2019 will see the inauguration of a brand new racing series exclusively for women: the controversially discussed W Series will hold its first race at the German Hockenheimring at the beginning of May. A few weeks ago, the series' liveries were launched at the first official test session in Almeria, Spain, and left quite an impression. We had a chat with their designer Brandon Seaber about how the W Series' visual identity was translated onto the single seaters' liveries.
The W Series designs appear striking to the regular motorsport fan for a number of reasons. Firstly, they all sport basically the same livery which is available in five different fluorescent colour schemes. There are no teams per se, all the cars are run by Hitech GP, which is also reflected by the cars' paint jobs. They neither depict a team's nor the driver's identity, but are instead assigned by the series' organizers.
The second noticeable aspect is the absence of driver-specific sponsors on the cars. The elements which individualize a livery are the driver's national flag on the rear wing and halo, as well as the name on the sidepod. The W Series branding itself then features heavily, mainly through their logo printed big on the engine covers and a distinct half-tone pattern across the lower sidepod and around the cockpit area.
Responsible for the W Series' liveries is British designer Brandon Seaber, who's been professionally involved in motor racing design for quite some time. Apart from the race car liveries, Brandon also created the trailer designs, the look of the paddock, race shoes and some merchandising for the new racing series.
”The first thing we approached were the liveries, which we used as a base for tying numerous existing brand elements together and introducing new ideas, essentially because it’s the most public facing item and the most important design to get right.“
“We didn’t want to add overbearing unique driver elements, because it means there's four or five cars of the grid that can use the same engine cover.”
When it comes to the paint jobs, practicality was one of the most important requirements. Since about a fifth of the grid run the same livery, spare parts can be used for more than just one car. For the designer, this means that particular parts of the car shouldn't be covered with too many design details, there's a strategy to the core elements and where they appear. That's mainly why the concept revolves around are five fixed colour schemes instead of a multitude of single colours to choose from.
Additionally, this requirement also set some guardrails as to which parts of the car actually could be individualized. “We didn’t want to add large country flags or unique driver elements on the core parts of the car like the engine cover, because now there’s four or five cars of the grid that can use that same engine cover; it's difficult to re-wrap those large, curved surfaces quickly. The number, flag and name elements have therefore been put in sensible spots that are still very visible.”
In total, Brandon's livery work resulted in about 20 hours of work including the initial creation of the template. “I put together 3 different initial concepts, probably spending 12-14 hours on those. I produced just the white & purple version first and then followed up with the other colours to finalise the livery set.” The amount of tweaks after the initial concepts were quite low, according to Brandon, and mostly revolving around moving the logos and modifying the names and flags of the drivers.
With all drivers having been officially announced, the last pre-season test at the EuroSpeedway Lausitz saw the individualized liveries in action for the first time. The W Series' first race will take place on the 4th May in Hockenheim.