Two livery changes before the season’s even begun. We won’t see days like this again.
So it feels a bit odd trying to in any way judge the new Mercedes livery on aesthetic standards. Whether or not it looks any good – and particularly how it looks in relation to the original livery – is completely irrelevant when set against what it means. It’s a huge statement – sure, the kind of huge statement that’s ultimately meaningless unless it’s backed up by the kind of action Mercedes are saying they’re committing too – but a huge statement nevertheless. There will be (and indeed are) those arguing that F1 liveries shouldn’t be a place for politics – I would argue firstly that it’s rare that anything is truly apolitical (and F1, certainly, never is), and secondly that there are certain times when we cannot be callow about the idea of allowing people and organisations to make strong positive political statements, and this is absolutely one of those times.
So Mercedes coming out in support of Lewis Hamilton in particular and the BAME community in general by changing their silver – the only colour that a Mercedes works team has ever raced in – to black for an entire season is a big deal, and something to be applauded, and it doesn’t matter what the car looks like.
But also… the car looks amazing.
The original 2020 livery felt like it had one too many different designs and colours competing – with the Petronas turquoise, INEOS maroon and white star pattern all jostling for space against the silver canvas. Changing that canvas to black, while not actually changing anything else about the livery, solves that problem in a single stroke. All three colours (not to mention the silver trimming around the INEOS logo on the airbox) look great on black, and they look great together on black. It feels like it was always meant to look this way, and the black backdrop also means it’s possible to include other colour elements such as the #WeRaceAsOne rainbow branding on the wing mirrors.
It shouldn’t matter that this is now possibly the best-looking thing on the 2020 grid, competing even with the AlphaTauri. The fact that it is, though, is a bonus.