So aside from Haas’ early start, this week is the main Launch Week for F1 2020 – with the majority of teams set to unveil their new cars (or at least, liveries) over the course of the week. Mercedes weren’t originally intended to reveal their new challenger until Friday 14th – but with the announcement of a new sponsorship arrangement, they’ve taken the opportunity to take the covers off the livery (painted onto last year’s car) with an online reveal this morning.
— Mercedes-AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) February 10, 2020
What we’ve got, then, is something largely similar to last year – with the same stars motif on the rear half of the car – but with a couple of significant differences. One of which we like, and one of which we like in theory but not really in practice.
Let’s deal with the biggest change first, then, and it’s the addition of a dark red to the airbox (and the inside of the front wing endplates), courtesy of that new sponsorship deal with INEOS. It’s definitely nice to see red added back to the palette of the car – the red race numbers they used to have worked superbly, and while it was a little jarring, the red halo in tribute to Niki Lauda last year actually worked surprisingly well.
This design, though… doesn’t quite feel right. Perhaps it’s the shape of it, perhaps it’s the way it fades to a darker colour along its length, but it just comes off as feeling a little awkward and slapped on – rather than something that boldly stands out as a contrast to the Petronas turquoise. It almost feels like it’s been dialled down more than it needed to be – making the entire thing one brighter shade of red might actually have been the way to go.
(And it’s baffling as to why the race numbers are still in their bland dark/white, rather than going back to red, given that they’ve now got the perfect excuse!)
Somewhat better (although less visible in the official shots released so far) is the redesign of the sidepod and the Petronas turquoise stripe. We’ve come a long way from the annoying faded spray-paint designs of the early 2010s, and the more solid stripe from the past couple of seasons has now been enhanced by a thick black surround – finally bringing together the two main secondary colours on the car where previously they’ve always been separate. This is a nice, striking design, and further gives the car a bit of that electric, Formula E kind of feel that we’d like to see creep into modern F1 liveries a bit more.
With the changes to the Petronas part of the livery, this could be Mercedes’ best livery yet – it’s just held back a bit by what feels like slightly slipshod application of that new sponsor element. If it gets refined between now and the end of the season to work with the car a bit better, though, we’d be happy to see the red stick around.
Well, we’ve now had studio shots of the Mercedes livery adorning the actual new car, the W11, and there’s a bit of a difference in how it comes across under this lighting:
The red/gradient of the INEOS areas actually has a slightly purple tint to it, rather than the brighter red previously associated with Mercedes. This actually comes off looking quite a bit better than the version at launch – it flows into the gradient better and also sits as a much better complement to the Petronas turquoise than a more straightforward red would.
The design could still perhaps do with being applied with a little more conviction, but as another spoke on the car’s colour wheel this actually sits fairly well. One final point to note is that the red star for Niki Lauda can be seen on the car’s left flank, just to the left of the race number.