Now that all 10 Formula 1 teams have released their cars for this season, except for Haas, who rendered this year’s livery on last year’s car. It’s safe to say that some teams missed the mark and other teams hit the jackpot. Three members of The Intermission's motorsports team gave their rankings on the new liveries, so I have added them up using the F1 points system and ranked the list accordingly, in reverse order.
Red Bull RB16B – 15 points
You’d be forgiven if you thought Red Bull’s designers executed two commands to their 2021 car’s livery, Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V. The only changes are the sponsors. Aston Martin is now its own team, and Honda has replaced them on the rear wing. The red stripe on the side of the front of the car is replacing the Aston signage. The arrival of Sergio Perez to the team has also meant that Telcel gets a spot on the front wing endplate, and Claro replaces AT&T on the rear wind endplate. Red Bull branding has always been loud on its F1 cars, and the RB16B is no different. Yes, the cars are primarily carry-overs from last season, hence the b in the car’s name. According to Red Bull, there’s no need to fix what’s now stale.
Williams FW43B – 17 points
In an attempt to bring the glory days of the 1980s and 1990s back, the Williams livery puzzled many people. The FW43B is a car with two halves, and it doesn’t mesh very well. The front of the car carries the colours of their all-conquering machines that made the team famous. Still, the pattern of the colours doesn’t scream ‘retro.’ The yellow is an accent colour on the car, unlike the Williams cars of old, where yellow was a prominent feature on the livery. The back of the car features a double blue pattern of backwards stripes to make the car look as if it’s going faster, with the team’s logo poorly blended in. The lines worked with McLaren’s iconic Marlboro livery of the same era Williams aimed for this year's car. However, the stripes on the FW43B are not as aggressive as McLaren’s was, meaning the trick might not work. The lack of sponsors is odd, especially considering Dorilton Capital purchased the team last year from the Williams family. The team is still heavily backed by Nicholas Latifi and his sponsors, but the Dorilton name could have added some more character to an otherwise lacklustre design.
Haas VF-21 – 20 points
Haas unveiled Uralkali as their title sponsor for this season, and the Russian chemical company played a significant role in designing the team’s livery for this season. It should come as no surprise that the chairman of Uralchem is Dmitry Mazepin, the father of Nikita Mazepin. The company purchased a controlling stake in Uralkali in December. Uralkali also announced they would change their logo to coincide with the announcement. The livery itself is decent, with the Russian flag draping the car. The rest of the car looks empty, with only 1&1 being the prominent sponsor on the car, the rest of them being minuscule. The Russian flag on the car has garnered controversy. The reaction on social media has been overwhelmingly negative due to Nikita’s actions last year. There is also speculation the livery might yet change because of the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s ban on the Russian flag and anthem in world championship competitions. The FIA reportedly approved the livery, and team principal Guenther Steiner claimed the livery was designed and approved before the ban was extended to F1. The livery itself is alright, but its backstory leaves a lot to be desired.
McLaren MCL35M – 27 points
Much like Red Bull, McLaren has opted to stick with a similar livery to last year’s car. The only significant difference is the splash of blue on the nose of the car, which is also elsewhere as an accent colour because of sponsor A Better Tomorrow. Another critical difference is removing the #WeRaceAsOne rainbow on the halo after it was announced that F1 cars would no longer carry the symbol. McLaren’s livery philosophy differs from Red Bull’s because although the team’s iconic papaya orange base has been around since its return in 2018, it’s not stale yet. According to McLaren, there’s no need to fix what already works.
Mercedes-AMG F1 W12 E Performance – 27 points
The seven-time reigning World Champions have decided to stick with their anti-racism black livery. Still, the team is “throwing back” to the iconic silver associated with Mercedes by throwing in a gradient. But they weren’t done. They filled the silver portion with AMG decals, which makes it look not pleasant. Had they left it bare, it would have looked as sleek as the rest of the car. There was no need to stick AMG branding on the car since every petrolhead in the world knows AMG is Mercedes’ high-performance division and that AMG is in the team name. Also, like last year’s car, the red Ineos accents look out of place. This year’s Mercedes livery is a case of, ‘What could have been?’
Ferrari SF21 – 33 points
Ferrari has come out with their familiar, red-based livery. However it’s still different, the base red shade is darker than recent cars and is the same shade used on their first car, the 125S in 1947. The rear wing of the SF21 has the same shade of burgundy the team used for their 1000th Grand Prix at Mugello last year. Mission Winnow branding is back all over the car, and the logo on the engine cover is lime green for some reason. Elsewhere, the driver's hand-painted numbers with the white numbering on the red background still work. Ferrari can afford not to be too adventurous with liveries. As aside from the splash of green, this year's livery is a nice blast to the past.
AlphaTauri AT02 – 42 points
Similar to Alfa Romeo's car, AlphaTauri applied the Uno reverse card on part of their car. The front wing is now matte blue, compared to last year’s white. A little red is thrown in for engine manufacturer Honda in their final season in F1, but the AT02 still carries previous year’s two-tone white and blue livery. Like Alpine, AlphaTauri has stuck with their brand being the focus, with their sponsors slipping into the background. The AT02 doesn’t strike as well as its predecessor did, but it’s still an iconic design.
Alfa Romeo C41 – 45 points
Looking from the front, very little has changed about this year’s Alfa Romeo, but the side view tells a different story. It’s as if the designers played the reverse card from Uno, but it still looks good. The addition of Alfa’s signature green Quadrifoglio was a nice touch, but it’s too big and arguably in the wrong place. It seems as if the design team placed it in the wrong spot. A smaller version might work better on the car’s nose, but the overall look of the C41 is still solid.
Aston Martin AMR21 – 61 points
Along with Alpine as one of the most eagerly anticipated launches, Aston Martin gave us another iconic design. British racing green makes its return to the grid for the first time in over a decade, and the AMR21 has a lot of it. This decision came as no surprise, given the team, known last year as Racing Point, released lots of teasers and their merchandise ahead of the launch. The pinkness from the BTW sponsorship remains on the car, this time as stripes. They have placed it on both the front and rear wings and down the side of the car and it looks nice. Aston Martin’s return after 61 years is off to a great start.
Alpine A521 – 68 points
The new guise of Renault has opted for a striking livery featuring the colours of the French tricolour, with blue the primary colour, in line with previous Alpine cars. While last year’s Renault R.S. 20 had the feel of two different liveries from different angles, the A521 has put all their eggs in the blue basket, but it works. The red accents across the back and the front are a great touch. You feel this is a French car, with the tricolour subtly placed over the car and the team committing to the Alpine branding by shrinking the team’s sponsors to minuscule proportions. The team released a teaser livery in January and it’s clear they have delivered a fantastic design that many people will remember.