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Aston Martin Racing Green – more than just a colour

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The colour of our team. The colour of a nation competing on the world stage. A constant in British culture for more than a century. We explore the science and art behind Aston Martin Racing Green and the origins of this iconic colour.

Formula One is a sea of colours. Grandstands filled with red or orange or silver and now, increasingly, green. The World Championship comes to our home this week, with the British Grand Prix taking place at Silverstone Circuit, a stone's throw away from our state-of-the-art AMR Technology Campus, and we're expecting to see more green than ever before. And we love it.

Where it all began

There's more than a century of heritage in our livery. The beginnings of Aston Martin Racing Green can be traced back to the creation of British Racing Green. Motorsport's origin story has cars painted in national colours. Blue for France; red for Italy; Germany in white; Belgium in yellow; white with blue stripes for the USA. British teams had green.

Why green? The origin story is a little unclear, but the use of green is believed to be down to the influence of Ireland. With racing banned on public roads on the island of Great Britain, the green paint was a nod to the Emerald Isle, where races were first held.

We easily went through a hundred iterations. Some were never contenders but you need to experiment to get down to the one.
Marek Reichman, Aston Martin Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer

Aston Martins weren't always presented in green. The first cars were painted grey, black and in natural metal finishes, as these didn't race internationally. Green was first seen on an Aston Martin at the 1922 French Grand Prix when the marque made its international racing debut. That very dark shade dominated our works cars until the late 1940s – albeit with the odd detour, most notably 1934-36 when the company, then with an Italian MD, raced in red.

Things changed in 1949 when the team started using a pale, metallic shade. Officially, this was known as Almond Green, but as the works Aston Martin team became a racing giant, winning in sportscars but also competing with the DBR4 in Formula One, it became synonymous with the brand. When the company, in 1999, celebrated the 40th anniversary of winning Le Mans, this heritage shade was reintroduced – but renamed Aston Martin Racing Green.

AMRTC line-up

The one

Today's Aston Martin livery is darker, with the marque's return to the pinnacle of motorsport in 2021 heralding the introduction of Aston Martin Racing Green. Aston Martin Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer Marek Reichman, the driving force behind a back catalogue of truly stunning road cars and instrumental in creating the livery for our F1 car, admits: "It was always going to be green – but there's a huge amount of work in deciding which green.

"We did all of the testing, used light guns to see how it looked in different types of ambient light – because daylight in Silverstone is quite different to daylight in Miami – and we studied how it looks on TV.

"At the forefront of our decision-making was Lawrence Stroll's (Aston Martin Executive Chairman) determination that it shouldn't be a fashionable green, in the here-today-gone-tomorrow sense, but a long-lasting green that really represented what we wanted to say with Aston Martin coming back to Formula One.

"We looked at a lot of heritage greens back to the DBR1 and the F1 car of the 1950s, through to the more modern racing DBR9s. It wasn't a case of putting all of those into the mixing pot to see what came out, but rather understanding the key elements: the micas, the reflective nature.

"Then we went through an array of different shades, different levels of reflectivity, different clear coats – even experimenting with silver paint and a green clearcoat on top. We easily went through a hundred iterations. Some were never contenders but you need to experiment to get down to the one."

Finding the one true shade for an F1 car is difficult. A team wants a livery that's distinctive, but also attractive to partners without being overwhelming. It has to stand out in strong sunlight – but also pop under the floodlights at F1's various night races.

The paint is applied at a microscopic level. It's about 20 microns thick – that's less than half the width of a human hair.
Jack Brown, Aston Martin Senior Manager – Colour, Material and Finish

The broadcast audience for F1 is vast so finding something that the camera loves is vital, while being aware that F1 has a global audience and not everyone watches on the same sort of TV – if they watch on TV at all. It's got to work on LED and plasma; 4K to standard definition. Does it work on an OLED phone screen as well as an old CRT? A lot of paint is poured before the best compromise is found – but, this is a sport, not a showroom, so there are also performance demands with an F1 car.

Weighting game

Look at the F1 cars of 20 years ago and they appear garish in comparison with the cars of today, which feature more areas of bare carbon. Paint is, comparatively, heavy and in an era where teams are fighting for every gramme, less is most definitely more.

"The overall weight of the cars is pretty challenging with the current regulations, and the amount of paint you're putting on can influence that," says Aston Martin Aramco Formula One Team Performance Director Tom McCullough.

"As a team, we've done a really good job with the weight and the ballast on the car, so that wasn't really a factor for us – but you see some teams really having to pare back the paint because they're either overweight or very close to the limit.

"That said, the least amount of paint you need is what you always try to put on. Of course, you have to the balance commercial requirements of the team, to make sure the car has the right colours and the right branding, but having parts of the car in bare carbon makes it lighter and also easier to maintain trackside.

"The bare carbon composite parts of the car won't chip like paint will, so you'll notice the leading edges of the strong aerodynamic parts: front wing, front of the floor, sidepods – essentially, the areas that see most dust and dirt damage – aren't painted. By not painting them, we can keep the surface quality really high and reduce our need to ship parts back and forth to the AMR Technology Campus. We're mindful of the cost cap and having to do less in-season painting is as useful as the weight saving."

Ultra luxury meets performance

Despite the amount of carbon black featuring on our 2024 F1 challenger, the AMR24, it still appears slightly lighter than the original 2021 car. Though the word 'appears' is significant. The AMR21, the car that heralded our return to F1, tended to look almost black on TV. "There's been a lot of work since then to bring out the green," says Jack Brown – Senior Manager Colour, Material and Finish for Aston Martin.

"The F1 car that we launched in '21 was a very sophisticated colour, and it looks truly amazing on road cars – but it was a little bit too dark for the cameras, appearing almost black in certain lights. Our task then, was to capture that darkness and sophistication in subsequent cars but give it more brightness and punch in the highlighted areas. It wasn't a case of making the paint lighter, just a question of making the highlighted areas shine.

"Ceramic pigments float within different layers of the paint and you have to ensure those pigments are suspended in exactly the right layer for the highlighted areas to be bright enough. And, because this is F1, we strived to achieve the lightest application of paint to keep the weight down. The paint is applied at a microscopic level. It's about 20 microns thick – that's less than half the width of a human hair."

Jack alludes to the fact that the Aston Martin Racing Green on our F1 cars is the same Aston Martin Racing Green that features on Aston Martin's road cars – whether that's the Vantage Safety Car powering around at the head of the F1 field, or something a little less demonstrative sitting on the driveway at home. While Almond Green had a limited following on Aston Martin's road cars in the 1950s, Aston Martin Racing Green is by far the most popular shade with Aston Martin's road car patrons.

"I think that's a really nice link to the pinnacle of performance for our customers," says Jack. "It doesn't just look like the paint on the F1 car, if you buy a car in Aston Martin Racing Green, it genuinely is the paint from the F1 car. It's exactly the same formulation."

Marek green quote
Whenever you change something iconic, you almost hope the customer doesn't notice.
Marek Reichman, Aston Martin Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer

In its first year of availability, Aston Martin Racing Green represented around seven per cent of new Aston Martin orders and that number has steadily grown in the years that followed. In 2023, that number reached a new height of 12 per cent eclipsing the popularity of all other colours.

The figures can be attributed to the team's on-track success last year and, more specifically Fernando Alonso's historic first podium in green at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, which saw a spike in orders of the colour in April 2023.

Aston Martin F1

Owning it

The buzz around green Aston Martins isn't limited to Racing Green, however. Nearly a quarter of Aston Martin customers are selecting one of the marque’s nine exclusive shades of green.

"Green is a colour we've been able to take ownership of," says Jack. "It's a very unique space. Lots of brands have got their own area of colour and green is ours. In recent years, building on the success of what we’ve been doing in F1, we've become very confident and adept at pushing green as our colour. We've got Aston Martin Racing Green, but we've also developed other shades of green that have enabled us to really take ownership of the colour."

Put modern Aston Martins in a line-up with the marque's heritage models and it's easily apparent that the green has evolved several times over the last century. And, while the colour, with its complex blend of micas, pigments and flake is a settled formula now, history strongly suggests at some point it will change again – but to what?

Marek takes on a thoughtful tone when answering that one: "You always have to evolve. Take our logo. A few years ago, we simplified the wings. Whenever you change something iconic, you almost hope the customer doesn't notice. They simply think it looks fresher, for some reason. In the same vein, I'm sure we will evolve Aston Martin Racing Green because tastes evolve, new technologies will arrive to provide more intensity, and as that happens, we evolve and develop with them.

"We went through a huge amount of work to get the green you now see. It has changed season by season, as we’ve worked on both the colour and the technology behind it – but I think the mind simply sees it as the green we’ve always had. And I think that's great: people see green, they think Aston Martin."

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