After breaking up with Vodafone, Mercedes and its chrome livery, McLaren’s F1 team looks set to rekindle old relationships with Honda and the color orange.
For years, McLaren fielded its F1 cars in white with red chevron stripes – the livery of its longtime sponsor Marlboro. When the tobacco brand left for Ferrari, McLaren switched to the silver livery (trimmed in black and red), first under the West tobacco brand and now under Vodafone sponsorship. But changes are afoot at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes (as the team is officially known) that could see it drop both its title sponsor and its engine partner – and switch back to orange.
The color has a deep history for McLaren, dating back to its Can-Am days, extending through the iconic F1 LM and straight to its modern GT racers. Now McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has indicated the team could bring it back for its new livery. Beyond color scheme, however, McLaren is rumored to be switching to Honda power as early as 2015. The team has had a long history with Mercedes, but that relationship has been growing apart as the latter now has its own F1 team and the two have parted ways on their road-going supercar program as well.
Honda powered the team from 1988 through 1992, propelling McLaren to several world championships in the Senna/Prost era. Honda finally exited Formula One in 2008 after selling its team to Ross Brawn (who later sold it to Mercedes, incidentally), but has been rumored to be returning as an engine supplier.