Saint Patrick’s Day is a celebration of all things Irish, and that of course means a lot of the colour green.
Green and Formula 1 don’t really have much of a history together; the new engines are a step towards the sport becoming ‘greener’ and in 2008 there were those Bridgestone tyres with green lines painted into the grooves. Other than that though, hues of blue mixed with yellow have been seldom seen, but with our grass-coloured website, we do try our best.
In 2015, it seems that the F1 Strategy Group has had a secret meeting to try and make all the cars silver so it comes as no surprise that we don’t have a green machine on the grid.
And so, it seems only right that on this, the greenest of all days, we celebrate Formula one’s various verdant vehicles of the past.
We begin our celebration way back when you couldn’t tell what colour the car was on TV, because firstly, hardly anyone had one, and also, those that did had to settle for black and white.
This British team disappeared 55 years ago, but still managed to employ three of the sport’s all-time greats: Mike Hawthorn; the first British champion, Sir Stirling Moss; one of the greatest never to be champ, and Colin Chapman, the genius behind Lotus.
Vanwall’s cars were sometimes known as ‘Green Comets’ in the same way that Mercedes were nicknamed Silver Arrows, and it’s not hard to see why. This is the VW5, the car that brought them their only Constructors’ Championship, in 1958.
Lotus 25 (1962-65)
If you go to your favourite web-based search engine and type in something simple, like ‘Old F1 Car’, you’ll be greeted with scores of images of cylindrical cars with an engine in the middle, and skinny tyres that stick well out from the chassis.
Much like every breed of dog is derived from the wolf, pretty much every F1 car of the mid-late 60s can be traced back to the revolutionary Lotus 25, which was one of the first to feature a monocoque. Before this car, most featured a proper seat, as in, the driver sat upright. It truly changed the sport by necessitating the driver reclining in his seat, something that we still see today.
Oh yeah, and it looked damn good at the same time!
Lotus 79 (1978-79)
Williams brought the Martini name (and more importantly those lovely blue and red stripes) back to Formula 1 last year, and it made for one of the most popular liveries on the Grid. The drinks company has had a lot of involvement with the sport over the years and sponsored a great many teams, including Lotus.
The gorgeous Lotus 79 was the first car to fully use the incredible ground-effect technology, and saw Mario Andretti take five wins on his way to the 1978 Championship, although it was not until the following year that the car was painted green.
Can you believe, some lucky git managed to snag this beautiful piece of automotive history last year at an auction, for an undisclosed fee. Who would want to sell it?!
Tyrrell 011 (1981-83)
Believe it or not, this is a Tyrrell, not a Benetton, but you’d be forgiven for making such a mistake with the heavy branding.
It worked best in the hands of Michele Alboreto, especially in America for some reason. He notched two wins with it in its later years; at Las Vegas in 1982, and Detroit the following season.
Alfa Romeo 184T/184TB (1984-85)
As with the previous car, heavy Benetton branding makes this one a little confusing for our younger audiences. 1985 was Alfa Romeo’s last appearance as a team in Formula 1, though they continued as an engine supplier until 1988.
That is of course unless you count the very small badge on the side of this year’s Ferrari, which you definitely shouldn’t.
Alfa had a great pair of pedallers in Eddie Cheever and Ricardo Patrese behind the wheel, but the car only managed four points finishes in its year-and-a-half of running.
Benetton B186 (1986)
This mostly-green machine was Benetton’s first effort at making a car, and we reckon it’s the best-looking.
The nose and sides of the car were green, but the top of the engine featured a very unique series of paint strokes, to go with the whole ‘United Colours’ that the company was so fond of.
The car gifted two podiums – including a win in Mexico – to a young(ish) Gerhard Berger, and two poles to his team mate Teo Fabi. Quite an apt driver really, what with the car looking fab-i and all…
Jaguar R1 (2000)
Ford used to power the popular Stewart team in F1, and they were doing rather well in 1999 thanks to a win from Johnny Herbert. So great was their success that Ford, for some reason, decided to turn the shoestring budget underdogs in to well-funded mediocrity.
Jaguar never fared too well in the five years that they competed, with just two podiums in five years, but their classic British Racing Green was enough to make you bite the back of your hand in astonishment. Personally, I feel that their first crack at painting a car, back in 2000, was their best, simply for the fact that it had the least white on it – more room for green!
Honda RA107 (2007)
Before Honda bowed out of F1 and become Brawn and Mercedes, they ran out of sponsors. Because of this, they adopted a very bizarre livery. They went on to be known as the ‘Earth Cars’ as both the 2007 and 2008 racing machines featured images of our home planet, most noticeably on the ’07 car.
The car was largely blue, as is the proportion of ocean to land on Earth, but the green bits stood out nicely. Some people liked the livery. Most thought it was ghastly. Whatever you think of it, there’s no denying it was unique.
Caterham CT03 (2013)
Caterham’s final car in F1 before their demise in the early hours of this year was a Frankenstein’s Monster of a car that we daren’t splash across our lovely site. It gave green a bad name.
Instead, we’ve chosen their previous iteration. It was the first Lotus/Caterham car to lack the yellow stripe down the middle, which was synonymous with the old, proper Lotus cars of the 1960s.
It marked a step away from tradition, and was perhaps Caterham’s first attempt at creating their own house style.
They didn’t stay around long enough to do so really, but it was always nice to have a splash of colour at the back of the grid.
Jordan 191 (1991)
What better way to end our list – and indeed celebrate Saint Paddy’s Day – than with something both green AND Irish? Jordan may have ended up in yellow, but they started in green back in 1991, with one of the most gorgeous liveries to ever exist, in anything. Ever.
It was a car famous for making the viewer feel refreshed, due to the lovely green and blue scheme, as much as the fizzy pop that adorned its sides. It’s also the first car that Michael Schumacher was allowed to race, at the Belgian Grand Prix that year. He broke down in the race, but in hindsight, it was an iconic coming together of the most decorated driver in the sport, and arguably the most well-decorated car.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!