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The Colors of the Track: F1 Liveries and McLaren's Unexpected Debut

The livery of an F1 car can be considered one of the most important factors of the car other than the way it runs of course. Fans across the world look forward to social media announcements for when teams will be revealing their new livery. Some teams have already made these announcements and others, like the McLaren team, unexpectedly revealed their new livery without any warning.

To understand the importance of F1 liveries, the history behind them needs to be explained. In the 1960s, sponsors began to use the F1 livery as a form of advertising. During this time, the designs became more colorful and had intricate designs. An example of this would be the 1981, 1982 and 1983 McLaren. The design for these cars was inspired by the Marlboro cigarette brand, which consisted of the Marlboro log, as well as the red and white colors found on the cigarette boxes. In 1981, the McLaren cars were driven by John Watson and Andrea de Cesaris. However, Cesaris was replaced by the famous Niki Lauda for the 1982 and 1983 season.

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Another iconic livery found in the 1960s and 1970s was the livery sponsored by Gulf Oil, which sported an orange and light blue color scheme. The livery was a part of the 1969 Le Mans race and was featured on the Ford GT40 that was driven by Jacky Ickx. The use of vintage colors made their comeback in the 21st century when McLaren revealed their livery for the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix and in 2023 when Gulf announced their partnership with the Williams F1 team. 

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As the 2024 season nears, many teams are beginning to announce the dates for their car launch. A car launch event in F1 is when teams reveal their liveries as well as the race suits for the drivers. As of now only eight teams out of the grid have announced the dates for their car launch When revealing the livery, teams also take advantage to show off new partnerships that were formed during the break. 

While most teams announce the date to the car launch first, McLaren took a different approach this year. The team from Woking, England shocked many fans by “hard launching” the livery for this season on Jan. 15 without any prior announcements. The only clues provided were the removal of old posts on the McLaren Instagram page and the upload of a reel advertising the saying "whatever it takes.” However, many did not expect the unveiling of the new design for the season so soon. Compared to last year’s livery, this year’s design has more of a sleek black design, unlike the orange and blue hue that decorated the car last year. The main sponsor for this season seems to be the company OKX. The OKX logo is displayed on the side pod of the chassis this year instead of last year’s main sponsor VELO.

The team held off on the blue hue this year keeping the main colors to be the papaya orange and a glossy anthracite black. The driver’s number for this year is displayed in the center of the front wing in a silver chrome finish instead of the usual black.

According to, both Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri are excited to showcase the new livery for the season. 

“I’m looking forward to the new season ahead, it will be my sixth in Formula 1 and I'm hoping to carry the momentum we gained as a team at the end of last season to hit the ground running in Bahrain. The new livery looks great with the inclusion of segments from last year’s enhancements, I’m sure the fans will love it as much as me.” said Norris.

Piastri will begin his second year with the team this season after having a successful rookie season last year with two podiums and a sprint win.

“The 2024 livery looks really cool and I'm looking forward to racing in the iconic colors of McLaren for a second season,” said Piastri.

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With only a few weeks left until the season begins, who knows what surprises the other teams have in store for us. 

Edited by: Kendall Merriett

Social Media Content Created by: Callista Carreiro 

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