Formula One is back, baby! It might just be pre-season testing in Barcelona, but that doesn’t mean it’s not time to start getting absolutely amped. All the teams have released their official liveries for the 2019 season, and we’ve finally got to see them (well, all of them except Williams) in action on the track.
And, just like you used to do when you went back to school, it’s time for me—a racing car expert—to rank everyone’s brand new outfits.
10. Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB15
Drivers: Max Verstappen, Pierre Gasly
Congratulations on being the most boring team on the grid, Red Bull! Nothing ever compares to their car release liveries, but man did RBR drop the ball this year on the full-season deal. Imagine being sponsored by one of the biggest energy drink brands in the world and still producing this snoozefest.
This is basically the livery from last year. The bright red logo against the dark livery is a nice pop of color, but I was over it in 2018. Bring back some purple and maybe we’ll talk.
9. Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport W10
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas
Congratulations, Mercedes. You fucked up. This is specifically a callout of the team’s tweet that “silver is so last season,” which in fact turned out to be a big fat lie because, as you can see, the car is still silver. The biggest change is that they’re emphasizing more black this year with that really tragic fade into the rear end.
There are two saving graces on this car: the Petronas blue edging and the big, bright numbers on the fin. Everything else is objectively terrible.
8. Rich Energy Haas F1 Team VF-19
Drivers: Romain Grosjean, Kevin Magnussen
Before you take to the comments up in arms about how this livery looks like the good ol’ Lotus John Player Special liveries and is therefore Good, hear me out: it isn’t.
I am over dark liveries. Congratulations, you painted your car black, just like every other jamoke who thinks they’re Batman. You aren’t Batman. You aren’t Colin Chapman, either. This livery isn’t anywhere as good as the JPS Lotus. Had the gold accents been brighter, it might have been a different story. Unfortunately, it is not.
Grade: D+. Still better than Mercedes, but only by like half a percent.
7. Red Bull Toro Rosso Honda STR14
Drivers: Daniil Kvyat, Alexander Albon
The only good part about being a Toro Rosso driver is knowing your liveries are always going to be better than the big boy Red Bulls. That bright purple-blue and silver combo is soothing on the eyes, and, at the very least, it makes this team easy to spot.
I’m frustrated that I had to rank this livery so high because, like with RBR, it’s basically the same as Toro Rosso’s 2018 livery. But the dependably bright colors won out over Mercedes’ graphic design tragedy and Haas’ emo phase.
5. Scuderia Ferrari Mission Winnow SF90
Drivers: Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc
Good ol’ Ferrari. If there’s one team guaranteed to show up, year after year, with the exact same paint scheme and still make it look good, it’s the Scuderia.
I’m actually very impressed with how they incorporated the Mission Winnow logo—it looks gnarly on the rear fin. And the matte red they’re opting for this season is, honestly, a pretty cool change.
They lose points in my eyes because of their dependability. It’s a double-edged sword. They do a good job with the red, but there’s also only so much they really can do. Props to them for somehow making it work year after year. And props for them for this clever dodge to create what is almost certainly tobacco advertising.
5. McLaren F1 Team MCL34
Drivers: Lando Norris, Carlos Sainz Jr.
I’ll be honest: this livery took a few days to grow on me. If I’d have made this post two days ago, the MC34 would have got a much lower rating. Then I sat down and really looked at it. Yeah, it’s basically the same exact livery as last year = with some extra added blue, but the finesse of this one is all in the details.
The triangle fade pattern? Great. It’s not busy like Mercedes’—it’s clean and modern. Using a geometric font for the driver numbers to match was smart. And goddamn am I in love with the fact that the team lined up its sponsors on the black edging at the bottom of the car instead of cluttering up the entire body. Well done, McLaren. Well done.
4. ROKiT Williams Racing FW42
Drivers: George Russel, Robert Kubica
Welcome to the grid, you sweet, sweet shade of baby blue. I can’t lie, I’m going to miss the classic Martini stripes, but I’m glad we have a new color in the paddock to liven things up. And thank god Williams didn’t decide a new title sponsor would require yet another very dark livery on the grid.
Gray, blue, and white has the potential to be an incredibly boring scheme, but Williams has done well here. My biggest critique is the airbrush fade around the ROKiT logo in back. It looks very. . . amateur. Sorry, Williams. Maybe I’ll change my mind when y’all get out on track.
3. SportPesa Racing Point F1 Team RP19
Drivers: Sergio Pérez, Lance Stroll
When this car was revealed, I thought this was going to be my for-sure number one favorite. A pink livery is destined to be met with criticism, but I’m glad Racing Point (formerly Force India) is sticking to their guns, and that they’ve moved away from the Pepto Bismol pink that we’ve seen in the past.
Unfortunately, this car is very busy. Like, very busy. There are a lot of stripes and blobs and colors—so, while they all do blend together nicely, the total effect is a bit like someone got really excited about the fact that they got one of the 120 Crayola crayon packs.
Grade: B, but only because I’ve rounded up.
2. Renault F1 Team R.S. 19
Drivers: Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg
I had a genuine, honest-to-god spat with my fiancé about how I thought this livery was the worst livery ever and now I am here to announce, publicly, that I Was Wrong. After careful consideration, meditation and consultation with my crystals, I have decided it is actually good.
I was initially skeptical because, again, there is a lot of black. But I have amended my opinion to take into account that this is how I believe black in a livery should be utilized. It’s offset by bright yellow, which also serves as some really gorgeous pinstriping along the entire body. The car is still very dark, but I begrudgingly really like it.
1. Alfa Romeo Racing C38
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi
Thanks for playing, but Alfa Romeo just glided in at the last second with the most beautiful livery of the season, hands down. I don’t even want to write about it. I just want to keep drooling over it.
Listen. I know it’s not necessarily a good thing for a team to have a clean livery because it suggests, well, a lack of sponsorship. But Alfa Romeo has tucked their (few) sponsors neatly into the black trim like McLaren and emphasized their (few) big name sponsors. A clean white body has been growing on me these past few seasons, and Alfa Romeo pairs it nicely with a swooping metallic red. It’s simple, but it’s pleasing to the eye. Even their Valentine’s Day livery was superb this year. Ugh. They’re killing it.
Everyone take note: this is how you design a racing livery.