Your design will be seen by fans around the world so just how do you go about designing a Formula 2 racing car’s look? Not only do you have that pressure, but in the case of PHM AIX Racing, you’re also introducing a new partnership in 2024.
The German team has come up with a brand-new striking look that is set to reflect their new era along with the introduction of a brand new F2 car.
FIVE Communications, the company tasked with overseeing the marketing and design facets of PHM’s partner AIX, talk us through the process of designing a new racing car livery, the trials and challenges that come with it and what it means to see their design hit the track.
“We really put a lot of work into it. As designers, we’ve never really worked on cars before, we did things for buildings but never cars,” CEO of FIVE, Ana explains. “We faced quite a few issues at first, days and nights in the office for hours and hours but we got through those and came through that very nicely and ended up with something we’re really proud of.”
Lottie, Marketing and Communications at FIVE, says that the collaboration with PHM AIX was a brand-new experience for the team. But thanks to the openness of dialog between designers and team, the final product was as much about function as it was about making the car look fashionable.
“In terms of the way we worked, we relied heavily on their prior experience when it comes to the livery and how applicable our ideas are in practicality. It has been a mix of we love this design, but let’s take the carbon off here, it’ll be better because of XYZ.
“There were a lot of amendments, but it wasn’t like we started out with one thing and ended up with a totally different design in the end. It came through the process of months and months of communication. Here’s what they want, we make small changes, change and adjust a few other things.”
With AIX coming on board and becoming joint partner of the team, it represented a chance to innovate and the introduction of the green elements in the design came from a place where the team aimed to look as unique as possible.
The process of iterating on initial designs led the team down a path towards the final product, but the main aspect and core colours of both team and join partner was maintained throughout the design phase, as Ana explains.
“Initially, we put two options up for choosing: one was silvery, yellowish green. We liked it, the car looked super dope but, in the end, we figured that the car looked too much like the Mercedes cars in F1 with all the silver, black and green sections.
“Then we were like, why don’t we go with the AIX colours, and it was a surprise for us. In the beginning, we just had the copper colours with a pattern on top but then the owner asked for a pop of green and we added that in. Nobody really has a colour scheme like that.
“We pushed the design, we downloaded the 3D models and pushed in the design, and we got a beautiful car that we’ve not really seen elsewhere before, so we’re really happy about it. Under the floodlights in night races especially, it looks so nice, and it really stands out.”
Coming up with a design that looks great on paper, or on screen, is one half of the battle, but how that design transfers across into the real world is an altogether different proposition.
Ensuring that the new look made the cars stand out on television was a big point of emphasis for the design team, but that is far from the only requirement they have to balance.
Keeping sponsors happy with placement and visibility is another task the team has to address and, eventually, they landed on a design that satisfied all parties.
“We have been thinking for each point of the car, how it will look, how it will stand out and how it will show up on cameras and TV, especially for the sponsors. You really need to think about it.
“I’m sure that when we introduced the design for the first time, they were like well how are we going to do this?
“You have no idea how much work goes into the sticker patterns, the cut outs because the pattern is actually different than it is for the base. Then the team are cutting up these tiny lines for the design, separately, and then sticking it on the car.”
Getting to see the final design on track was a momentous moment, not only for the mechanics and the engineers that will operate the car through 2024, but for the team that put together the designs and developed the look of the car itself, as Lottie explains.
“It’s one of those things where we’re sort of sat behind a computer for months, working with a huge team and having all of these conversations so to come to the track and see the design come to life has been such a huge achievement and a really amazing thing.
“It’s an overwhelming achievement, not just in the delivery of the design but to see the team that’s come along with it and their excitement and the drivers too. It’s really a beautiful thing but to have also experienced as well. That’s overwhelming.”