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The best ever one-off F1 liveries

After the gorgeous Gulf-inspired McLaren livery was unveiled, we decided to take a look at some of the very best one-off liveries from the history of F1.

The world of F1 was abuzz with excitement last Sunday when McLaren unveiled a special, one-off livery in collaboration with sponsor Gulf. The pale blue and orange colour scheme was a throwback to many gulf oil-inspired liveries from decades gone by, giving the McLaren MCL35M a distinctly retro feel. The special livery will make its Formula 1 debut at the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix, and while it is the first one of its kind this season, it certainly isn't the first we've seen throughout the history of the sport. Here then, are just some of our favourite F1 car liveries from down the years, ranging from the bold to the beautiful.

Jaguar - 2004 Monaco Grand Prix

We begin with the pimped-out Jaguar cars that the team sent to the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix. After signing a deal with the producers of the Oceans 11 movie, the team ran a special one-off colour scheme on both Mark Webber and Christian Klien's cars. However, it wasn't just the paint that made this edition so unique. The 2004 Jaguar became the only car in F1 history to have a diamond embedded within the nosecone - in celebration of the heist movie's release. Believed to be worth in excess of $430,000, the diamond on Klien's car was scandalously lost when he crashed out on the first lap of the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix.

Red Bull - 2005 Monaco Grand Prix

One year later, another Hollywood blockbuster was to be advertised on an F1 car - only this time they wisely opted against embedding any expensive jewellery within the chassis. Red Bull Racing, in what was their first season in F1, ran a livery inspired by the new Star Wars film 'Revenge of the Sith' - with stormtrooper mechanic costumes to match. It was a PR masterstroke for the team, who were yet to make a name for themselves on the track. In the race itself, drivers David Coulthard and Christian Klien both failed to score points.

Mercedes - 2019 German Grand Prix

If ever there was a perfect case study of how one-off liveries can backfire, it would surely be that of the 2019 Mercedes design for the German Grand Prix. It turned out to be one of the team's worst-ever weekends, on what was supposed to be a celebration of the manufacturers 125 years in existence. On a drenched Hockenheim track, Lewis Hamilton collided with the barriers and endured a nightmare pitstop to match - while Valtteri Bottas crashed out completely after a huge shunt at Turn 1. The livery itself was a thing of beauty, with the front of the car being splashed in white, in what was a nod to the team's colours when they first started racing. Nevertheless, we highly doubt that Toto Wolff will be giving the green light to any more special livery designs anytime soon.

Red Bull - 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix

Red Bull's second entry came three years after the Star Wars collaboration, only this time the intentions were far more honorable. In a bid to raise money for Red Bull's 'Wings for Life' charity, the team decided to sport an all-white colour scheme for the final race of the 2008 F1 season. Unfortunately for Red Bull, their initiative was somewhat overshadowed by one of the most dramatic title deciders in motorsport history, as the showdown in Brazil would see Lewis Hamilton win his first drivers world title on the very last lap of the race. To further compound the team's woes, Red Bull's David Coulthard would crash out of the race on the opening lap, bringing his F1 career to a rather disappointing and premature end.

Ferrari - 2020 Tuscan Grand Prix

Ahead of Ferrari's 1000th race at Mugello, the team unveiled a special livery to celebrate the huge milestone. Paying homage to Ferrari cars of the past, the colour scheme was changed to a darker burgundy, which certainly made it stand out. In the race itself, Ferrari experienced a mixed afternoon, with Charles Leclerc scoring well with a 5th placed finish, while Sebastian Vettel finished well down the order in 14th. It was a memorable day for the team, and while the burgundy colour scheme was a one-off in 2020, it made a reappearance for 2021, with the rear of the Ferrari this season donning the same darker shade of paint.

McLaren - 2021 Monaco Grand Prix

And now we come to the latest challenger - and the inspiration behind this entire article. McLaren's one-off 2021 Monaco livery caught everybody by surprise when it was first announced, but for older fans, it was a welcome tribute to an era gone by. The baby blue, combined with the Gulf orange makes for a spectacular design overall - even if fans never get to see it again. The cars will also be matched by appropriately retro helmet designs from McLaren drivers Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. The return of the iconic design, so beloved on the legendary Ford GT40 during many of its early Le Mans victories, has gone down a storm in the world of F1. We get the feeling this won't be the last retro livery design that McLaren attempt in the coming years.

Ferrari - 1964 American and Mexican Grand Prix

And finally, we arrive at the biggest oddity of them all. For a brief moment in time, Ferrari did the seemingly unforgivable - they painted their F1 cars blue and white. Back in 1964, amid a very public falling out between Enzo Ferrari and FIA regarding which of the companies cars could compete in GT Racing, the team's founder decided to protest in the most wonderfully Ferrari way possible. For the final two races of the 1964 F1 season, the Ferrari cars would race with a white and blue colour scheme. In fact, it was in the blue of Ferrari that John Surtees finished second at the Mexican Grand Prix, to seal a famous world championship. Eventually, Enzo's feud with the FIA was resolved, but the blue Ferrari's place in the history books had already been cemented.

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