F1's one-off Monaco Grand Prix liveries


The bustle and glamour of the Monaco Grand Prix makes it a natural venue for one-off Formula 1 liveries. Here are some of the highlights we've seen, from classic colour schemes to superhero tie-ins

Christian Klien in Star Wars livried Red Bull at 2005 Monaco Grand Prix

Christian Klien in Star Wars-themed Red Bull at Monaco in 2005

Grand Prix Photo

The Monaco Grand Prix is one of the season’s most-watched F1 races, a honeypot for sponsors, and with corners slow enough for viewers to spot every logo on the cars. So it’s no wonder that it is becoming a magnet for one-off liveries that bring extra attention to backers and teams.

This year’s race is likely to see at least two special edition paint schemes, following on from McLaren’s popular Gulf livery in 2021 and a series of other tie-ins that have seen drivers pose as superheroes and a $300,000 (£170,000) diamond go mysteriously missing.

But it’s not only sponsors who have been responsible for memorable designs: the 2019 Monaco Grand Prix was held just days after the death of Niki Lauda, prompting a poignant tribute to the Mercedes figurehead.

See our pick of the one-off Monaco liveries below.


2023 McLaren Triple Crown livery

McLaren special edition 2023 Triple Crown livery

2023 livery marks McLaren’s wins at Monaco, Indianapolis and Le Mans

The latest one-off Monaco livery is McLaren’s ‘Triple Crown’ paint scheme, borrowing from its cars that won the Indy 500, Le Mans 24 Hours and Monaco Grand Prix.

The exposed carbon nose is a tribute to the black Ueno Clinic-sponsored McLaren F1 GTR that won Le Mans in 1995, while the white centre references Alain Prost‘s 1985 Monaco GP-winning McLaren.

The ousting of cigarette sponsorship means that there’s no diagonal strip of Marlboro red; that’s replaced by the team’s trademark papaya orange, which covers the rear wing in a nod to Johnny Rutherford’s 1974 Indy 500-winning McLaren.


2021 – McLaren Gulf livery 


Daniel Ricciardo shows off the Gulf McLaren in Monaco

McLaren Media Centre

McLaren’s one-off 2021 Monaco livery was a crowd-pleaser: a collaboration with Gulf bringing the famed orange and blue colours to the streets of Monte Carlo.

Zak Brown, McLaren Racing CEO, described the tribute as a “homage to Gulf’s celebrated race car design” as well as a celebration of a partnership that had first begun in the 1960s. 

With drivers in matching overalls, the design was an instant hit with F1 fans and drivers alike, and also made an appearance on the podium when Lando Norris captured a third-place finish behind Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen


2019 Mercedes Niki Lauda livery

Overhead view of Lewis Hamilton in Niki Lauda tribute Mercedes at 2019 Monaco Grand Prix

Red halo referenced Niki Lauda’s cap at the first race after his death

Mark Thompson/Getty Images

With a simple but poignant dash of red, Mercedes delivered a perfectly-judged tribute to Niki Lauda, just days after his death on an emotional weekend for the team.

The car’s red halo referenced the Austrian world champion’s trademark red cap, and a red star on the engine cover — continued ever since — was a reminder of his instrumental role at the team, both in making it a championship contender and in recruiting Lewis Hamilton.

The car’s nosecone carried Lauda’s signature above the words: “Danke Niki”, and Hamilton steered it to victory wearing a red helmet to commemorate his mentor, swapping it for a red ‘Niki’ cap on the podium.


2006 Red Bull Superman livery 

Red Bull livery 2006

David Coulthard and Christian Klien pose with Superman-themed Red Bull


It was hard to decide whether the car or the costumes were more striking in Red Bull‘s 2006 one-off Monaco livery — in support of the new Superman Returns film.

The logos were far more understated than previous year’s Star Wars extravaganza — a simple Superman logo on the rear wing and a painted cape on the side pods, which was in contrast to the race suits that resembled the superhero’s costume and were complete with a detachable capes.

They seemed to do the trick in the race with David Coulthard, perhaps channelling his inner Clark Kent, capturing the team’s first Monaco podium behind the McLaren of Juan Pablo Montoya and Renault’s Fernando Alonso.

The post-race celebrations ensured the film’s promoters got their money’s worth when team boss Christian Horner jumped into the Monaco swimming pool wearing a red cape.


2005 – Red Bull Star Wars livery

2005 Monaco Grand Prix

Red Bull drivers and team bosses pose with Star Wars cast ahead of first Monaco Grand Prix


During its very first visit to the principality, Red Bull wasted no time in making a grand entrance, donning a Star Wars-themed livery as part of its promotion of George Lucas’ new film: Star Wars: Episode 3 – Revenge of the Sith

The collaboration was taken to its extreme, with David Coulthard, Vitantonio Luizzi and Christian Horner posing for photos with Darth Vader, Chewbacca and R2-D2, alongside a car that displayed the Star Wars logo with go-faster flames. 

Unfortunately, the 2005 Monaco Grand Prix was one race to forget for Red Bull, with both cars failing to finish after independent accidents. 


2004: Jaguar Ocean’s Twelve livery


Steinmetz diamond in nosecone of 2004 Jaguar at Monaco Grand Prix

Livery included a $300k diamond

Christian Klien crashes Oceans Twelve Jaguar with nosecone diamond at Monaco Grand Prix

Klien buried pricey nosecone in barroer

Jaguar arrived at the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix with sponsorship from Ocean’s Twelve, which saw the car’s engine cover painted in the style of a poster for the new blockbuster film.

Cohesive it was not, but nobody was looking at the jarring colour combination thanks to the $300,000 (£170,000) of diamonds embedded in the nosecone of each car.

What happened next was almost inevitable — and not a bad starting point for a film spinoff of its own: The diamond-tipped nosecone of Christian Klien‘s Jaguar ended up in the barriers on lap 1 and when it came to be recovered, the diamond was nowhere to be seen — and has never been recovered.

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