ICYMI: The F1 #ChineseGP Edition Roundup.

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Three words: What. A. Race!

However, let’s back up a bit, shall we?

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Kimi Raikkonen proved his unparalleled popularity in China yet again:

F1 driver or rockstar? You decide.

Bonus: Here’s Kimi saying ‘I love you’ in Chinese:

This is the content you never knew you needed.

Sebastian Vettel engaged with the fans at the airport, and encouraged them to sing Happy Birthday to his trainer Antti:

Fernando Alonso opened a branch of his FA Karting School in China. It’s a pretty huge step, and hopefully will help find a future Asian F1 Champion!

Lewis Hamilton officially launched his collaboration with American Fashion Brand Tommy Hilfiger. The logo actually looks quite cool.

Following the hoopla over Dickheadgate last Bahrain GP, Lewis and Max Verstappen looked to have cleared the air. Lewis said he will be more careful now over what he says:

Former McLaren and Red Bull driver, and now C4 F1 Pundit David Coulthard will have a new book out this May, focusing on the leadership, motivation, and business aspects of F1:

Remember Pierre Gasly’s Alonso-esque “Now we can fight!” radio message to his team post-Bahrain GP? He had to explain that it was meant to give credit to Honda, after some Spanish and Alonso fans apparently sent him negative/abusive messages on social media:

Come on, now. Leave Pierre alone!

The much-anticipated F1 TV will finally launch the weekend of the Spanish GP. Want to know if you can enjoy it from your country? Check out the list below:

Would you like to know the favorite songs of the Alfa Romeo Sauber drivers, Marcus Ericsson and Charles Leclerc? Would you like to hear them sing? Of course you do.

Speaking of things that are difficult to forget, these F1 Driver…3D Caricatures(?)/Mascots are honestly something else. I for one cannot unsee them.

During Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel snatched pole from his teammate Kimi Raikkonen, and took the new track record at Shanghai.

Ferrari also broke a long-standing drought, registering their 1st back-to-back front row lockout in 12 years!

Nico Hulkenberg seems to have an affinity with P7, judging from his last 6 grid positions…

Raceday: Mercedes gave Ferrari a dose of their own medicine via Valtteri Bottas undercutting Vettel. How do you say “Take That!” in German?

The two Toro Rossos suffer a surprise collision, with Brendon Hartley’s car coming off worse and spewing debris onto the track. Pierre Gasly promptly complained on Team Radio about his teammate closing doors…

Polesitter and erstwhile race leader Sebastian Vettel was already trying to salvage a screwed-up race, but Max Verstappen thought he can make Seb’s race worse by diving for an overtake when there wasn’t enough room. The 2 cars collided and did synchronized spinning. Ferrari fans were not amused.

Overtake of the Race goes to Ricciardo on Hamilton. Scratch that, it goes to Ricciardo vs Bottas. Actually, let’s just have ALL of Dan’s overtakes as the highlights of the race. Bold, but clean–that’s how it should be done!

Dan “I don’t seem to win boring races” Ricciardo celebrated his victory by bringing back the infamous Shoey:

Kimi actually looked mildly amused on the podium! Sadly, Dan didn’t dare offer him a Shoey.

Meanwhile, fans who expected fireworks post-race were disappointed when they saw how calm Vettel and Verstappen were while discussing their ontrack tussle:

Max has admitted that he was at fault for the incident, and that he had already apologized to Sebastian.

Expectedly, Ricciardo also won Driver of the Day. There really was no contest!

This is basically the race in a tweetshell:

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The first three races have been mad in their own special ways–perhaps we need a nice, steady race to calm us down? Oh wait, Baku is up next…

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ICYMI: The F1 #BahrainGP Edition Roundup.

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That break between Australia and Bahrain felt like forever, didn’t it?

Thankfully, F1 is back, and is crammed with more talking points than ever:

Pierre Gasly spills the tea on why he and Esteban Ocon are not friends anymore:

Speaking of Esteban Ocon, a random Twitter discussion on his mysterious famous lookalike led to the discovery of his incredibly long full name:

Who knew he had a mouthful of a name? (Source: French Wikipedia)

Back to Gasly, apparently, his big masterplan to attract good racing results is to not shave until the end of the season:

Sebastian Vettel arrived at the circuit on Thursday carrying a mysterious briefcase, and nobody knows what that was about:

Update: Autobild has confirmed the briefcase contained his Backgammon board!

Looks like the grid girls may be back–for Monaco and maybe even Sochi.

*sighs and judges in multiple languages*

And it seems there’s another driver (aside from Nico Hulkenberg) who wants the grid girls back:

Have you ever wondered how the F1 2018 grid will look like as ONE driver? Of course you have. Wonder no more, thanks to Reddit:

During a lull in FP1, Kevin Magnussen provided further proof he’s kind of obsessed with Balls…

The F1 Teams met on Friday to decide on the new rules starting 2021. Below is an outline of what has been decided:

Nothing too exciting or groundbreaking. Yet.

Both Red Bulls retired within the first few laps of the GP: Verstappen limped back to the pits with a puncture after a 1st lap tussle with Hamilton, while Ricciardo ended up parking the car minutes after the green light due to loss of power. The double retirement effectively ended Red Bull’s 38-race point-scoring streak.

Kevin Magnussen’s language was as colorful as ever, complaining about his teammate cutting him off and holding him up during midrace. He managed to finish P5.

Kimi Raikkonen unfortunately hit a Ferrari mechanic on his pit stop, and was released without the Left Rear tire getting replaced.

The mechanic, Francesco Cigarini, sustained a shinbone and fibula fracture:

Update: Francesco’s surgery went well, and he is now recovering.

And for those who think Kimi’s a heartless bastard, he’s already left a comment on Francesco’s post!

Ferrari was fined €50,000 for Kimi’s unsafe release.

Marcus Ericsson of Sauber finally scored his first couple of F1 points after 50 races of trying! Now it’s up to Leclerc to step up.

Pierre Gasly took home his Toro Rosso in P4, 48 whole seconds ahead of Fernando Alonso’s McLaren, and expertly trolled him by quoting him at the end:

Aside from being voted by the fans as Driver of the Day, Gasly has also now joined an illustrious club:

Fernando Alonso will be comforted by the fact that he is currently sitting P4 at the WDC table, ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen!

Lewis Hamilton called Max Verstappen a “dickhead” while watching a replay of their tussle on the cool down room:

(Vettel’s reaction: Priceless!)

Of course he got asked about it in the post-race press conference, and Sebastian Vettel surprisingly defended his rival:

Even Mark Webber approves!

Sergio Perez and Brendon Hartley both got sanctioned for what seemed to be one of the most polite ontrack battles in recent years:

F1 is so flabbergastingly strange, sometimes!
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Well then, China should be fun!

Kimi Raikkonen and Dani Pedrosa: This Is Their Year.

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F1 driver Kimi Raikkonen and MotoGP rider Dani Pedrosa have a lot in common and are actually more similar than meets the eye:

Both are economical with their words, yet they are also known for thought-provoking, insightful interviews once in a while.

Both are allergic to bullshit, but can play the diplomat/mediator when needed.

Both enjoy tightknit and incredibly loyal fanbases, which go to great lengths to travel with them around the world and to passionately defend their racing heroes on social media.

Both have been overshadowed by their prodigious, more extroverted teammates.

Both have experienced major criticism for lackluster on-track performances, and for hogging seats that many believe should have been relinquished to younger, hungrier racers years ago.

Both are unadulterated, absolute racers, who prefer to keep their heads down and prove their worth on the track.

I love and admire them and as much as I wish that they can go on racing forever, the reality is that they are both facing a daunting, make-or-break year this 2018.

Raikkonen is believed to be on a one year contract with Ferrari, which expires at the end of this season. He is currently the oldest driver on the F1 grid and has not won a race since 2013. Pedrosa, who has been with Repsol Honda for all his MotoGP premier class career, has not renewed his contract yet. He is the most high-profile rider who has not won a MotoGP title so far.

Plenty of F1 drivers and MotoGP riders are already being linked to their seats. The season has barely started but the pressure is undoubtedly on Kimi and Dani not just to perform but to perform exceedingly well.

Are they merely getting by because of their reputations? Are they being kept simply to play wingmen and to keep their teammates placated? Are they past the point of being Champion-material? Are they wasting their time with teams that may not have their best interests at heart? Think of a criticism and chances are, that has been hurled at those two multiple times already.

Forget their rivals. 2018 is the year of Raikkonen and Pedrosa.

This is their year to step up.

This is their year to overcome the pesky “Number 2” label.

This is their year to prove their critics wrong.

This is their year. But, they’ll have to work damn hard for it. No excuses, no margin for error, no half-heartedness allowed.

In an ideal world, pure talent will keep them in F1 and MotoGP, and make them shoo-in title contenders, but the reality is that it takes a hell of a lot more than that. Luck, unwavering team support and an almost-obsessive focus to win also come into play in the proverbial game of thrones: racing edition.

It is a Herculean task, which is entirely up to Kimi and Dani to overcome. The odds against them are overwhelming, their rivals are fierce and ruthless, but only Kimi and Dani can decide how to ultimately take control of their stories.

Admittedly, I am equal parts terrified and excited to see how their seasons will pan out. I have become way too emotionally-invested in their racing careers and there’s simply no turning back.

And so I implore my fellow Kimi and Dani fans not to take this season for granted, by any means. Savor every race. Appreciate what they bring to their respective grids. Love them or loathe them, you have to recognize the fact that both are incredible racers who changed racing history in their own way. We don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone, and all that.

My gut is telling me this is going to be–for lack of a better phrase–one interesting year.

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(Should Kimi stay in Ferrari for one more year? Should Dani renew his Honda contract or move on to another team? Let me know your thoughts in the comment box or tweet me @bouncebckbltrx)

ICYMI: The F1 #AusGP Edition Roundup.

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We’ve officially survived the season-opener!

While it’s easy to get lost in the hundreds of articles recounting the race and post-race events, I’ve decided to compile a list of raceday’s interesting and real talking points, you know, the stuff that truly matters most?

No need to thank me, I do this all for love.

Überraschungssieg means “surprise victory” in German. Which is a fitting description for Sebastian Vettel’s masterstroke. From P3 to P1 in a difficult-to-overtake-in track? Sorcery*! Now try to pronounce that German word quickly five times in a row. You’re welcome.

(*More like luck + a well-timed pitstop under the VSC.)

Speaking of Vettel, his “signature dance” from last year was notably absent from his post-race celebrations, but not to worry, The Finger made a very visible comeback.

Nico Rosberg officially began his punditry career in F1–with stints in both RTL and Sky Sports F1–and still managed to take the time to introduce himself to a young F1 fan who had no idea who he was:

The grid kids made their debut. Just look at them in their snazzy F1 race suits! Hopefully there will be more diversity in the coming races. And admit it, did you even notice the absence of the grid girls?

A sandwich bag may be at fault for Sergey Sirotkin’s retirement from his first F1 race. And no, I cannot confirm whether it was of Polish origin or not.

A faulty drink tube nearly made Carlos Sainz Jr. vomit inside his helmet during the race. The said faulty tube was forcing the poor guy to drink too much water, and coupled with the G-forces he was enduring, Sainz experienced nausea but thankfully overcame it in time. Todo bien.

Update: Sainz later claimed a “poisoned banana” was the cause of his problems during the race. Yes, you read that right.

Kimi Raikkonen thinks his P3 finish is “Ok”.

He also owned his brand by posting an Iceman pic on his IG story.

(You really should get Instagram by now–following Kimi is so worth it.)

Also, did Kimi’s wife just shade his team Ferrari in her own IG story…?

The new graphics were generally well-received, until the battle of Lastname vs Lastname appeared on the telly and made social media crazy. And yes, that became an actual trending topic. Lastname FTW!

Charles Leclerc’s debut was much-anticipated but surprisingly ignored by the race directors. As in he was never shown driving his Sauber during the race broadcast at all. Leclerc can take comfort in the fact he’s got the best pose in the new starting grid graphics, though. Can you say swag?

The Haas drivers were actually having a good race. As in P4 and P5 good. Until they didn’t, as a result of 2 botched pit stops. Romain Grosjean’s parenting skills took center stage as he took his time to comfort his colleagues, while Kevin Magnussen found a perfect book to console him.

Some people on Twitter actually believed that Haas sabotaged the races of both their drivers so Ferrari can win. Come on, guys. Seriously?!

Hometown fave Daniel Ricciardo overcame his grid penalty, made up 4 positions to finish P4 and took the 1st Fastest Lap Award. He had quite an exciting cat-and-mouse chase with Kimi Raikkonen and dropped another quotable line (Ricciardoism?) in, “I don’t wanna let him breathe”. Erm, if that is your kink Dan, we won’t judge.

Both McLaren cars finished the race. And in the points! Sadly, the Toro Rosso-Honda partnership got off on a rocky start, as Pierre Gasly had to retire due to a PU issue, and Brendon Hartley limped home bringing up the rear.

Red Bull Racing took the Fastest Pit Stop Award. Surprisingly, Mercedes only ranked 10th. A blip in the famous German Efficiency?

Someone not named Max Verstappen won Driver of the Day. Who could it be? It’s the Papaya King himself, Fernando Alonso!

Nico Hulkenberg still wants the grid girls back. And made a Tom & Jerry comparison to emphasize his point. Oh deer. Just let it go, Hulk. It ain’t worth it.

Nine out of the Top 20 Worldwide Trends on Twitter, within an hour of the race finish, were F1-related. And they say F1 Fans are losing interest?

Giant cardboard driver faces are a little bit terrifying, but also hilarious. Are those an in thing this season, now?

(P.S. Where do I get some?)

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Darn it, Bahrain is now going to feel like a lifetime away.

The Alternative Guide To The 2018 F1 Grid.

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The countdown is on. Within a few days, the F1 Circus will wreak havoc in our lives (and body clocks) yet again, and oh how we love it!

Let’s get to know the twenty drivers who will take part in this year’s championship, not by stats or scientifically-measured data (come on, surely you can easily Wikipedia them), but by the common perceptions (and misconceptions) they are known within social media*:

(*N.B. Remember to take these with a humorous grain of salt! )

Lewis Hamilton

#Blessed. Defending Champ. Menswear Ambassador of Tommy Hilfiger (i.e. He gets to rub elbows with Gigi Hadid). Resident Fashionista of F1. The British Racing Messiah. Will most likely dominate again if rivals don’t step up. Pawrent to dogs Roscoe and Coco. Shows off his abs on Instagram. Still not friends with Nico Rosberg.

Valtteri Bottas

The Other Finn. Cool as a cucumber but needs to rile Lewis up a bit. Famously and sensibly turned down a Ricciardo podium shoey. Owns a cat named Turbo. He likes Moomin, apparently? It’s been awhile since #BOTTAS took off–will we see the return of it this season?

Sebastian Vettel

The Finger. Does the Egyptian dance on the podium when he wins because of an inside joke with his kids. Demands blue flags over the radio. Names his cars after women. Ferrari AF. Yells “Grazie Ragazzi!” at the drop of a hat. Refuses to join social media. Lawnmowing gives him satisfaction. Mr. Honestly and Obviously.

Kimi Raikkonen

(Will) The Iceman (cometh?). Officially the oldest driver on the F1 grid. Still the last Ferrari Champion. Still the sentimental fave of many. Ex-Shampoo endorser. Most-followed Finnish racer on Instagram. Future owner of a karaoke bar. Sleep is Life. Sassy when he wants to be. Allergic to BS.

Daniel Ricciardo

The Honey Badger. Bearer of a smile that deserves a toothpaste endorsement. Currently in a limbo–this season will determine whether he stays with Red Bull or moves on to greener pastures. Occasionally does the infamous (and disgusting) shoey. Will sneakily nick your phone and take silly selfies. Friendly but ruthless. Game for practically anything.

Max Verstappen

The Great Dutch Hope. No titles in junior formulae or in F1 (yet), but already has grandstands named after him in various GPs. F1 Legacy Kid, but already surpassed the achievements of his opinionated (i.e. annoying) father. Likes to annoy the Ferrari drivers. Horner’s fave. Prince of Social Media Polls. Plays video games a lot.

Sergio Perez

Got caught with a facial expression that launched many memes. He used to be a McLaren driver. New dad. (Alleged) Tom Cruise doppelganger. His Mission (Impossible): To keep his highly-rated teammate behind him at all costs.

Esteban Ocon

Monsieur (O)Consistency. Has the longest name among the 2018 drivers: Try saying Esteban Jose Jean-Pierre Ocon-Khelfane 5 times in a row. Not afraid to rub his teammate the wrong way (on-track, at least). Tipped by many to get at least a podium finish this year. Likes to post gym photos and videos. Nice to fans. Eerily looks like someone famous–if you can figure out who, please let me know.

Nico Hulkenberg

The (Not Yet So) Incredible Hulk. Is this the year he finally gets a podium finish? Needs to deliver so he can shake off those unwanted F1 records. He won Le Mans, so there’s that. Occasionally puts foot in mouth with his statements on controversial issues. The Tall One. Impressive hair. Not a fan of Kevin Magnussen.

Carlos Sainz Jr.

Had Renault and Toro Rosso fighting over him. Can you blame them? Alonso fanboy. Possible heir to Alonso? He makes helmet hair look good. Lowkey fella. His (racing and hair) rivalry with Hulkenberg should be an interesting one. Not afraid to eat out alone. Dates himself because he’s worth it.

Romain Grosjean

Monsieur Snitch/Monsieur Savage–Depending on which driver he’s discussing with Charlie Whiting. Takes his GPDA role very seriously. Likes to cook in his spare time. Doesn’t crash during first laps anymore. Still has his sights set on a Ferrari drive.

Kevin Magnussen

Told Hulkenberg to suck his balls on live tv. Gives 0 f*cks about what other drivers think of him. Another F1 Legacy Kid. People forget he once got P2. New Dubai resident. Not a fan of oysters.

Fernando Alonso

The Best Driver on the Grid. Or so his fans say. This year will be his year. Another thing his fans say. Most Distinctive Eyebrows in F1. Second oldest driver on the grid. Will be unfaithful to F1 several times this season to chase an elusive motorsport victory. Sticks Kimoa decals on a lot of things. Generally a good sport about his questionable career choices. He once sat on a deck chair and turned social media batshit crazy.

Stoffel Vandoorne

Possibly has the patience of a saint. Give him a good car already! Handles Alonso like a champ. Silent waters run deep. Difficult to dislike. He may be Belgian, but he’s not a waffle fan.

Pierre Gasly

Circle game aficionado. Don’t look at his hands when he posts a photo or a video. Got denied a Super Formula title by a typhoon. Benedict Cumberbatch lookalike. Decent at bellydancing. Nicknamed his car Gasmobile. Already affectionately messing with his teammate.

Brendon Hartley

Look, a Kiwi! Super chill and laidback. Made a surprise “comeback” to F1. Again, a Kiwi: Don’t put the Aussie flag next to his name. Has an interesting hairstyle history (search his old pics on Twitter).

Lance Stroll

Grumpy Richie Rich? Didn’t pay much attention to what Felipe Massa taught him. Got one back on Jacques Villeneuve when he managed a podium in Baku last year. CBA with Twitter, stays mainly on Instagram. Couldn’t do a royal wave as well as Nico Rosberg.

Sergey Sirotkin

Not Robert Kubica. Also not a bad driver but will always have the bad rap of preventing the Kubica Comeback. Missed out on a Renault seat. Must overcome the label of Pay Driver.

Marcus Ericsson

“Why is he still here?” Not Pascal Wehrlein. Must perform well or risk being overshadowed by a rookie. His helmet design this year is retro decent, though.

Charles Leclerc

Hype! The rookie to watch out for. Self-confessed Harry Potter lookalike. Can he work magic in F1? Fave of the teenage girls and Mums alike. He’s not French, he’s Monégasque. Kimi Raikkonen and Ferrari fanboy. Chronic liker of tweets.

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So who among the 20 will emerge as the ultimate victor? Who will surprise and who will disappoint? Who will shatter their narratives and rewrite their stories? Only way to find out is to stay tuned (and online). Don’t get left in the dust!

An Open Letter To Sebastian Vettel, Post-2017 Season.

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Dear Sebastian,

You’re unbelievable, you know that?

Honestly, I don’t think I like you very much right now.

Where do I even begin? So you started the season with a win in Australia, and officially broke Ferrari’s drought. That made me hope, so much. The kind of hope that is beautiful, yet dangerous; because while it can move mountains, it can also lead to monumental heartbreak.

Was this the year, finally? Part of me was scared, but you looked so sure, so confident. Gina, your car, was in her element. You took another win in Bahrain and steadily racked up points and podium finishes.

Monaco was weird. I was happy you won but also felt uncomfortable because Kimi somehow felt played by the team. My heart was so confused. But then again, judging from your behavior, It was clear that you had nothing to do with what happened, so I gave you a pass and moved on.

Let’s get it out of the way and talk about Baku and THAT incident. What on earth went through that brain of yours to make you pull that move? I was bemused, and aghast, and so deeply disappointed. It was an opportunity to win that blew up in smoke because of a lapse of judgment in your part. You lost your cool, and things got ugly. I couldn’t even defend you on social media after that. You were in the wrong, and there was no way for me to rationalize that. If I could turn back time, I’d do everything in my power to stop that moment of madness from happening. Sigh.

We all make mistakes, and thankfully, you were not punished harshly, but of course it became a giant blot of stain in your title charge. As early as that point, critics were already questioning whether you deserve the title at all after that…infamous nudge.

Then there was that minor disaster in Silverstone. The Mercs slaughtered the Ferraris in qualifying. And of course you and Kimi just had to get nearly identical tire punctures in the last lap. I wanted to kick things and flip tables but miraculously, you both managed to pit and get back to the track to take the checquered flag. Sure, finishing 7th wasn’t ideal, but every single point counted now that Lewis was making a charge of his own.

History was on your side. Records show that you have not yet lost a title battle that you’ve led. I wanted that record to stand, and although you snatched that win in Hungaroring again from Kimi, I held on to the thought that so far, only the Michael Schumacher has managed to win the Hungarian GP and the Driver’s Title in the same year, and if any other driver can duplicate that rather strange record, then it’s you.

Things seemed to be going smoothly, until Monza, when you first lost the WDC lead. You couldn’t fight for the win that weekend but I couldn’t take it against you. Strangely enough, I wasn’t that worried yet then, I was pretty sure you’d snatch back the lead soon enough. And when you preached to the Tifosi on the podium in Italian, no less? My heart melted in a puddle of emotions. You are truly one of us. You are the driver Ferrari deserves.

But then, the Asian leg happened. So much potential, so much promise. But only heartaches ensued. That Singapore pole was spectacular, I yelled so loudly when you snatched it. You said on team radio that you wanted that one badly, and it showed. You went all in, and it paid off.

It still pains me to think about that Night Race weekend, the weekend where what happened on that track forced me to feel and face all the pain from real life. I was so sad but could not even cry. It was the type of sadness that was beyond tears. Tears could not properly express the desolation that washed over me. It got so bad that I took a break from social media, I could not bear to look at anything F1-related.

Things marginally got better in my life enough for me to regain some calmness and catch the Malaysian GP, but of course there was another disaster in Qualifying that sent you to the back of the grid. The wolves were already salivating at the thought of your title charge starting to crumble, but in my heart, I knew that you’re up to the challenge. And we did indeed see Sebastian The Road Runner that raceday. A charge from the back all the way to P4 that was a sight to behold. It was clear you were not going down without a proper fight, like the Champion that you are.

I had to miss the Japanese GP due to an appointment, but when I checked my phone a few hours after the race and was greeted with various iterations of “Nooooo!!” and expletives, I knew another disaster had befallen on you.

By the end of the Suzuka weekend, my (external and internal) tears have run out. A strange calm took over me and I decided to let fate be. Que sera, sera.

It pained me so much to see how sad you were after Austin. For the first time this season, I sensed your despair. The title was slipping away, and staying in contention was proving to be a Herculean task.

However, you weren’t quite ready to throw in the towel. You pulled an astonishing pole position in Mexico. That fightback in the race? It was so worth staying up until 4:41am for. Unfortunately, finishing P4 was not enough and the Driver’s Championship was decided there. Still, I was so proud of you for the effort you put in. Seeing you so dejected after the race was difficult, but you had enough grace and class to congratulate your opponent and to focus on the positives.

And then you gave us that Interlagos win. Ferrari’s first win there since 2008. I was imploring all gods that will listen for them to let you hang on to the win. You need it. I need it. The Tifosi need it. My stomach was churning, my legs were doing the jiggles, but I could not take my eyes off from the tv. And you did it.

Abu Dhabi was, for lack of a better term, an anticlimax. Both Championships have been decided and the Mercs dominated a nondescript race yet again. I stayed mainly to see you on the podium, and to see the new logo of F1 unveiled.

After all of that, came the…emptiness. the realization that it is finally over.

I had to say goodbye to the 2017 season. I had to say goodbye to Gina, the loveliest and feistiest Ferrari I’ve seen in ages.
I had to say goodbye to your title charge.

I had to look at you and assess just how I really feel.

So yes, I don’t like you very much right now because “like” is not the appropriate term to describe how I feel about you. I don’t like you as a racing driver–I love you, actually. I love you as a racing driver. And I mean that in the most platonic, respectful way possible. It’s a kind of love fueled by gratitude, and admiration, not just for your talent but for you as a whole, as a person.

I love that you’re passionate about what you do, that you put in 100% of yourself, criticisms be damned.
I love that you respect and protect the team. I love that you foster a family atmosphere.
I love that you don’t blame anybody else when the car fails.
I love that you stay away from mind games and unnecessary politicking.
I even love how you’re still such a big kid and that you are, by and large, a monumental dork.
I love that you’re imperfect and that you both own and own up to your flaws.
I love that while you remind me of Schumi, you are very much your own person, too.

Throughout the year, your title challenge with Ferrari was a bright spot in my oftentimes dismal and challenging life. You represented a form of escape, something to look forward to when things aren’t going right. Every emotion–good or bad–was heightened because I wanted it so much for you. We wanted it so much for you.

Let me be clear: I’m in no way, shape, or form, angry at you. How could I be when I know in my heart that you did your absolute best? I never expected you to be perfect or be some kind of Ferrari Messiah, I wanted you to be yourself. You are enough.

You may not have a tangible trophy to hold aloft this season, but there’s plenty of invaluable lessons learned. Setbacks are only prologues to bouncebacks. And you’re pretty damn good at that.

As I’ve said on Twitter: Sometimes in life, you have to go through the 1996-1999 Schumi in order to get to the 2000-2004 Schumi. You will get to it, and soon. I trust you to not give up, because we, your supporters, will never give up on you.

Just be you, Sebastian. We wouldn’t change you for the world. I know I wouldn’t.

Rest up and recharge. We will go again next year. And you know what? I have all the faith in the world that you will win that title with Ferrari. Get ready for it.

Sincerely,

Marj.

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Grazie, Seb.

Forza Billy.

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It’s strange how racers and racing fans alike are all well aware of the dangers and risks involved in motorsport, and yet during the actual race day, all of that are shoved to the back of our minds. It’s all going be to okay. Let’s hope the race is exciting.

This past weekend was pretty much just like any other normal race weekend–until it wasn’t. F4 as a series is not televised in my shores, but as majority of my Twitter following are fans of multiple racing series, I get to be updated whenever I check my timeline during race weekends. And when something major happens, it’s impossible to miss. As soon as I read that a big shunt has occurred in Donington Park, which involved young British racing driver Billy Monger, my mind went into automatic, “Oh dear, I hope he’s 100% okay”. I refused to watch any footage of the crash, as my timeline was still fretting over the length of time it was taking for the youngster to be extracted from his vehicle. Some hours have passed, and finally Billy was taken to the hospital, and for a while, Twitter finally got to breathe a sigh of relief.

But then the awful news broke that Billy Monger sustained such serious injuries from the crash which resulted in both of his lower legs being amputated. I am barely familiar with this kid prior to that fateful moment but I felt my heart shatter in a million pieces when I read that update. Imagine having your dream taken away from you in a blink of an eye. How do you recover from that…?

In a matter of hours, a crowdfunding page was set up to help Billy and his family cope with the impending financial stress brought about by the accident. It was at 16% of the total goal when I donated. I immediately shared the link to my Twitter timeline and asked my followers to help out if they can. It saddened me a little that I couldn’t donate more, but I crossed my fingers and hoped that the motorsport world and beyond will come through and reach the target.

(Link to the crowdfunding page:
 https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/billymonger23 )

And reach the target we all did–and beyond! As of writing, the crowdfunding page is at 245% and has nearly 16,000 supporters. That’s with 117 days to go until the deadline. Numerous motorsport personalities have donated and expressed their support, and the massive outpouring of love and concern from all over the world is just amazing.

However, what got me into writing this was this tweet:

I never anticipated just how much those three simple words could have such an effect on me.

Here was a kid, all but 17, who got thrown a massive curveball by Life, but he is already dusting himself off without missing a beat.

And then there’s this little girl named Millie Davis who stood out among the sea of support on his crowdfunding page:

Photo grabbed from Twitter.

Do you ever have one of those days (or weeks, or months, or years, or lives) when you feel lost and overwhelmed and you feel like the universe won’t ever give you a break and you have no idea how to be yourself again?

And then you read about people like Billy Monger and Millie Davis and you realize just how inconsequential some of your worries are, and how you’re wasting your energies on the wrong things.

They may still be children but boy, have they schooled me on Life well and proper.

I am humbled by Billy’s fortitude. His bravery is no less than inspirational. He is a complete stranger to me but I am already invested in his story–a story of triumph, hope, and optimism.

It is far from over yet, there will be more challenges in the chapters ahead but I am not worried about him. Do not, in any way, feel sorry for Billy. Underestimate him at your own peril. He will pull through. He will teach us how to find the strength within us when all seems lost. He has already scored a massive victory and he’ll only score more along the way.

Form is temporary. Class is permanent.

Survival is an art and we should all be so lucky to have an ounce of Billy’s character in us.

I cannot wait for the day when Billy Whizz takes the checquered flag yet again. 

Bounce back soon, Billy. We are all behind you.
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