Lando Norris says he has been lobbying McLaren CEO Zak Brown to introduce a chrome-inspired livery since the day he joined the team in 2018 – and five years later, he’s finally got his wish.
McLaren will run a one-off livery for this weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, with chrome and grey blended with the team’s traditional papaya in a continuation of their year-long 60th anniversary celebrations.
It’s a nod to one of their most iconic liveries, which they ran from 2006 to 2014 – with Lewis Hamilton winning the drivers’ World Championship in those colours in 2008, in what was McLaren’s last world title.
Speaking at the unveiling of the livery, at a special event at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking on Monday, Norris revealed that the chrome-coloured McLarens of the late 2000s and early 2010s were his favourite when he watched the sport growing up – and so it was a dream of his to one day line up on the grid in a chrome McLaren.
“Probably over 1,300 days or something since I joined McLaren! 2018, it was one of the first things I probably said to [Zak],” said Norris. “I’m pretty sure, from what I remember, it was when he showed me the livery that we were going to have for 2019, and he asked me ‘what would you change on the car?” and I was like ‘the whole thing!’
“Just because for me, walking down the boulevard, as much as I would like the white and bright orange – that livery was amazing – I just think there’s no other car nowadays that is like the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes that we had back then.
“That’s what I grew up watching, that’s what I fell in love with in many ways. I feel like I can say it, it inspired me to be a Formula 1 driver.
“Before that, I was more into MotoGP, motorbikes, motocross, quad biking. That’s what I loved to begin with and I didn’t really know much about racing. Then I got into watching some Formula 1 and it was Lewis [Hamilton] versus Fernando [Alonso, in 2007] even though they were in the same team, and that’s what I really fell in love with.
“I’d say every year I’ve been pestering [Zak] a little bit to want to go back a little bit in that direction. I know it’s only for one race but it’s kind of cool to relive a little bit of what got me into Formula 1 in some ways and also knowing that it’s a very historic part of McLaren. They were very successful then, it’s when Lewis won his first World Championship and things like that. So, it’s very special.”
Brown explained the reason why McLaren avoided a full chrome livery – like that used in 2008 – is because “we want to keep our papaya identity”.
He added: “It’s very important for us that we give a nod to the past, but very much look forward to the future. There’s also [only] so many times you can change the livery into extremes, so what we did in Monaco a couple of years ago, you’re only really allowed to do a couple of times, and then to kind of have variations of your base scheme, you can do a little bit more often.
“I think the rules aside, it was important to us; we’re really trying to build our association with papaya much like Ferrari’s red and Mercedes have their colour identity. We get a lot of feedback from the fans who really like the papaya. That’s why we went with the combination.”