The Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team has again used black on the livery of its 2021 title contender, the Mercedes-AMG F1 W12 E Performance, courtesy of Spies Hecker. The car was unveiled in March at the team’s headquarters in Brackley, England, ahead of the first race of the season in Bahrain which was won by Mercedes-AMG Petronas driver Lewis Hamilton.
The new livery combines black from the 2020 season, a re-introduction of the team’s iconic Stirling Silver, the burgundy that represents principal partner INEOS, and a revamped Petronas green.
To achieve the look, the team relied on one of Axalta’s premium global refinish brands, Spies Hecker. A leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings, the brand has been an official team supplier for more than seven years.
The Mercedes-AMG F1 W12 is the first to use the E Performance designation, signifying the team’s closer alignment to the Mercedes-AMG performance division. The link is reflected in the AMG branding on the engine cover.
Andrew Moody, Head of Paint and Graphics at Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, said the cars are complex to paint.
“The AMG pattern is painted – that’s the first and most important thing to say. Many people assume they are decals, but they are not. Each one is graded between two colours – white and grey – depending on where they sit, so this is a very complex area of the livery. Because of that, we must rely on Spies Hecker to perform, because we simply don’t have the option for a second try. Our painters need smooth application, easy blending and a perfect finish.”
Midnight Black is a non-metallic, solid black that is deep and rich in colour.
“It is different to the black we used last season. It is even more intense, giving a truly striking presence on track and on TV,” said Moody.
According to the team, the fade from black on the front of the car to Stirling Silver on the engine cover is extremely complicated as it encompasses six unique shades, passing across seven different panels, each of which is a different shape. This complexity means it is essential that every interchangeable component matches up with the adjacent panels perfectly in terms of placement, size, shape, colour and shading. In the 2021 season, with 23 races over 10 months including three double headers and two triple headers, the rapid painting of components between race weekends is especially challenging for Moody’s team.
“We work with specially-built jigs which are essentially dummy parts that allow us to reproduce each individual component accurately in terms of its size and shape, and most vitally, also the colours, lines, shading and design,” explained Moody. “We are constantly creating new jigs as the cars evolve over the season. It is quite complicated and intricate to spray three panels that come together with multiple shading and lines crossing the joins, and to get it right. This is where Spies Hecker’s Permahyd Hi-TEC 480 helps us deal with the sometimes-daily challenges of getting this right, quickly and easily.”
The paint shop uses a variety of Spies Hecker products, including Priomat Wash Primer 4075, then either Permasolid HS Vario Primer Surfacer 5340 which is a high-solid primer surfacer, or Permasolid HS Performance Surfacer 5320 which is a fast-drying 2K HS sanding surfacer. The team’s colour gradients are painted with Permahyd Hi-TEC 480 Basecoat and the paint shop finishes components with Permasolid HS Optimum Plus Clear 8650 or with Permasolid HS Race Clear 8700. When speed is of the essence, Moody’s team uses Permasolid Speed-TEC Clear Coat 8810.
“We still have our tribute to Niki Lauda, our Non-Executive Chairman who sadly passed away in May 2019. There is one bright red star on either side of the chassis just behind the drivers’ headrest below the roll hoop. These, like the AMG pattern, are painted and not decals as many people believe,” said Moody.
The flow line of Petronas green is back on the W12, the colour also appearing on the front and rear wings, nose, mirrors and halo. This year the green is a solid colour, which the team said is more striking and bolder against the deep black car.
“We are continuing the progression of the flow lines we have featured since 2017. This year, there’s no fade on the edges again, keeping the livery sharp and clean,” said Moody.
The green flow line is joined this year by a flow line above it in a highly reflective silver. The two lines originate on the side of the nose and move along the side of the chassis and side pods.
Olaf Adamek, Refinish Brand Manager for Axalta, said the brand was a great fit for the team.
“The new car, with its links to AMG, is all about performance, which is apt as at Axalta, we are built for performance. We could not be prouder to have played our part in the historic seventh constructors’ title the team won last season,” said Adamek.
We know that Andrew, his team and the rest of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team at Brackley and Brixworth, will be pushing the limits all season to be the best every race weekend. And we will be there, alongside them, making sure the race cars look as good as they perform.”