Gulf Oil provide fresh hope for future Williams FW45 livery takeover

Jamie Woodhouse
Gulf Oil logo on Williams rear wing. February 2023.

The Gulf Oil logo placed on the rear wing of the Williams FW45 as it is launched. February 2023.

While Gulf Oil did not feature as prominently as perhaps expected on the Williams FW45 livery, there are plans in the works on something more substantial.

After Gulf Oil and McLaren went their separate ways following the 2022 Formula 1 season, it was not long before rumours emerged about Gulf potentially returning to another old friend in the form of Williams.

And that reunion was indeed confirmed as Williams took the covers off to reveal the livery of their F1 2023 challenger, the FW45.

However, the Gulf branding and colours perhaps were not as prominent as many had expected, with the FW45 livery more an evolution of the FW44 design, rather than what we saw at McLaren as the wildly-popular 2021 Monaco GP Gulf livery served as inspiration for McLaren’s 2022 design.

But Mike Jones, CEO of Gulf Oil International, revealed that the brand is very much open to repeating that one-off livery takeover in this new Williams partnership.

Asked by Motorsport.com whether a full Gulf-inspired livery theme is being contemplated, Jones replied: “Of course, anything we do in the future had got to be bigger and better than before.

“We have a lot of Gulf fans around the world, we have a lot of requests for our livery. We want our livery to be special.

“We’re launching a number of fan-centric activation plans. We always feel that Gulf is the fans’ favourite. And we really want our fans to be part of that.

“So, of course, we’re looking at different solutions for that, right across the Formula 1 spectrum. And we’ll be launching our activation plans in the near future.”

Williams commercial director James Bower concurred that this FW45 livery launch was just the start, with plenty more to come between Williams and Gulf as F1 2023 progresses.

“We agreed on a presence that will run throughout the entire season, and you’ve seen that today,” he said.

“We think that’s going to be very effective. You have just seen the car, but there are other touch points throughout the team.

“You can think about key moments of a race [weekend], like, of course, the refuelling, which links to the partnership and the pit crew and some other components. So we are very much about how we take those iconic assets and bring them to life.

“I think there’s potential for those things to ladder up, as Mike said, into some broader fan activation. So what you’ve seen today is really just the start and you’ll see more unfold as the team is out on track and actually operating during the season.”

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A Gulf-focused Williams livery is a must

While it is understandable that the Williams colours take centre stage on their livery, the team would miss out on a big opportunity if they and Gulf did not settle on a stunning one-off design to wow us all with.

Considering how well received the McLaren version was, a livery which will live long in the memory for all the right reasons, it makes complete sense for Gulf and Williams to make sure that lightning can strike twice as they reap the rewards of all eyes being on them.

So, with this seemingly very much on the agenda for Williams and Gulf, we look forward to seeing what they come up with.