Vehicle Graphics

11 Awesome Facts About F1 Livery

Author: Linda Sultmann

At SIGNWAVE, we love cars. Even more than what’s inside them and how fast they go, we love how they look. Dressing up vehicles and making them look impressive is kind of our thing. This makes today- the eve of the Formula 1 season and of the Melbourne Grand Prix - the perfect time to pay homage to the livery of the most precisely designed little speed demons on the planet.

Kid driving a cart

In the Formula 1 racing world, design is king. It wouldn’t be the symbol of excellence that it is without fanatical attention to both technical and aesthetic design. It is the apex of motor racing, where the best of the best drivers, engineers, manufacturers, technicians, marketers, and business brains come to play.

While the car liveries are arguably not a factor in the cars’ performances (stay tuned for more on that), they play a crucial role in the identity and identification of the sport and its teams and as a result draw a lot of attention to their history, use influences and application.

For example, did you know:

  1. Prior to 1968, Formula 1 cars were coloured in accordance to the teams’ national colours. After that, when the costs of competing at the highest level began rising, the role of sponsors became much more important and influential in their presentation.
  2. The liveries are usually changed every season – with many teams going for consistency like the red colour of Ferrari, which has its origin in a shade of red known as Rosso Corsa, the national racing colour of Italy.
  3. Cigarette company logos used to feature heavily on the cars until bans on tobacco sponsorship in motorsports began being phased out.
  4. When Durex sponsored the Surtees team in 1976, there was an outcry from broadcasters who felt it reduced the moral tone.
  5. Each team runs two cars and both must be presented in substantially the same livery at each event. The team’s name or emblem must appear on the nose of the car as well as the driver’s name.
  6. Each driver must have a helmet consistent with the team branding but teammates’ helmets must also feature distinctive markings.
  7. This year, Aussie Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull racing helmet features the Southern Cross beneath the visor and the Honey Badger on its rear.
  8. While, at the beginning of the race at least, the cars practically shine with colour, it’s the lacquers and clear coats that are applied at the end of the application process that give the paint its sparkle or lustre.
  9. During the season, paint must be applied in between races, and depending on the maintenance required, a full car can be repainted in around three to four days.
  10. The paint on the livery matters. Those that dry more quickly can be all the difference between having a new front wing ready for the next race or not. Teams will ‘flash off’ the paint finishes under infra-red lights to cut the drying time from six hours to one.
  11. In the past, Red Bull was suspected of gaining some aero advantage because of a matte coating they began using on their cars. In a sport where the difference between starting first or last can be measured in tens of thousandths of seconds, is it any wonder that even car paint is scrutinised?

Not long now before the 2017 F1 liveries take centre stage. Word to the wise: if you want to check them out – comparing colour combinations, shapes, formatting and finishes – be sure to do it as they line up before they all turn into blurs hurtling around Albert Park Lake at three hundred kilometres an hour.


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