Five rules to designing a Formula 1 livery


A F1 car is a series of highly complex surfaces. When you then consider the design constraints imposed by sponsors’ contracted positions, the task of creating a livery that looks great on television and still delivers maximum visibility and value to sponsors value is something of a challenge. Pangaea Creative does just that and has a hatful of awards to prove it. Here are their thoughts on how to go about it.


Understand your canvas

It’s important to know what the car looks like in real life, because an on-screen mock-up will never give you the full picture; the car is seen simultaneously from multiple angles. Winning designs need to look great from every one. 

Sometimes a straight line is actually curved and vice versa. A F1 car has very few flat surfaces. You need a steady hand when taping up the car and a great paint shop to bring it all to life. 

Above all, follow the lines of the car. Aerodynamic shapes are intrinsically beautiful – don’t fight them.

Consider negative space

Where the design isn't, is as important as where it is. Not all surfaces carry paint. These areas frame the design and can interfere or add value to the junction between colours. Using negative space is a dark art in itself.

Design around the sponsors

Sponsors pay for the majority of liveries, so keeping sponsors happy makes sound commercial sense. We don’t start with a beautiful livery into which we insert sponsor logos. That would be too easy! Instead, we start by laying out the logos in their fixed contracted positions and go from there. We also design space around sponsor positions to give each logo maximum prominence and naturally draw the eye.

Make every second count

An audience of more than 200 million sees a F1 livery, mostly on TV. Camera placement is highly regulated and doesn’t always show the car off to best advantage from a design point of view, which means logo placement, shape and design are critical. We position logos for maximum visibility for onboard and static cameras, changing the real shape of logos if necessary so they appear correct to the camera.

Keep it simple

If there’s one trait that all iconic liveries share, it’s simplicity. We try to keep our liveries as clean as possible so they stand the test of time. We control colours very carefully, calibrating them to respect brand guidelines and look perfect on television.