Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo show how to mix the iconic McLaren Papaya Orange paint

With the recent signing of Oscar Piastri to the McLaren F1 team, the iconic racing team has once again found itself in the spotlight. Ditching fan-favorite driver Daniel Riccardo, the McLaren The F1 team is taking the opportunity to trot out the Australian driver at least once more before he loses one of the most lucrative seats in the F1 Paddock.

Alongside young British driver Lando Norris, the two drivers are in charge of creating and spraying the team’s main livery colour, papaya orange. Adorning the exterior of the team’s current cars, papaya orange is instantly recognizable, distinct from the rest of the paddock. Criticized for being garish by some fans, the orange papaya isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Although last season many fans were delighted with the special Gulf livery for the 2021 Monaco Grand Prix which saw Lando Norris score a podium finish. This marked a power shift in the F1 grid, with Mercedes not making an appearance on the winner’s podium.

Find out if Lando Norris and Daniel Riccardo can paint their legendary F1 color.

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What is McLaren’s Papaya Paint?

According to Mclaren, the team has a special relationship with the orange papaya. The color nearly returned in 2017. A darker shade called Tarocco appeared on the car alongside black and white highlights. The true papaya orange color returned to McLaren’s cars in 2018.

This came after a few decades where McLaren’s liveries were somewhat forgettable. Like McLaren Mercedes, the orange was more fluorescent and only highlighted certain aero parts, and especially certain sponsors. With Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen at the helm, the team used more gray and silver in their liveries. A far cry from the team’s signature Marlboro livery which combined orange and cream. Orange made its first appearance in 1968. It was different from what Bruce McLaren had previously opted for silver, the racing color of his native New Zealand. Then, after a tumultuous first season for the McLaren team, he went red in 1967.

McLaren continues to claim the team made the switch to orange after McLaren partner Teddy Mayer saw an orange car racing in Britain. With nothing else racing using paint like this, the team applied a paint similar to the M6A in the 1967 Can-Am season. After seeing some success, the paint then came on the car of F1 for 1968.

How do you make McLaren’s Papaya Paint?

Sadly, Riccardo assured the Akzonobel Sikkens staff of “quality you can rely on”, if only that applied on the track as well. After putting on their coveralls and protective gloves, Norris and Riccardo can get to work. Presented with the coveted recipe, we learn that the toners are 361, 254.00 and 355. A language that only painters speak. Clearly, riders must arrive at exactly 134.9 grams regardless of the mixture. Then after that another 20 grams of a mysterious liquid.

Riccardo proclaims it’s “easy”, although replicating at home from Mclaren’s video would be somewhat difficult, with the exact quantities missing you can’t paint your car that color. Unless of course you own one of Mclaren’s supercars that come in this bright color like the 570 or the legendary McLaren P1.

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How does McLaren’s Papaya Paint Spray work?

Handing the spray gun to Lando Norris, Akzonobel-Sikkens lets him know that the longer you hold the trigger, the more he sprays. A concept similar to that of the accelerator, which the F1 driver surely knows by now. To protect themselves from aerosol paint fumes, drivers don their paint helmet equipped with a balaclava. These have their own breathing apparatus.

Instructed to hold their spray gun just a hand’s breadth from the panel of their spray, they get to work. As usual, the two McLaren drivers take the opportunity to show their distinct personalities. Riccardo sprays a bit haphazardly giving a generous coating. Norris takes a more methodical approach, even calling his work a “masterpiece”.

The two drivers leave the paint shop with a certificate of mixing and spraying papaya orange. An achievement that many F1 fans would love to have framed on their walls. Interestingly, McLaren presents the work of its driver. Norris and Riccardo’s work looks somewhat identical, after all with the same machines and the same recipe, how can they achieve different results? For those following the latest seasons of the sport, hopefully the irony is not lost. A bright shade of McLaren’s famous Payapa orange, it’s not quite what appears on the current season’s car, it has a more matte finish. But the pilots successfully match the hue.

Spraying only a small sample, they will need a lot more practice before the team can let them loose on any car. So you should by no means expect to see drivers painting their own cars anytime soon. Although with the lowering of the budget cap, nothing is entirely out of place.

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