McLaren Monaco Grand Prix livery, 2021

McLaren to race in one-off Gulf livery at Monaco Grand Prix

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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McLaren will race in the heritage racing colours of sponsor Gulf at next week’s Monaco Grand Prix.

The team has revealed the one-off livery it will use for the race. It is based on the distinctive pale blue and orange colouring familiar from decades of Gulf-sponsored racing cars, dating back to the Ford GT40 endurance racers of the sixties.

The branding exercise will go far beyond the livery on the two MCL35Ms. Lando Norris will sport a complementary helmet in similar colours, and both he and team mate will wear new matching overalls.

“It’s going to be a complete Gulf McLaren Formula 1 team in Monaco from garage to race car to hospitality to uniforms,” McLaren Racing CEO Zak Brown said in response to a question from RaceFans when revealing the livery to media earlier this week.

“I think it will look quite spectacular,” he added. “If you’re going to do it, do it right.”

Gulf Oil International CEO Mike Jones said they receive many requests from teams in different motor racing disciplines to use one of the sport’s most famous liveries.

“We have a clear colour palette for Gulf and it’s interesting because it’s iconic. ‘Iconic’ sometimes means ‘old’. I think the Gulf colours were way ahead of their time. If you think someone designed these colours in 1967, but they’re still relevant now.

“As a company we get many, many requests for racing teams to use it. And actually it’s a really special, iconic colour. So we only want to use it for special teams and I think that’s very much where we went.

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“In terms of working with McLaren, really the McLaren design team came up with some ideas and we frankly, we left that to those guys because I think when those cars are travelling at that pace, we still want to retain the Gulf racing blue and the orange.

“But most importantly, I think it’s just absolutely stunning. You can imagine the nice weather in Monaco and the car going around. It’s really going to be a standout piece.”

Gulf joined McLaren as a sponsor last year, though its colours have been seen on their cars before. A McLaren F1 GTR Longtail finished second at Le Mans in 1997 in the same design.

Brown indicated the livery is likely to be a one-off for this year’s race only. “I think we want to keep it limited and special,” he said.

“So I think for the right reasons, the right brand alignment, the right venue – we have our 60th year anniversary coming up in a couple of years. And I hope other teams follow our lead because I think it’s going to be quite exciting.

“I’m excited to see our fans’ reaction and in Monaco I think it’s going to be the star of the star of the show.”

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Pictures: McLaren’s special livery for 2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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43 comments on “McLaren to race in one-off Gulf livery at Monaco Grand Prix”

  1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    16th May 2021, 18:05

    Being blunt, this should be the permenant livery. It’s super nice.

  2. That is cool, hope they can fight for a podium with it.

  3. *chef’s kiss*

  4. See a lot of comments online along the lines of ‘have we waited a week for this’ but well, I just didn’t (forgot until I saw link to really).

    Now, especially doing this at Monaco seems apt, on brand, and fitting, and they did the livery right (not like the many attempts at getting a papaya or otherwise orange livery they had!), so, looking forward to seeing that on track next weekend; well done to them looks fine and certainly adds some extra flavour to the(ir) weekend.

  5. PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend)
    16th May 2021, 18:14

    Holy sweet JESUS. Probably one of the nicest F1 liveries of, I don’t know, maybe the last 20 years. I can’t remember seeing one as nice in a very long time.

      1. I agree 100%. Its that good I think people will look back on it the same way as they do with the 91 Jordan, 92 Williams, 05 Mclaren, 78 Lotus etc.

  6. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
    16th May 2021, 18:15

    Not gonna lie – that livery is stunning.

    I’m a little worried for them, though. In the recent past, whenever a team used a one-off livery, that race tended to not go very well for them. Hopefully McLaren can buck the trend.

    1. Funnily enough, that very point was put to Brown at the press conference…

      1. AllTheCoolNamesWereTaken
        16th May 2021, 18:28

        Heh, that is pretty funny. I guess I’ll have to keep my eyes peeled for his response.

  7. RandomMallard (@)
    16th May 2021, 18:17


    That’s it. That’s the comment

  8. Not sure I like it on an F1 car. Looks much much better on a Porsche 917

  9. Uzair Syed (@ultimateuzair)
    16th May 2021, 18:28

    McLaren, please make this the permanent livery, I beg you. So much better than their rubbish normal livery.

  10. To me, it looks like the blue is too pale. The first pics I saw with the white background made me think it was orange and white. The darker background makes it look more blue, but it still looks paler even in the pics with both cars. I even googled other Gulf racing liveries to be sure it isn’t my monitors!

    1. I thought the same, but i think it’s just the studio lighting.

      It’ll probably look right in daylight, on track.

    2. @x1znet That style of blue is particularly hard for many LCD to produce (the contrast ratio required is quite high, often it gets washed out completely or can turn into a different colour altogether).

      Check on your phone as the screens on most modern phones are far superior to most computer monitors.

  11. ady (@sixwheeler)
    16th May 2021, 19:26

    This has made my day. But also, I’m glad it’s not the permanent livery, best kept special and limited

  12. I immediately started liking this one-off livery for Monaco. I wouldn’t mind if it became standard.

  13. Me: Cue Ayrton’s Brazilian GP 1991 noise..

  14. Jack (@jackisthestig)
    16th May 2021, 19:47

    Very nice. Zak Brown seems very good at this marketing lark. Just a simple change of colour scheme and the team will be the centre of attention at Monaco. Hopefully this idea of special liveries based on mid-nineties McLaren F1’s captures the imagination of someone at Harrods…

  15. Wow that looks good (says one not that bothered with liveries)

    1. ColdFly (@)
      17th May 2021, 8:19

      Same here.
      They only missed the opportunity to make the Gulf decals more prominent.

  16. Great livery, horrible studio pictures. Where Dan and Lando are sitting on the front tires the gulf blue looks white, and in other studio pictures it looks grey…

  17. McLaren have gone a step further. Another sign that Lando will rebuild the team.

    1. Pretty sure it’s Zak Brown rebuilding the team. Lando is just a piece of the puzzle. As is Daniel.

      1. Yeah. “Rebuilding McLaren! F1 2021 Career Mode Rebuilding Challenge” :D

  18. Oh my that’s beautiful! I wish teams would change up designs more and do more special schemes. Love it, A+!!!!!

  19. coefficient
    16th May 2021, 21:19

    Keep it, please keep it!

  20. Very nicely done, bravo McLaren!

  21. 55 second pitstop incoming…

  22. OMG, what a livery! I hope that it looks just as amazing on track.

  23. As soon as I saw this, I immediately set up an eBay alert for any 1:43s that might be made of this bad boy!

  24. Simple design, 2 tones and a black outline. Another great Zak era livery. Cars move so fast, in particular for fom that intricate liveries don’t work very well. The simplicity reminds me of football kits.

  25. Beautiful livery !

  26. Probably the nicest thing I’ve ever seen on four wheels…

  27. Yep!!! A 1:18/43 model will look awesome sitting next to my 1:12 Gulf-Wyer Ford GT40 #6 [chassis # 1075, being the only chassis to win more than one Le Mans 24hrs in 1968 & 69].
    Must have cost mega $$s! Thought they were cash strapped? Is this incl. in the 145trillion budget?
    For this ‘one-of‘ The Gulf logos should have been larger/more prominent and the one on the halo should have been on the bodywork directly in front of the halo.
    As I have eluded to before, there was only one person, love him or hate him, that tweaked F1 liveries to absolute perfection. Ron Dennis.

  28. me likey
    hope it stays

  29. That livery is just…. stunning. The most beautiful that I’ve seen in a long time.

    1. It’s alright, love the GT40 throwback but not as gobsmacking amazing imo as people are making out.

      All the black sponsor text everywhere makes the black outline of the orange disappear. Would have liked to see some other way to incorporate them.

  30. Paul F (@)
    17th May 2021, 9:46

    Of course they did this the day AFTER I bought some McLaren Merch. I wish it were permanent

  31. This looks remarkably amazing.

Comments are closed.