McLaren will run an iconic Gulf livery at next weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix, as well as special team gear and driver helmets.
The return of the McLaren and Gulf partnership was announced last July but up to now has simply been a sticker on the car that runs in a papaya orange color scheme. But as a one-off for Monaco, the two have collaborated to create a version of the iconic livery that ran on the McLaren F1 GTR at Le Mans in the 1990s (see it alongside the new car in the photo gallery below), with a full rebranding of the team for the weekend.
“If you are going to do it, do it right,” McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown told select media at the team’s old headquarters in Woking. “It’s going to be a complete Gulf McLaren Formula 1 team — from garage, to race cars, to hospitality, to uniforms — which I think are going to look quite spectacular.”
The idea actually came from conversations between Brown and Mike Jones — the CEO of Gulf Oil International — who says fans were central to it becoming a reality.
“When we did the social media launch (of the McLaren partnership) in July — when we were sort of still in lockdown and we realized social media was the way to go — the fan reaction was unbelievable and we were taken back, and I think McLaren also, at the reaction we got,” Jones said.
“We were having fans who had created their own mock-ups and they were sending personal messages to Zak on social media, saying why don’t you do this? I think it’s fair to say that even one of the drivers was very keen to do it. So Zak and I started thinking about the history of Gulf and McLaren and we took it from there.”
McLaren’s drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo are both big fans of the design, while they will also have unique helmets in Monaco to go with it.
“I mean… look at it — it’s beautiful,” Norris said. “I think everyone can agree it will be the best-looking car on the grid by a very long way. I said to Zak, ‘It’s even better than our current livery’ but he didn’t sound so convinced by that! It’s awesome — it’s a cool opportunity for both of us, and especially at Monaco, so I think it brings it all together; it’s pretty unique.
“I will be having a different (helmet), I hope it arrives in time as often they don’t! But yeah, Gulf livery — my design but Gulf colors and a bit of a retro, old school throwback.”
Ricciardo says the special livery adds to the anticipation for the race weekend, following a year without racing at Monaco.
“Of course I love it,” Ricciardo said. “It’s cool. I didn’t need another reason to get excited for Monaco so I’ve got to control myself and save some energy for next week. Awesome. As long as you look good, that’s the first box you’ve got to tick and we’re certainly doing that, so I’m really excited.
“I am going to go retro, still with McLaren history — not necessarily a Gulf livery because someone else has done that! But I’m keeping it retro with some McLaren history, so it’ll be cool.”