From the glittery waters of Venice to a freezing cold, and rather oily garage, in Silverstone, Formula One has seen it all when it comes to launching a new car.

In recent cost-cutting years the teams have taken to the internet to show off their new pride and joy, but Laura Leslie takes the sheets off those who nailed it and a few who flunked it.

1997 McLaren-Mercedes

After a lacklustre few seasons it was time for McLaren to spice up their lives with the help of tobacco brand West for 1997. With the help of British super pop group The Spice Girls, they launched their brand new Silver Arrow in London’s Alexandra Palace.

The launch seemed to be everything Ron Dennis despises; glitzy, loud, full of celebrities and featured a pair of drivers who seemed destined to flirt with everyone. Fleet street lapped it up like a bunch of cats who just discovered milk.

2001 Minardi-European

You’d think European Aviation and new Minardi owner Paul Stoddart would know a thing or two about keeping to deadlines. Alas his new acquisition unveiled their new PS01 challenger 48 hours before the 2001 season was due to begin.

The location was the Melbourne State Parliament and the drivers were Tarso Marques and a young teenager called Fernando Alonso. Stoddart charmed the bones off the press while Marques just prayed the second car would be finished in time for Friday.

2007 McLaren-Mercedes

100,000. That’s the number of people who turned up to the launch of McLaren’s Santander clad MP4-22. A good 95,000 of those people most likely came to see home hero Fernando Alonso rather than the new car, but nevertheless it was an impressive start to welcome the reigning double world champ to his new home.

Alonso and new team-mate Lewis Hamilton larked about with their Vodafone mobile phones before demonstrating the new machine down the streets of Valencia. Looking back with hindsight you can perhaps forgive Ron Dennis for apparently banning fun from Woking launches under his leadership…

1999 BAR-Supertec

British American Tobacco said they were going to win their very first race and make Jacques Villeneuve into a superstar to finally match Michael Schumacher. They were going to run their two cars in two completely different liveries and take F1 by storm.

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Sadly for the BAR team they missed all of those goals by miles and the nearest they came to any of them was the launch of the new car. Villeneuve’s car was clarted in the red and white of Lucky Strike, while Ricardo Zonta was to pilot a wonderful space blue of the 555 brand.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone was less than impressed with the newbies and demanded the cars had to sport the same livery, to which BAR responded with a decidedly unpopular zip in the middle of the car.


2000-04 Benetton-Renault/Renault

Benetton must have thought their 2000 B200 car was a true work of art for they launched the machine at an art gallery in Barcelona.

The team loved picking picturesque locations for their car launches back in the early ’00s; 2001 saw Venice, 2002 was in Paris, 2003 hidden in Switzerland and in 2004 they chose Sicily.

Sadly for the Enstone based team none of the lavish launches ever seemed to help them with speed during the season.

2002 Jordan-Honda

Eddie Jordan’s new EJ12 rolled into the public eye out of one of DHL’s Airbus A300 cargo planes from a rather dingy hanger in Brussels. In a nice touch Eddie even signed for delivery of his own car from his new title sponsors.

Though he probably wished he could return the car back for a refund by the end of the season after they scored a paltry 9 points all year.

2011 McLaren-Mercedes

Someone at McLaren must have been incredibly fond of Lego given the nature of their 2011 launch. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button arrived in Berlin to a half built MP4-26 with a group of competition winners slipping through the crowd with the missing car pieces.

Slowly the car came together to reveal a radical new sidepod design and a lot of fighting talk for 2011. Sadly McLaren haven’t had this much fun at an event since.

1995 Pacific-Ford

At perhaps one of the funniest F1 car launches in the sport’s history, Keith Wiggins, Managing Director of the fledgeling British team Pacific Grand Prix, was on hand to strip the covers off Pacific’s brand new PR02 in a London theatre.

Unfortunately for him his prop failed mid-show as the champagne bottle they had hoped to pop simply wouldn’t open. It reportedly took poor Wiggins a good twenty minutes to get the cork free; which was about as fast as his cars would plunder round Spa later in the season.