There are no prizes or points for the prettiest F1 car. But that doesn't mean that we shouldn't judge them aesthetically. It's not just about the paint job, either. It's about the curves and the corners, the wings and the sharp and pointy bits, too. It's the overall package.
It is a shame that current regulations have led to an entire field of turbo-charged tanks but you have to work with what you've got. And somehow some of them are pretty handsome. So, with no more fuss, here is our verdict on this season's cars.
10. Alfa Romeo C39
I mean, it's not absolutely terrible. It's not. But it is not really anything. It just is. And F1 cars, aesthetically speaking, that just exist are a crime against the sport. The driver number is nowhere near prominent enough, and the livery is not bold enough overall. The red looks okay but it is a fairly underwhelming effort from Alfa. It's essentially the same design as 2018 when they were Sauber and 2019, when they rebranded to Alfa Romeo.
9. McLaren MCL35
The colour scheme is pretty good, I admit. Not quite as good as last year, though, and I think a black halo in that industrial style looks better than a colour-coordinated one. Where the MCL35 falls down is at its front end, with its nose that looks reminiscent of that of a proboscis monkey. If it goes quickly then fine, but this is probably the ugliest McLaren of the past few years.
8. Racing Point RP20
Gone is the blue as a secondary colour, although there's still a bit of it about with sponsor BWT. As such it looks less like a Dulwich Hamlet-themed car and that is a negative. Again, the nose is hardly the most attractive, all bulbous as it is. It looks remarkably like the nose of the Mercedes W11 or W10. I'd like the pink here to be a bit deeper, too. Or perhaps have the halo in a contrasting colour.
7. Ferrari SF1000
It's a stronger red than last year's car and the front end is quite stark and solid-looking. But I am still not sure about the black on this car. It doesn't pop. Again, the protuberance at the end of the front wing loses it some points but it is one of the sleeker front wings in the field this year. Not sure about the new numbering, either. Looks a bit budget.
6. Red Bull RB16
Worryingly (reassuringly?) I don't think there are any absolute shockers this season. I suppose blandness rather than outright awfulness is the recurring theme in many of this year's cars. Red Bull stick to what they do best which is run pretty much the absolute same livery every season with barely a tweak. The Aston Martin sponsorship looks nice on the rear wing, though, and I am a big fan of the matte finish they've used for a few years now.
Plus points for a novel skinny nose, which is quite un-Red Bull like. They last had a really skinny nose in 2009 but ditched it mid-way through the season. Solid (lack of) effort.
5. Mercedes W11
Probably the last of the middling cars in this list. Silver is a pretty strong look and the added red accent on the air intake is a nice touch, even though it's down to a new sponsor. Harks back to the red halo which commemorated the death of Niki Lauda last year. Not a great fan of the nose, like Racing Point's but, like Red Bull, their livery is a big part of their brand and is unlikely to change. But that's no bad thing here. Again, prefer a stark-looking black halo but maybe that's just me.
4. Haas VF20
There are four particularly strong efforts this year and this is the first. Last year's Haas promised so much. A black and gold livery turned out to be a bit dull in practice. And then there was the whole saga with the title sponsor whose colours they raced in but eventually pulled out of the team. But this year they have gone back to their more traditional red/black/grey livery but have wisely swapped the grey for white. And splashed a lot of it on the nosecone.
You can't go too wrong with red, white and black and the VF-20's nosecone is the strongest on the grid. It's sleek. And the front wing elements swoop around nicely, too. It probably helps that it isn't overloaded with sponsors.
3. Williams FW43
It may not finish near the front of the grid at any point this year and it left me a bit baffled when I first saw it. It's entirely possible that the FW43 has grown on me because of its similarity to the 1997 Arrows-Yamaha driven by Damon Hill, a car that spent much of the season trailing at the back of the pack. Without getting overly nationalistic about it, an independent British team running in red, white and blue is no bad thing. Williams' best livery since the Martini-sponsored days.
2. AlphaTauri AT01
It's simple and complicated at the same time. Simple: just two colours. Complicated: the swirly AlphaTauri clothing logo on the back of the car. Last year we had two teams who rebranded and changed names (Sauber to Alfa Romeo and Force India to Racing Point) but largely kept the same livery. If you are going to change names then at least make the most of it and come up with a new livery. And that's what AlphaTauri have done - and executed it brilliantly.
1. Renault RS20*
From white, to black. *Yes, we know this is just a launch livery and yes, we know that yellow will feature more prominently on the version that runs at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. We may have to reconsider. But there will still be plenty of black. And black looks quick. And this car looks so good I am willing to overlook it all. At the moment it's the Diego Simoene or Johnny Cash of F1 cars.
Design-wise I'd say next to the McLaren the Renault is the most daring on the grid, or certainly the most individual. The pinched front nose contrasts with that bulky area over the engine. It looks the most modern design on the grid. It's bold and it's brilliant. It's just a shame they won't stick with it for the entire season.