The 2017 launch season has been the most exciting in F1 for years. It was already going to be pretty interesting thanks to the new regulations, and seeing the wider, more aggressive breed of cars has definitely got us pumped for the racing.
As well as seeing all the different interpretations of the new rules, there have been some surprises in terms of the liveries – some good, some bad, and some disappointing.
While the performance of the cars is what matters we won’t really know the pecking order until we get to Melbourne, so until then liveries are one of the only things we can judge. Here are my thoughts on how the 2017 grid looks.
10th – Force India VJM10
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. Force India have usually churned out fairly attractive cars, which makes the VJM10 an even bigger disappointment. Getting rid of most of the black and adding more silver not only looks boring, but draws loads of unnecessary attention to the whopping great sail.
There’s nothing wrong with a monochrome livery but in a year where colour has made a welcome return to the F1 grid, the complete lack of it on the VJM10 really shows the complete lack of creativity in the design.
9th – Williams FW40
It’s fantastic that Williams have a proper title sponsor in the form of Martini, who are one of the great motor racing sponsors. But that’s the problem. As Martini liveries go the Williams was never one of the greatest, and after four years it’s just…well, a bit boring.
There’s nothing really wrong with it, but it could be done so much better, and in a year of excellent liveries that’s more obvious than ever.
8th – McLaren MCL32
First of all, let me get this straight – the MCL32 does not look like an Orange Arrows. Just because it’s orange and black does not make it the same; it’s completely different. The Orange Arrows are some of the best looking F1 cars of all time. They had beautifully designed colour schemes and the McLaren just…hasn’t.
Yes, it’s great that they’ve finally gone with the colour their fans have wanted for years. But is this design really the best they can come up with? Considering that they hired a ‘brand consultancy firm’ to come up with it, apparently it was.
Slapping a bright colour on a car is not enough to make a good livery. It has to have a design that integrates with the rest of the car and the sponsors, and the MCL32 doesn’t have that. Granted, they don’t really have any sponsors to work with at the moment, but that’s no excuse. Almost any other way of using orange would have looked better.
Only McLaren could use a colour like orange and still end up with a dull livery. I guess they haven’t quite got rid of all the Ron Dennis just yet.
7th – Ferrari SF70H
It’s a Ferrari. It’s red. Errrm…what else is there to say? It’s a slight improvement on last year given that it’s got a bit less white on it, but all those sponsor logos still look a bit messy.
It’s a pity they don’t go back to that lovely deep shade of red they used in 2008. Or even better, back to having black highlights like they did in the early 90s, but I guess with Santander as a sponsor that’s never going to happen.
6th – Renault R.S.17
Last year’s all-yellow Renault was nice and bright, if a bit lacking in flair. This year they’ve added more black which definitely makes it look a lot meaner, as well as harking back to classic Renault liveries of old, which is always a good thing.
Like the McLaren though the design is pretty uninspiring, but because the black has a matte effect it contrasts really nicely with the almost pearlescent yellow, saving it from being quite as bad.
5th – Sauber C36
Sauber really caught us off guard (in a good way) with their striking blue and white livery that sorta-kinda looks like a Ligier. The gold accents are a nice touch too, and I really like the spot on the sidepods for the driver numbers.
The team have clearly put some thought and effort into the design, and although I don’t think it’s perfect, it’s a vast improvement on the very plain blue and yellow livery they’ve had for the last two years.
4th – Red Bull RB13
I don’t think Red Bull have ever really done a bad livery. Things got a bit messy when they had the purple splodges a few years ago, but otherwise you can usually rely on a Red Bull livery to be fairly smart.
The matte effect paint job they introduced last year though changed their cars from having liveries that were merely memorable to something that will become a genuine classic. They’ve stuck with it this year and I’m damn glad they have, because it still looks awesome. Bonus points for trying to camouflage that weird vent in the nose too.
3rd – Mercedes W08
You know what you’re getting with a Mercedes livery. Mostly silver, bits of black, Petronas turquoise. While they’ve always been ‘nice’ liveries, there’s always been something slightly off about them that I think stopped them from being genuinely attractive.
Whatever it was, that’s gone this year because the W08 is an absolute beauty. The neon streaks look fantastic, and so does the way they’ve used the black to accentuate all the swoops and curves of the bodywork. They’ve finally got the balance of their colour palette right, and on one of the most beautifully shaped cars to boot.
2nd – Haas VF17
In a year where colour has made a triumphant return to the F1 grid it might seem weird that I’ve put this as the second best livery on the grid. But Haas have nailed this. They’ve absolutely nailed it.
If you need an example of how a well-designed monochrome livery can be more attractive than a colourful livery, this is it. Black, red and grey shouldn’t look this good, but somehow they do. And the way they’ve used those Audi-esque flashes on the shark fin gives a great sensation of movement. It looks amazing.
Sadly because it’s quite a subtle design I don’t think it’ll look particularly effective on TV, but that won’t stop me loving it as much as I do
1st – Toro Rosso STR12
Like their sister team, Toro Rosso’s usually look pretty good. That hand painted bull on the side was incredibly cool. We’ve lost that now and that’s a shame, but who cares, because this car is gorgeous. Gorgeous.
That wonderful shade of blue that made the Prost cars so attractive. The silver bull. The red flashes. This livery is damn near perfect. It might well be my favourite livery…well, ever. In my opinion Toro Rosso have done something amazing here – they’ve made a livery that’s become iconic before it’s even been raced.