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!

Tribute Of The Day: The Greatest Gift Of All (Danke, Mr. and Mrs. Schumacher)…

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Today, a Racing Legend celebrates a milestone.

Sometimes, it really is quite difficult, impossible even, to encapsulate just how much a person has touched or changed your life. Truly, words are not enough for me to express how grateful I am to have found him and Formula One, two very important things that will always be in my life and in my heart.

And so I present to you this video tribute made with utmost respect, love and devotion by a very dedicated supporter. I’ve no doubt you will enjoy it as this will remain as one of my favourite Michael Schumacher tribute videos of all time.

To the man who has changed and inspired countless lives: Happy 44th Birthday! Thank you for everything. You truly deserve all the magnificent things the universe has to offer.

The Bouncebackable Dictionary: ROARGASM.

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ROARGASM
-A strong emotion felt by a hardcore racing fan when he/she hears the sound of a race car/motorbike.

E.g.

Hearing the F1 drivers trying to imitate the sound of their car engines is foreplay to a roargasm.

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This is an Introductory Post.

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To whom it may concern:

I do not like people asking me why I love what (or who) I love, for love and true joy comes in the faith of never questioning.

I cannot, and will not even attempt to define the how and why I came to love sports, specifically my First Love Football and my Second love Formula One (which then spawned undying affections for MotoGP, WRC and World Superbikes). All I know is that for almost half of my life now, I have been their ardent, indefatigable, and solid supporter.

Perhaps it is only right that I express my profound gratitude to the TV channels ESPN and Star Sports, for keeping me in the loop for the past 12 years on anything and everything that the sporting world has to offer. There was a brief time in 2001-2002 (Forgive my hazy memory, must be post-traumatic stress disorder) when my local cable operator removed the two channels from their lineup and my football-motorsport-loving heart was plunged into dark desperation, reduced to maniacally pressing the F5 button on my old desktop computer as I wait for the Live Text updates for Football matches and Formula One races from several websites to update. To add insult to injury, all I had back then was Dial-up Internet, but I had to get my fix, so nothing can stop me.

I am an unapologetic armchair analyst/shrewd spectator, never having been blessed with the genetic predisposition for athleticism. I support Liverpool Football Club above all, but I have to admit that I do harbour a soft spot for Newcastle United and AC Milan. I have had a love-hate relationship ongoing with Real Madrid CF for nearly 6 years now, the reasons for which deserve a whole separate post altogether. I openly betray my country by supporting England in International competitions but have already defected and switched loyalties to my 2nd International Football Team since 2006, Team España. I was deep in denial about falling out of love for England until the Final Squad for the 2010 World Cup was released and that’s when I knew that although they will always have a special place in my heart, my love and support for England will never be the same again. *Cue the violins and pass the hankies, por favor*

I got into Formula One as a wee girl by liking Michael Schumacher. I followed him when he went to Ferrari and the rest became Awesome Motorsport History. I’m still angry, nay, furious at Scuderia Ferrari for disposing of Kimi Raikkonen as if he’s nothing but a deadbeat boyfriend, and yet that will not stop me from donning my Scarlet Ferrari cap when I return to Singapore this September to watch the Singaporean GP for the 2nd year running. Not many Filipinos, or Filipinas, for that matter, are into Football and Formula One as much as I am, and far too often people are surprised to find out just how fully-invested I am into those sports. I pretty much watch and casually follow other sports also, such as Tennis, Rugby, Golf, MotoGP, WRC, Snooker, even 9-Ball Pool.

Generally I am a lover of underdogs. Quite possibly, I’ve shed more tears over sport-related losses and triumphs than over, say, life’s dramas. To name a few, crying after England was eliminated in the 1998 World Cup Round of 16 by Argentina through a penalty shootout? Check. Post-FA Cup Final 2001 when Liverpool came back from being down 0-1 to winning 2-1 (Otherwise known as The Michael Owen Final)? Check. Post-UEFA Champions League Final 2005 when Liverpool made the Best Ever Comeback in European Finals History? Check. Crying and laughing almost at the same time at 4.00am when Kimi Raikkonen made it to F1’s history books by winning the Drivers’ Championship after 7 years of heartbreak? Check. Hey, we all have our own survival strategies, right?

So, what are my qualifications to blog about these sports I gush so much about? Well, I still have boxes of 3 and-a-half inch floppy disks full of football photos, match reports and videos, dating back to the times when I can’t stay up late to regularly watch the football live because I have to get up at 5.00am to go to school. I wrote letters to my favourite player of all-time Michael Owen (you can stop sniggering now, thank you) to his old club Liverpool FC just to get the Standard ‘Magazine-with-poster’ Fan reply from the club which I still keep and cherish. I did that for 3 straight years, even ordering their free club merchandise catalogs just so I can have a keepsake, and for some weird reason, I’ve had the nagging feeling that he was bound to leave Liverpool soon. In a matter of a year, I was able to track down his home address (the how and why of this deserves a separate post in the future) and again, I sent a letter telling him of my undying love and adoration for his own brand of footballing perfection. Two years after, Mr. Owen did send me back a signed mini-poster and up to this day I still wonder whether I can extract DNA from that piece of glossy paper so I can save it for cloning in the future (I’m joking, okay?). I’ve joined god knows how many sites, forums and chatrooms, diving headfirst into the waters of spectacular football fandom. I argued, flirted and fought my way into earning the rep of a real ‘fan’, and not just some fangirl who squeals at the sight of totty (I still do that, but at least I can also appreciate their technical skills). I skipped classes during my university days in order to trek to an old-fashioned pub and nearly got squashed down by burly foreign men just to watch the 2002 World Cup matches. I feigned illnesses the next day and skipped exams because of football matches (Priorities, man!). During the 2006 World Cup, I was a skint student who couldn’t afford the pay-per-view telecast, so I “listened” to the commentary from a dodgy channel’s garbled telecast throughout the tournament, so much so that I started hearing commentator Martin Tyler’s voice inside my head everywhere I go for a month. When I first laid eyes on the seemingly shy, Paul Newman-meets-Bambi-looking Kimi Raikkonen in his Sauber suit way back in 2001, I already had a feeling that he’ll be something special and that he’ll eventually end up in Ferrari. He may be a villain to some but I cannot muster enough will to dislike Fernando Alonso. He amuses me too much. Funnily enough, I still harbour pipe dreams of becoming the first-ever Female Formula One World Champion. The sound of the F1, WRC, and MotoGP engines turn me on in an inexplicable level. When I pound the pavement, I pretend I’m an F1 car and try to overtake as many people as I can, with matching commentary in my head. I bow to Valentino Rossi’s immense talent and yet I love the little Spaniard Dani Pedrosa to bits, and will pledge complete loyalty to him in front of thousands of Rossiboppers. In times of distress or just pure boredom, I find myself magnetized to Shopping Mall Arcades, dispensing coins into an old Sega World Rally Championship simulator and pretending that I am a female Marcus Gronholm/Sebastian Loeb/Mikko Hirvonen incarnate. I rarely drive and choose to commute daily but I’m currently saving up in hopes of attending a local racing school. Nearly every day, I visit and trawl dozens of football, motorsport, and sporting blogs and sites to keep myself updated on all the gossip, speculations, viral videos, picspams, and most of all, the delicious snark from the journos and the wannabe-journos. I may not be the most learned, technically-proficient, trivia-and-statistic-spewing fan machine, but I more than make up for it with heart and enthusiasm. See, I can practically wax lyrical for ages, but since you may have something better to do and I’ve already taken up a bit of your time, I’ll choose to stop right here. For now.

Obviously, brevity may not be my strongest suit, but how can you encapsulate the magnitude and gravity of your love for something in so few a words and so little space and time?

The passion, the obsession, the inexplicable but strangely fulfilling worshipping– Football and Motorsports rule my mind day and night, night and day. They make me happy, smile like a fool, make me cry, make the hairs on my arms and the back of my neck stand up and do the Macarena. It’s a delicious mixture of agony and ecstasy.

So sit back, fasten your proverbial seatbelts and enjoy. I promise this is going to be an eventful ride.