The Top 25 F1 Liveries of All Time : #3

Only two to go, after this – what will they be? Tomorrow I’ll post #2, and then a roundup over the weekend before the WINNER on Monday…


Benetton were sponsored by Mild Seven for eight seasons from 1994 until 2001 (after which they became Renault), but with this one notable exception, never really made the best use of the colour scheme. The ’94-’97 cars were all quite messy affairs, with no clear identity; and the last couple of designs went too far the other way, the all-over light blue look coming off as somewhat bland and ugly.

But in 1998, they got it absolutely spot on, with a fantastic effort. It was a time of optimism for the team – after a slow start, ’97 had eventually yielded their first win of the post-Schumacher era, they’d come third in the constructors’ championship, and Fisichella and Wurz seemed to be the best up-and-coming driver pairing out there. To fit Nick Wirth’s new, somewhat compact and clean B198, the striped livery of the previous few years was done away with, with Mild Seven’s corporate blue much more predominant, spread over the engine cover and nose. Separating it from the white of the sidepods, meanwhile, was the darker “secondary” blue, and this combination of shades was extremely aesthetically pleasing.

Like a number of cars of its time, the fashion was for swooping, curved lines that gave a feeling of speed even when the car was stationary – and while this effect wasn’t quite as predominant as on, say, the silver McLaren, the patterning on the sidepods was nevertheless well thought out. This was also the last season in which the sponsor’s logo on the engine cover would be laid out in traditional strips – and it looked far better than the ugly, massive sloping white lettering of subsequent years. The other sponsors’ logos generally fitted in well with the scheme, as well – and as Korean Air, FedEx and Akai all made use of red in their logos, this added a nice offset to the main scheme without being as horrifically cluttered as the ’96 and ’97 cars had been.

Indeed, while many of the liveries on this list are there for being clean and simple, I’m not sure there’s another one that combines so many sponsors and visual schemes and still manages to remain so. A neat and tidy livery, for a neat and tidy car. It’s just a shame that the expected success never came (the team slipped to fifth in the championship, and wouldn’t get higher than fourth until Renault and Fernando Alonso came along)…

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    February 14, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Good choice, The ’98 car was definetely the best Mild Seven livery, apart from the ’94 tyrrell but it was better only because the rest of the car was blank white. The light blue certainly made the car stand out against the rest of the field.

    Final two – one of ’97 – 2001 jordans and ’71-’73 tyrrell


    February 15, 2008 at 12:54 pm

    I love it on that picture where it looks a bit purply! (The bottom middle picture)


    February 15, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Surprised to see this in here….definitely the best Mild Seven Bennetton tho. Great incorporation of the Mild Seven stripes. They kinda pioneered whacking sponsor logos on top of the sidepods too didn’t they. As you say, this livery was a huge step up from the abominations that were the ’94-’97 efforts!

    I’m guessing a B&H Jordan at #2 (maybe ’99’s effort?), and the beautiful green ’91 Jordan at #1 (we know you like green!)


    February 15, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    I didn´t expect this one so far up here. Still nice, though the red spots could be better off. Anyway, my bet is still on the the Rothmans Williams Renault for nº1, ’94 livery. My personal best.


    May 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Great choice here. This was a beautiful design. Love how the FedEx and Korean Air logos are completely independent from yet beautifully complemented by the color scheme.

    […] corporate colours are sky blue and white, which would of course look bloody lovely on a car (think ’98 Benetton), so here’s […]

    […] by an almost entirely sky blue car with white sidepods. And it was utterly, utterly beautiful. My third-favourite F1 livery of all time, it helps that it adorned such a cute and tidy chassis design (albeit one that sadly didn’t […]

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