McLaren has revealed a chrome livery for this week’s British Grand Prix, with portions of the car that were previously pale blue changed to reflect the silver livery that was run between 2006 and 2014.
After changing the badge on its social media profile to chrome ahead of the launch, excitement quickly built over a return to the former look. But rather than go ‘all in’, the team elected to combine both past and present.
Asked why the team had elected against a fully changed look – considering how McLaren’s retro liveries were widely praised at the Indianapolis 500 – Brown said: “We want to keep our papaya identity.
“It’s very important to us that we do a nod to the past but also very much look to the future. There is also so many times you can change the livery to extremes – so, what we did in Monaco a couple of years ago, you’re only allowed to do a couple of times and then there are variations of the base scheme that you can have a little bit more often.
“But rules aside, it was very important to us [to remain similar]. We’re trying to build our association with papaya. Ferrari is red and Mercedes have their colour identity. We get a lot of feedback from fans that really like the papaya so that’s why we have the combination.”
Gallery: McLaren MCL36 livery for British GP
Brand recognition aside, performance also played a part, with paint adding weight to the car – something that can be ill afforded in modern F1.
“We could have gone further if we had wanted to in that sense,” added Brown.
“Again, papaya is very important to us. Back when the car was chrome before, it had Vodafone’s rocket red. Of course, that was more chrome than this.
“But you also need to take things into consideration like weight. Obviously, we still have the carbon fibre, so it was a combination of rationale to get there. But the lead one was that we don’t want to lose the papaya identity.”
Reflecting that introducing the additional interest generated through running alternative liveries is beneficial for both the team and its sponsors, Brown highlighted the added marketing opportunities such a change presents, with bespoke merchandise created for each change.
Despite having a clear fondness for shaking things up, however, Brown does not believe that F1 should open the floodgates and allow race by race changes.
“We’re seeing more teams do it now. Red Bull did something earlier this year, so while everyone is trying to copy their car, it’s nice to see they’re copying some of the stuff that we’re doing,” he joked.
“It’s great for the fans and I think we do want to keep it on a limited basis, otherwise it loses its uniqueness and specialness and it’s good to have a reason behind each one.
“I also like how Formula 1 has so many different cultures. In Miami, not everyone was a fan of the introductions but that was how the US does sport, so I think it’s good to grab the culture of different venues that we race at.
“There are limitation on how often you can do this and to what degree, so I do think Formula 1 has struck a right balance on the frequency and the degree in which we are allowed to do this.”