‘That’s What the Fans Want’ – McLaren CEO Reveals Biggest Reason Behind Switch to Papaya Colored Livery

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For a long time, right from 1997 up until 2015, the color synonymous with the McLaren F1 team was silver. The team started off sporting the silver-colored livery when they won a Constructors’ Championship in 1998. After that initial success, however, came a period of turmoil.

The Woking-based team’s performance on the track had degraded, and they were off-track issues to deal with as well. All of this culminated in long-standing CEO Ron Dennis calling it quits. The team was then taken over by Zak Brown, who has since ushered in a new era and has been in front and center of a remarkable revival of the historic team.

To usher in his era, one of the first changes Brown made was pertaining to the team’s livery. He ditched the silver and opted to switch to orange, or ‘papaya’ as it’s more famously known.

But why did he make such a seemingly unnecessary change?

The American spilled the beans.

McLaren Chief Executive Officer Zak Brown and Otmar Szafnauer, Team Principal and Chief Executive Officer of Racing Point talk in a press conference during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Spain at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Andy Hone/Pool via Getty Images)

He said, “What I walked into was a team very much on the decline in almost every aspect. Sponsorship from the days of Vodafone, Johnnie Walker, GSK and ExxonMobil was down to almost a blank car. Race results, the facts are the facts: we were ninth in the championship.

“That then manifested itself into a very unhappy workforce, so when you walked around the shop, heads were down, not up.”

Papaya livery livened up a dead environment at McLaren F1

Brown added, “I’ve always kind of felt like McLaren is Star Wars, but we became a bit Darth Vader, and I think we needed to be a bit more Luke Skywalker.

“So, cool, Star Wars, but we really tried to turn the attention of the team and the brand into what do people want out of McLaren? [Such as] changing the car to papaya, because that’s what the fans want.”

BARCELONA, SPAIN Lando Norris of Great Britain driving the (4) McLaren F1 Team MCL35 Renault in the Pitlane during Day One of F1 Winter Testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Since then, the environment at McLaren changed. It wasn’t a rapid process because they did struggle up until 2018. However, the optimistic environment eventually paid off, with their on-track results showing a great deal of improvement.

Brown’s vision and idea to become a team that endears itself to its fans is paying off big time now. Their recruitment of drivers has helped in that aspect too, with their latest recruit Daniel Ricciardo having recently completed his seat fit ahead of the new season.

With the team going back to Mercedes power for 2021, things are looking bright for the papaya colored team.

Can they take the next step on their path to progress and become a regular on the podium this season? We’ll have to wait and see.

Also Read: McLaren Boss Brown Reveals ‘Politically Powerful’ F1 Teams No Longer Pushing ‘Their Agenda’

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