In December 2017, Sauber revealed their livery for the 2018 – prominently featuring their Italian engine partner Alfa Romeo who will return to Formula One after 33 years. In the weeks prior to the launch, many livery concepts were designed by fans, but when Sauber showed us the real deal, reactions were rather negative.
As expected, Alfa Romeo brought a lot of red with them to replace the blue color from the 2017 season. They prominently placed their logo on the engine cover. However, the livery will stay mainly white to the dismay of many Formula One fans. However, for many reasons, the livery actually works really well.
In order to properly judge Sauber's new livery, we need to think about why liveries exist in the first place. While they were initially used to represent the team's country, liveries today are mainly the biggest advertising platform sponsors can use.
Now, we need to remember that Sauber is probably the Formula One team with the lowest budget and thus always in urgent need of sponsorship money. And this is exactly why the reason why the livery works so well: it brings really strong branding for Alfa Romeo but it also leaves enough room for at least one more major sponsor. And the fact that everything except the space occupied by Alfa Romeo is white assures that there won't be a clash of colours, whoever that sponsor will be.
No doubt, most concept liveries were visually more pleasing than the real thing. But almost all of them don't allow for any more sponsorship on the car. If teams chose pure eye candy over marketing value, there's a chance most of them wouldn't even make the grid due to budget issues.
The actual Sauber Alfa Romeo livery though is a near perfect compromise between looking good and bringing in money. In the end, Joe McNamara's tweet sums it up perfectly:
Sensible #alfaromeo livery, Engine cover red with roll hoop, rest white, front & rear wing mostly carbon with exception of e/plates. Details/stripes added in vinyl.— joe mcnamara (@JoeIrishF1) December 2, 2017
Easy to paint & turn around between races.
Livery design is about more than just looking pretty ! @SauberF1Team :)