2020 Liveries: The Verdict!



Well, here we are, then. We’ve somehow made it into the third newly-prefixed decade of F1 Colours’ existence. 2020 has something of a “holding pattern” feel to it as a season – with not much movement on the driver and team front (except for one team taking on a new identity!), but new rules and lots of movement due to happen in 2021. It’s been a good few years for liveries – since around 2017, we’ve had some bright and colourful schemes on the grid, as well as some nice surprises here and there; but some of the established paint jobs are starting to reach the natural end of their lifespan, and so we’re finding ourselves wanting to see things freshened up a little bit more.

How, then, do the teams stack up against each other this year? Let’s find out…

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team

Last year’s Mercedes was probably their best one yet, although it still felt slightly like something was missing. Red trim might have been it, but this slightly purple-ish, gradient shade brought in by the new sponsorship with INEOS doesn’t feel like it’s it. It does provide a nice counterpoint to the Petronas turquoise but perhaps they both need to have stronger presence on the car to really work together.

Score: 7/10 – Improved in some ways, but not quite clicking completely

Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow

Black as the trim colour for a Ferrari is enjoyable to see, although it would be even better if they went full-on black wings with it. The new number font is great although the way it sits on a non-matt patch of red feels weird. There’s a strong identity here with this matt colour shade overall, but as with the last few years the car is still let down by those messy sidepods.

Score: 7/10 – Solid if unspectacular yet again for the Mission Winnow identity

Aston Martin Red Bull Racing

Well, it’s… it’s basically exactly the same as last year. Yes, it looks good, but come on, guys – move something around, yeah? Maybe when the Aston deal ends after this year we’ll see it freshened up – they really ought to start taking cues from their smaller brother.

Score 6/10 – “It’s a nice-looking car, but one we’ve seen too many times by now”. As last year, so this.

McLaren F1 Team

After absolutely adoring last year’s, I still can’t work out if this year’s is an improvement or not – which probably suggests that it isn’t, although there are things that are better. I really like the way the blue and black are used together in stripes this time, but it does give it a slightly strange and elongated feel and it’s a shame to lose the striking pattern from the rear of the 2019 design. It’s also hard to tell whether the matt orange is better or worse than the standard style of last year – we’ll see that better on track, I guess. And I don’t love the race numbers. All in all, I guess it’s a bit of a step down, but it’s still a great-looking car.

Score: 9/10 – Still a great colour scheme, and with improved application of sponsors, but ever so slightly lacking the wow factor of last year

Renault DP World F1 Team

They kept us waiting and waiting for, it turned out, the addition of a new logo as title sponsor of the team – albeit one taking a less-than-prominent space, akin to AT&T’s late-2000s sponsorship of Williams. Otherwise, this is effectively just a tweaked version of what they’ve had for the last couple of years. It’s still an extremely good-looking car, although that blue logo on the sidepod throws things off a bit; but I’m still yearning for the day they properly add some white beyond just the logos.

Score: 8/10 – Can see why they don’t want to change this livery much, but freshness is always good and so this just loses a mark

Scuderia AlphaTauri Honda

The livery that got the world talking. Yes, at a glance it seems fairly straightforward, with a very dark blue and a not-quite-white that make you think of a 2000 Williams BMW. But the more you take this in, the more you realise that it’s a quite transformative livery – it does things we haven’t really seen before, whether that’s the standout Honda logo in an unconventional position on the sidepod, the way the AlphaTauri name and strapline are in a long banner form, or a logo that’s so huge it’s basically part of the paint job rather than a decal. The fact that one of the best liveries of modern times has been replaced with something almost as good is remarkable.

Score: 9/10 – It’s not quite perfect, but it’s exciting and fresh, and put liveries at the forefront of the F1 conversation, so how can we not love it?

BWT Racing Point F1 Team

Like AlphaTauri, Racing Point have done something here that feels like it’s designed to fit how F1 cars currently look, not just adhere to the existing norms of livery shape and sculpting. The side-on BWT logo would only work the way current-spec rear-ends are packaged, and some people have reacted with disgust, but I think it’s great. Just by virtue of not having all the blue on it it’s an improvement on the mess they had in 2019, but I think this is the most coherent and striking version of the pink livery the team have had yet.

Score: 8/10 – Feels like the livery they should have always had back when BWT first came in

Alfa Romeo Racing Orlen

The last vestiges of Sauber-ness are gradually being chipped away at, as the amount of blue on the car decreases further to just be thin stripes on the nose, bordered by much larger red ones. Extending the red down the nose (from the halo where it was added to last year) is a great improvement to the overall coherence of this livery, as is the addition of red Orlen logos – it no longer feels so much like a cut-and-shut from two completely different teams. Perhaps next year we might finally get something that completely takes on a single identity?

Score: 8/10 – Just about earns another point on top of last year, but let’s see it improve even more in 2021

Haas F1 Team

Well, it’s not Rich Energy. It’s also not particularly exciting, but it is probably the least dull white-red-grey-black combo the team have had since their arrival in the sport, so we have to give them that. It does feel like they could be doing more – maybe a brighter red that popped off the car more, maybe make the black more of a carbon or matt effect? – but at least it’s smart and not egregiously ugly.

Score: 6/10 – Mediocre, inoffensive… just fine, basically.

ROKiT Williams Racing

This one was a bolt from the blue, and an immediate improvement on last year. It doesn’t feel like it has the “personality” of a Williams, and if anything it looks like it’d be better suited to racing in the US or Formula E… but it’s hard to deny that it’s a cool looking car that pops off the track and demands attention. The sponsors are integrated much better than last year, and the wispy blue fade effect is gone, too. Oddly they’ve got much worse driver suits than their excellent ones from last year, but otherwise, this is fun.

Score: 8/10 – Always nice to have an unexpected bit of excitement, though it’d be even better if it was more all-over blue and red than the dominant white

So that’s the 2020 grid. The big difference from 2019 is that we’ve lost a metallic blue car and a black one, and both have been replaced with cars with heavy amounts of white. Add that to the white front-ends that Alfa Romeo and Williams are carrying over from last year and, well, we’re not exactly at the late 2000s kind of level yet (2008 and 2009, in particular, were quite drossy), but let’s hope it doesn’t continue too heavily as a trend.

Despite another strong showing from McLaren, a nice surprise from Williams, and a good effort from Racing Point, the clear winner has to be the AlphaTauri. It doesn’t challenge the 2017 Toro Rosso or the 2019 McLaren to be the very best of the last few years, but it’s certainly up there. It’s yet another example of how great a car can look when everything works in harmony around a single design philosophy – and if Italy’s smaller team can get all their sponsors to agree to fit in with a colour scheme, it’s remarkable that Ferrari can’t follow suit. It’s disappointment, meanwhile, that Red Bull and Renault have stuck so rigidly to liveries that yes, are good-looking – but come on, we just like to see something new each time! And Mercedes continue their run of not quite getting it right, not that they’ll especially care what people think of the livery when the car inevitably runs at the front all the time again…


7 Comments

    bosyber

    March 12, 2020 at 9:25 am
    Reply

    Well, I think I can completely agree with this assessment – will note, the original Torro Rosso liveries, with the big airbrushed Torro on it, while indeed a bit too messy to completely work, did already have the ‘logo’ (bull) super large, so I suppose this team has previous that helped them go for it.Anyway, well done them, even if it loses the brilliant colours for more white, dark blue. Visually it looks quite different and I have to like it.

    G.

    March 12, 2020 at 2:29 pm
    Reply

    Agreed Seb, its a NICE grid to look at but lacking the verve of last years. to much of the same. its going to be hard to tell them appart….well from the wrong angle anyway.

    now for the yearly ranking

    1st: Racing Point. and only because like you said that this feels like the livery that they should have had right back at the start of the BWT relationship. (oh and they are the only Proper colour outside mclaren)
    2nd: Williams. ok its a white car but it stands up and stands out, one of the first times we have seen a williams like it….and i like it.
    3rd: no i cant leave this one out – its good. it feels like a proper team where brought in to make sure that logo and sponsor placement was just so. but maybe some more grey down the side, but its a good flat two tone livery.
    4th: Mercedes: its a variant – all be it a slightly disjointed one, and yes it would have been a good livery without it, but i like the little splashes of colour that show up
    5th Mclaren – it makes the car look flat – sorry to have to do this mclaren but keep to last years philosophy – blue at the very front and the very back. if you are going to add it to the sides make sure that it stems from somewhere not just thin air. and the block of orange right to the back really makes the car look like a box. otherwise i love the colours yet again.
    6th Renult – but they only just tipped it – and its only because of that new front nose shape. it makes the livery complete
    7th Ferrari: its a better, remixed version of last years, and its a possitive one, but it is that all red with carious sponsors in various colours – but somehow we dont expect anything less – it is a ferrari 🙂
    8th Alfa Romeo – becuse of the extra bits of design and the all one colour makes this livery more complete (shame they couldnt keep the unavailing livery though – i swear one year they will surprise us and keep it ….and i hope that they do)
    9th its the same as last year and the year before and the year before and the year before that. yes its still a good livery and we probably shouldnt expect much more – but since seeing the toro rosso of the last two years and the alpha tauri of this they need to be new
    10th: and this isnt anything personal – Haas – its the business-man of the group. forever in the suit and tie.

    arn14_

    March 12, 2020 at 7:12 pm
    Reply

    My top 10:

    10 Ferrari: They have the opportunity to bring black wings and the original Ferrari colour (rosso corsa) but they don’t. Even though they have the most precious numbers of the grid its livery doesn’t show any effort. 5/10
    9 Mercedes: Last year they had my favourite livery, but this year they screwed it up. The black red doesn’t fit in the car and it’s just added like another sticker. Also, the stars on the back of the car are bigger and feel noisy. 6/10
    8 Red Bull: Their livery is nice and iconic from them, but 5 years with the exact same livery… isn’t very original. Plus, no shakedown livery this year 🙁 6/10
    7 Haas: It’s a great improvement from 2018 (2019 can be forgotten) and from the front and upper view it’s a really nice one, but from the side it’s really boring. Haas logo in white, front car in black and that’s it. They can be more agressive and use another colour that identifies them 6.5/10
    6 Alfa Romeo: Only red and black. If Ferrari isn’t going to do that just change the white to some black and that’ll be it 7/10
    5 Williams: Some people might see it as a disaster because they aren’t using their traditional dark blue. In my view I think it’s an agressive option and it’s pretty solid actually. Only the number 63 on Russell’s car is bad, feels like one number is over the other 7/10
    4 Renault: Same livery from last year, I was expecting some white especially having Sean Bull as the livery designer. It’s nice but it can be more. And wtf with that blue? They could easily made it white and it would fit on the livery 7.5/10
    3 Racing Point: I’m happy SportPesa isn’t there anymore, the blue just “overcolored the car”. There were five dominant colours and none of them were the principal one (pink, blue, white, purple and grey). But this year’s livery is an upgrade that fits really well on that W10 8/10
    2 McLaren: I’m not sure about the matte orange, but if it works well on races then it’ll be another great livery from them. 8.5/10
    1 Alpha Tauri: Oh man that’s hot 9/10

    [5 Renault testing: Full black seems unoriginal and boring, but actually it looked great on track and seemed cool 7/10]

    Jordi Domenech

    March 12, 2020 at 7:29 pm
    Reply

    It’s nice to see teams moving away from the sidepods (they don’t really exist anymore), so Racing Point, Williams and AlphaTauri, good on them.
    Kudos on Ferrari for the retro numbers!

    Gaspar Palagyi

    March 15, 2020 at 11:13 am
    Reply

    Unfortunately, new doesn’t always mean better. Of the 10 teams, only 4 (Alfa, Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault) choose to stick with their previous designs. Of the other six, 5 (Alpha, Haas, Mclaren, Mercedes, Racing Point) came out with alternations that resulted eventually in worse liveries than what they used to have earlier, and one of them (Williams) ended up with a completely different effort, which sadly remaines just as bad as its predecessor. This is a very, very, very disappointing year livery-wise.

    My ranking (from worst to best):

    10. Mercedes – With the benefit of hindsight, they’ve always had an unexplainable tendency to allow red to creep onto their otherwise very clean silver-turquise-black designs (PostBrief, Aabar, MIG Bank, Tommy Hilfieger, race numbers, Lauda tributes), but even that tendency cannot explain what we got this year. It’s needless, pointless, and unimaginative, and ruins an otherwise 8/10 design. 3/10

    9. Racing Point – I must be the only one around here who actually liked their SportPesa blue livery from last year, and I miss it very bad now it’s gone. This year’s pink is just too much, and not the right shade. 4/10

    = Williams – They did what they could, I guess, but that only shows how little they are capable of right now. The colors would be allright, but their application is not designed at all; a full-on light blue nose would help a lot. And also a weird thing: this livery seems to remind everybody to the second Winfield livery from 1999, but when you actually go look it up, they are nothing alike. Weird. 4/10

    7. Mclaren – Oh, the disappointment. It’s beyong astonising how each and every change they made – matte orange, brighter blue, different desing, orange halo, different numbers – is a bad decision. That’s what you get when you try to one-up a basically perfect livery. 5/10

    = Haas – Painting the front half of the car black and leaving the rear half with their 2016/18 scheme only works from the side-on view, otherwise, it’s a poor and boring design. The blue Peak logo helps it, which is strange. 5/10

    5. Alfa Romeo – It’s an Alfa Romeo, with some Orlen branding with an annyoingly different red. Otherwise, good tweaks. 7/10

    4. Ferrari – It’s a Ferrari. And apart from the rest of the internet, I don’t think the world as we know it ends or stock market collapses everytime they roll their car out without black wings. 7.5/10

    3. Red Bull – It’s a Red Bull. 8/10

    = Renault – It’s a Renault! Also, I don’t mind the blue of their engine branding. 8/10

    1. Alpha Tauri – There are cases, from time to time, when the the shape of the car doesn’t do justice to the livery, and deteriorate the potential look – notably 1998-1999 Mclaren, 2001 Jordan, 2008 Williams, 2009 Force India, 2010 Lotus, 2014 Caterham, 2014-16 Williams, 2016 Manor, 2016 Renault, and so on. Alpha Tauri is a victim of this too: it’s almost as good as what it replaced, but looks bad on that specific shape that it’s applied to. 8.5/10

    Dominic Barden

    March 17, 2020 at 3:21 pm
    Reply

    Mercedes: Not sure about the Ineos logos on the airbox. I like their placement on the inside of the front wing endplates though.

    Ferrari: Pretty much the same as last year, a nice number font, but not so keen on the black Mission Winnow logos. I think I’m in the minority when I say I’d prefer them in white!

    Red Bull: Same as ever but I’ve always had a soft spot for the matte livery since they first started using it.

    McLaren: I really like the matte orange and blue. Not so sure about the orange halo but it’ll probably grow on me.

    Renault: Same as ever which isn’t a bad thing. The Renault’s narrow nose suits the livery pretty nicely.

    Alpha Tauri: The name will keep making me think of Stargate, but the livery is very nice. Definitely one of my favourites this season.

    Racing Point: I did a bit of a double take when I first saw the massive BWT logo arranged diagonally, but it’s grown on me since.

    Alfa Romeo: I like the extra red and I like the addition of the Orlen logos.

    Haas: Back to basics after the Rich Energy debacle but I think it’s a smart looking car.

    Williams: Colgate or Aquafresh? Possible toothpaste jokes aside, it’s a lovely looking car, their best for some time.

    If I were to give a top 3 (in no particular order): McLaren, Williams, Alpha Tauri. It’s hard to decide which one is best.

    midniteRNR

    April 4, 2020 at 1:32 am
    Reply

    So happy to see the articles on the site again; looking forward to the F1 season (when it starts). My take on the liveries, now that I’ve had a few weeks to let them set in:

    Mercedes: I like this iteration of the Petronas/Mercedes integrated livery, so it’s a shame that the Ineos red has been blobbed on. I liked the TOTAL red end plates from the Lotus-Renault days, so I think something like that would have been more effective. As it is, it neither looks good or is noticeable enough to the public at large to make the placement worth it. I’m curious to see what the Ineos branding would look like done in the same way as the AlphaTauri logo, all the way across the top of the car with the red.
    Ferrari: I don’t like the matte red. Ferrari cars should be bright, and the matte colors look dull and plain. If this car was gloss Scuderia Red, it would have much more impact. I also feel that white Mission Winnow logos would be more effective for the overall livery. It’s almost a self-own to put the logos in black (It’s like PhillipMorris knows they are evil, so why not be evil and dark and black.)
    Red Bull: I wish companies would be less worried about establishing a brand/brand recognition (specially given the audience for Red Bull). As it is, Red Bull want to get young people to buy their drinks. What gets young people talking more than loud, exciting designs? Having the same thing every year is boring; it might was well have an “Ensure” livery.
    McLaren: The darker blue from last year was better. The sidepods from this years livery want to be “Indycar” style, but the actual Indycar livery looks better (no surprise…). This livery is ok, if only that it’s not black or white.
    Renault: They cared so little about their livery, they even didn’t launch it. Me too. Make a yellow car.
    AlphaTauri: This is too good. I don’t like white cars, but the blue and the large, bold design screams “Formula 1”. I really like the red Honda logo as well; loud in the right way and a nod to the white/red colors for Japanese F1 cars.
    Racing Point: On the one hand, I want to like this car. Bright, unique colors, and large, bold logos. On the other hand, the biggest standout about this design is that it’s pink…
    Alfa Romeo: I know that this is a joint Alfa/Sauber team and they’re paying homage to that, but Alfa pays (most of) the bills. Just paint it all red. Especially when the shade of red is so good. The half white paint job looks boring and uninspired, on top of calling back to some tougher times for the Sauber team. I’m all for knowing where one comes from, but I’m not convinced that the half white paint projects the right message.
    Haas: This looks like an Indycar. Although it could be better, it could also be worse (that line makes me feel like a real automotive journalist). I never disliked the white version of the Haas livery, and it’s much better than the gray version. And way better than any fake, quasi-homage livery to some unrelated team with unrelated sponsors with unrelated monies.
    Williams: I really like this livery. It’s fairly simple, but it’s much more cohesive than last year. It has much more presenc and actually pops out of the screen (more auto journo talk). And above all else, white seat belts! Williams needed a change, superficial or otherwise, to get past the last few years and this is a good start.

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