Wednesday 8 March 2023

FEATURE STORY: How Maserati MSG Racing designed its striking Formula E Livery

PHOTO CREDIT: Maserati MSG Racing. 
AUTHOR: Junaid Samodien

Elegance, craftsmanship, performance and pedigree, are but a few descriptive words that one could associate with the iconic Italian automotive brand, Maserati. 

With over 100-years of history, Maserati expanded from a family-run tuning business which rapidly expanded into vehicle and race car manufacturing. And, in 1926, an historic moment happened when they rolled out their first car out of the shop, named “Tipo 26”, which was later raced to victory at the Targa Florio by Alfieri Maserati. 

Soon after their early racing success, the Maserati brothers began to build customer cars to help fund their racing programme. They then decided the company required a new direction, whilst they focused on the engineering side of the company. Adolfo Orsi, an Italian entrepreneur was brought in to oversee the business, but later purchased Maserati, and moved it to Modena.

In the post-war era, Maserati moved to Formula One, which certainly was a challenge at first when going up against a strong Alfa Romeo team, as well as Talbot-Logo, and an emerging force, Ferrari. But, as the years progressed and challenges continued, Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio joined the team, and he took them to two drivers’ championships, 9 Grand Prix and 9 pole positions. The Italian brand remained in F1 until 1969. 

As life evolved, so did the Maserati brand, when the Fiat Group acquired the company in 1993, and through the years, the business began to grow in all spheres, where it then began to compete against other high performance brands, namely: Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW.  

PHOTO CREDIT: Maserati MSG Racing
The biggest surprise came in 2022, when Maserati took a major step forward in solidifying its future in the automotive fraternity, announcing a return to racing after 60-long years, but not in usual combustion engine championships. Instead, the iconic Trident brand will race in the all-electric ABB FIA Formula E World Championship.

And, whilst the announcement raised quite a few questions, including: why, what and when? In the ever-evolving world, and its technology, Formula E is the natural choice for big automotive manufacturers these days. 

“Maserati chose Formula E because it's a natural choice. We were born on track and it was great to come back to the racing circuit, but also because we have a strong mission in E-mobility and our future is electric with the Folgore range,” Giovanni Sgro, Head of Maserati Corse, said. 

“By 2025, every single one of our range, we'll have an electric version, and by 2030 Maserati is only going to produce electric vehicles. So Formula E is a great place for us to showcase our competitiveness and also focus on technology transfer from track to road.” 

The iconic “Tipo” designation returns in 2023, with Maserati’s first electric racing car. The Maserati Tipo Folgore (Type Thunderbolt) was revealed late last year, and features a timeless and iconic blue tone, synonymous with Maserati. 

But something that set’s the Italian automotive brand apart is the distinct livery, which defines the cars character, shape and show casing its history. 

And, whilst a racing livery seems more of a decorative feature in motorsport, sets race cars apart and gives partners more exposure. Just how does a team design their livery, choice the colour, and decide on the branding locations? We investigate this with the help of Giovanni Sgro, the Head of Maserati Corse. 

PHOTO CREDIT: Maserati MSG Racing
From various angles, the Maserati Tipo Folgore (Gen 3 car) captures the imagination of motorsport fans, with it’s elegant livery lines and logo placements, but why has the team actually chosen blue, as they return to racing?

“Blue is our Maserati colour, so we wanted to have that be reflected on the car strongly,” Giovanni Sgro said. 

He goes on further to explain that “the trident is the symbol competitiveness and the white line across the border, you know, this year's shape of the car is triangular, it's very flat and this line really accentuates the colour blue. The contrast is perfect. And then obviously we have the trident on the back of the car has the Italian flag in the centre. We have a couple of things that a represent Maserati on this car, which is obviously the blue, the trident and the Italian flag, we're the only Italian manufacturer in Formula E.”

The visible LGBTQIA+ rainbow colours on the front wing endplates.
PHOTO CREDIT: Maserati MSG Racing
We currently live in a world that that is very decisive, and lacks inclusion, but something that sets the Maserati MSG Racing’s livery apart is their aim to send a message worldwide about equality, diversity and inclusion, and this has been done with the inclusion of the LGBTQIA+ rainbow on the front wing endplate. 

“It's a strong message that the Maserati MSG Racing team wants to continue to, to push forward equality, diversity and inclusion. So, that is why the flag was put on the front wing endplates. It seems like a relevant positioning for that kind of visibility,” he explained. 

When conceptualizing the design of a racing cars livery, elegance, uniqueness and brand visibility are all important elements that need to be taken into account, but how much work actually goes into the design process – months, weeks or days? 

PHOTO CREDIT: Maserati MSG Racing
The Head of Maserati Course, explains the process: “Well, the car was designed by Maserati's Centro Stile, and I don't remember exactly how many weeks we took to design it, but there is a lot of back and forth. There's a lot of concepts, there's a lot of brainstorming, there's a lot of ideas that we want to put forward. You want to change small tweaks, big tweaks, a lot of different things. And so I think that it does take some time, but it's worth it because then when you put the car on track, you also have to design the car based on the visibility that it has on the track. You want to really accentuate not only the base colours, but you also want to accentuate the partners who are part of the team.”

Together with the design of a livery, comes the important placement of partner/sponsor logo’s. These logo placements allow the for more brand awareness and exposure, which helps grow a brands popularity, and funds the team(s). But, just how does a team decide on these placements? 

“That's also part of a design because you don't want to just put them anywhere. You want to make sure that there's a good flow to the car. And that's why the car looks the way it does. I'm biased, but obviously I think the car looks beautiful,” Sgro said. “The simplicity of it is the beauty of this car. And, I personally think that less is more. We did a really great job of making the car look luxurious.”

Slipstream SA would like to thank Elza Smit (Maserati South Africa) and Giovanni Sgro (Head of Maserati Corse) for their assistance in the compilation of this special feature story. 

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