F1: The top 3 one-off Monaco Grand Prix liveries of the 21st century

The Monaco Grand Prix is the jewel of the Formula 1 calendar every year, and thus often sees teams run special liveries for its weekend in Monte Carlo. But which outfits do it best? Here are our top three one-off paint schemes that Monaco has seen in recent years.

While some find them gimmicky, custom designs for specific rounds are often an enjoyable change-up for F1 fans. Red Bull have historically been a leader in this; be it for sponsors, or for celebration, the reigning champions love a one-off paint job.

Monaco has seen numerous teams run bespoke liveries on its Grand Prix weekend in the 21st century. For example, Jaguar had an “Ocean’s Twelve” themed scheme for the 2004 edition of the race.

This included a nosecone featuring a diamond worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Curiously, when Christian Klien crashed and broke his nosecone, this diamond was lost – and has never been found since.

In a similar cinematic style, Red Bull had a Superman-themed car to advertise the 2006 “Superman Returns” blockbuster. This tie-in also saw Christian Horner jump into a pool wearing the hero’s iconic cape. However, this does not make our list, despite the team principal’s best efforts.

#3: McLaren 2023 triple crown livery

Coming in third is a sublime effort from McLaren that we will see run at this weekend’s race.

Designed to commemorate their triple crown success – that is, winning the Indy 500, the Monaco Grand Prix, and the Le Mans 24 hours – McLaren’s latest artistry certainly deserves a spot on our liveries list.

The team celebrates each element of the triple crown via three different sections. Firstly, their classic papaya shade represents McLaren’s win at the 1974 Indianapolis 500. Moving forward, the section of white is a tribute to Alain Prost’s 1984 victory in Monte Carlo.

Finally, the black element dominating the front section of the MCL60 is for the carmaker’s successful 1995 Le Mans entry.

Overall, it makes for a stunning, unique look for the Woking-based team. We will now see if Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri can give it the top-notch performance that it deserves.

#2: Red Bull 2005 Star Wars

Taking the runner-up spot in the greatest Monaco Grand Prix liveries is one of Red Bull’s earliest special schemes.

In 2005, Star Wars returned to the big screen with “Episode III – Revenge of the Sith”. As a result, George Lucas and Co. thought of no better way to celebrate this than by emblazoning the film on the side of an F1 car.

Red Bull fully bought into this opportunity, changing to a fantastic paint job. While their navy base colour remained, bright orange sparks and flames emanated from the bottom of the car. The Star Wars logo was also present on the sidepods, plus the rear wing.

They even had the pit crew dress as Stormtroopers –  another great touch.

Red Bull may have joined the dark side, but they endured a dark weekend, too. Their 2005 Monaco Grand Prix saw both David Coulthard and Vitantonio Liuzzi retire, so not the best race for the team.

#1: McLaren 2021 Gulf livery

This had to be first, didn’t it? The best out of any of the liveries ran at the Monaco Grand Prix in the 21st century has to be McLaren’s from 2021.

This particular paint scheme celebrated McLaren’s long-standing partnership with oil company, Gulf. Their brand is synonymous with motorsport; the Gulf colours have produced some legendary liveries, and this one is up there with the very best.

McLaren ditched their normal orange base from that year and replaced it with sky blue. Then, running over the top of the car was an orange stripe – reflecting Gulf’s traditional style. This same bright colour appeared at the top of the engine cover, the sidepods, and on both wings.

Not only was this a beautiful design, but it was also successful. Lando Norris finished third for the team, coming home behind race winner Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari.

Norris’ teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, could only finish twelfth, though.

Still, at least the Brit gave this wonderful paint scheme a great result. Maybe, if he can repeat the feat with the 2023 special, the triple crown car will move up higher in our Monaco Grand Prix liveries rating.

Featured image credit: Getty