The covers are off, and the start of the 2021 Formula One world championship is just around the corner.
Drivers have moved teams, manufacturers of old have returned to the part, and some exciting new talents are budding to make first impressions count.
In preparation for the new season, we decided to don the subjective pair of spectacles and look at all ten liveries that will make up the grid – starting from the worst and making our way up to the best.
It is great that Williams have chosen to do something unique, but this design doesn’t quite hit the mark. Why didn’t they make the whole car blue, and not just the rear end? And why different shades of blue?
The yellow highlights are a nice touch, paying tribute to the team’s success in the 1980s and ‘90s, as is the front wing with its navy tips and yellow specks on the endplates. But the jumble of different blues and oddly placed patches of white are a mess.
When Mercedes launched their black colour scheme last year, most fans went crazy with excitement. The livery was entirely different from the silver design we had seen every year since 2010, and it looked gorgeous.
The 2021 version is equally great, but only the front half. There is nothing wrong with the extra splashes of INEOS red here and there, but there is a lot amiss with the AMG silver engine cover. It muddles the rest of the car, spoiling what is otherwise another fantastic livery.
You sit down with your F1 novice buddy on the couch, keen to show off your expert knowledge, and you come across a shot of the 2021 Haas machine. Now you are forced to explain that Haas is the series’ only American team and its livery is, well…the Russian flag.
It is by no means the ugliest F1 colour design ever, but the VF-21 is just bizarre. It is another case of the toothpaste-tube-itis from the 2020 Williams livery. There is no healthy blend of the three colours.
While a significant step up from last year’s dull grey-and-red car, Haas’ bold look for this year doesn’t seem to cut it either.
It’s red, as predicted, but the big boys over in Italy have also decided to toss a weird green Mission Winnow logo. Green never really goes good on red, especially darker red, and the SF21 proves that.
Ignoring the hideous engine cover, the rest of Ferrari’s livery is sufficient. There isn’t much else to it than what you would expect from Ferrari. It is interesting that the designers decided to blend in some burgundy at the rear. It probably would have looked better if they stuck to just one shade.
6. Aston Martin
A lot of people were asking for British Racing Green ahead of Aston’s 2021 launch. Instead, they got a stylish glossy green. Still, it looks nice, and the pink highlights break it up neatly.
Perhaps it would have got a few extra points if they did go for BRG or even add some lime green specks like the World Endurance racers, but the AMR21 is a robust design.
5. Alfa Romeo
The C41 is like one of those hideous ‘reversible’ vests from the ’90s that could be worn inside out … only, less ugly. In a nutshell, it is the opposite of the 2020 look. What was white is now red and vice versa.
It is a slick design and will become recognisable immediately now that Williams have dropped white and gone wild with blue.
The front wing is the only let down, given that all of the red seems to disappear. What you are left with is a mostly bland head of the car. Still, it is an improvement over last year and one of the prettiest on the grid.
There is nothing wrong with sticking to your guns and staying with the same livery for another season. Most teams do it, and McLaren have done so in 2021 with considerable success.
Besides some added blue along with the side pods and a revert to papaya numbering, the MCL35M is basically the same as last year’s model. It is still a gorgeous looking car, more so for us Kiwis, given it is an iconic colour scheme for the team’s founder Bruce McLaren.
3. Red Bull
Just like McLaren, Red Bull hasn’t changed anything livery wise between seasons. And why would they? It is something of a modern-day classic, and it remains one of the best beauties out there.
One of the first teams to opt for the matte overtone, Red Bull’s liveries continue to look good in all conditions. Under lights in Bahrain and Singapore, the raging bull pops out at you. While in darker light, the balance of yellow and red stops it from fading out of sight.
Last year’s car was excellent, and the AlphaTauri design team could have easily pulled off a Red Bull and stayed with an identical livery for 2021. But the AT02 takes the areas that were weak on its predecessor and gives them strength.
The front wing now fits perfectly with the rest of the car, and the decision to go for more navy than white pays dividends. All angles of the AT02 are superb, and the decision to relocate the team’s emblem to the top of the engine cover breaks up what was a bit of a clutter last season. The side profile with the extended navy strip is easily one, if not the best, on the grid.
It was a given, really. What is there to fault about Alpine’s rookie challenger? The team teased us with winter livery pictures, depicting a black car with a red-white-and-blue flare at the rear. Black liveries often work well, and it is hard to go wrong. But Alpine managed to take an already fantastic livery and make it something else.
The metallic blue coupled with a revamped red-and-white rear design fits perfectly. The angles of different stripes and changes of colour ensure the car looks good from all angles and keeps the livery simple and easy for your eye to absorb.