F1 Livery time is magical

By: Kieran McGinley

We all get excited about the dawn of the new Formula 1 season. No doubt, we get even more excited about the car launches. It’s our first taste of what the grid will look like for the upcoming season. The new splashes of color, the new licks of paints, and holding on to the hopes of seeing a similarly colorful grid of 2018 and marveling like a kid in a candy shop.

But as the years have gone by, something always stands out. The dilemma for a team to satisfy both sponsors and fans is a scenario most of us are lucky to never have to face.

At the time of writing, the only livery that has been launched is Haas’ VF-22 and many quips have been thrown around regarding the fact that it looks similar to last year’s entry.

It’s a fair point. It does share similar qualities to last year’s endeavour. It’s in no way a bad livery, but if Haas are committed to this livery as their brand, then we can expect to see this livery become the norm.

Haas are actually a good example of livery evolution and revolution since their debut in 2016. Unveiling the stark difference of their black and gold livery which in 2019 was the result of their sponsorship deal with Rich Energy. Even though the deal fell through spectacularly mid-season, it was an example of a team having a livery overhaul to satisfy their title sponsor.

In contrast to the Haas F1 Team, Scuderia Ferrari are very unlikely to allow a title sponsor the same amount of livery power and ownership.

Ferrari have gone through their entire F1 history with red cars, apart from a brief stint in 1964 where they ran blue cars; but that’s a story for another day. Everyone loves a Ferrari livery, so long as there’s no green on it.

Ferrari are a perfect example of the brand identity surviving the test of time. Even after 70 years, you expect a red Ferrari. That says everything necessary to prove how successful the Italian outfit have executed this.

Sponsors also have a big hand in liveries. They have to preserve their identity and when it comes to a sponsor’s brand colours, they are very unlikely to want to compromise their own brand colours to an aesthetically pleasing F1 livery. In a case of both parties aiming to preserve their identity, it is the F1 livery that has to adapt to sponsors in the majority of cases.

It comes down to a simple matter. Humans like change, but not too much change. If you don’t change something, people get bored. If you change something too much, people pick it apart or even turn away.

It all means creating a brand identity in Formula 1 is a merciless task, and one that evolves over the years. There will always be an uproar when a livery is changed, and uproar when a livery stays the same. But think about all of the effort the teams have had to endure when designing their livery, and remember that pleasing the fans will most likely take the least priority.

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