20 July 2018 · Dennis Schmidt

Ligier's Special Gitanes Livery

It's October 1993. Back then, the Formula One schedule consisted of only 16 races. The teams and drivers are heading to the final flyaway leg of the season for the rounds in Suzuka and Adelaide. Both championships have already been decided, Williams and Alain Prost have dominated all year. In a surprising fourth place in the championship – even ahead of the struggling Ferrari outfit – is the French Equipe Ligier. Their Renault-powered JS39 is driven by Englishmen Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell, who have made it to the podium three times that year.

Ligier's regular 1993 livery.
Photo credit: Ligier Sportscars

Ever since their entry into Formula One in 1976, Ligier has been sporting a blue livery – this being the national racing colour of France, as depicted in a previous article. Since then, the team has been sponsored by the French cigarette brand Gitanes, meaning 'gypsy woman' in French. The partnership between team founder Guy Ligier and Gitanes started as early as 1972, when unsuccessfully Ligier entered three Ligier JS2 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. With the switch to Formula One in 1976, Gitanes' logo consistenly appeared in large fashion on the cars' sidepods until it was replaced by sister company Gauloises in 1996.

The 1976 Ligier JS5 with its distinct 'teapot' airbox, driven by Jacques Laffite.
Photo credit: Motorsports Network

For the last two races in 1993, the logo on the sidepod disappeared – at least for one car. That doesn't mean Gitanes were gone from the livery, though. In fact, they were more present than ever. Italian comics author Hugo Pratt, best known for creating Corto Maltese, was tasked by the French tobacco manufacturer SEITA – parent company of Gitanes – to create a special livery for Martin Brundle's #25 car.

Photo credit: LAT Images

As with the regular season livery, the car was predominantly blue. All other sponsor logos expect Gitanes were gone. The name of the main sponsor was written in huge letters along the entire chassis. It was partly overlaid by an oversized version of Gitanes' logo's white billows of smoke, both on the engine cover and on the rear part of the nose cone. This way, the wording was almost unrecognizable and so was the smoke – making the mix of blue and white appear more like a cow pattern. On top of the smoke sat Gitanes' trademark silhouette of a woman playing the tambourine.

As is always the case with artworks, reactions were mixed. Some appreciated the uniqueness of the livery, others compared it to a big amount of pigeon poop. Either way, there's no denying that Ligier's one-off livery (or rather two-off livery) manages to stand out in F1 history, even 25 years after its appearance on track.

A modern interpretation by Camille de Bastiani

Unfortunately, the livery wasn't much help for Ligier in their efforts. Martin Brundle finished outside the points in Japan and scored one point for sixth position in Australia. With his team mate Mark Blundell failing to score in the last two races, Ligier were overtaken by Ferrari and ended the season in fifth place.

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About the author

Dennis Schmidt is a graphic and UI/UX designer as well as motor racing enthusiast from Hamburg, Germany.