with the Martini and it isn’t very inspired either. 6/10

    5th: Mercedes. It’s a Mercedes. Not particulary pleasing on the eyes, but it could be worse. 6/10

    4th: McLaren. The shade of orange is much better, and the blue just works as 2nd colour. there could be much more of the blue though, and the team haven’t done any effort to hide the fact they have no main sponsor. Good idea, slightly sloppy execution, 7/10

    3rd: Red Bull. The team remain to have a much stronger identity than they had during their glory years. solid. 7/10, gets ahead of the McLaren due to better execution

    2nd: Renault. I needed my time to get used to the RS 17, but once I did, I really liked it. This one, not that much yet. It’s still a very solid livery that leaves no doubt that this is a renault. the Yellow has a more retro-ish feel to it, side view is a bit too black now. 7.5/10

    1st: Toro Rosso: 9/10


    April 1, 2018 at 9:28 am

    10: Sauber. Looks like they scrapped their livery design. It’s completely unfinished.
    9: Red Bull. Jus a carry-over from 2016 and 2017, even if it’s the only livery design Max has raced with since he became a Red Bull driver. That red part on the rear wing endplate just ruins it…are they thinking they still have Total as their fuel partner?
    8: Williams. I’m waiting for next year’s livery to see how it will look like…
    7: Haas. Looks okay than last year’s one but it looks too much like 2017, especially when viewed on the onboard camera.
    6: Mercedes. They haven’t changed much since 2014.
    5: Force India. I like this stronger shade of pink. The livery design is better than last year’s one.
    4: Ferrari. With the amount of white being reduced, I like it a lot more now, but the engine cover sponsor placement is really empty.
    3: McLaren. Yes.
    2: Renault. Bigger yes.
    1: Toro Rosso. Even more yes.


    April 14, 2018 at 5:34 am

    When you line them all up like that, they actually do look reasonably bright and colourful! All that’s missing now to really flesh out the palette is a nice green, like Jaguar had back in the day.


    November 13, 2018 at 1:26 pm

    It would be cool, if McL put their logo or driver’s name on the side. Also I’m excited to see the new blue Williams, will they bring back the 2014 testing livery?


    December 7, 2018 at 3:38 pm

    There’s rumour that Toro Rosso used Carabinieri cars as a source for inspiration. Double respect for that fact

Leave a Reply

© Seb Patrick / F1 Colours 2019