Written by Umut Yelbaşı and AJ Knickle, Edited by Janvi Unni
2022 was a year of change for every team on the grid, with new aerodynamic regulations creating new curves, crevices, and body lines for each team to stamp their sponsorship & brand identity on as elegantly as possible. Ultimately though, Formula 1 isn’t about beauty, but rather function; and weight limits frequently complained about by the teams in the 2022 season have led us here: a season of stripping away as much paint as possible to get to the minimum weight while still maintaining the identity of the team. Some teams, as expected, have conquered this challenge better than others, while others leave much to be desired.
Join Umut Yelbaşı, Head of Design for Divebomb Media, & AJ Knickle, Head of Design for Divebomb AutoRacingConnected; as they review the upcoming year’s liveries with an eye for design, function, and branding and provide their opinions on what works and what doesn’t.
Haas VF-23: Haas was the first team to reveal their 2023 challenger, switching to a much darker livery compared to their mostly-white VF-22. Along with this came title sponsorship from MoneyGram, the first time Haas has been blanketed in title sponsorship since joining the sport in 2016. UY: This is a livery that I don’t think I’ll be sure about until I see it on track on the actual car. It’s basic. Not in a bad way, it’s just… basic. From the side I feel like it’s too black-and-white, from the front it’s slightly similar to last year’s livery (which I liked). The lines definitely compliment the shape of the chassis better - the swoosh on top and at the bottom of the HAAS logo give the car a sleek look. As a Turkish guy, I keep seeing the Moneygram logo as a Turkish flag, so it gets an extra point from me there. We know Haas doesn’t have a huge number of sponsors so it was expected that the livery would be a bit empty, and it is, especially from the sides. It’s the same case on the nose but the placement of the existing few sponsors seem to be enough to complete the look, as well as the big Moneygram text on the front wing, which is a predictable addition but looks pretty good. For some reason I really like the white outlines on the front wing vertical plates which you can see from the sides, and the Haas Tooling logo has a retro look to it which I love, so those slightly improve my final feelings about the VF-23. Overall I don’t think it’s a terrible livery, I just don’t think it’s as original and as iconic as the previous Haas liveries. Also, I have to mention the Renault number fonts, as they’re almost identical. Maybe the font belongs to Hulkenberg? 6/10.
AK: Personally, I really enjoy this livery. Its similarity to the 2017-2019 Renault livery, where it presents as dominantly one color from the front, but another from the side, is a really cool touch. It also plays into the raw carbon for weight saving in a much better way than simply stripping paint, which is what I’ll mainly be concerned with in my reviews, as it’s the common theme among teams in 2023. My only cons with this car? Firstly, the positioning of the white stripe, the thickest one, above the thinner stripe, from a side angle, makes it look top-heavy. Somehow reversing these two stripes, or adding more white to the bottom as opposed to the top would be better for me. Additionally, it’s lost some of its Haas identity - most noticeable to me is that the rounded design on the nose cone present since 2016 has been chiseled off. My final verdict: 7/10.
2. Red Bull RB19: The team from Milton Keynes revealed their 2023 car online & via Red Bull TV, streaming a live event in New York featuring Red Bull athletes and more. A very similar car to their 2023 challenger in terms of livery was revealed, after fans waited nearly an hour to see it.
UY: After getting over the disappointment and betrayal I felt following the extra-long launch, I’ve decided that the Red Bull livery is, in fact, iconic now and I absolutely did not need to feel betrayed or disappointed. Not much to say really, there are no surprises anywhere. I do want to add, because I don’t think I’ve seen this mentioned anywhere, that I always thought the Red Bull Organics Cola color scheme and logo on the insides of the rear wing looks absolutely beautiful. You don’t see it much but it’s there, and I’m sure it’s a nice view for anyone following a Red Bull closely. 7/10, 3 points lost because I’d love to see some creativity from an extreme brand like Red Bull. I am looking forward to the fan-designed liveries though.
AK: At this point, it’s fair to call this livery a classic. It’s been here since 2016 and has seen many slight alterations since then. However, even the classics should be refreshed from time to time, as evidenced by automotive design. This year’s car is not doing it for me, much like last year’s, but worse. The addition of the ByBit sponsorship to both the front and rear wing makes it feel like less of a Red Bull car, & more of a billboard. I’d love to see one or the other, as opposed to both. The lack of any effort put into the wheel covers and the changing of color behind the Mobil 1 logo on the rear wing from a splash of red to matte blue signals to me that it’s time for a change. My final verdict: 4/10.
3. Williams FW45: F1’s third oldest team revealed their car with help from Will Buxton & Gulf, building on an evolution of last year’s branding but with a new matte finish. The blue-adorned car is punctuated at the rear with Gulf’s iconic logo, but fans lamented online, saying that Gulf was not a more dominant figure of the car’s design.
UY: I loved the gradient W-type pattern on the sides last year, and I’m so glad Williams chose to keep it on this year’s car as well. It looks good and it gives them consistency. It would’ve looked absolutely amazing if they had kept the glossy paint, but I found out from their shakedown pictures that they didn’t. Although that makes the colors a bit duller, it’s still an amazing livery design and manages to keep your attention. One thing I didn’t like about the FW44 was the weird red-blue triangle on the nose, but the team has gotten rid of that and it has been turned into red/blue swooshes that separate the carbon fiber from the painted bits. I don’t necessarily think the red works, but I appreciate the subtle way it was implemented. Finally, I have to mention the Duracell air intake. I think it was the best way possible to implement the Duracell partnership. It looks great, it gets people talking, and the colors somehow feel natural. The brownish part even looks like a gold plated section which makes the car look great. 7/10
AK: I’ve seen a lot of love for this car so far, and I’d tend to agree. The blue is deep, the branding is coherent, and it finally feels like Williams has found their look after the years of post-Martini experimentation. The Duracell branding on the roll hoop is incredible, and I’m loving the wheel covers. My only gripe is the switch to matte paint from the amazing gloss look of last year. My final verdict: 9/10.
4. Alfa Romeo C43: Alfa Romeo was the fourth team to show off their 2023 challenger, swapping the white of 2022 for naked carbon. Aside from being emblazoned in new title sponsorship from Stake, changes include a stylized Alfa Romeo logo at the nose and a return to the script logo on the side.
UY: Oof. I think the Alfa Romeo was my favorite livery last year, because I love a white-based livery for some reason. It just looks clean and sleek. The C43, this year’s car, does what the other teams have done and gets rid of almost all the paint. The general idea of last year’s livery is kept, but with exposed carbon instead of the white. It doesn’t look bad at all, but I can’t shake the thought that it looks like a Ferrari Lite. I like how Alfa Romeo implements their sponsors on their car, and this year is the same. No sponsor logo feels forced in their spot and everything complements each other, including the Cube sponsorship on the sides of the rear lamp. Finally, the rear wing Tricolore is and has always been beautiful. I’ll give this a 7/10.
AK: This is how to integrate carbon correctly. Everything about this car is amazing. Starting with the obvious, the wheel covers are amazingly thought out andthe upward slope toward the rear of the red makes the car feel aggressive even at a standstill. However, my favorite detail of this car is the Swiss Design-esque layout of the sponsors along the floor edge. So clean. My final verdict: 10/10, it doesn’t get better than this.
5. AlphaTauri AT04: The smaller Italian team unveiled their car via a short (and fashionable) online video, culminating in the AT04 breaking cover- now bedecked in brand new Orlen sponsorship. Red accents from the Polish brand marked the most massive changes for the team in terms of livery.
UY: Mamma mia, cos'hai fatto? The simple and sleek look of the previous AlphaTauri cars have left their spot to an uninspired mush of a base color, a logo, and two completely different reddish coloured sponsors. I really don’t think red goes with the rest of the colors, and the really basic use of it as a simple background to the Orlen logo doesn’t really help their case. I appreciate that there are sponsorship guidelines though, so I can’t really complain much about that. I do wish they used a blue logo on a white base on the sides, just to make it a bit brighter. I think that would complement the reds a bit more. 5/10
AK: I’ve seen people love & hate this car. I’m actually firmly on the love side, as this car reminds me of my favorite car from the Faenza team, the 2017-19 Toro Rosso, with the red splashes. The wheel covers are well thought out and match the car itself, and the logo on the side being huge works really well for me. My only issue is that front angle with the whole halo being red. It’s a bit too much, even a center triangle would have been better. I’ll unfortunately have to deduct points for that, but overall, a solid improvement from last year. My final verdict: 8/10.
6. McLaren MCL60: F1’s papaya team revealed their 2023 vehicle via another live reveal, similar to Red Bull, though thankfully shorter in length. The MCL60 broke cover at the end, an evolution of their 2022 challenger, with notable changes including less orange from last year’s launch spec, an orange rear wing, and the front numbers being displayed in black instead of electric blue.
UY: I love what McLaren have done with their social media graphics almost as much as I don’t like what they’re doing with their liveries. The shapes are fine, I like the way the lines go upwards towards the rear as they give the car some dynamism, but I don’t like the shade of blue. It feels too pastel to be on that car next to the bright papaya. I like the fact that the coloured bit envelopes and hugs the sidepods, but I feel like reducing the blue and making the papaya pop more would look better. I like the balance of the two colors on the sides of the nose and the wings, but that’s about it. Finally, the chrome wheel covers have always felt like a gimmick so I’m not really bothered by them. They make the whole car look a bit chaotic, but they aren’t terrible. 6/10
AK: This is an evolution of last year’s car, and in my opinion, so much better. The shorter bit of orange on the sides as opposed to last year makes the car feel much shorter & more nimble, and the angle of the blue highlights stays consistent from the side view, building upward toward the rear. I’m still not in love with the wheel covers as they feel just a bit too much, but the numbers changing to black on the nose so that they’re actually legible make up for that. My only wish is a return to the deeper blue from 2018-21. My final verdict: 8.5/10.
7. Aston Martin AMR23: The green team revealed their car shortly after the McLaren team on the same day, sticking to their British racing green branding with a very slightly revised look compared to 2022.
UY: Not much to say really, it’s more or less the exact same livery. Which isn’t a bad thing, it’s a good livery, and fits the car. I think they left a bit more exposed carbon around the air intakes of the sidepods, but you have to know you’re looking for that to see it. I like the shade of green, I can’t be absolutely sure but I think they adjusted it a tiny bit. It looks great. 9/10.
AK: This car was perfect last year, with the addition of lime making the car feel so much more intentional. With that said, they’ve gone and stripped the lime back this year, taking it off the shark fin & endplates. Overall, I think it makes the car quite boring, especially in comparison to their GT machines. They have an amazing color palette & so many awesome graphical bits they can use, and I’d like to see them actually do it. At least they changed the number font. My final verdict: 5/10.
8. Ferrari SF-23: The Ferrari SF-23 broke cover at Fiorano on Valentine’s Day, with 500 fans in attendance as Charles Leclerc drove the 2023 challenger around the circuit. Notable changes include more black and the Ferrari script returning on the rear wing.
UY: My god what a beautiful livery. It is technically just a red car, but the placement of the carbon bits, the red outer front wing, the Ferrari text on the rear wing (I would’ve preferred a yellow text but this works just as well), and the inclusion of the little tricolore, the Italian flag, makes this car look mean and fast. The shade of the red is just right, and from any angle this livery looks just as amazing. 10/10.
AK: I praise the return of the Ferrari script on the rear wing, but graphically, I have issues with this car. The angles are giving me the majority of these problems. The way the black accents fall from behind the Ceva logo matches perfectly to the addition of black on the engine cover. However, the black on the nose doesn’t line up with anything aside from the halo, giving this weird trapezoid of red on the side of the car between those two black bits. Additionally, the Ferrari logo is so ridiculously close to that black bit that it’s feeling tense, and I hate that. I also should mention that the Ferrari script on the rear wing should be yellow. The red at least got brighter, but this livery leaves a lot to be desired. My final verdict: 4/10.
9. Mercedes AMG W14: The Brackley team broke cover of their 2023 car second to last, with the team doing the most aggressive stripping of paint to any team, opting to go for naked carbon as compared to the silver of the year prior.
UY: It’s black and it has the Petronas woosh. That’s literally it. Yet it still manages to look great.
Mercedes goes for the color coordination again with different coloured numbers and highlights for Russell and Hamilton – yellow for Lewis and green for George – which is a cool little idea. One thing I don’t like is the shade of green they chose for George, which I think clashes too much with his helmet and the Petronas turquoise. Other than that, Mercedes have made themselves an amazing camouflage livery, by which I mean they can technically get rid of almost all the paint on the car and it would still look the same, and they wouldn’t be giving up any of their visual identity. 8/10
AK: This is a proper race car. I’m loving the callback to their history as the silver arrows, where they stripped the paint down to the bare aluminum for weight savings in the early days. I honestly have no glaring issues with this car, but I do wish for something more on the wheel covers. I do not understand the bright green wheel nuts on Hamilton’s car, as they don’t match anything else on the livery. It’s slightly weird. All in all, a very nice car. My final verdict: 9.5/10.
10. Alpine A523: The Enstone team’s 2023 A523 was officially revealed on February 16th, though many eager fans got a peek on February 14th as pictures of their revised 2023 filming at Silverstone spread online. The livery’s changes for 2023 include stripping of paint, as expected, as well as a new gradient design at the rear of the French car.
UY: The fact that the only picture where you can clearly see the full blue livery is still only the launch post the team did with F1 is weird to me. I don’t love the livery, I think Alpine’s first livery with the blue and red was absolutely beautiful and would look amazing on this car, but I also appreciate that they’re working with the pink king BWT, so I think the designers did the best they could with what they were given. The weird triangular pattern at the back feels a bit pointless but doesn’t look terrible. I love the shade of blue they went with, I just wish we saw the whole car in that blue. 7/10.
AK: Let me start by saying I’m one of the people who has no issue with pink and blue together, and I think it works very well on this car, just like last year’s. The wheel covers are working for me, and the litter design touches along the trailing edge of the blue & pink toward the rear are great. My main issue with the car lies in the fact that the color blocking feels… disjointed. The pink would be better served by creeping upwards toward the rear wing instead of downward toward the floor, as it leaves a large empty space between the two BWT branding areas. However, I do have to mark it well for being one of only three teams on the entire grid that isn’t using matte paint or bare carbon. My final verdict: 7.5/10.
Our Overall Rankings?
Alfa Romeo: 8.5
Aston Martin: 7/10
Red Bull: 5.5
Agree, or disagree with us below!