Top Ten One-Off Formula One Liveries - Part 1
20 July 2013 – Ever since Colin Chapman first dispensed with the famous British racing green in order to emblazon his Lotus cars with the red and white of the Gold Leaf tobacco brand, a favourite topic of discussion for Formula One fans has always been that of car liveries.
An iconic livery is not easy to create, and the sport’s past is littered with numerous weird and wonderful attempts. Colour is music for the eyes; it evokes emotion and rouses sentiment, and it is no coincidence that when fans look back to the memorable moments in Formula One history, the ones that stand out are when the best drivers pair up with the most attractive and aesthetically pleasing cars.
Think of the 1980’s and you picture Ayrton Senna honing his craft in the gold and black of a John Player Special Lotus, then perfecting it in the simple but striking Marlboro McLaren. Think of the ‘90s and you think of Nigel Mansell in his Camel-coloured Williams. Our sport is an art-form, and one that combines visual and aural beauty alike. With the engines providing the symphony, the drivers practice their own art on the canvas of the track, with the car as their paintbrush.
In this special feature, GPUpdate.net ranks ten of the best ‘One-Off’ liveries from seasons past, where normal design convention has been cast aside in favour of creativity, resulting in some of the most inventive and original colour-schemes of all-time. Of course, beauty is always subjective, so feel free to weigh-in with your opinion in the comments section.
10. Jaguar R4 – Monaco Grand Prix 2003
Resplendent in British racing green, the Jaguar Formula One cars were a British version of Ferrari’s fusion of tradition with sponsorship, and were always destined to be good-looking. The white leaping cat on the engine cover turned pink for the 2003 Monaco Grand Prix, in celebration of the world debut of the Steinmetz Pink - a 59.60-carat pink diamond. The cat also featured a twinkle in its eye in the form of a real diamond. A small change to an already attractive livery, but pink is always in fashion. Just ask Eddie Jordan.
9. Red Bull RB8 – British Grand Prix 2012
Red Bull’s 2012 attempt at a special ‘Wings for Life’ livery was their best so far, with the car featuring tiny pictures of the thousands of people who had donated to the spinal injury charity. In a departure from previous efforts, the photos are amalgamated into the team’s existing colour-scheme. The slightly lighter, more radiant shade of blue that emerges breathes new life into the existing design, while from afar the car looks as if it has received a dusting of glitter.
8. Ligier JS39 – Japanese Grand Prix 1993
Edgy and daring, this design by graphic artist Hugo Pratt is sure to split reader opinion. Some-way between resembling a cow, or stained army camouflage, the car certainly looks unique. The Ligier team were sponsored by the Gitanes cigarette company in 1993, with gitane being the French word for ‘gypsy’. As such, the Gitanes logo features a woman holding a castanet; a traditional gypsy percussion instrument. The placing of the logo on the engine cover is a clever touch, because at first glance it appears as though the woman is threatening to strike driver Martin Brundle with a handbag if he doesn’t perform to the squad’s expectations.
7. McLaren MP4/2C – Portuguese Grand Prix 1986
As already mentioned, the Marlboro McLaren is one of the most treasured designs in Formula One history. This notable yellow version ran as part of a drive by the team’s title sponsor to promote its new Marlboro Lights product. The result, albeit not as memorable as the classic design, is still attractive, and the yellow and white is a good ‘limited edition’ take on one of the timeless liveries from the sport’s past.
6. Sauber C13 – Canadian Grand Prix 1994
The all-black livery adorning the Sauber C13 was simple but classy, with the conservative use of sponsor logos serving to compliment the car’s minimalistic design. For the Canadian Grand Prix, the team celebrated driver Andrea de Cesaris’s 200th race by extending its congratulations to the Italian. They didn’t do it half-heartedly either, with ‘200’ taking pride of place on the sidepod, and a good luck message just in front. In keeping with the existing colour-scheme, the design adds that bit of extra sparkle to the team’s 1994 challenger.
Stay tuned for the final top five cars of our Top Ten One-Off Formula One Liveries feature, which will be published in Part 2 tomorrow.