The tech boffins may scoff, but seeing an F1 team introduce an all-new livery remains one of the great little joys of launch season.
And with a number of 2024 car launch dates already confirmed, we are just weeks away from finding out how the grid will look in 2024.
As the countdown continues, we’ve made some livery-related predictions for 2024 with three of last season’s top four – Ferrari, Mercedes and McLaren – leading the way…
Ferrari will keep the spirit of Vegas alive
When Ferrari ran a special burgundy livery at Mugello 2020 to mark the team’s 1000th race, it went down a storm.
So much so, in fact, that the Scuderia opted to keep some of it for 2021, making the tip of the engine cover and rear wing a shade darker than the rest of the car.
In truth, it didn’t really work – but it did demonstrate a willingness within Maranello to give the people what they want.
Three years on, might Ferrari once again bow to the public’s wishes to keep their one-off Las Vegas look?
When those flashes of white first appeared on the car under the night sky in Vegas, it was as though the SF-23 had finally been captured in its fullest form.
The car finally looked how it was always meant to look; it just took the previous 20 races of 2023 for Ferrari to work it out.
It helped that the Vegas weekend was also among Ferrari’s strongest of the season, polesitter Charles Leclerc hassling Max Verstappen almost throughout and completing that pass on Sergio Perez for second place on the last lap.
Even better news? Inspired by F1’s first “golden age” in the USA in the ’70s, the white look is not Vegas-specific and is easily transferable to every other round on the 2024 calendar.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas?
Maybe not on this occasion.
Mercedes will elect for a silver/black hybrid
The biggest fashion trend of 2023? The exposed carbon look.
A number teams chose to leave huge sections of their cars unpainted last season in an effort to save weight.
So it came as a victory for livery lovers everywhere that one of the few teams who kept the paint on won all but one race in 2023 (those marginal gains clearly aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, eh?).
Being annihilated by Red Bull on a weekly basis last year leaves the teams who committed most to the exposed look with a conundrum for 2024 – especially now they know for sure that keeping the paint off won’t magically turn an eternally temperamental, sidepod-less car into a winner.
Mercedes were an obvious pick to go back to black last year, with the darker livery almost raised to the status of a good-luck charm – a comforting reminder of their last taste of regular success in 2020/21.
Yet where do they turn now after the return to black coincided with the team’s first winless season since 2011?
With talk of a whole new concept for 2024 – and lessons learned from past mistakes in F1’s ground effect era – this calls for a bold, forward-looking new look to mark the first phase of a potential Mercedes revival.
A fashionable fusion of black and silver, with flashes of Petronas turquoise and INEOS red in the mix too, could work very nicely.
McLaren will make a special effort to remember Senna
Few here need reminding that 2024 will mark three decades since the death of Ayrton Senna.
The 30th anniversary of Senna’s fatal accident at Imola will fall four days before F1 races in Miami, with the teams with which Senna is most associated, McLaren and Williams, expected to mark the occasion.
More so McLaren, who for the last two seasons have ran Senna’s logo at the base of the car’s halo following Williams’ inexplicable decision to “move on” – as former team principal Jost Capito so callously put it – in early 2022.
The 20th anniversary of Senna’s death in 2014 brought with it some poignant touches, McLaren producing a classy clip to celebrate Senna’s 1988 Monaco pole lap and Williams replacing the traditional ‘S’ logo on the car’s nose with a special graphic designed by the Instituto Ayrton Senna.
Given Zak Brown’s propensity to lean heavily on the history of McLaren – see the return of orange/papaya at the earliest opportunity in 2017 and the separate triple crown/chrome liveries of 2023 – he will surely not miss the mark with this one.
AlphaTauri’s new look will be based heavily on late-2023 design
The new identity of Red Bull’s sister team still remains a secret, but the world may have already been treated to a sneak peek of their revised colour scheme.
When AlphaTauri debuted a new livery in Las Vegas and then retained it for the 2023 season finale in Abu Dhabi a week later, it was widely rumoured that it would form the basis of the team’s 2024 look.
The white streaks on a dark base around the engine cover and sidepods still screamed AlphaTauri – because, well, it still technically was an AlphaTauri, with the front half of the car unchanged.
But just how bold will they go when the AlphaTauri era is officially declared over and the team’s new identity – heavily rumoured to be Racing Bulls, reflecting the team’s closer ties to Red Bull Racing in 2024 – takes hold?
Done well, it has the potential to dazzle.
Stake F1 will go green
Now the Alfa Romeo era is over, all roads lead to 2026 for Sauber – sorry, Stake F1 Kick Sauber Stake F1 Team Sauber – ahead of Audi’s long-awaited F1 entry.
Out are the classy, understated white-and-crimson fusions synonymous with the earliest days of Leclerc and the final years of Kimi Raikkonen and in, it appears, is something altogether more striking.
The first social media posts since the team’s rebrand have made a very clear nod towards a black livery with flashes of green.
With the team among those who pushed the exposed carbon look hardest in 2023, it is tough to imagine them reversing that decision just yet.
For a hint of what the 2024 car may look like, take a look at the team’s 2023 Belgian GP livery – splashed with flashes of neon green to promote their partnership with Kick, which shares the same owners as Stake and has acquired naming rights to the 2024 chassis.
Still a lot of black, a lot less red and a lot more green for Sauber – sorry, done it again! – in 2024.