Right, then. We’ve now seen all twelve of 2011’s Formula One liveries. I wanted to wait, before doing the usual summary post, until we’d seen them all running on track in testing – but frankly, from the looks of things we may not see the HRT in motion before Melbourne itself. So there’s no point waiting for it, and I might as well run through each of the cars now and give my thoughts. It’s fair to say that 2011 isn’t really the vintage year for new liveries that 2010 was – but there are still some interesting paint jobs out there, and some teams have even managed to improve on the previous year. Let’s take a look in detail, then…
Red Bull: Same as it ever was. I’ve never been that keen on the nose design, but the car does look good in profile. The smaller “can” design on the rear endplate is an improvement on last year, as is the stretched out bull on the engine cover. Small improvements, but I still wish they’d try something a bit different one year. 7/10
McLaren: Same as it ever (recently) was. Again, it’s in the engine cover that this has improved – losing the orange from the tip (as with the Red Bull, the change is a result of there being no more “shark fin”) is significantly smarter. But I think we are all starting to get bored of this one now. 6/10
Ferrari: The new logo is nice, and the Italian flag on the rear-wing is a good (if slightly odd) touch. But once again, I curse one of the big teams for giving me so little to talk about. At least Ferrari have a bit more of an excuse, mind. 7/10
Mercedes: This is more like it – both in terms of actually being different from last year, and because it’s a major improvement on 2010. Bolder employment of the Petronas turquoise works a treat – although the way the white text overlaps the two colours on the sidepod troubles me. But in the head-on view in particular, this is a lovely car. 9/10
Renault: Okay, look, I promise I won’t judge this car any more on the external context, or on the fact that it isn’t the wonderful 2010 design. But even aside from all of that – well, it still doesn’t entirely work. The red endplates still feel like a major mistake, and with so many lines and sponsors, the gold looks messy rather than smart. But the benefit of a black car is that even if poorly-designed it’ll look decent, and this will at least be a distinctive on-track presence. Grr at it in general, though. 8/10
Williams: I do like the idea behind calling back to the Rothmans livery (even though it makes no actual sense whatsoever), but the execution could perhaps be better. Parts of it are excellent – aside from inexplicably using silver rather than gold, the section from the cockpit to the rear wing is a proper updating of the design, looking like you suspect a Rothmans car would look if it existed in 2011 (darker blue notwithstanding). But I’m really not at all keen on the nose section, the additional colour stripes simply look too squeezed in alongside last year’s configuration, and a bit more white on there would have gone a long way. Nevertheless, after a few years of samey designs, it’s something with a bit of character to it. 8/10
Force India: I’m getting a little bored of FI’s colour scheme now, although it’s hardly their fault that there are so many other white cars on the grid. The orange and green still look bold, but I don’t think this is a particularly modern application of them – the car looks like, by turns, an early-2000s Toyota and a mid-90s Footwork/Arrows. Something a bit more swooping and curvy would be more in line with current F1 fashion. I won’t mind if Force India keep turning out in these colours, but let’s hope the pattern is a bit more cutting-edge next year. 6/10
Sauber: Well, if they can’t be bothered to design a proper livery, I can’t be bothered to comment on it in detail. BOOOOOOO. 2/10
Toro Rosso: Could they just once, just one year, consider using this car to advertise sugar-free Red Bull instead? No? Well, alright then, I suppose we’re stuck with this. And there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with it, it’s just incredibly boring by now. Five years Toro Rosso have been in the sport. That’s as long as McLaren have had the chrome for. 4/10
Lotus: Well, the only way it could be as good as last year is if it were exactly the same. But this is nevertheless another very strong effort. The shade of green chosen is just lovely, and the racing stripe along the back of the engine cover – spilling onto the wing endplate – is an interesting touch. In profile, this is 10/10, but it’s let down badly by a nose stripe that’s disappointing in the way it blends – or rather doesn’t blend – with the sponsors this time out. 9/10.
HRT: A really rather brilliant livery, let down by two pretty major flaws – firstly, there are already a couple of white cars (and another that uses the three colours of red/white/black), and secondly, it’s got no sponsors. Seriously. The small “Panda” logo is the only thing that hasn’t been brought by hiring Narain Karthikeyan. Yet nevertheless – it’s distinctive (in pattern if not choice of colours), it’s coming from an entirely fresh angle, and it’s got massive lovely race numbers on it. Although, you know, the last two occurrences I can think of of a team having race numbers on the engine cover were the ’98 Tyrrell and the 2005 Jordan. Both of which were those teams’ last years in the sport (and one of which also featured Karthikeyan). Something to think about. Anyway, it’s got imagination, even though I’m yet to be convinced we’ll actually see it race. 8/10.
Virgin: A slight let down after last year’s superb effort. Decreasing the prominence of the black makes it look that bit less imposing/menacing, as does adding grey into the mix (and, as discussed, that addition simply makes one think of Midland), and the whole thing has more of an air of CART than of F1. But it’s still a strong colour scheme on the whole, and the shape of the red pattern over the engine cover has a bit more thought in it than last year’s. I’d like the nose tip a lot more if it weren’t for the blue, though. Oh, and kudos for the pleasingly old-school stylings of D’Ambrosio’s helmet design, but more on that at a later point! 8/10
So that’s my take on them all. How about yours?