2023 Mercedes W14 launch

Mercedes says return to black livery is all about saving weight

2023 F1 season

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Mercedes says their return to a black livery, one year after reverting to the marque’s traditional silver colour, is in order to save weight.

The team previously used a black livery in 2020 and 2021. Its 2020 car was originally launched in silver but the team changed its colours in response to a wave of protests against racial inequality in the spring of 2020.

Mercedes painted its 2020 car black as “a signal of the team’s commitment to fighting racism and discrimination in all its forms.” After two seasons in the colour scheme, which also included the message “End racism”, it switched back to silver.

Team principal Toto Wolff said last year the black livery “has become part of our DNA, but the silver colour of the Silver Arrows is as much our DNA, it’s our history”. However the switch back to black has been done for more practical reasons ,shared with other teams who have also introduced more black to their car liveries this season.

“We were overweight last year,” Wolff explained. “This year we have tried to figure out where we can squeeze out every single gram.

2023 Mercedes W14 - Lewis Hamilton colours
Gallery: Mercedes present new W14 F1 car for 2023 season
“So now, history repeats itself. You will see that the car has some raw carbon bits, along with some that are painted matte black.

“Of course, when we changed the livery in 2020 the main driving factor was to support the diversity and equality causes which are always close to our heart. The colour black became part of our DNA at that point, so we are pleased to return to it.”

During the W14’s launch Wolff also referred to the “paint-scraping myth”, a story which claimed an early Mercedes racing car ran in silver after the white paint was scraped off to save weight. Although historical research has debunked the claim, it has become part of the team’s folklore.

Mercedes included apprentices and interns hired as part of its Accelerate 25 diversity initiative in its launch today. The team says its percentage of female members has increased from 12% to 16%, and the number of staff from minority ethnic backgrounds grown from 3% to 9%, since the programme’s launch two years ago.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “Mercedes says return to black livery is all about saving weight”

  1. Livery schemes in F1 a.d. 2023 are quite generic and repeatable:
    – Mercedes / Aston Martin – full dark color, with a light highlight wave along the middle of the side
    – Ferrari / Alfa Romeo – full red with black rectangles
    – Haas / Alpha Tauri – black/dark blue colour with a white nose stripe and red highlights on the wings

  2. I’m no scholar of physics, but wouldn’t black paint be heavier than bare carbon ??

    1. It’s predominately carbon fibre you’re looking at

  3. Its a nice enough design but I wonder if they could specify a minimum weight for paint. This would mean teams would have less reason to use black so often (typically on the lower half) and if anyone wants to use lots of black they need add some ballast to meet that minimum weight.

    1. @sam
      Mandating a minimum weight for something trivial such as paint would be overkill with already more than enough regulations for different things.
      Nothing wrong with using bare carbon, so teams should be allowed to design their liveries as they see fit.

  4. @Sam
    I can’t imagine how you could measure weight of the paint that’s on a car.
    But that’s not a good idea anyway, because teams could accumulate all the paint in non-attractive places of the car just taking desired weight balance result as a goal. This would make the whole thing way too complex.

    A more reasonable approach – and one that would give desirable results – would be to define which parts of the car are mandatory to be painted.

    1. Apart from estimating, which I’m sure F1 teams are pretty good at…

      – Weigh car without paint
      – Weigh car with paint
      – Subtract one from the other

      Can also compare the real world result with the estimate to assess how accurate the estimation method is, and tweak it accordingly.

    2. Yea, they would want to specify which parts of the bodywork and wings must be painted (i.e. basically everything down to the floor!).

      I agree something needs to be put into the rules asap, because it is a shame the liveries are being impacted and turned to boring black just to save weight.

    3. You think the paint can’t really weigh any substantial amount, but when you use around 4 liters/roughly 4kg of paint to paint the car, it is quite obvious how you add weight without any gain in performance, rather a decrease on performance.
      It’s a lot more difficult to take mass out of bodywork or structural parts of the car compared to leaving half the car black and losing a kilo or 2 doing so. That’s easy gains.

      Still sucks though. Ferraris should be mainly red and Merc some shade of silver. Not largely black, as are the others.

    4. Yeah, regulating that specific areas have to be painted is a good solution. If a team wants black then they have to paint it black.

  5. It’s easy to theorise that we could end up with 20 black cars (is their any provision for every car being the same colour, with white decals? Probably not).

    But George being that much taller than Lewis, everything above Georges’ shoulders probably weighs more than a tin of paint.

    1. But George being that much taller than Lewis, everything above Georges’ shoulders probably weighs more than a tin of paint.

      Are you suggesting they remove everything above his shoulders to save weight? :)

      1. Empty tin of paint and some ‘googly’ eyes stuck on. That has to be a kg at least. :)

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