Should Formula 1, the world’s most global motorsport competition, push for more teams to use ‘throwback’ liveries?
Yesterday, McLaren took the F1 fandom by storm when they unveiled a Gulf Oil-inspired livery for this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
The livery is a nod to the zenith blue-and-orange paint schemes of the McLaren F1 GTRs raced at Le Mans in the 1990s.
Before that, Ford’s Le Mans-winning GT40s were clad in Gulf sponsorship, as were the earth-shaking Porsche 917K sportscars.
Reaction to McLaren’s livery was almost entirely positive, leading fans and even driver’s to suggest more F1 teams should do a similar throwback livery at some stage.
“For everything to be a throwback — not just our race suits, but casual wear, down to team hats, to properly do it — that would be cool for everyone to get involved,” said McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo.
Mercedes and Ferrari both ran with special heritage liveries over the last two seasons.
Mercedes ran with a white-and-silver look at its home race in Hockenheim in 2019. Ferrari then used a burgundy livery for its 1000th Grand Prix at Mugello last year.
However, besides those examples, F1 teams never really alter their season liveries to pay homage to team history.
This year’s Williams livery does tribute the yellow-and-red of the team’s success in the 1980s and ‘90s, though it is a subtle touch implemented into an otherwise standard Williams design.
In 2019, Haas’ controversial Rich Energy livery gave many fans John Player Special vibes – one of F1’s most instantly recognisable looks. While perhaps not intentional on Haas’ behalf, the livery was still one of F1’s best in the recent past.
New Zealand and Australian racing fans will be well-used to the Supercars retro round, traditionally held at Sandown, which has led to some awesome one-off looks.
NASCAR has a colourful history. It too runs an annual race where teams are encouraged to use a throwback livery.
Now that McLaren has done the same in F1, there are calls for the series to begin a similar concept, whether that means a specific round or giving teams the freedom to change their livery a handful of times per season.
McLaren CEO Zak Brown sees the advantage in doing so.
“We need to [do this more],” said Brown.
“Whether everyone does it at the same time, or when you’re in your home country or you have a reason or an anniversary.
“I think to do something a few times a year that’s special creates some excitement and some additional engagement with the fans.”
So, how about it. Would you like to see more F1 teams begin to use throwback liveries?
And which designs would you like to see?