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.