Now that we have almost all of the Formula One grid’s liveries released (Ferrari will be releasing its livery on March 10, but I feel fairly confident that it will be red with maybe a little white and black, which is fine. It’ll end up somewhere in the bottom third of the list (I’m thinking between McLaren and Red Bull). I do not expect a massive change.) it’s time for one of my favorite traditions: livery ranking.
Plenty of teams brought their A-game to the 2021 grid, in large part because we have two teams with massive rebrands and some others with strong reevaluations of title sponsors. Unfortunately, that automatically puts teams like Red Bull and Ferrari on the back foot, because their tried-and-true colors look a little bland when compared to some of the eye-catching new changes.
And, yet again, I just want to note that the looks of a car do not dictate its performance. There hasn’t been a massive set of rule changes heading into the 2021 season, so we’re likely to continue seeing Mercedes dominance. The rest of the grid is just going to look a lot prettier as it competes for leftovers.
Drivers: Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez
There is nothing exciting, revolutionary, or even slightly different here. It’s a Red Bull livery. It gets one point in my book for being consistent, the same way I will award that point to Ferrari, but RBR’s livery doesn’t even have the benefit of being a fun bright color.
Drivers: Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo
I really loved McLaren going back to its heritage and painting its cars papaya orange. I just don’t enjoy the blue-and-papaya combo—especially since the blue is a lot less royal this year. Structurally, this livery is fairly sound. The blue bits are well-placed and effectively streamlined. But I do give the team credit for sticking to bright colors, which is something F1 needs.
Drivers: Pierre Gasly, Yuki Tsunoda
I keep looking at the AlphaTauri livery and being like, “I hate it.” Then I stare a little longer and decide, “Well, no, I actually kind of like it?” The navy-and-white combo works, but it’s not super eye-catching. The placement of the blue on the driver cockpit leading back to the nose makes the car look super thick. But I like the bull, the bright red Honda splash, and the fact that it’s kind of dramatic. I’m torn. How am I supposed to feel about you, AlphaTauri?
Drivers: Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas
Some people have been really critical of Mercedes’ 2021 challenger, but I’ll be honest: I actually like it. It’s dramatic with a little bit of fun flair to it. I love the fade to gray at the rear, and the repeated AMG logos actually work for me. It loses points because the black bits are a pain in photos, but it gains a little more sway with the dash of red in honor of Niki Lauda, the teal Petronas stripe, and the number placement on the white fin.
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen, Antonio Giovinazzi
I really liked Alfa Romeo’s livery last year, and I really like it again this year. No, it isn’t massively different when compared to last year, but I’ve ranked it here for a few reasons. The red-and-white combo works, the black leading to the underside of the car makes it look sleek as hell, and there are little touches (the Alfa dragon, the striped rear wing endplates, the thin black stripes down the nose, and the red halo) that are simple but effective.
Drivers: George Russell, Nicholas Latifi
It’s time for a controversial opinion: Williams’ livery this year slaps. You’re really going to look me in the face and say some bare-ass, all-white-with-some-specks-of-color livery was better than this? Williams has no sponsors! They’re fully sending it with their livery! It’s an old VHS sleeve slapped on a race car! It’s exciting and weird and fun and I can’t wait to see it on the track! It has stripes! It has waves! It has some orange thrown in there to kick this party up a notch! Hell yeah, Williams—live your best life!
Drivers: Nikita Mazepin, Mick Schumacher
Haas’s red, white, and blue 2021 livery isn’t a nod to its purported American roots but is instead reflective of Uralkali, its Russian sponsor that’s owned by driver Nikita Mazepin’s dad… even though Haas claims that it decided on this livery last year, before it knew Mazepin would be their driver, which means it cannot have possibly created it with the Russian flag in mind, which is good because Russian flags are not allowed in F1. Whatever. Now is not the time for politics (and this is the only time you’ll ever hear me say that). The black accents contrast beautifully with the predominantly white body, the colored stripes just look nice, the big red ‘Haas’ on the side is exceptional, and the driver number enclosed in a white circle is great. It’s kind of modular, but I have a feeling the only reason this livery works as well as it does is because it has, like, two whole sponsors.
Drivers: Sebastian Vettel, Lance Stroll
Green has traditionally been one of those superstitious bad-luck colors in motorsport, but Aston Martin has done a beautiful thing by hearkening back to its British racing green roots. There’s an almost satiny finish to this car that makes me want to touch it, and it’s a color that we just haven’t seen on an F1 car in ages. The red accents down the body and across the tip of the front wing just give it a little extra “oomph.” It’s simple, but it’s going to catch your eye.
Drivers: Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon
I know, I know—plenty of people are saying Aston Martin has the best livery of 2021, but Alpine takes the cake for me. The body is mostly blue, and it also has that satiny finish Aston does. But the red and white touches are what really throw this over the top for me. Diagonal lines always represent speed, and the addition of the big ‘A’ just before the rear tires is so great. I’m also digging the way black was used to carve out a shapely figure. It’s a beautiful car that only narrowly ekes out a first place. I can’t wait to see it and the Aston on track together.