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Livery rules or new technology? What F1 needs to get its colour back again

Where once the F1 field was full of vibrant liveries that really stood out, F1’s latest ground effect era has witnessed teams strip back to as much bare carbon fibre as possible in a bid to save critical weight from their heavy cars.

It is a trend that shows no sign of abating – as Alpine’s excessively black new A524 has shown – and it has even prompted some discussions about whether or not F1 chiefs need to step in and do something about it.

Should there, for example, be a rule introduced that forces teams to paint the entirety of their car to ensure that we have a grid full of beautiful-looking machinery?

It’s a nice idea. But, as always in F1, the devil is in the detail and framing such regulations to force teams to paint their cars would be very, very difficult.

It’s something that one of F1’s leading paint experts agrees is hard to see working, as he thinks there would be endless complications from trying to regulate the area.

Mark Turner helped found Silverstone Paint Technology in 2008. The company now works with the majority of the F1 grid, even if it cannot be specific about which teams it operates with.

Speaking to Motorsport.com about whether a rule change is the right way to address F1’s livery problem, Turner said: “I don’t know how you’d regulate it easily, because obviously the surface area and the choice of livery design, [such as] where you’re painting, where you aren’t painting, if you regulate it at minimum, it might make it challenging to actually standardise that across all the cars.”

Valtteri Bottas, Kick Sauber C44

Valtteri Bottas, Kick Sauber C44

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

While forcing teams to paint cars appears to be a no-go,  this isn’t to say that F1 is now trapped in a world where carbon-dominated liveries are here to stay.

Turner is confident it is a problem that is purely related to the current generation of cars – so something that should go away by itself when F1 moves to smaller machinery from 2026.

He says it is important to understand that the issue with paint now is not just because teams are battling to get near the imposed minimum weight limit.

It is also because, as F1 cars have got so much bigger, painting them requires so much more material – so it has started to become a proper performance factor.

“Paint mass has always been on the agenda, it’s just never been a priority,” added Turner.

“I mean, oddly, I think it’s probably moved over time because the cars have grown significantly in size.

“The surface area is significantly larger than say the early 2000’s, when you sort of had the naturally aspirated engines.

Liveries were all-encompassing in the early 2000s

Liveries were all-encompassing in the early 2000s

Photo by: Motorsport Images

“They were a smaller car and, as we moved into the hybrid era, the cars got a lot bigger, so the surface area obviously has a direct effect on how much mass the overall paint and livery is going to cost.

“We can’t talk about any team specifically, but probably three years ago we were sitting with some of the heaviest liveries at around three kilos of paint and branding.”

Paint technology has moved on quite a bit since then to bring the weight of a full livery down to somewhere just above 1kg. And, while F1’s 2026 plans are set to involve lighter cars that could help address the issue itself, Turner thinks further advances and closer relationships with teams will bring back the type of glorious paint schemes we had in the past.

“I think ultimately there’ll be innovation,” he said. “Sometimes it’s collaborating with the engineering teams to understand where there’s potential to develop further in areas where it might benefit them to not run brand.

“There’s a sort of a technical advantage if you can innovate in the sort of paint and coatings area to produce a lighter overall finish that the commercial team are happy with. That’s kind of what F1 is about in a way: it’s innovating and pushing the boundaries forward. Sometimes it’s nice when you’re rewarded for innovation rather than it being standardised.

“So it’s push and pull. But again, equally, if we want iconic liveries that fans can identify and pick out in a race, it’s important.

“I think there’ll also be marginal gains to be had from collaborating closer with the technical design team and the commercial design team. And that will ultimately get some of the colour back.”

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This article was originally published by a www.motorsport.com . Read the Original article here. .

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