The seven best Renault F1 liveries

24th March 2023
Simon Ostler

Renault has one heck of a history in Formula 1. Since first arriving in the sport as an enthusiastic car manufacturer keen to stir the pot by building and racing the first ever turbocharged F1 car in 1977, the French brand has experienced a tide-like sequence of highs and lows, from championship glory to a very public row with a certain engine customer.

While Renault has been in and out of F1 several times over the past five decades, with various stints as a constructor, other periods as an engine manufacturer, and even some time away from the sport, it has established itself as one of the most successful brands in the sport’s history. Over the years Renault has won two constructors’ championships and two drivers’ championships and taken a total of 35 race victories as of March 2023. That number inflates massively if you take into account the brand’s influence as an engine supplier. In total, 12 constructors’ titles have been won by Renault powered cars alongside 11 drivers’ crowns, and Renault engines have flown to 169 race wins during partnerships with Lotus, Williams, Benetton and Red Bull.

So there’s plenty of history among the Renault catalogue of F1 cars, but aside from the results and the success, there’s something far more pressing I want to sort out here, and that’s which Renault F1 car looks the best. Over three very distinct eras of racing as a constructor, Renault has produced a varied array of livery designs. But which is best? Let’s run down our picks.


Renault RS01 (1977)

Let’s start with Renault’s first F1 effort, the RS01 from 1977, F1’s first ever turbocharged car. The intention was to send those pigeons flying, but the result was more barely enough to catch a pigeon’s eye. A single car driven by Jean-Pierre Jabouille failed to finish on four attempts at the end of the ’77 season before a final effort saw the all-French outfit fail to qualify.

But not all was lost for Renault. While that turbo engine was going to need some serious work to get anywhere close to reliable, the RS01 did a least look fantastic. This was our first glimpse of what has become a very recognisable yellow and black colour scheme. The bold bumblebee was catastrophically unreliable, but it showed up well on TV screens around the world. The fact the team never strayed far from this livery tells you it was a winner from day one.


Renault RE30B (1982)

That being said, this was about as far as Renault ever went from its traditional black and yellow colours. The RE30B went for a majority white and yellow paint job in 1982, with a pair of black streaks running along either side.

The best part of this livery for me is less the colours and more the positioning of them on the car. Every element points towards the nose of the car, which accentuates the already dynamic shape. The large Renault badge on the front is also extremely cool. More teams should go big with their logo, it looks great.


Renault R24 (2004)

Renault pulled its constructor programme in 1985, and spent the majority of the next 15 years working exclusively as an engine manufacturer. However, the turn of the century reinvigorated the French Brand’s interested in F1, and Renault purchased the Benetton team in 2000. After a few years of crossover, the Renault name returned to sport proper in 2002, and this new era for the team would be an entirely new beginning.

The most notable change was the introduction of a new livery idea. The yellow of Renault remained, but it was coupled this time with a gorgeous blue, a leftover from the Benetton days. And good grief did it just work. Not only did it look fantastic, this was the colour scheme that Renault would carry through its most successful period in F1. With the mercurial Fernando Alonso showcasing his seemingly limitless talent, the team raced to consecutive constructors’ and drivers’ championship doubles in 2005 and 2006. However, this was an era when the cars were becoming increasingly cluttered with aerodynamic addendum, so I’ve gone with the somewhat less successful 2004 car for the best livery, because those colours are given room to breathe.


Renault R30 (2010)

Following that golden era in the mid-2000s, Renault’s performance dropped dramatically, coincidentally at the same time the team dropped its blue and yellow livery. The while, orange and yellow of the 2007-2009 era was never up to the same standard looks-wise, so it was good to see the team change things up for 2010. 

The change that was made took Renault all the way to its original livery design from 1977 with the RS01. A predominantly yellow car cut with bold black elements that made the car pop just like it once did. This car was perhaps most famous for playing a big hand in the 2010 championship battle, as title hopeful Alonso, now driving for Ferrari, found himself stuck behind then-Renault driver Vitaly Petrov for the majority of the race, which scuppered his chance of beating Vettel to the title.


Renault R.S.16 (2016)

Renault power took Red Bull to four consecutive championships from 2010-2013, but the partnership came to a fractious end following a disastrous start to the hybrid era. Reputations were thrown under the bus, and the French brand was keen to prove its competence, so Renault once again returned to F1 as a constructor in 2016, once again taking over the Enstone team that it had so successfully run in the previous decade.

The car it returned with was the R.S. 16, and if nothing else, the team absolutely nailed the livery. An initial testing livery was underwhelming to say the least – majority black with some yellow flashes. But when the car was wheeled out for the first race of the year in Melbourne it was almost entirely yellow. I’ve said it before, that yellow is so bold and added a much needed kick to the colour palette of the grid. The car itself was something of a damp squib, as Renault languished in a lowly ninth in the constructors’ championship, but at least it looked fantastic.


Renault R.S.19 (2019)

Quite why Renault decided to go back to black following the glorious R.S.16 is difficult to fathom, but the team did finally hit the spot with its livery on the R.S.19. Black though it was, the yellow was brightened up to the nines and, from the front at least, made the Renault the boldest car on the grid by a mile.

If not for that yellow, this car would most likely have faded into mediocrity, it did at least score some decent points as it finished fifth in the constructors’ standings, but it was a long way from where Renault continues to dream it will be – at the front. We kind of wish that yellow was still on the grid, but the reason it isn’t is actually not too bad.


Alpine A522 (2022)

And that reason is this. The Renault F1 team made the switch to Alpine in 2021, turning the car into a billboard for its performance subsidiary. Alongside a name change, the Alpine team also took on a new colour scheme. Gone was the yellow, sad face, but in came an equally lovely blue.

That French blue is stunning, especially under flood lights, and the initial livery of the A521 from 2021 was full blue with a red accent at the rear. This was good, but actually what happened next was, in my opinion, even better. The famous BWT brand that made such an impact by turning Force India and then Racing point pink, was signed on by Alpine as a major sponsor. But while the team was keen not to turn its own cars pink, a compromise was reached that saw, following an initial three-race run as all pink, Alpine ran the rest of the season in a stunning blue and pink combination that, for me, just works.

Images courtesy of Motorsport Images

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