Spice Girls, gondolas and an elaborate kit car – just some of the more unconventional ways to launch a new challenger for the F1 season
For all of Formula 1’s serious side, car launches have often been accompanied by a suitable fanfare – acting as a place for teams to express a wilder side of their personality.
Whether it’s accompanied by boats and canals, or pop stars and school children, the first time covers come off a new contender frequently captures fan and media attention.
LAT Images captured these good, brash and unconventional F1 car unveils.
Tyrell P34 launch
Hilton Hotel, London, UK. September 22, 1975
Designer Derek Gardner speaks as Ken Tyrrell launches his six-wheeled contender. It will go on to prove the sceptics wrong by beating Niki Lauda and James Hunt to win the Swedish Grand Prix, with 1979 champion Jody Scheckter at the wheel.
Lotus F1 102 launch
Hethel, Norfolk, UK
Derek Warwick and Martin Donnelly pose with the new Lotus 102. It is powered by a Lamborghini V10. The Lotus Elan road car is not; nor is it rear-wheel drive.
McLaren MP4/12 launch
Alexandra Palace, London, UK. February 13, 1997
Not content with a bog-standard launch, McLaren decides to throw a party. Naturally, the Spice Girls and presenter Davina McCall are the perfect fit to unveil Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard’s championship hopeful.
Benetton B200 launch
Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain. January 18, 2000
It seems Benetton has form when launching its cars with suitable ceremony. In 2000 the B200 is unveiled with fireworks; the following year it will be floated through Venice on a gondola.
Honda RA107 F1 launch
Natural History Museum, London, UK. February 26, 2007
Drivers Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, with the help of some school children, reveal the RA107 in its bold new livery. The satellite image of the earth is part of an environmental campaign. It also massively reduces space for sponsor logos.
McLaren MP4-26 launch
Kaisersaal, Berlin, Germany. February 4, 2011
The Woking outfit reveals its car in a more drawn-out fashion than usual. Instead of pulling off a cover, a team of mechanics build the car in a simplified kit form in front of the media.
Mercedes F1 W08 launch
Silverstone, Northampton, UK. February 23, 2017
Reigning champion Mercedes launches its 2017 car to the media at Silverstone. Compared with some on this list, the unveiling lacks any notable pomp or circumstance. But let’s just be grateful, given that four of the teams chose to reveal their cars online only.
Images courtesy of LAT Archive