Fast art: Top 5 one-off F1 liveries

F1 teams have been known to produce some eye-catching one-off liveries over the year

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One of the few things that change yearly in Formula 1 are the liveries. Whether it’s because of sponsors coming and going, a change in team ownership, or just simply wanting to give the team a fresher look, there can be some drastic overhauls.

But occasionally, F1 teams decide to let their creative juices flow and come up with a one-off livery that not only attracts the crowd’s attention but also lovers of fast art.

So what were the five one-off F1 liveries that left marks on the track and in the art gallery?

2021 Red Bull Honda tribute – Turkish Grand Prix

With Honda’s tenure as engine supplier to Red Bull set to end after the 2021 season, Red Bull produced a one-off livery that paid homage to Honda’s RA272, which won the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix with Richie Ginther at the helm.

The livery was meant to be used at the Japanese GP held at Suzuka, but when COVID-19 restrictions prevented the race from going ahead, the livery was instead used at the Turkish GP.

Although it stood out, the livery didn’t make the car any faster as Mercedes dominated the weekend, with Max Verstappen taking a distant second behind race winner Valtteri Bottas, whilst Sergio Perez took third after a race-long battle with Lewis Hamilton.

2021 McLaren Gulf collaboration – Monaco Grand Prix

A traditional look modernised. Photo Credit: McLaren Racing

McLaren and Gulf have had a long and fruitful partnership that goes back to the early 1970s.

To celebrate that partnership, as well as the return of the most prestigious Grand Prix of them all, Monaco, the two decided to collaborate and create a traditional but stunning design for the race.

Not only did the car stand out from the crowd with its zenith blue and sharp tangerine colours, but it also looked stunning on track, reminding fans of cars such as the Ford GT40 and Porsche 917, which used the livery to varying degrees of success.

The livery also made a trip to the royal box. Lando Norris came home an excellent third place, securing his and McLaren’s second podium of the season.

The livery proved to be such a hit with fans that the team’s special merchandise collection had several items sell out.

2020 Ferrari 1000th Grand Prix celebration – Tuscan Grand Prix

As fine as the finest chianti. Photo Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images

The 2020 F1 season is one Ferrari would like to forget, as dreadful on-track performances and bitter off-track politics resulted in a disastrous campaign that saw the team endure its worst result in the constructors’ championship for 40 years.

But in a season of few high points, the illustrious prancing horse got a chance to celebrate its 1000th Grand Prix at one of its favoured test tracks, Mugello, which hosted the inaugural Tuscan GP.

The new burgundy livery enjoyed a relatively smooth weekend as both cars finished in the points, but it wouldn’t be the last time it would be seen as Ferrari added the colour to its 2021 machine.

2004 BAR 555 special: Chinese Grand Prix (used only in practice)

Blue and yellow make a striking livery. Photo Credit: LAT Images

F1’s long-awaited arrival in China came at a time of significant change in sports sponsorship, with tobacco advertising on its way out after over 30 years in Grand Prix racing following a slew of countries banning the practice.

China, however, had yet to ban tobacco advertising, giving BAR a chance to promote its sister brand 555.

The team produced a one-off blue and yellow livery for test driver Anthony Davidson, giving 555 their first Grand Prix exposure since the ill-fated ‘zip’ livery of 1999.

Unlike the zip, which used the colour schemes of 555 and Lucky Strike, Davidson’s car solely used 555 with the company’s logos and colours adorning the drivers’ overalls.

Sadly, the livery remained primarily unchanged for the race, except that the 555 logos appeared on the sidepod instead of Lucky Strike.

1964 Ferrari NART livery: race used – Mexican and United States Grand Prix

Surtees’s finest hour comes in blue and white. Photo Credit: Ferrari

Protests aren’t uncommon in motor racing, but a protest livery against your country’s automobile club is sporadic. 

But following a dispute with the ASI where they failed to back Ferrari in their conflict with the FIA about the eligibility of the 250 LM, Enzo Ferrari was left incandescent with rage and handed in his competitors’ licence.

Ferrari’s former driver, Luigi Chinetti, would carry the team’s flag for the final two races of the season under the NART moniker, with the team’s two drivers, John Surtees and Lorenzo Bandini, racing in an unfamiliar white and blue livery.

Surtees, who was hoping to become the first driver to become world champion on two and four wheels, came into the season finale in Mexico City five points behind Graham Hill, but the title was slipping away at a half distance.

But in a dramatic turn of events which made Abu Dhabi 2021 seem like afternoon tea at the Ritz, Bandini made contact with Hill putting the Brit out of contention.

Momentum swung to Jim Clark, only for the Scot’s oil line to fail with one lap to go and thus giving Surtees the title.

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
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