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!

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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!

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…

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!

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 Nico Rosberg.

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(I’ve been procrastinating writing this. But then of course everything changed in a blink of an eye last December 2, so it got fast-tracked. Here goes nothing…)

Dear Nico,

Let me begin by saying that you are not one of my absolute favorites in Formula One. I’m just keeping it real.

But allow me to explain myself, if I may:

I liked you well enough when you burst into the F1 scene in 2006, but by that time my heart was already starting to invest in a certain “Baby Schumi” named Sebastian Vettel, and for some reason, I found you too polished, too privileged, too…slick for my liking. I prefer drivers with an “edge” to them, and you looked straight out of the perfect, pretty, prep school boys’ catalog.

You had the blessing and the curse of being a son of a Formula One World Champion. Will you ever live up to his name or are you all hype? I expected you to do well in F1, to cause a stir just enough and get a few wins here and there; but I didn’t really peg you to be The Next Best Thing. It’s weird because I knew from your racing CV that you’re talented; I just never saw enough spark and hunger in you back then.

Or maybe I should have looked at you more closely.

You spent years as one of the midfield racers, occasionally showing moments of brilliance but never really bothering the top dogs. Vettel and Hamilton easily shoved you aside to grab and share the spotlight that was supposed to be yours. You had podiums and fastest laps, and made exciting moves every now and then, but it wasn’t until you moved to Mercedes to partner the returning Michael Schumacher when I started to really “see” you. I fully expected Schumi to trounce you, but surprisingly, you came out ahead of the matchup, even giving Mercedes their first win of their “new” era. It’s not an easy task to regularly beat a driver of Schumacher’s caliber, but instead of being annoyed, I found myself getting fascinated by your progress. Who is this Rosberg I’m seeing that I was all but oblivious to during his Williams years?

As fate would have it, you were the first ever F1 driver I met in person. You exceeded my expectations, by the way. I was just curious to see you at first but I ended up staying at the event to try to get an autograph. You were nice, and kind, and sweet to us waiting fans. And yes, I have to admit that I was shocked at how good-looking you are in the flesh. But mostly, what I remember is how you treated us fans and how you made us feel. You even apologized to all the other fans who didn’t get to have your signature because you quickly got whisked away by security to your car. Not necessary, but appreciated, nevertheless. All the other fans who’ve met you only have good words to say about you, and that speaks volumes. No wonder your fans are extremely loyal and overprotective of you. I met you again in 2015 and you were as nice and pleasant as ever, you even joked and laughed with me about my bracelet that you mistook for something else. That is why from that 2012 moment on, you jumped from relative obscurity to become my “favorite non-favorite”. Does that even make sense? What the heck, you’re smart, I know you’ll get what I mean.

I am not a Hamilton fan, so when he moved to Mercedes to take over the seat Schumi vacated, I had hoped you’ll continue your good form and show him who’s the boss at Silver Arrows. But fate had other ideas, and although Mercedes skyrocketed to ruthless dominance, Lewis got the better of you. I went, “Where is the Nico that turned me around? Why is he getting sucked into the drama and the mindgames?” I vividly remember getting confused by all the frustration I feel on your behalf.

2014 and 2015 were awful. I wanted you to win the Championship so badly even I surprised myself. That electrical issue during Singapore 2014? I internally wilted. That infamous gust of wind in Austin 2015? I chanelled my inner Tyra Banks and yelled, “I was rooting for you! How dare you?!” at my TV. Do your critics have a point when they say you lack the psychological strength to become F1 Champion? I refused to believe it, despite your snafus and the injustices you suffered. I knew you had it in you. Somewhere in that blonde, polished mien, I knew there’s grit and hardiness that’s waiting to be unleashed.

And you turned it all around. Quietly. Masterfully. I believed yet I still greatly underestimated your bouncebackability and you proved me wrong. Tenacity? Check. Patience? Check. Consistency? Check. Grace under pressure? Check.

You fought back and never gave up on yourself. Amidst a barrage of criticism and blatant bias from fans and media, you revealed what you’re truly made of. When practically most expected you to wither and choke, you stepped up and delivered. The moment you crossed that finish line in Abu Dhabi was the moment you slayed all doubts and slaughtered your own demons in one fell swoop.

I was so proud of you then. So ridiculously proud of you.

And then of course you dropped that certain retirement bombshell–5 days after you won your 1st F1 title. What. The. Heck?!

I was suffering an almighty migraine that night and I remember looking at my mobile phone screen, staring at the words, “Nico Rosberg announces his retirement” and willing them to go away or be some kind of a twisted joke. But alas, it was the cold, hard truth. A myriad of questions from my brain demanded immediate answers: Is he ill? Was this predetermined? Who knew about this? But the biggest question was, “WHY?”

To be honest, I was half-astonished and half-annoyed. The annoyance stemmed from my selfish part: Who would challenge Lewis now? Why didn’t you want the honor and privilege of defending your title? Why did you not give your fans a chance to bid you a proper goodbye?!

Finally, your official statement was released, and although it was expectedly eloquent and heartfelt, it lacked the answers the selfish part of me needed. However, I was truly touched by your words and I legitimately wanted to shed tears by the end of it.

You’re truly something else, Mr. Nico Erik Rosberg. Just when I think I have you all figured out, you come out with ways to surprise me further.

How can I fault you when you say that you are retiring to prioritize your family? How can I stay mad at someone who listened to what their heart is saying and followed the path they wanted, and not just what others expected? There is immense bravery in realizing that at times, quitting is necessary in order to truly win.

What a way to distinguish yourself from other F1 Champions. Chapeau.

I still can’t wrap my head around it, but one day, I will wake up and accept that you won’t be in F1 starting next season. And that for the first time in 23 years, F1 won’t have a defending Champion on the grid. It sucks to lose one of the good guys, but that’s the reality me and millions of other fans just have to deal with.

On behalf of my 2006 Self, I would like to wholeheartedly apologize to you, Nico. I’m so sorry. I was wrong. So wrong to judge you and to stereotype you back then.

You had one hell of a rollercoaster ride in F1. You chased your ultimate dream to the edge of madness and succeeded. In a circus-like world where the narratives were almost always not to your advantage, you took control of your own storyline. Nobody can take away what you have achieved. Ever.

You may not be one of my absolute favorites, but know that you are one of the F1 personalities I truly admire and respect. You’ve made me a fan. I AM a fan. I will truly miss you in F1.

Any chance you can do a World Tour any time soon so your fans can give you a proper farewell, by the way? Please consider. You are always welcome to visit the Philippines.

Now go on and enjoy life outside of Formula One. Cherish your amazing parents and your incredible wife and daughter. Spend time with your wonderful friends. There’s still so much ahead for you and I can’t wait to find out what you have up your sleeves in the future. 

You are a fighter, a gentleman, and a class act. You are and always will be a worthy Champion, not just in racing, but in Life.

Danke, Nico.

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What A Champion: The mic drop that shook the F1 World.