McLaren 'chrome' livery for 2023 British Grand Prix.

Why McLaren chose not to “go further” in bringing back chrome livery

2023 British Grand Prix

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McLaren have brought back a chrome livery, which hasn’t been seen on their cars for eight years, as they celebrate their 60th anniversary at this weekend’s British Grand Prix.

During the presentation of the colour scheme at the McLaren Technology Centre today, the team’s CEO Zak Brown told media including RaceFans they wanted to revive the colour scheme used when the team last took a championship win – which was Lewis Hamilton’s triumph in 2008.

However McLaren, who also ran a one-off livery at the Monaco Grand Prix, have stopped short of reverting to a fully chrome colour scheme. Brown explained that was partly out of choice and partly due to the restrictions Formula 1 teams must obey on how often they can change the look of their cars.

“We could have gone further if we wanted to,” said Brown. “But the papaya [colour] is very important to us.

McLaren 'chrome' livery for 2023 British Grand Prix.
McLaren’s British GP livery is orange with a splash of chrome
“Back when the car was chrome before it had Vodafone’s rocket red, obviously that [car] was more chrome than this. But you also need to take things into consideration like weight, where we still have the carbon fibre [exposed]. So it was a combination of rationale to get there. But the lead one was we don’t want to lose our papaya identity.”

McLaren have varied their livery on several occasions in recent years, notably in 2021 when they ran a popular colour scheme at the Monaco Grand Prix for former sponsor Gulf. However Brown stressed they are keen to “keep our papaya identity” which has been in use since he took charge at the team.

“It’s very important to us that we’re kind of doing a nod to the past, but also very much look forward to the future,” he explained. “There’s also [only] so many times you can change the livery into one of the extremes.

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“What we did in Monaco a couple of years ago, you’re only allowed to do a couple of times and then you kind of have variations of your base scheme, you can do a little bit more often. But I think rules aside, it was important to us, we’re really trying to build our association with papaya much like Ferrari’s red and Mercedes have their colour identity. We get a lot of feedback from our fans that really like the papaya, so that’s why we went with the combination.”

McLaren 'chrome' livery for 2023 British Grand Prix.
Pictures: McLaren ‘chrome’ livery for 2023 British Grand Prix
The restrictions on teams varying their colour schemes have been loosened since Liberty Media took over F1 in 2017. Brown believes the series is striking the right balance between allowing teams to run occasional special designs and requiring them to have a consistent look.

“We’re seeing more teams do it now,” he said. “Red Bull did something earlier this year, so while everyone’s trying to copy their car, it’s nice to see that they’re copying some of the stuff that we’re doing.

“I think it’s great for the fans. I think you do want to keep it on a limited basis, otherwise it loses its uniqueness and specialness. I think it’s got to have a reason behind each one.

“I also like how F1 has so many different cultures, like in Miami not everyone was a fan of the [driver] introductions, but that’s how US does sport. So I think it’s great to kind of grab the culture from all these different venues that we race at.

“There are limitations on how often you can do this and to what degree. So I do think F1’s struck the right balance on the frequency and the degree in which we’re allowed to do this.”

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Brown said introducing special liveries such as this is popular with McLaren’ sponsors and fans. “Where it’s beneficial is it gives our partners some increased exposure over the course of the year. Of course, the happier we keep them, then they stick around.

“It’s beneficial to our fan engagement. We end up doing special merchandise, give something the fans to communicate, engage about, builds our fan relationships, brings in new fans, engages with fans. We end up selling more merchandise.”

“It draws a lot of media attention,” he added. “If we were running our normal livery, none of you would be here right now having the discussion. So I think from that standpoint, it’s very beneficial to us, our partners, our fans and the sport.

“It’s something that’s been done in other forms of motorsport, it’s also been done in other forms of sport like jersey changes, home and away, and things of that nature. So I think it’s something that historically hasn’t been done in F1, and I think on a limited basis, because we don’t want to lose our identity, I think it’s great for the fans.”

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Author information

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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6 comments on “Why McLaren chose not to “go further” in bringing back chrome livery”

  1. Urvaksh (@thedoctor03)
    3rd July 2023, 21:32


    1. Thank you for taking the time to engage in meaningful discussion about this topic. Personally, I think it is a clever tie-in with their sponsor, while also harkening back to their championship winning days. I rather like the fact that Zak is sticking to his guns with the papaya orange. In fact, I remember many people here complaining of McLaren’s past liveries, and suggesting that they should bring back the original orange. Just goes to show that you can never please everybody, and there will always be people who just love to complain on the internet without bringing any value to the community whatsoever.

      1. Yellow Baron
        4th July 2023, 7:37

        Understanding the constraints it makes more sense. But it’s really just a few silver stickers placed on the car I feel. If there wasn’t the weight issue perhaps they could have switched all black to a brighter chrome.

  2. Orange is mclaren’s color but they haven’t won anything dressed as orange. Maybe they need a new sponsor to get things going again.

    1. Marlboro?

  3. Prashanth Ramadas
    8th July 2023, 0:12

    These guys had a very stable car when Red Bull Racing first dominated.

Comments are closed.