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Formula 1

F1 can do better than a Monaco ‘throwback’ weekend

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

McLaren’s special livery for the Monaco Grand Prix has prompted talk of how Formula 1 can make similar things happen more often.

The light blue and orange Gulf-inspired design is the third one-off special to appear at an F1 race in as many years, following on from Mercedes’ and Ferrari’s anniversary specials in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

McLaren choosing to change its livery for Monaco – where many drivers have often run special helmet designs over the years – prompted suggestions that the Monaco GP should become F1’s ‘throwback’ liveries weekend every year, with all teams running special designs.

But there are better ways to do it.

Lando Norris McLaren F1 Monaco

Every team turning up on the streets of Monte Carlo with new colours each year would add more glitz and glamour to F1’s jewel-in-the-crown event. But does Monaco, of all places, really need that?

Perhaps the special liveries would provide a nice distraction from the lack of action on a Sunday afternoon in the principality. But the fact Monaco so often provides a dull race is another reason not to make it the throwback weekend, because it would be a waste of the special paint schemes to then have them all spend 78 laps driving around in pretty much the same order with little chance of real drama.

If F1 did want to have a designated weekend for these special liveries, it could pick a different race each season for that. But while a throwback weekend works well for NASCAR, where teams have a huge variety of former paint schemes they can bring back to life, making all 10 teams do it at the same time in F1 would be a waste of the idea.

Alex Bowman NASCAR Cup throwback car

McLaren has generated extra buzz for itself and its sponsors because it’s the only team doing it this weekend. If all 10 teams turned up at the same event with new looks, the interest each one could generate would instantly be diluted.

Making every team do it on the same weekend would at least create some competition between the teams, as only those being the most creative would benefit from the increased exposure. But ultimately it would be a flawed way of implementing such a rule.

A better solution would be to let each team run a special livery once per season, at a race of its own choosing. You may still end up with multiple teams picking Monaco as the race to bring their new cans of paint to, but at least they would have the option to reap the benefits of a new look for another time when they could take centre stage alone.

This appears to be a popular suggestion with fans, as we’ve discovered via a poll on the community section of The Race YouTube channel. Of 45,000 votes at the time of this article being published, 59% are in favour of letting teams choose which race they want to bring a special livery to.

Screenshot 2021 05 21 At 09.46.38

Perhaps most encouragingly, only 5% think the idea of making special liveries a regular feature in F1 is a bad one.

Making the teams all do something at the same time sounds very neat and well-organised. But it would just be another way for F1’s smaller teams to be muscled out of an opportunity to get some time in the spotlight.

In the past it has been suggested F1 could hold a season launch event where all 10 teams reveal their new cars on the same day. Again, while that would be a great one-off hit, it would kill what is actually a very effective launch season where at the moment we get new cars revealed every one or two days, and each team is the centre of attention for a short spell.

Alfa Romeo F1 launch 2021

F1 is going through a series of changes at the moment aimed at spreading the love, money and ideally competitiveness more evenly among its teams.

Encouraging, or even enforcing, each of those teams to do something creative with their paint schemes once a year would be a great way to bring another talking point to F1 10 times a year, and to give the smaller teams some extra exposure on a race weekend of their choosing.

Forcing everyone to do it in Monaco every year would be a waste.

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