Red Bull Motorsports
A lot’s changed at McLaren in the past five years. Lewis Hamilton has gone, Ron Dennis has gone, Mercedes power has gone in favour of Honda engines. But now something else has changed. McLaren have turned orange.
The team have revealed a startling new livery for their 2017 car, the MCL32, which incorporates the orange paintwork which racing purists argue is the classic McLaren colour.
In 1997, tobacco company West’s arrival as sponsors of the team saw McLaren’s colours change from the famous Marlboro red and white that its cars had worn since 1974 to a more sombre grey and black. And even though West and McLaren’s partnership came to an end with F1’s cigarette advertising ban back in 2005, the team have run with a monochrome livery ever since.
Now, though, McLaren have delved way back into their history and paid homage to their first proper livery, the orange that adorned McLaren’s F1 and Can-Am cars from 1968 to 1971.
A news story about the potential colour change appeared last month on Motorsport.com – a website owned by McLaren's new executive director Zak Brown – pointing to comments made by Brown at the Autosport International show, where he told the crowd: “We've shown [the new colours] to the guys and girls at McLaren and we're very excited for our future… We've just signed off on the car livery and I think the fans will be excited to find out what the car looks like both technically and visually.”
Now the orange MCL32, which also does away with Ron Dennis' 'MP4' code naming of McLaren's cars, will hit the track for the first time in anger in Barcelona winter testing, in the hands of drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.
Although the new colour scheme is a radical departure for the F1 team's race machines, McLaren have flirted with running an orange livery before, using the colours during F1 testing on the 1997 MP4-12 and the 2006 MP4-21.
And considering that Zak Brown owns a pretty tasty collection of classic F1 cars – including a 1990 Ferrari 641, a 1986 Lotus 98T and a 1970 March 701 – it's not that surprising to see the F1 team rolling retro in 2017.