Marlboro McLaren. JPS Lotus. 7-Up Jordan. All contenders for ‘best livery of all time’. And rightly so. But what about lesser known, underrated liveries? C+S takes a look back at ten of the best.
1968 Honda Racing RA301
Formula 1 car liveries were mostly red, blue or green until sponsors began to creep in. Honda stood out with their white and red cars such as the RA301 with its red banding down the bodywork and Japanese ‘rising sun’ just forward of the cockpit.
1972-73 Lucky Strike Racing Lotus 72D
More commonly seen wearing JPS war paint, the Lotus 72D was perhaps even more pleasing on the eyes in the crisp white and red highlighting of Scuderia Scribante’s Lucky Strike Racing. South African Dave Charlton drove the car five times across 1972-73.
1974 Team Canada F1 Racing Brabham BT42
An A1GP-esque livery 30 years before A1GP was a thing. Canada’s Eppie Wietez entered the 1974 Canadian GP in a privately run BT42 decked out with maple leaves on the airbox and front wing, and a Canadian flag on the nose. Vertical red stripes completed the tidy look, while a similar design on his helmet added to the uniformity.
1975 UOP Shadow Racing Team DN5
Some of Shadow’s Formula 5000 liveries were even better, but the best looking Formula 1 Shadow was the 1975 version of the DN5 painted in black (what else for a team called ‘Shadow’?) and featuring red-orange-yellow-white colour gradients down the sides.
1979 Martini Racing Team Lotus 79
Perhaps forgotten against the ubiquity of the John Player Special liveries that came before and after, the 1979 design saw the return of British Racing Green to Lotus for the first time in 11 years. Martini stripes and and Essex logos (hmm…) completed the striking look.
1994 Sauber C13
Almost any Sauber livery could make this list (shout-out to the often overlooked 2005 Petronas/Credit Suisse livery), but I’ve chosen the C13, dressed in black with a white, grey and red ‘dot’ pattern in deference to Tissot who came onboard after the French Grand Prix.
1994 Footwork FA15
One of the best examples of 90s graphic design in F1, the FA15 featured splashes of red and blue breaking off into a floating square pattern. Shout-out also to the FA16 featuring a metallic blue engine cover with hot pink ‘HYPE’ logos outlined in fluorescent yellow.
1999 Winfield Williams FW21
Much like an Essex Lotus didn’t look like a Lotus, many disliked the Winfield Williams simply because a Williams shouldn’t be red. However, the 1999 livery was a well-balanced design reminiscent of popular Winfield liveries in touring car racing and rallying.
2000 Telefonica Minardi M02
Minardi often had smart liveries: the 1989-1992 designs and 1999 & 2001 cars could have all made this list. But I’ve singled out the M02 from 2000 with its vibrant fluorescent yellow Telefonica livery, something completely unique in the history of F1 paint schemes.
2006 Lucky Strike Honda Racing RA106
The third Lucky Strike/Honda underrated livery on this list! Lucky Strike branding and logo always lent itself to classy designs—just look at Suzuki in motorcycle racing. After the abominable BAR01 livery, BAR/Honda got things right over the ensuing seasons.