Formula One 2011: Rating Each Car's Livery for the New Season
With the new Formula One season's first race in Australia now under a month away, excitement is rapidly growing.
Last season was rated as one of the best seasons the sport has ever seen with four different world champions on the grid and four drivers all still in with a chance of winning the title on the final race of the season.
This year, however, things seem to have gotten more exciting. After the conclusion of last year, there are now five world champions on the grid as well as four new rookies and two more returning drivers.
So, ahead of the new season, here is a ranking of each team's 2011 challengers based on their livery.
No. 12: Red Bull
It's not that this year's Red Bull looks ugly, because it doesn't. Not by any standard. It just doesn't seem to have the same sparkle that most of the other liveries do have.
It's slightly boring in that it looks almost identical to last season's car, and excluding the three stripes running down the nose of the car, the design is just plain basic.
The usual yellow nose tip, the red bull charging into the yellow head rest area, the navy blue background; all are just mirrors of what the car was last season.
Not much has really changed, but then, why would Red Bull want it to? They did win the constructors' and drivers' titles last season.
No. 11: Virgin
Very slightly different from last year, the latest Virgin F! car isn't anything to be raved about, but is still unique in its own way.
With the addition of some white border lines between the red streaks and the black base, the car has taken on an extra sparkle, but not enough to put it higher on this list.
The car looks to be slightly cleaner this year, with sponsors strategically placed so as not to detract from the overall livery.
With all that said, there's still something particularly special missing from this livery.
It's almost good news for Virgin that they're so low on this list, since perhaps they've spent more time working on the inside of the car than the outside paintwork.
No. 10: Williams
Williams have tried to revive an old favourite here, and have done so with a certain amount of success. They have, however, struggled to redesign the old pattern quite as well as most of the other retro designs coming out this year.
There's nothing wrong with the livery, but the team did make fans wait longer than all the other teams had, and then they released something that wasn't as spectacular as had been hoped for.
The way the blue and white combine at the back in stripes adds some much-needed flair to a car whose design is otherwise rather unoriginal and plain.
Hopefully the team will perform better this year in the races than they have in their design work.
No. 9: Ferrari
The latest Ferrari commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Italy's unification has gone back to a far more retro design and is, therefore, higher up on this list than most of their previous cars would have been.
The team's performance is always top quality, but in terms of look, they sometimes fall short of the mark. Obviously they have the distinctive red base again with a small amount of white pattern, but it's the overall look that's pushed them further up the list this year.
The white patterns have been done very tactfully and don't hurt your eyes to look at like the rear wing bar code design they used recently. It's almost retro, but not quite enough to give it a higher standing on this list.
Either way, it's a definite step up from some of the team's previous liveries.
No. 8: McLaren
Like a number of the other big teams, McLaren haven't changed the overall colouring or design of their livery that much. It's been tidied up slightly so as not to look too messy with sponsors, but there's nothing too different about this time around.
The reason it is still up so high on the list, however, is that McLaren have always had a special spark about their livery, even when it's basic. Perhaps it's the iconic metallic silver that's so often seen shimmering in the desert sun or the smaller, more discreet red slashes going down the car.
The team have again come up with a design that is, as ever, distinctly McLaren, but also has a touch of freshness about it. Where that comes from, though, it is hard to tell.
No. 7: Force India
This year, Force India have gone for a slightly more jagged look on their VJM04 car. In previous years, the team has generally used swooping green and orange shapes on a white background which have not distracted people from the overall design.
This season, the car is going for a different look, with a more jigsaw-styled cross between the green, orange and white colours that the team's name suggests it should have.
The white nose gives the car a particularly clean look so as not to make the green and orange patterning overbearing.
While the patterns have not been completely redesigned, they have been changed and, to most people's eyes, improved as well.
No. 6: Toro Rosso
Not much has changed from last year, but the Toro Rosso is a special car in design. Regularly better looking than its sister team, Red Bull, the car has kept much of its design from last season while just touching up a few places.
The Red Bull blends nicely into the blue background without looking strange or blurry, as do the red streaks on the nose of the car.
While the Red Bull team have much the same colours but in block patterns, Toro Rosso seem to have decided that they're going to neatly blend the teams colours into what comes across as a very flowing design.
No. 5: Sauber
Very basic is probably the easiest way to describe this car. It's got a basic white background with a basic black slice down the middle. That's not a bad thing, though. It's basic exactly the right way that a racing car should be.
It's design isn't weighed down with sponsors and fancy logos here, there and everywhere, but instead, it seems to have a quiet confidence in its look.
It also has something for everybody, if the basic look isn't for you. The tiny red dash in between the black and white in the middle of the car and the small stripes on the side tips of the nose add a small amount of flair to a car livery that is beautifully understated.
No. 4: Lotus
Much like last year's car, Lotus retain the iconic green and gold look. There was a huge celebration amongst F1 fans when it was announced that the famous team were rejoining the grid with the same famous colours.
This season, they've taken those colours and molded them into a basic, yet flashy design that appears to show what a lot of other teams have been trying to go for in the past.
It's neatly put together in blocks of colour without seeming too childish. The sparkling green takes on a whole new level of appearance on this design and compliments the yellow finishes perfectly.
The only worry for the team now is, what if they've spent too much time on the design and not enough time on the meaningful part of the car?
No. 3: Renault
Renault have also, like a lot of other teams, gone retro this season. The famous black and gold is back in Formula One after too long a period out of the sport.
The team have particularly played around with liveries over recent seasons, from the now famous sky blue and yellow to the white with splashes of red, yellow and orange here, there and everywhere and then last season's yellow and black hornet-like approach.
This season, the car has been beautifully designed so as to attract fans' attention, but not detract the drivers' attention.
They've used a very basic black background with simple, but elegant gold lining right around the car. The few, minor red touches are just on the very tips of the car, including the side of the front and rear wings and the wing mirrors.
No. 2: Hispania
For a team to make its car look retro and not even have a past beyond one season is quite an achievement.
Hispania have managed to do exactly that here. Last season the team had a very ordinary gray livery with the occasional show of flair, but nothing that particularly marked it out. They seem to have changed that this season, though, with a design that shows what a racing car should truly look like.
The fact that the livery looks like a toy car is no problem. In fact is, it's a massive plus, since it's what generations of children will have grown up recognising as a racing car.
There's a very subtle black and white chequered pattern lining the back and front parts of the car's body, a pattern which should need no explaining to racing fans. It then just used a perfectly simple white base with a few blocks of red in the best possible places, just so it doesn't look plain.
The car will no doubt stand out from the rest of the grid this season, even if it is chasing the rest of them from the back of the track all year.
No. 1: Mercedes
So, Mercedes couldn't win the title last season after such high expectations had been set for the team. Schumacher struggled, Rosberg was stretched and the team were generally disappointing by anyone's standards.
The design of this car, though, looks like it could be the start of a change for the team. If nothing else, it could at least make the car look good while it's lagging behind its rivals.
As most of the top-ranked designs have done, this car has used a simple base colour in matted silver and has added hints of turquoise to compliment it.
There are no prominent patterns on the car, just simple colours blending into one another as if they don't have a care in the world. Which, considering they're just colours, I'm sure they don't.
Maybe its only downside is that it looks like it's stolen its colours from a chemist, but it somehow still seems to work. It's just a sign of how wonderfully designed this car's livery really is.