A really sexy F1 car

McLaren is going to race its two F1 cars in Gulf Oil colours at Monaco. The celebrated Gulf livery dates back to 1967 after Gulf Vice-President Grady Davis got to know team owner John Wyer after the former bought a Ford GT40 road car. Wyer wanted to go to Le Mans with his own version of the GT40, called a Mirage MK1 and Davis was happy to be the sponsor. In the course of the nine years that followed the combination enjoyed huge success with the Mirages and then with the mighty Porsche 917s, including three world titles and three wins at Le Mans and the cars were featured in Steve McQueen’s celebrated 1971 movie Le Mans. The Gulf livery passed into legend.

McLaren first used the livery for the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1997 in which there were three F1 GTRs entered and Pierre-Henri Raphanel, Jean-Marc Gounon and Anders Olofsson took one of them to second overall and won the GT1 class. 

Gulf became a strategic partner of McLaren in July 2020. The livery will be featured on both McLarens at Monaco and Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo will where similar overalls and the race team kit will also reflect the change.

The team says that “a key feature” of the one-off livery is to sell a bespoke range of limited-edition merchandise, inspired by the design, which is available from the McLaren on-line store.

“This will be McLaren’s homage to Gulf’s celebrated race car design,” says Zak Brown. “We’re enormous fans of brave and bold design, and the striking Gulf blue is among the most loved liveries in racing, a celebrated piece of culture which transcends the world of motorsport.

“Design has always been important to McLaren – you see this in everything we do from our return to papaya to our stunning headquarters, the McLaren Technology Centre. We’re excited to exhibit this as a team and celebrate our proud association with Gulf in Monaco.”

Formula 1 teams are supposed to keep the same liveries throughout a season but McLaren got permission for the change from the FIA and the Formula 1 Group. It is not the first time we have seen such things with Ferrari running a special burgundy red scheme last year at Mugello to celebrate its 1000th Grand Prix, while Mercedes changed its livery to celebrate the company’s 125th anniversary of the company’s involvement in motorsport at the German Grand Prix in 2019.

“To see the reaction of both Lando and Daniel as well as the whole McLaren team to this livery has been really special and we are thrilled to unveil it to motorsport fans around the world,” said Mike Jones, Chief Executive Officer, Gulf Oil.

32 thoughts on “A really sexy F1 car

    1. I thought so too but my e-chum Spesh has been doing a little digging and reports that:

      “ Chassis: 007/4
      The fourth 007 built by Tyrrell, this car was raced by Patrick Depailler from the Canadian Grand Prix in September of 1974 through to United States Grand Prix West in March of 1976. Although in its third season of racing, 007/4s best results were actually scored in the first months of 1976 with a second in Brazil and a third at its final outing as a Team Tyrrell car. Shortly threre after, it was sold to Italian privateer Alessandro Pesenti-Rossi. He re-finished the car in Gulf colours and entered it in four Grands Prix during the summer of 1976. The best result was an 11th place finish in the Austrian Grand Prix. After the Italian Grand Prix, it was retired from contemporary racing. Subsequent owners restored the car to its factory colours and in this guise, it was regularly raced in historic events. During the early 2010s, it fittingly joined the ROFGO Collection as it was the only Grand Prix car ever finished completely in Gulf colours. For the 2018 Monaco Historic Grand Prix, 007/4 was re-liveried once again in the Gulf colours as used by Pesenti-Rossi during the 1976 season.”

  1. Great idea as these colours have a great story with Motorsport – I wonder if Posrche are a bit miffed?

  2. I’m guessing with the balance sheet the way it is, McLaren doesn’t have the money to run a Le Mans or FE team, which is what most people were hoping for instead of a new paint job.

    Does look decent though.

  3. Like the look, and can’t imagine it would have been possible just a few short years ago when livery changes were a definite no-go.
    Nice to see that the FIA & F1 realize it’s not a bad idea, from a promotional perspective, to allow the teams a bit of freedom with their livery…so long as they don’t got BAR-crazy.

  4. Personally, I’d like to see this as McLaren’s full time livery.

    A truly sharp looking car.

  5. I remember that, after Bruce was killed at Goodwood, Gulf bought a full page in Motorsport magazine with the message “He was our friend”. I don’t often buy fuel from a Major but if I have to I always prefer to buy Gulf. Whether it’s the advert (still!) or their sponsorships in the ’60sand ’70s – I don’t know.

    1. Call me sad if you like but I chose Gulf for our domestic gas and electricity….They have re branded as HUB Energy now though .. 😦

  6. “The team says that “a key feature” of the one-off livery is to sell a bespoke range of limited-edition merchandise, inspired by the design, which is available from the McLaren on-line store.”

    Selling apparel in lieu of improving your cars. With their focus on 2022 car development they are throwing the fans some misdirection and a visual bone. We’d rather see podiums and wins.

    1. Teams would sell more merch if they were more fan friendly on price and didnt try to fleece us every single time. I remember my old Camel Lotus T Shirt being not that expensive.

    2. Selling apparel at a profit is part of how they can pay to improve their cars.
      Remember F1 cars don’t run to petrol they run on cash!

      1. But if they made half the profit by making the prices sensible and doubled sales, everyone would be happy

    3. Do you think that doing the paint job and coming up with some merchandise (and bringing in a little more income from that) took up much of the effort for the car’s engineering and design team?

      It’s not as if it took up any wind tunnel or CFD time.

    4. That’s a false zero-sum argument, I feel. It’s not like the marketing/branding folks can design car improvements; and income from merchandise sales and keeping the sponsors happy can go towards improving the car and help the team stay within the budget cap.

    5. well given McLaren have virtually sold out within 24hrs of all their limited edition merchandise, no doubt making a good amount of money from it in the process, Id suggest the fans were more than happy with that approach.

    6. Yeah, I can see it now.. Zak in the boardroom with Andreas, Lando and Daniel.. ‘Lets stop work on the cars.. Lando create a new Gulf livery.. Andreas.. get painting the new livery..’
      As Zak storms out and shouts down from a first floor balcony, overlooking the staff on the shop floor.. ‘Stop work everyone, and all the CFD and windtunnel work and get to work on that new Gulf livery !’
      *Zak throws 25 sheets of paper and they flutter down to the floor, in a theatrical ‘angry boss’ manner*.

      What a ridiculous comment to suggest they’ve done this new range and livery in lieu of improving their cars, instead of as well as.

  7. Wouldn’t have happened on Bernie’s watch one feels.. I quite like the idea of it as long as it doesn’t go too crazy. Be interesting to see how successful it is too.

    1. Oh, I don’t know, Bernie was a bit of a softie for that sort of thing – as long as it had a financial return for the “company” and him! Great looking design.

  8. It’s a sports car livery really isn’t it with all it’s Le Mans heritage? Must say I prefer the straight Papaya colour which I always think of as the McLaren F1 colour scheme.

  9. Pretty sweet as paint jobs go.
    As a fan of Norris I wish him well in Monaco, but can’t quite predict a podium. I’m earmarking Spa for a podium though!

  10. BTW some watch brand is still using footage of Steve McQueen in ‘Le Mans’ in its tv ads, earning for his estate now many times what he was paid back then….

  11. The appearance of vaping products brand Vuse on the engine cover suggests that the tobacco ban does not extend to vaping…

    1. If the ban is specifically on tobacco products, then vaping is exempt because vapes contain no tobacco. Although they do contain nicotine.

  12. I remember Red Bull changing to a Star Wars Monaco livery many years ago, with Wookie in tow, I believe. I am surprised this one off livery change does not happen more often.

  13. Alternative liveries in F1 were common back in the day. BE loved uniformity right down to transporters parked in perfect rows in the paddock. If I were Grand Poobah, teams would be allowed to enter a third car for a (suitably qualified) local driver, in a different livery to the other two cars, teams would be allowed local one-off sponsorship for GPs and up to 26 cars could start a race. I’d also change the F1 graded driver system…………ahhhh, if pigs had wings!

  14. I am surprised Williams doesn’t leverage their history and monetize everything in sight. Apparel and models are some of things that come to mind.

  15. What a master stroke.

    Gulf will achieve more worldwide publicity by doing this than it ever did by competing at Le Mans and at much less cost, not to mention apparel sales for McLaren.

  16. Off the Mclaren/Gulf livery subject, I can’t help see a can of Silvikrin hairspray whenever I see the Aston Martin F1 livery!!

  17. Hi Joe,

    Do you know what fuel and lubricants McLaren actually uses this year?,
    Is it Gulf, or Petronas?
    Yesterday after the Azerbaijan GP, I was watching post race show, when they showed the back of the McLaren garage, with 200 lit Petronas fuel barrel in it.
    It got me wondering.

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