Should F1 introduce new livery rule over increasing issue?

Haas started with a digital launch of its new car, though those were digital renders. Williams and Stake F1 then followed up, with Alpine the latest to take the covers off.

That’s in addition to McLaren’s initial livery launch, with the full car reveal yet to come in the penultimate launch ahead of pre-season testing.

One recurring factor across all has been the presence of exposed carbon on the cars, with no paint covering the material. This leaves what is essentially a black car with branded detailing.

So should there be rules in place to ensure the cars are covered in paint to make sure there isn’t a dull sea of carbon?

The carbon problem

When the paint began being stripped from cars in 2022, the images of bare carbon in small doses were actually rather appealing.

But with teams striving to reduce as much weight from their cars as possible under F1’s latest set of technical regulations, the exposed carbon has become more and more prominent across the grid.

The Haas VF-24 is almost all carbon with black paint on the nose, red detailing on the wings and white flashes on the sidepods, whilst the new Alpine A524 allows for precious little blue and pink.

To Williams’ credit, the Grove-based outfit has launched a predominantly blue car – though how much that will vary before the start of the new season remains to be seen.

Stake Sauber’s striking green and black livery would perhaps remain the same had paint been applied but there is no doubting black paint is presented much more vividly than the bare carbon – especially at night races.

Worse before it gets better

The disappointing aspect of the lack of paint is that a number of liveries are not reaching their full potential.

A number of cars looked very similar to each other last decade with blue, white and silver dominating the grid but now there are a range of looks that are being diluted by the weight-saving measures.

Mercedes reverted to black last season and will likely remain the same for the upcoming year – that’s fine. Ferrari obviously stands out in its traditional red, whilst Red Bull’s blue with a yellow nose couldn’t be missed.

McLaren’s vibrant papaya has been watered down by the stripped paint in recent years which is a great shame, while Alpine’s blue is almost entirely wiped out for the new year.

Visa Cash App RB looks set to return to a Toro Rosso-esque look of predominantly blue, so that will blend with the Red Bull and the Williams at least. But the detailing that can be lost through stripping back the paint could cause issues in differentiation between the various cars.

Whilst this may not be a critical issue for the avid F1 fan, we are in the midst of an era that has seen Liberty Media champion a new audience.

If newcomers can’t tell one car apart from the other, there’s every chance interest will be lost. Think of a soccer match where there’s a kit clash, it can be irritating when trying to pick the two teams out.

There are definitely more pressing issues to tackle in the world of F1 but this is a topic that looks like it’ll only get worse before it gets better. It could do with addressing.


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