OK, so the title is a bit disingenuous. Because, the topic is subjective and there is really no “best” anything in design. I’m really talking about what is my favorite livery system, and this is a system, not a single livery - not 1 car, or multiple cars painted the same way as with the old Marlboro race cars. But, I am convinced that this is the best system in the racing world for good reasons and ones that make it unique.
Some people call this “timelessness” but, I don’t really believe in that. At some point, everything looks dated. What creates the longevity for the Martini Racing designs is the thing I will talk about next paragraph. The point is, the system looks just as great applied to a 1970’s Formula 1 car as it does to a 2015 Porsche 911. There are not many designs you can say are “as classic as it is modern” but it certainly applies to Martini Racing liveries and if any design ever created actually is timeless, this is it. The reason is because of its flexibility.
The rules of the system are very simple: you start with a primary base color, usually white, and apply the stripes to fit the curves and angles of the car. they can be perfectly straight for contrast, or bend and flow with the car to create a sense of motion and rhythm. Often, the stripe is cut in half and red becomes a secondary color, but the stripe remains recognizable. There is not a vehicle, bike, or object the system can’t work well on.
The individual colors are not unique in the racing world, in fact very common: navy blue, bright blue, red, and white. But, putting them together in the familiar hierarchy the colors and stripe become a better symbol of the brand than the logo itself. Together the colors become eye catching and make the cars easy to spot on the track but, remove just one and the car starts to fade into the pack. Where many of the classic and most loved liveries are built on 1 (Ferrari red) or 2 (STP, Gulf) colors, its the 4 of Martini’s that make it strong.
It’s all about them stripes! Stripes are patterns and there may not be a better example of how important a pattern can be to a brand than Martini’s. It’s the 1 thing everyone knows about the racing team and is applied to everything from apparel to driver and crew uniforms. The stripes actually are the beacon of Martini, while their logos could disappear and never be missed.
The stripe itself is a foundation for creativity. Even the straight version suggest movement, or even a road. Seeing the stripes in the below examples shows that clearly, especially when bent and twisted to further that idea in a more unique way.
There’s nothing about the livery system I don’t love, and the best part is that it always has the possibility to surprise you and give you something you’ve never seen before. Giving the stripes to different designers and applied to different cars and mediums opens up endless possibilities. If there are Martini racing cars 100 years from now, I don’t know what they will look like but, I can guarantee they will look absolutely beautiful.