F1 car launches: Six of the strangest include girl bands, ice rinks & shocking paint schemes


With McLaren unveiling their MCL35M for the 2021 campaign, F1 launch season is now upon us.

The Woking-based team revealed their papaya-clad charger at the McLaren Technology Centre on Monday night alongside interviews with Zak Brown, Andreas Seidl and their new driver line-up of Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo.

What perhaps caused the biggest storm, though, was seeing the latter pair hitting a music studio to record a song - released fully in March - to help promote the new car and McLaren's mission to #SendIt this season.

And that got us thinking... what have been the strangest car launches in F1 history?

Here are six that make Norris and Ricciardo's brief career change look perfectly normal. Sort of...

1. Spice Girls 'help' launch McLaren's 1997 challenger


McLaren kick us off with perhaps the most famous launch of them all.

After moving to new sponsorship (West) for the '97 season, they naturally wanted to kick-off in style and create a few headlines.

That they did as they enlisted the Spice Girls at the height of their fame to appear at the unveiling at Alexandra Palace in London, whilst Jamiroquai also performed.

Posh Spice harassed Mika Hakkinen (what would David, Beckham not Coulthard, think?) whilst Ginger Spice had got herself a new team to support, until Red Bull and Christian Horner came along, of course...

2. Honda's 'Earth Car' - 2007

Honda had had a solid 2006 season with Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello at the wheel, with the former winning his first race at an enthralling Hungarian Grand Prix.

Hopes for 2007 were that they'd kick on, but instead a wretched season was in store - only exacerbated by the above paint scheme.


Honda's idea was that the livery would promote environmental awareness which, considering the sport in question, was perhaps too bold a move to try and take.

The car was launched at the National History Museum and has since been confined to the annals of F1 flops.

3. Jordan's Russian launch - 2005

Jordan were very much at the forefront of the fun and frolicking nature of the sport in the mid to late 90s and early 2000s.

By 2005, though, new money was needed and that came from Russia - with the team set to no longer carry the Jordan name past the end of the season.

The final car to be decked out in bright yellow was unveiled in Red Square in Moscow to signify that which, as anyone that will tell you that has visited Russia in winter, saw a rather chilly looking Narain Karthikeyan and Thiago Monteiro unveil their car for the new season.

The driving pair may well have wished it had stayed under wraps given the tough season to come - though Monteiro achieved a podium at the infamous 2005 US GP where only six cars took part.


4. Sauber on ice - 2003

Sauber hailed from Switzerland and so it was perhaps natural to see their 2003 car launched in Zurich.

What wasn't so natural was the fact the ceremony happened at an ice rink in the Swiss city.

Sure, the Sauber's green and blue paint scheme looked lovely against the pure white of the ice below, but they probably couldn't have picked less of a suitable territory to reveal their new car - it didn't really make sense at all.

There's a reason F1 on ice hasn't ever taken off...


5. Sugababes and Sauber - 2004

So, did Sauber learn from their launch in 2003? Well, you tell us.

No ice involved a year later, but taking a page out of the McLaren car launch book, the Swiss team sought to bring in a girl-band to help them out.

The Sugababes (we're not sure which edition) rocked up in Sauber overalls and belted out a few tunes whilst Giancarlo Fisichella and Felipe Massa watched on rather wondering what they'd got themselves into in agreeing to show up to the event.

Their drivers finished 11th and 12th that year so a suitably mid-table finish for a middle of the road pop group...


6. BAR - 1999

A new team on the grid is always exciting and that's what we had in 1999 as British American Racing (BAR) joined motorsport's top table.

Wanting to make a splash, they unveiled two cars with two different liveries that 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta - a man most famous for being lapped by Mika Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher at the same time - would be driving.

However, the FIA ruled both cars had to look the same livery wise - perhaps rather obviously - and so BAR opted to clad the BAR 01 in half and half of the two paint-schemes. Not a good look.

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