McLaren’s new orange and black livery certainly harks back to the past. While it has created some criticism amongst the modern and erstwhile fans, most of them are glad that the bright colour scheme has finally returned as it was expected for so long. The ousting of ‘predatory’ grey livery is a major change in almost twenty years and ditching the evocative MP4 prefix for MCL brings a fresh air into the McLaren garage. However, as we know it is all down to the performance and showing on track with Honda and no more excuses this year. Over the illustrious history, McLaren have had quite a few changes to paint jobs and it all started when founder Bruce McLaren snubbed the idea of participating in national colours. Making debut at the 1966 Monaco Grand Prix using a white painted race car with green stripe running in the middle, it enabled the advent of Pete Aron. Remember?
The following year saw McLaren using a one-off special livery of red with central stripe, which brought a Ferrari vibe, for the first ever Canadian GP. Bruce qualified on an impressive sixth place but had luck against his favour on a drying track. 1968 was a significant year as McLaren decided to give a vibrant touch to its race cars and inspired by Can-Am sports cars, the Orange livery was born. The introduction of the new body colour coincided with McLaren becoming a top contenders as they won at Spa, Monza and Mont Tremblant. Although the livery was in business only until 1971, it stamped authority in the hearts of fans forever. Due to the Yardley sponsorship, McLaren reverted back to white livery the following year despite the little reminder of orange still existed on the sidepods.
Thanks to Emerson Fittipaldi, new sponsors meant the striking red and white dual-tone theme had arrived. It would play an integral part in the team for the next two decades and of course revered by Formula One fans in general as it witnessed iconic rivalries including Ayrton Senna against Alain Prost unfolding in the late ‘80s. In 1986, McLaren adopted another one-off livery as Keke Rosberg was given a yellow and white hue. His teammate Prost in usual red and white colours finished on podium while the former endured a retirement.
McLaren last raced with the red and white livery in 1996 as Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard were the drivers behind the wheel registering six podiums over 16 races. As more new sponsors arrived, McLaren had to switch its livery dramatically as silver and black became the new signature colours with a strip of red underneath the nose. David Coulthard drove the MPV-12 to victory in Melbourne in its very first race before Hakkinen proved his brilliance by claiming two championships in 1998 and 1999 respectively.
The biggest tweak to the silver theme came only in 2006 when a chrome accentuated livery came into life and before its arrival Pedro de la Rosa even had a go at the MP4-21 with an orange paint. McLaren kicked off 2015 with a chromed-out top section of MP4-30’s nose and engine cover sides but the sidepods were very darker. It lasted for just four races before the ‘graphite-grey’ with red stripes arrived at the scene. Would you think the new orange and black livery would stay for long and become a signature body paint in the era of McLaren and Honda?