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Who designed the French Grand Prix gorilla trophy? F1 sculpture's origins

Joshua Rogers July 18, 2022
why is french grand prix gorilla trophy
Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

If you tuned into the French Grand Prix this year, you may have spotted that the Formula 1 event has a rather unique trophy design.

The French Grand Prix returns to Paul Ricard Circuit this weekend for another exciting addition to the F1 calendar. After a slow start to the season, defending World Champion Max Verstappen is in the lead in the 2022 Driver’s Standings.

The Dutchman has six wins and eight podiums so far this season and has 208 points in the World Championship standings.

Charles Leclerc is in second place on 170 points while Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez is in third place on 151 points.

Photo by Mark Peterson/ATPImages

Verstappen looking to build on last year’s success

Verstappen has tasted success at the Paul Ricard Circuit before, winning last year’s French Grand Prix. The Red Bull racer beat out Lewis Hamilton with just a few laps remaining to strengthen his place at the top of the World Championship standings.

After raising the trophy on Sunday, 20 June 2021, some were curious about the trophy’s unique gorilla design. Let’s take a look at who designed the trophy.

Who designed the French Grand Prix gorilla trophy?

The gorilla trophy awarded to the winner of the French GP was designed by Richard Orlinski, an artist and sculptor.

The French artist focused his career on creating art in 2004. Since then, Orlinski has become one of – if not the – best-selling contemporary French artists around the world. His work is represented in over 90 galleries.

Richard Orlinski is “animated by the desire to democratize art by making it accessible to the greatest number” of people. With his notable trophy design for Formula 1, Orlinski reaches people all around the world with his artwork.

Why is the trophy of a gorilla?

In Orlinski’s biography, it states that he is “inspired by the wildest animals and iconic objects that have marked their generation,” much in the same vein as Pop Art. Orlinski’s sculptures are largely of wild animals. Some of the animals featured include bears, bulls, tigers, cobras and even a T-Rex. Orlinski has two gorilla sculptures: ‘Wild Kong’ and ‘Wild Kong oil’.

Both gorilla sculptures are based on King Kong. The trophy design displayed at the French Grand Prix is modelled on the ‘Wild Kong oil‘ sculpture. Instead of holding an oil barrel above his head, Kong holds a Pirelli tire.

The original gorilla trophy featured a tricolore pattern, representing the French flag. The trophy for the 2021 race was plain white.

This design didn’t exactly go down well with F1 viewers last years. Although the gorilla trophy has been listed as one of the main things to love about the French Grand Prix, some viewers on social media were confused by the choice.

One F1 viewer tweeted: “Wtf is with the gorilla trophy? Weirdest trophy on the whole of the year.”

Another asked: “Someone please explain the gorilla trophy”

Do you think Max will win again this year? Let us know in the comments below!

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.