The Monaco Grand Prix usually coincides with the end of the Cannes Film festival, a celebration of culture, art and fashion, not dissimilar to F1 in the principality, and the historic race in Monte Carlo has other links to the film industry too, with a few Formula One teams running special liveries at the circuit.
Inspired by last week’s Lotus paintwork, we thought we’d take a look through the history books at some of Formula 1’s flirtations with Hollywood.
Event: 2004 Monaco Grand Prix
Film: Ocean’s Twelve
This was the first of three Movie Billboard cars from the team from Milton Keynes, and the last Monaco GP for Jaguar before they were sold to Deitrich Mateschitz for $1.
Question; what do you most associate with the Monaco Grand Prix? Glamour, pomp and a lot of money? Processional races, little overtaking and high attrition? Correct! Now, take the last of each of those three lists (a lot of money and a high rate of attrition) and you have the story of Jaguar’s 2004 Monaco GP.
The cars were adorned with Ocean’s Twelve branding to promote the new film, which main plot included a diamond heist. Jaguar, in one of the most ridiculous PR stunts to date, jammed a diamond worth £170,000 in each car’s nose cone. To their horror, and the horror of the insurance company too, Christian Klien crashed out of the race on the very first lap at Mirabeau, and when the wrecked R5 came back to the garage, the diamond was nowhere to be seen.
Whether an opportunistic marshal pocketed the gem, or it simply rolled into Monte Carlo’s plumbing, we’ll never know. The diamond was never recovered.
The usually-green cars got a lick of red on the airbox and nose cone, and it made for quite a decent-looking machine, but we reckon it would have looked even better with the precious stone still in place.
Red Bull, 2005
Team: Red Bull-Cosworth
Event: 2005 Monaco Grand Prix
Film: Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
Red Bull’s first season in F1 was going pretty well by the time Monaco came around; David Coulthard nearly grabbed a podium in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, and the team had brought a real sense of fun to the paddock. However, the rostrum was out of reach for the Milton Keynes gang, so they formed an alliance with…The Dark Side.
A pit crew dressed as Stormtroopers is perhaps one of the coolest images of the season, and if you’re a huge fan of sci-fi and F! like me, it’s a coming together of two worlds that is yet to be replicated – unless you count that silly bit in Iron Man 2 where Tony Stark drives Monaco in a fake ‘classic racing car’.
Anyway, series creator and professional dead-horse flogger George Lucas was there to give words of wisdom to the mechanics and team, proclaiming “if you get on the podium, the galaxy is yours!”.
Galactic distribution rights aside, this was a Red Bull team still using underpowered Cosworth engines and, sadly for the team, both cars retired from the race. It was a shame considering the effort gone to, but they’d return soon enough…
Red Bull, 2006
Team: Red Bull-Ferrari
Event: 2006 Monaco Grand Prix
Film: Superman Returns
For the 2006 Monaco GP, Red Bull adorned their car with a rather fetching advertisement for the movie ‘Superman Returns’. They are the perfect fit really, their driver at the time, David Coulthard, is one of the only men likely to ever give Superman a run for his money when it comes to jawlines.
However, this was the pre-dominance Red Bull team, and the car was not really up-to-scratch. David Coulthard in fact once described the RB2 as “a bit of a dog” when comparing it to the worl beating RB5.
The movie was the first Superman installment since the ridiculous ‘Superman IV: The Quest For Peace’, and although it did quite well at the box office, it was a little bit of a disappointment with some critics. Brandon Routh played he titular character, and was nice enough to show up at the race.
Christian Horner bet that that if one of his cars finished on the podium in the principality, he would jump into the Monaco harbour without any clothes on – cue an inspired DC on a mission to embarrass his employer.
Though Horner’s bet was probably not the Scotsman’s motivation for getting up on the podium, he steered clear of trouble to take third place, and test whether Horner was a man of his word.
Fearing the worst, Horner modified his punishment a little. Instead of the harbour, he jumped into the Red Bull Energy Station’s rooftop pool, and instead of going in his birthday suit, he was allowed to don a Superman cape.
At one point, the two RB2s were running fifth and sixth. With Barrichello ahead of them penalised and Trulli suffering a hydraulic failure with six laps to go, it could have been third and fourth at the end. Who knows what daring feat of nudity Mr Horner would have completed if Christian Klien’s engine hadn’t exploded?
We’re glad we didn’t have to find out.
Event: 2008 British Grand Prix
Film: The Dark Knight
In the first of two Batman-related advertisements in this list, Toyota (RIP) never really changed their paint scheme in Formula One. Ever. Except for the 2008 British Grand Prix, where the bargeboards and rear wing endplates were emblazoned with motifs for The Dark Knight, turning them shades of midnight blue and black.
It looked slightly out of place on a car so dominated with the colour white, but you can’t deny that the Batmobile running side-by-side next to the TF108 looks anything other than awesome.
Team: Marussia Virgin-Cosworth
Event: 2011 British Grand Prix
Film: Cars 2
For the British Grand Prix of 2011, Marussia-Virgin Racing adorned their cars with Cars 2. However, this was nothing to do with it being the team’s second season and therefore second racing car, but a promotion for the Disney Pixar animated adventure sequel.
Unfortunately, the film is a bit light on F1 cars, instead showcasing NASCAR-style cars in cartoony glory, which is no accurate representation on how slow and comical the 2011 Marussia was. Honest.
Event: 2012 British Grand Prix
Film: The Dark Knight Rises
With the Christopher Nolan directed Batman trilogy closing with The Dark Knight Rises, Lotus decided to take over where Toyota left off and add the film’s logos to their sidepods at Silverstone in 2012. The movie famously has a character that mumbles his way through his dialogue, and with Kimi Raikkonen piloting the Lotus it seemed quite apt.
The gold bat splat on the car did look pretty nifty, and considering the car is black in colour, the whole ‘Dark Knight’ thing works pretty well.
Event: 2015 Spanish Grand Prix
Film: Mad Max: Fury Road
Finally, we’ll leave you with a Lotus chassis from the Spanish Grand Prix, fitted with some dangerous equipment.
Oh, and behind Pastor Maldonado, there are some machine guns and spikes too!