In Defense Of Kimi.

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Once upon a time, I willingly entered a confusing period in my F1 life, when I–a Michael Schumacher fan–got charmed by the fresh-faced Finnish rookie hired by Sauber named Kimi Raikkonen.

That was back in 2001, and 17 years later, I am still a Kimi Raikkonen supporter.

You know you’ve truly made it in your chosen profession when your first name is enough to get you recognized. Whether you’re a hardcore or a casual motorsport fan, when someone mentions “Kimi”, do you ever really think of anyone else besides the Kimi Raikkonen?

Having said that, I’ve had enough of people talking shit about him just for the sake of it.

Quick recap: Kimi is leaving Scuderia Ferrari at the end of the 2018 season, but hang on, he is not retiring but rather moving to another team, Alfa Romeo Sauber (aka his 1st-ever F1 team), on a 2-year contract.

This development of course opened the floodgates and got the F1 community talking/debating/seething/celebrating/flailing. Everyone and their dog is having their say.

Kimi incites such widespread attention (and frustration) perhaps because half of the fans irrationally dislike him for their own personal reasons, while the other half hold on to the Ideal Kimi they know is capable of so much more.

While Kimi is portrayed as the epitome of not giving a damn, let’s get this straight: Kimi does give a damn–about family, friends, racing. The rest, can all go to hell for all he cares.

Beyond the cold, two-dimensional, ‘I was having a shit’/’Leave me alone, I know what to do’-spouting figure painted by the media, what many fail to see is that Kimi is actually not just a racing driver’s driver, but also a rather shrewd businessman.

Kimi is not an Enigma, he is actually as transparent as they come. A lot of people just refuse to see him for what he is.

This Sauber move does not seem like an emotional decision, not a ‘screw you’ to Ferrari, but rather a result of a carefully thought-out long game. It’s a tour de force, in my point of view. There are talks of Kimi acquiring shares in the team, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that turned out to be true. Besides, shouldn’t we be pleased for Sauber if it came to fruition, considering the number of financial hiccups they’ve had to overcome throughout the years? Kimi’s presence assures the team of financial security, something that’s not easy in F1. Moreover, Kimi’s experience and wealth of racing knowledge can only help Sauber maintain or improve their positive performance this season. It puzzles me how some people think Sauber is a step backwards and that Kimi should have quit while he’s ahead, rather than risk becoming a midfielder. Sauber may be a small team, but they will take good care of him. As strange as it may sound, it is an opportunity for him to have a fresh start, to shrug off the sky-high expectations from the past few years, to rebuild, to renew ties, and to enjoy racing–in its purest definition–yet again.

While it is unfortunate that a few young drivers will be left without seats next year, I don’t see why Kimi should be vilified for wanting to stay. Here are the facts: Sauber could have easily said no, but they didn’t. They wanted him. The sport’s infrastructure itself needs improvement (it badly has, for a lot of years), if talented drivers keep losing their seats or could not find seats. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Kimi has one of the biggest fanbases in the sport, and keeping Kimi in F1 will keep those fans watching and spending. F1 is also a business: Kimi Raikkonen is a brand and he sells his brand damn well.

I’ve seen some fellow Kimi fans lament about the situation, not knowing how to feel about the developments. It’s natural to have doubts. I get their points. We want the best for him. We want him to win. While I am sad that the Vettel-Raikkonen Ferrari partnership–something I’ve loved and enjoyed throughout the years–is coming to a close, I am personally happy and grateful that Kimi will be in F1 for at least one more year. That’s what truly matters to me. The desire is there, so may the unmotivated cliché so often attached to him soon be laid to rest.

Let’s just let him have fun and be himself. It is far too early to talk of mistakes and regrets. The best thing we can do is to accept and respect his decision.

You may not understand or like his popularity–and in some ways, notoriety–but do not diminish what he means to the fans, and what he has achieved in F1. He is a Champion. He is not going away easily. He doesn’t have to prove anything. The rest is just gravy.

He’s had enough of others controlling the narrative. Time for him to tell his own story, his way.

Both my heart and mind say we will see a Renewed Raikkonen next year. And the mere thought sends shivers down my spine.

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Onwards and upwards.

Sports Ruin My Life/Keep Me Sane.

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(N.B. I originally wrote this piece around the same time last year, but for some reason, it languished unfinished on my drafts, until I found it again this year. While I am doing much better now, the general sentiment remains the same.)

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“When someone talks about something/someone they love, let them. You have no idea how much that love has saved them.”

I posted that thought as a tweet many months ago, and it got a lot of interactions and positive replies.

I sit here right now in front of the TV, watching a Wimbledon match, and I was ramdomly struck by the thought: “How many years have I been doing this?”

The truth is that I am struggling right now. I shall not bore or burden you with the minutest details, but I am in that place where I am aware of how I am still fortunate and blessed in the grand scheme of things, but at the same time, I am deeply dissatisfied with myself and my current situation. Not somewhere you’ll want to be, I assure you.

Anyway, the sound of tennis balls rhythmically getting whacked got me into thinking how several sports have managed to not only entertain me, but also kept me (relatively) sane and cocooned (both positively and negatively) from real life throughout the years. Watching sports has become one of my self-care/self-preservation mechanisms, and here’s a (not-quite-so) brief rundown of my history.

I used to feel kind of…alone back then, when I realized just how unusual my coping mechanism of watching and following multiple sports was. Surely there were more people like me? Nobody I knew in real life could relate to this side of myself, and it was partly frustrating and at the same time, strangely satisfying.

Enter the Internet.

However, I am getting a little ahead of myself…

Tennis

A local government TV channel used to broadcast old Wimbledon matches at odd hours, and I remember watching them as a kid, when I refused to take afternoon naps and there wasn’t anything interesting/good on TV. Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi became my instant favorites, and when my family finally got cable TV installed, Wimbledon became my favorite Tennis Grand Slam. All throughout high school, I would stay up late watching the matches, and it continued until my university years and beyond. There is something soothing about the sound of tennis balls being whacked. The level of competition and fitness required to succeed and dominate is just insane. Of course now my absolute favorites are the inimitable Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic, and yes, I dedicated a whole blog post to explain why.

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Snooker

I’ve struggled with insomnia for a huge part of my life, and I suppose my schedule and workload in university exacerbated it. I’ve often seen Snooker matches on TV when I channel-surfed, but ignored them because I was more of a 9 Ball pool fan back then, aside from the fact that I had no clue how the game was played. A good friend from university managed to convince me to give it a watch, and when I researched and understood the rules, I could not stop watching it. Hooked was an understatement! There was something about the sound of the snooker balls colliding that calmed me, and I loved mentally calculating the points and anticipating the tactics/snookers (yes, I am such a geek at times). Coincidentally, back then most Snooker matches were televised after midnight, so my parents often found me sitting in front of the TV during the wee hours of the morning, watching men in bow ties with long sticks skillfully hiding balls. Every now and then, my Dad used to join me, and I had to explain to him all the rules, after which I often found him asleep after around half an hour of watching. Turns out Snooker was too soothing for him.

P.S. I was beyond heartbroken when my then-favorite snooker player Paul Hunter passed away. A few years after that, my sports cable channels ceased televising snooker matches altogether. I still miss it.

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9 Ball Pool

Filipino players are extremely good at it. Efren Bata Reyes is a legend of the sport. My father and brother plays it recreationally, and that’s why I gravitated towards watching it. Cable TV enabled me to watch many international matches, albeit at strange hours. I loved the technicalities and the trick shots and watching Physics in action. I even became a bit invested in the Mosconi Cup, 9 Ball Pool’s version of the Ryder Cup, as well as the World Cup of Pool. I’m not sure why but my cable sports channel somehow stopped televising pool competitions.

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Golf

Speaking of the Ryder Cup, I had a Golf Phase. I think it was partly because I chat with a lot of British Football fans at that time, which influenced me to check out the Ryder Cup. Of course I was firmly Team Europe. I despised those “In the hole!” screams from American fans every time their player hits the ball. I had (/have) a soft spot for Sergio Garcia and Luke Donald, and I was so pleased when Garcia finally got the Masters he deserves.

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Rugby

It was the year 2003. I couldn’t escape the coverage of the Rugby World Cup, so I thought, if you can’t beat them, join them. Even before I watched my first match, I’ve already chosen England to support, to match my Football Team, and for consistency’s sake. Being a newbie, I had no idea back then that England wasn’t highly-fancied to go far, let alone win the World Cup. But I didn’t care, the more matches I watched, the more I enjoyed the sport. Fast forward to the Final and I couldn’t be more pleased that England made it. By then, I was already far too emotionally-involved. I prayed to the Rugby gods to let England take the cup. And that amazing Jonny Wilkinson tournament-winning drop goal? It still gives me the chills. Post-WC, I went full-geek and learned about the sport, the history, the Rugby Union vs Rugby League thing/rivalry. I managed to maintain being up-to-date on it for several years, but the decline in coverage of it in my country gradually lessened my passion for it, too. I still faithfully watch the Six Nations and the World Cups, and yes, despite not being able to sustain their level or even equal their 2003 campaign, I still have a very soft spot for the England Rugby Team.

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Basketball

I became a basketball fan at the age of two, mainly because my Dad used to watch it a lot. We supported different local teams, and had a “friendly but heated” rivalry. Basketball was, and is, still quite huge in my country. I remember rushing home after school just so I can watch the local league matches on TV, and buying stacks of local basketball magazines just to get to know my favorite players and to further understand the sport. My moods sometime were influenced by how my teams fared. As I grew older, my interest expanded to the NBA, and Michael Jordan became the Ultimate Basketball Player/Demigod in my book. Basketball was IT for me back then, until, one day, serendipity made a certain sport permanently dislodge it from my heart. Which brings us to…

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Football

Where do I even begin? I suppose I can (partly) blame Michael Owen for igniting my interest. I randomly chanced upon the highlights of the Liverpool vs Wimbledon match where he scored his first-ever goal for Liverpool FC, and for some reason (other than overactive teenage hormones), I had the feeling that that fresh-faced boy–just a few years older than I am–will become a worldwide superstar. A few months and some heavy-duty research later, I was a bona fide Liverpool FC fan, and the World Cup 1998 started. That World Cup changed my life. It was the first World Cup I’ve seen on free TV thanks to the official Philippine government channel. It was the first time I watched match reruns over and over again. Owen’s Spectacular Goal vs Argentina cemented my prediction that he will become Football’s Golden Boy. I literally cried when the England players shed tears after their penalty shootout loss. It was the first time I foregone sleep to watch the France vs Brazil Final, and finally understood why it is the most popular sport in the world. I used to save my allowance to buy the ridiculously expensive magazines. When my parents decided to get cable TV, I had my fill of highlights shows and the UEFA Champions League. When I finally got coverage of the English Premier League, I felt as if Life had finally begun (insert singing cherubs here). I joined Football forums, Football chat rooms, Football groups, the whole nine yards. I learned about formations, tactics, player backgrounds, club histories and rivalries. I wrote to players (cringe) to get autograph cards. I attempted to stream cup finals on dial-up internet. I made friends from all over the world because of Football. I’d be so engrossed discussing Football with fellow fans that I’d go to sleep at 9AM and then wake up at 1PM to go to university. I’d stay up to do my architectural drawings with the Spanish Primera Liga matches in the background. I learned the jargon and the songs and the inside jokes and got the latest transfer news and gossip straight from the most unlikely sources. I could probably write a dissertation on all the ridiculous, silly, hilarious, and juicy things I have done/found out all for the love of Football. But, perhaps those should be discussed in another blog post altogether.

P.S. Here is a sample, if you’re interested.

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MotoGP

MotoGP and I didn’t start off so well. While I’ve already loved F1 for many years, back then, I couldn’t fathom why anyone would choose to watch motorcycle racing over car racing. Oh, and MotoGP schedules at times interfered with my Football matches back then, which annoyed me. But then one day I watched an ESPN Sports Center special where they talked about this up and coming Spanish racer called Dani Pedrosa, and I got curious enough to check out one of his 250cc races. The rest, is history. I was converted. I finally got what the fuss was all about. I knew Valentino Rossi was the main man but I didn’t care. Dani Pedrosa became THE rider for me. He had that intangible something that spoke to me. The lean angles, the engine debates, the constant tussling, the tire wars, the rider rivalries–I relished them all. There’s hardly any boring or unremarkable MotoGP races, and that says something about the quality of its talents. There’s a quote by F. Scott Fitzgerald that goes, ‘There are all kinds of love in this world but never the same love twice’. I’m so glad I opened my mind enough for me to realize that my heart is capable of loving more than one racing series.

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Formula 1

If you’re not new to this blog and/or you follow me on Twitter, then you most probably already know that it’s Michael Schumacher and the scaled model of his 1994 Benetton car that got me into F1. F1 is THE racing series for me. My love for it is at times beyond explanation. I’m fascinated with the cars and the science and the technology and the ingenuity and the characters and the history and the glamor and the grit involved. It is the sport that made me throw caution into the wind and got me to travel alone. I drained my bank account when I was new to the workforce just to see my first F1 race back in 2009. I had to hold back tears the moment I first heard the roar of an F1 engine in person. I have often waxed poetic about F1 in this blog, and briefly touched on how it has helped me cope throughout the years. Not a day goes by without me thinking about returning to the race track so I can add more items and anecdotes to my list of ridiculous/hilarious/awesome experiences during a race weekend. I am not blind to its faults and shortcomings, there have been plenty of times where it has disappointed me and pissed me off beyond belief, and yet I keep coming back to it. I will defend Michael Schumacher until my dying breath. He is my all-time favorite and always will be. One of the best memories of my fangirl life is finally getting to meet Schumi in person. I bleed the red of Ferrari and legitimately shed tears when I saw a Ferrari double podium in the flesh during the 2015 F1 Night Race. I know far too much about F1 for my own good and yet I still feel as if I have barely scratched its surface. F1 has enabled me to meet many wonderful people and has given me opportunities and experiences that I will always hold dear to my heart. Is it any wonder that twenty-four years later, I still love it with the intensity of a hundred suns?

The car and the driver that started it all…

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I can honestly go on and on for much longer.

I don’t necessarily want to be the people I watch; I just find pleasure, escape, and I suppose a form of therapy and catharsis in being a spectator. For a certain period of time, “real life” is suspended and you get to be in a world within another world where you don’t have to be or do anything but watch, and yet, you are somehow included in an extraordinary communal experience that sometimes defies explanation.

All the times I have cried due to sports–whether out of agony or euphoria–I can still very clearly remember. The times I have bargained and prayed to the universe and all entities that will listen–hilarious in retrospect but no doubt will happen again. And again. It’s astounding to find out the spectrum of emotions you can go through in such a short amount of time. My empathy and sympathy levels have been vastly improved because of sports. Sports teach you how to win, how to lose, and how to be…human.

I could have had a different life had I not fallen in love with sports. I could have been…something. I could have become someone else.

But, sports have given me far, far more than it has taken away. And for that, I am grateful.

Regrets? None. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Now, excuse me while I go find a sport to watch on TV…

ICYMI: The F1 #AustrianGP Edition Roundup.

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The Roundup returns after a one-race break! The Austrian hills may not have come alive with the sound of (engine) music, but the Dutch contingent made sure to paint the town orange that weekend…

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A third DRS Zone was added in a bid to help overtaking:

Test yourself with this Austrian GP quiz:

Nico Hulkenberg looks really good in a…dress?

All four F1 rookies have previously raced on this track. Which one will impress the most?

Looks like the Mercedes lineup will be unchanged for 2019…

In things you never thought you’d read again: Kimi Raikkonen back to…McLaren?!

He doesn’t want to talk about it, though…

Updated PU Elements used by drivers pre-Austrian GP:

Pierre Gasly drove a badass KTM X-Bow around the Ring in an exhibition run:

Can Daniel Ricciardo notch a (positive) record on his birthday?

Max Verstappen has a special helmet for the weekend:

FP1: Sebastian Vettel & Stoffel Vandoorne almost collided in the pitlane. Yikes.

F1 teams want even less testing for next year…

McLaren then got fined for Vandoorne’s FP1 unsafe release:

That’s a lot of Freddos.

FP2: Pierre Gasly broke his suspension after riding a kerb, causing a Red Flag.

Spotted: Bernie Ecclestone in the paddock!

Perhaps he was waiting for his backgammon buddy, Seb Vettel?

Haas were also investigated for Kevin Magnussen’s unsafe release:

In really weird things to do at the Paddock:

Udderly ridiculous.

Meanwhile, The “Charles Leclerc to Ferrari 2019” talks have gone into overdrive:

FP3: It’s now Brendon Hartley who gets caught out by the kerb

Max’s car wasn’t very cooperative:

The Universal Fave Charles Leclerc, got a 5-place grid penalty for an unauthorized gearbox change

Quali: Vettel was put under investigation after seemingly blocking Carlos Sainz on a hot lap:

Drama at Red Bull, when Max was ordered to overtake Dan to give him a tow, but refused:

Meanwhile, the McLaren pitbox line has been…angled?

Ron Dennis just shuddered at the sight of that photo.

Valtteri Bottas coolly took pole, & then celebrated with…ice cream.

Magnum and Finns: A Winning Combination.

Vettel took a 3-place grid penalty for the incident vs Sainz. Opinion among fans and experts were divided. Were the stewards robbing the fans of a fair title fight?

Raceday:

Toro Rosso had to fit a new PU on Hartley’s car, demoting him to P20 on the grid:

The Red Bull drivers don their usual lederhosens for their home race:

#Fashion.

Fernando Alonso started from the pitlane after a late front wing change:

Ex-F1 driver Ant Davidson explains the buttons on the Mercedes steering wheel:

That three-way fight at the opening lap got fans yelling. Just look at that balls-to-the-wall racing!

Nico Hulkenberg was surprisingly the first to retire, though through no fault of his own:

From poleman to nowhereman. Bottas was forced to retire after a hydraulic failure:

Misfortune also struck the birthday boy, as Ricciardo retired due to a gearbox issue:

An odd stat for birthday boys in F1:

He got a pretty snazzy birthday cake from Red Bull, if it’s any consolation:

The Move of the Day: Sebastian Vettel’s thrilling overtake on championship rival Lewis Hamilton:

Seven laps from the end, Hamilton was also forced to retire. Shocker!

The stats on Mercedes retirements:

Max Verstappen and his lion helmet roared to a win, and recreated the same podium as his 1st win in Spain:

More Max stats:

He was voted DoTD:

Safe to say the Dutch fans who turned out in droves to support Max were pleased.

Kimi Raikkonen took a solid P2, and snatched the Fastest Lap, his 1st of the 2018 season:

The Sauber boys had a good race, too. Yes, not just Leclerc, Ericsson joined in on the party as well!

Haas finally got a break, and took their best finish so far this year:

Let’s not forget Fernando Alonso’s mega pitlane to P8 drive:

Just waiting for his quote saying it’s his best career drive…

Carlos Sainz got a reprimand post-race for the incident with Esteban Ocon:

Lance Stroll and Sergio Perez got investigated for an incident involving blue flags:

Stroll got a 10 second penalty and 3 penalty points:

Fans weren’t such…fans of the virtual advertising:

There seems to be a developing bromance between Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen:

#Sax? #Vetstappen?

The new Driver standings:

And the Constructor’s:

A new record for F1:

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How close is this Championship turning out to be?

They go again in a few days’ time, when F1 is “coming home”. Silverstone, you have a lot to live up to!

ICYMI: The F1 #CanadianGP Edition Roundup.

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Loads of F1 fans made it perfectly clear they found the Monaco GP insufferably boring. Surely Montreal won’t disappoint? Well…

10 years after his first and only win in F1, Robert Kubica talked about that accident in Montreal, missing his trophy, wanting to buy the race-winning car, and more:

Some Canadian GP Fast Facts for the geeks:

Toro Rosso continue their legacy of fickleness with drivers, as they allegedly look to replace Brendon Hartley midseason:

Ferrari posted a pre-GP video on Twitter, and CBC Montreal called them out for not doing proper geographical research:

This weekend marked Fernando Alonso’s 300th grid appearance:

One of the many reasons fans love this GP:

Wanna see hometown driver Lance Stroll make poutine?

More changes being considered for F1… *cue loud groaning from fans*

Meet the official mascot of the Canadian GP: VROUM!

Drivers now have to give even more prerace interviews. I’m sure Kimi Raikkonen is thrilled to hear this.

Max Verstappen? He ain’t changing anything, so save your shade!

Also. He kinda wants to channel his inner Zidane…?

Contrary to earlier reports, Daniel Ricciardo didn’t take an engine penalty for the weekend:

Who would the Renault drivers invite to their dream dinner party?

FAO Danill Kvyat fans! Here’s your man clad in Ferrari gear, making his first appearance at a GP this year:

Fellow ex-F1 driver Pascal Wehrlein also visited the GP to lend support to the Mercedes garage:

Drivers who are on the verge of grid penalties: *dun dun dunnnnn*

FP2: Ricciardo’s car got taken apart by his team, sending his fans worrying:

Carlos Sainz Jr hit a wall and caused a Red Flag:

Stoffel Vandoorne also touched the wall and caused a Yellow Flag:

Ricciardo made it to the track though with 20 minutes to go. Talk about a close call!

Hang on. Did Romain Grosjean really hit a groundhog?

He did. The aftermath:

Romain had to go apologize to Vroum!

Thankfully, Vroum forgave him.

Brendon Hartley got fined for speeding in the pitlane:

Fernando Alonso is his own hype man:

Plenty of Austin Powers memes were used on social media when Stoffel Vandoorne couldn’t quite get his McLaren out of the escape road in FP3:

Did Sebastian Vettel really nick his ex-boss’ phone?! Sneaky Seb!

Qualifying: Nico Rosberg demonstrated to Ted Kravitz one of the many pressures/forces the bodies of racing drivers have to endure:

Romain Grosjean had a problem even before he left the pitlane, and look who was behind him…

Marcus Ericsson joined the party and made contact with the wall:

Meanwhile, his teammate Charles Leclerc tied yet another Sauber record by making it into Q2 for the 4th time:

He didn’t look to be a strong contender during the practices, but Sebastian Vettel stormed to pole, and registered the first Ferrari pole in Montreal since Michael Schumacher’s back in 2001!

Max Verstappen took P3, and could not resist giving his boss some sass on team radio:

Qualifying in 60 seconds:

Vettel gets his 4th Pirelli pole tire. He can now kit a go-kart with them!

Sky’s Crofty attempted to do The Floss, which really put off Alonso doing the same:

Leave the dancing to the kids!

F1 Teams (all barring Ferrari) gathered round for the much-anticipated annual raft race. Williams took a surprise victory!

Relive the raft race here:

Raceday: 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve drove his father’s Ferrari, and what a sentimental moment that was:

The opening lap brought a rather scary crash that took out Brendon Hartley and Lance Stroll:

Carlos Sainz and Sergio Perez subsequently had a tussle, which sent Perez asking for Sainz to be black-flagged:

Nope, the tussle wasn’t anywhere near worthy of a black flag.

Not sure how many mirrors Alonso has broken recently, but his car continued to be uncooperative, and his 300th race ended in retirement.

Nico Rosberg wasn’t happy with the lack of on-track action, and so he decided to hold an #AskNico session on Twitter midrace and spilled some scorching hot tea, particularly on Fernando Alonso:

Savage. Check his Twitter account for his other hottakes.

Model Winnie Harlow became the subject of the race’s biggest talking point when she waved the checquered flag too soon:

Look at this close finish between P2 and P3. Had the checquered flag not been waved prematurely, we would have gotten a mega battle from Bottas and Verstappen!

Poleman Vettel did not put a foot wrong, and he got away with the most spoils this weekend:

Bottas and Verstappen both comfortably beat their teammates. Leclerc continued to impress by notching up a point and erasing his Monaco GP nightmare.

Race winner Vettel saw the funny side of the Checquered Flag-Gate:

Winnie Harlow explained her side, complete with the reference to the iconic Shaggy song!

Because of the snafu, Ricciardo’s Fastest Lap did not count and the official Fastest Lap went to his teammate Verstappen instead. Poor Dan!

Brendon Hartley was medically-cleared after his first lap shunt:

The Canadian GP in 60 seconds:

And the Tweet of the Race:

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We go into the “unknown” next: Can the Paul Ricard Circuit spring a surprise on us? For the meantime, go check out the numerous debates on the shortcomings of modern day F1 on social media. If for anything, you’ll get a laugh on how hilariously myopic and entitled some of the “fans” are. You’re welcome.

ICYMI: The F1 #MonacoGP Edition Roundup.

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It’s the Glitz and Glamour Grand Prix! The one where we bemoan the lack of track action and overtaking, and roll our eyes at the numerous clueless celebrities taking up precious space at the paddock, and yet we still cannot bear to miss it. Then again, you already knew that, didn’t you?

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After 24 years of not having a Monegasque driver, Charles Leclerc’s presence on the grid officially made the F1 history books:

How’s your Monaco GP knowledge? Test yourself with this quiz:

For the stat geeks:

The grid girls (& guys) returned this GP, and the reigning World Champ was pleased about it:

Vettel and Hamilton as teammates…?! Could we actually see it happen?

It won’t be a proper Monaco GP if the drivers didn’t roll out their swanky, special edition helmets:

The most notable incident in FP1, care of the Dutch Whiz Kid Max Verstappen:

The Stewards’ decision:

Curiously, two other drivers also got fined for speeding in the pitlane:

2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg got a feel of the F1 car anew:

Er, that got a bit awkward in the end.

Also, he took to the Monaco track with his Dad, 1982 World Champion Keke Rosberg:

Definitely the coolest Father and Son Moment in F1’s recent history!

Charles Leclerc met up with Philippe Bianchi, father of Jules, post-FP1.

Here they are at the Jules Bianchi Foundation booth:

Thousands of F1 fans got emotional. It’s tough not to think of Jules and all what-might-have-beens during moments like that.

The FP1 in 90 seconds:

FP2: Grosjean and Verstappen nearly collided at the hairpin. Yikes.

More speeding fines post-FP2. What’s going on with the twitchy throttle feet, guys?!

Friday. Party Time! Several drivers strutted their stuff at the yearly Amber Lounge fashion show:

Saturday. The incident of FP3 was Max Verstappen ramming his Red Bull car into the wall.

Compare that to his 2016 Monaco GP incident, and it’s almost eerily similar:

Red Bull had to change Verstappen’s gearbox, which incurred a 5-place grid penalty for him:

He never made quali and had to start at the back of the grid:

Verstappen’s season so far, in case you’re curious:

And he now has a website dedicated to his crashing– Has Max Verstappen Crashed Yet?

http://crashtappen.com

Ted Kravitz of Sky Sports F1 was really bothered by a misaligned line on Carlos Sainz’s car:

No shortage of stars/celebrities/sports personalities in attendance. It is the GP to see and be seen, after all…

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, aka Jaime Lannister of Game of Thrones:

Retired MotoGP Champion Casey Stoner:

Ducati MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo:

NBA Star Dwayne Wade and his actress wife Gabrielle Union:

Olympian Aksel Svindal:

Alfonso Ribeiro, aka Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air:

Retired football star Francesco Totti:

Hugh Grant:

NFL player Tom Brady, model Bella Hadid, Kardashian Momager Kris Jenner, Game of Thrones actors Kit Harrington and Liam Cunningham:

Ducati MotoGP rider Andrea Dovizioso:

I’m sure there were plenty more.

Newly-retired driver Felipe Massa has no regrets leaving F1 when he did:

Double World Champion and ex-McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen casually cruising around Monaco on a scooter is the content we all need:

The grid girls and grid guys, complete with “motivational messages” for the drivers, from #FanMessengers:

Thank goodness the grid kids will take over once again next race.

After much hoopla, the FIA and Charlie Whiting finally declare that the Ferrari car is legal:

Raceday: Max “started from the back” Verstappen beats the track record!

Verstappen also took the fastest lap award:

Makes one think what he could have done if he hadn’t binned it during FP3, no?

Lance Stroll got some flak from the fans for his childish Team Radio outburst:

Lad, if you don’t want to race, can you please let Robert Kubica have a go in Montreal?

Home hero Charles Leclerc’s first Monaco GP ended in retirement, after a front brake failure sent him ramming to the back of Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley:

Sudden loss of power? Gearbox not working properly? Tires starting to grain? No problem! Pole-sitter Daniel Ricciardo managed all that and held off Vettel’s challenge to take his first Monaco GP win, and was voted Driver of the Day by the fans as well:

The drivers were explicitly told to avoid the royalty when spraying champagne, but of course Sebastian Vettel got trigger-happy and inadvertently doused the royalty during the podium celebrations:

Thankfully, he’s not banned from re-entering Monaco as of this writing.

Adrian Newey doing a shoey. Shall we call him Adrian Shoey now?

Dan promptly made good on his word and did a swan dive in the Red Bull Energy Station pool:

Fernando Alonso called this year’s race the most boring race ever.

Granted, fellow Champions Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen also called the race boring, but “the most boring race ever”? Hold the hyperbole now, Fernando.

The 2nd Edition of the Live F1 Show: Featuring Felipe Massa, Nico Rosberg, the Game of Thrones guys, Charles Leclerc getting a consolation burger and fries, and more!

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That’s all, folks. Time to go back to our regular, non-glamourous lives.

ICYMI: The F1 #SpanishGP Edition Roundup.

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The rain in Spain falls mainly on the…well, certainly not on track, or else we surely would have gotten a better race.

The race weekend wasn’t short on talking points though, thank goodness!

Eight days after the Azerbaijan GP, Williams lodged a complaint and asked the FIA to review the incident where Fernando Alonso nursed his McLaren back to the pits after a problem with his tires, among others:

The FIA rejected it, though:

Remember the Kangaroo TV/F1 Vision? It’s baaack!

French drivers Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon both attended the Cannes Film Festival, but their shadiness was revealed when it was found by fans that they cropped each other out of their Instagram pics:

Recap: Gasly revealed in an interview some weeks back that he and Ocon aren’t really friends anymore.

F1 officially launched its travelling Merchandise Superstore in Barcelona. Goodbye, money!

Before, it was Indy 500, but now the Le Mans 24hr race is now “the biggest race in the world” for Fernando Alonso…

And he likes the privacy of the F1 paddock compared to the WEC paddock:

I mean, 50 fans following you to the loo is kinda awkward…

McLaren unveiled their updates, including a new nose which polarized social media, to say the least:

Ferrari’s most obvious change/update was the halo-mounted mirrors:

The Red Bull drivers were helped by football legend and Catalan Andres Iniesta change tires in an event:

Iniesta politely turned down the chance to join the F1 grid next season, saying life on the fast lane is not for him.

Looks like we’ll have a second race in the USA from 2019. Bienvenido a Miami!

Daniel Ricciardo has commented on the rumor that F1 has trademarked the infamous “shoey”:

The most famous Pole in F1, the beloved Robert Kubica, had his first FP1 session since 2010:

Spainish GP? Is it because they’re in Catalan country…?

Track officials thankfully removed it after photos went viral.

Sauber driver Charles Leclerc joined Gasly and Hulkenberg in the Kevin Magnussen Non-Fan Club, after an incident with him in FP1:

Kevin Magnussen then received a reprimand for that daft move.

One of the more creative Kimi banners seen at a track. God Save the (Finnish) King!

Daniel Ricciardo had a strange F.E.A. message written on his helmet on the Friday:

Force India driver Sergio Perez had an incident on FP2 when his front left tire came loose after a pitstop and he had to park the car. The FIA fined his team for an unsafe release:

Guess who surfaced in the McLaren garage during FP3? None other than Martin Whitmarsh!

Remember last year’s famous crying kid? Thomas the adorable Kimi Raikkonen fan is back!

Here he is, reunited with Kimi:

Max Verstappen will earn a cool 150k for having an unapproved lookalike:

Other teams weren’t happy with Ferrari’s halo mirrors, so it has been banned from Monaco onwards.

We’ve seen it in Baku, and now Spain has also adopted the “pre podium interview”:

F1’s cameras found another tiny adorable fan, this time a Fernando Alonso superfan:

They tracked him down and got him to meet his Spanish hero! Joaquín, everyone!

Ex-Sauber/Ferrari/Williams driver Felipe Massa also attended the GP, and I think we can all agree that this photo of him with his ex-engineer and dear friend Rob Smedley is the heartwarming content we all need!

Raceday. That first lap crash that took Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly out of the Spanish GP:

RoGro was handed a 3-place grid penalty and 2 license points for that incident:

The Mercedes drivers got the new tires to work perfectly for them, and they took their first 1-2 finish of the season:

Max Verstappen kept his head down, and despite damaging his front wing after colliding with a Williams car, managed to take his first podium finish this year.

Charles Leclerc finished in the points again, breaking a 3-year record for a Sauber driver:

The Spanish GP in 60 seconds:

And the GP summed up in one tweet:

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Hasta luego, España!

ICYMI: The F1 #AzerbaijanGP Edition Roundup.

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The Azerbaijan GP is like a steak–it (the action) is either rare or well done.

With that horrible analogy out of the way, here are the talking points from a rather action-packed weekend:

Daniel Ricciardo has allegedly signed a pre-contract with Ferrari for 2019. This rumor started around the time of the Bahrain GP, and has resurfaced, this time with more…emphasis? No concrete sources have been named, so this remains a solid rumor (for now).

Red Bull have allegedly given Ricciardo until August to sign a new contract:

Ricciardo has also promised to do something very interesting if he wins the title this year:

Over to you, Sebastian and Lewis!

He also managed to squeeze in a minor lip surgery in between races. Yes, you read it right: a lip surgery.

It’s very tempting to put the blame on the infamous shoey.

Nico Hulkenberg (and Stoffel Vandoorne) got some unexpected comedy relief when they arrived at Azerbaijan…

Vandoome sounds like a comic book villain. Move over, Thanos!

Speculation spread like wildfire about that mysterious 3rd paddle on Sebastian Vettel’s steering wheel. What did he say when asked about it?

Whether or not you are a McLaren fan, try this tricky quiz to see how geeky you are when it comes to F1:

Baku’s F1 Drivers’ Wall has become quite popular/controversial, to say the least:

Those images are sort of difficult to forget. Well done, Baku.

FOM started superimposing graphics on the halo during FP1, and fans approved:

Both Charles Leclerc and Sergey Sirotkin made it into Q2 for the 1st time this season. The Battle of the Rookies is On like Donkey Kong!

Sebastian Vettel was unimpressive in both FP1 and FP2, but managed a strong FP3 and then snatched pole during Quali. And in case you’re interested, he only needs 1 more pole to complete a set of go-kart tires from Pirelli.

The Toro Rosso teammates both had a scare during quali. It could have resulted in a horrific crash but thankfully, some fantastic reflexes from Gasly prevented any accident.

Nico Hulkenberg admitted he uses (/used?) a dating app. Apparently, half the paddock is on it, too.

There really should be a dating app exclusively for motorsport personnel and fans alike. Get on it, developers!

Meanwhile, his teammate Carlos Sainz likes rap music, and already has his very own rapper name:

Raceday: Kimi Raikkonen and Esteban Ocon clashed during the 1st lap, which ended the Frenchman’s race. Ocon was definitely not happy with Kimi and had harsh words for him:

Perhaps the most shocking, and biggest controversy of the race, was when the two Red Bulls collided, effectively ending their race and steady march to a points haul.

Adrian Newey and his notebook were not impressed.

Ricciardo and Verstappen were ordered to apologize to the whole team:

Pierre Gasly was hugely unhappy with Kevin Magnussen after they tussled during the SC restart. He branded him “the most dangerous driver I’ve ever raced with”.

Gasly and Hulkenberg should form a club of Magnussen non-admirers.

Romain Grosjean was doing so well, he quietly made up tons of places and was on his way to a points finish–that was, until he crashed behind the Safety Car.

With that crash, Grosjean now holds a stat that isn’t something to be proud of:

Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas was on his way to his (and Mercedes’) first win of the season, until he ran over some debris from previous incidents which blew up his right rear tire and led to his retirement. He was understandably crushed, and this photo spoke volumes of his heartbreak:

(Some are even saying this photo is already a strong contender for the F1 2018 Photo of the Season.)

Bottas’ teammate, and defending Champion Lewis Hamilton then went on to take the win, but before appearing for the podium ceremonies, Lewis went to see his teammate and offered his consolations. Look at him sharing his #blessedness…

Force India’s Sergio Perez also snatched a sneaky P3, despite having had a 5-second penalty earlier in the race. This was Perez’s return to the podium after nearly 2 years.

The feel-good story of the GP: Sauber’s Charles Leclerc scored the first few points of his F1 career by finishing P6, and became a Driver of the Day as well.

The Monégasque also broke a 68-year old standing record!

Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley also registered his first F1 points, thereby breaking a 42-year old standing record by a Kiwi:

The race was definitely not short on incidents. So here’s the “Reprimands! Sanctions! Penalties! No further actions!” Section:

The 2018 Azerbaijan GP summed up in a GIF:

Or, if you prefer a superquick recap, here’s the race in 60 seconds:

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Four races in: three different winners, plenty of on-track action and off-track debates. 2018 is shaping up to be a nail-biting season!