The February fashion show in Formula 1 concluded last Sunday as Alfa Romeo became the final team to formally launch their new car for the 2022 season.
With new regulations in place, this year’s breed are generally a good-looking bunch but, as with all things, some teams have done a better job than others.
Here’s how we rank all 10 liveries:
10: Alfa Romeo
In a perfect world F1 liveries would be like football kits, with largely the same fundamental ideas tweaked from year to year.
The ‘corporate colours’ argument is fine but does pose a problem when it’s impossible to tell one season from the next (seriously, try and spot the difference between the Mercedes cars of 2015/16).
If there is one team who should have stuck with exactly what they had, though, it is Alfa Romeo, whose fusion of crimson and white – Italian passion meeting Swiss precision – peaked with the smart and sophisticated 2021 car.
The red has gradually grown in prominence in recent years and now has too much influence on a C42 livery seemingly designed to direct eyes straight to the white sidepods and specifically the stickers of title sponsor Orlen – and don’t get us started on that scrawl on the engine cover.
The masters of the testing livery have missed the mark for the real thing. What a shame.
9: Red Bull
The problem with Red Bull’s alternative liveries over recent years – the various camouflage launch looks and the all-white Honda tribute – is that people tend to take their standard colours for granted.
The matte Red Bull livery is among the most iconic of the modern era but, having been a fixture on the car since 2016, is it starting to look tired?
The title sponsorship arrangement with Oracle is worth an eye-watering sum of money (a reported £100million a year over five seasons) but the tech company’s presence on the sidepods, replacing the much-needed flash of brightness previously provided by the large Red Bull lettering, looks like an eyesore.
The result is a livery that’s mean, moody and quite possibly coming to the end of its shelf life.
Whenever an F1 team launches an underwhelming paint job their social media mentions quickly fill with fans asking why oh why they don’t just let one of the photoshop whizzes behind the popular fantasy liveries do the job.
Well, Alpine did – and look what’s happened. We’re in a world where creativity can be stifled by the needs of a team and their partners.
The arrival of BWT as title sponsor came with the potential for a fun bubblegum-style blur of blue and pink, but a clue to where this livery fell down may be found in the fact the deal was announced just 10 days before launch.
Rushed? It does look that way, as though BWT barged into Enstone and called shotgun on the wings and sidepods, making a mess and leaving the red of Mapfre looking very out of place.
And the Racing Point tribute car for the start of the season? The less said about that, the better.
Reactions to the launch of the Mercedes W13 fell into two distinct camps.
Some were delighted to see the Silver Arrows return to their roots; others were insistent the car simply looked better in black.
The smattering of three-pointed stars on the engine cover – albeit fewer and larger in size than before and including a single red one in remembrance of the much-missed Niki Lauda – make a very welcome return, but it is difficult to argue the black livery was more adept at integrating the striking red of INEOS.
Silver and teal worked a treat. Black and teal with a bit of red did too. Silver, teal and red never worked on the original 2020 car, never will and delaying the inevitable disappointment of this was one of the hidden benefits of the black car.
Also, those driver numbers – still small, still not straight, still in a weird font and still irritating.
Never mind Michael Masi, we’re yet to be convinced they weren’t the reason Lewis Hamilton was dethroned last season…
Irrespective of what it represented – a crafty way around Nikita Mazepin’s inability to compete under the Russian flag for one thing – the white, blue and red colours combined visually for the cleanest livery in Haas’ short history.
If anything, the removal for obvious reasons of any trace of Uralkali sponsorship for the final morning of Barcelona testing made it better, leaving a plain white car with minimal logos likened by some to the Brawn GP title winner of 2009.
Time will tell if it’s here to stay or whether Haas will revert to type for the start of the season.
AlphaTauri’s 2021 car was a little too blue, giving it the air of a Williams from the late 2000s.
The AT03 strikes a much better balance with the white halo, front and rear wings making all the difference for the Faenza outfit, who’ve made full use of the heavily undercut sidepods by plastering the team’s name diagonally, following the contours of the car.
A very nice design indeed.
Claire Williams had been reluctant to do the usual thing and revert to traditional navy blue following the conclusion of Martini’s title sponsorship at the end of 2018.
“I wanted to move away from that and show the world that we’re a fresh, revitalised brand,” she said in early 2019, the first of two consecutive scoreless seasons ending in the Williams family selling up after more than four decades. That went well, then…
If the new regime’s extremely busy first livery was a grower, their more simplistic second attempt is an instant hit – the midnight blue with red and sky-blue accents providing a modern twist on an old favourite.
Sometimes it pays to embrace the past. Alex Albon’s right, it does feel “more Williams.”
The downside of one-off liveries is that they prove so popular that teams can feel an obligation to make them live on in some way through the following year’s car.
Ferrari fell into that trap last season by trying to incorporate the burgundy of their 1000th race into their car, and the influence of the Gulf special of Monaco 2021 on the MCL36 – as confirmed by McLaren boss Zak Brown at launch – is instantly obvious.
Brown has been stung before when it comes to mixing up liveries – the 2017 car especially was a somewhat tone-deaf start to his tenure – but McLaren have succeeded where Ferrari failed in 2021.
The base colour is now more orange than papaya – there is a difference, apparently – but rather than stamping all over the team’s heritage it works as an attractive evolution of a well-established design, with the blue elements brightened and harnessed in a more effective fashion.
The only issue? Felix Rosenqvist’s IndyCar somehow got the better end of the deal.
2: Aston Martin
So this is what an Aston Martin Formula 1 car is meant to look like.
As Alpine have discovered, notorious livery changers BWT have a habit of hijacking good-looking cars and Aston fell foul of a similarly late sponsorship deal in February 2021 with the challenge of incorporating pink exactly seven days before launch.
The result was what looked like a high-speed watermelon, with the car confused for the black Mercedes in certain lights – carrying a strange shade of British racing green.
The team are now the masters of their own destiny and it shows, with both problems solved for 2022 as a revised green base is complemented by those famous lime accents.
Yep, that’s a proper Aston Martin all right.
How can it be that Ferrari have less room for manoeuvre than most yet still routinely outperform their rivals in this department? Maybe the secret – take note, Red Bull – is knowing that even the best liveries have a limited lifespan.
The matte Ferraris since 2019 were strikingly vibrant, but the weird inclusion of green (!) on last year’s car was a clear hint they were running out of ideas.
Enter the F1-75, with its blood-red base and black front and rear wings reminiscent of the days Alain Prost was welcome at Maranello.
So what if it looked a bit pink under cloud cover at the Fiorano shakedown? It looks dark, aggressive, menacing.
It’s a car to make the hearts of the Tifosi leap and, frankly, makes you want to stand at Monza and furiously beat your chest with the rest of ‘em.
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