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!

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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 #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!

Serendipitweet.

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Twitter is my favorite social media platform, just so you know.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2010, but I made my public, once-anonymous account only five years ago, mainly for the purpose of promoting my blog posts and preventing myself from spamming my real-life friends and acquaintances with my constant Football/F1/MotoGP/Tennis commentaries, ramblings, and observations.

My point, anyway, is that this is a story of how Twitter surprised me in the best way possible.

I love F1, that much should be obvious by now; and when I feel strongly about something related to it, I immediately let my thoughts be known, first via Twitter, and then on a subsequent, oftentimes lengthy, blog post.

Recap: Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg won the 2016 World Driver’s Championship (hooray). However, five–yes, five–days later, he announced his retirement from the sport. What the heck, right?

My mind went into overdrive (pardon the pun). I poured my heart out on an open letter to him. Usually, my open letters have been reserved for my favorite drivers, but I have grown rather fond of Mr. Rosberg over the years and I felt it was only right that I should say (nearly) everything I wanted to say to him in a farewell letter. If for anything, at least I can attempt to encapsulate how a lot of F1 fans around the world feels about Rosberg and his rather interesting F1 career.

I published it on the 3rd of December. I posted the link on my Twitter page the same day. I got some compliments and several blog views over the next few weeks. And then the interest seemed to dwindle. That was fine. That should have been the end of the story.

However, for some reason, I left the blog post link as my Pinned Tweet. I thought, maybe more fans will somehow find this. I’ll just change it once the new season starts.

Then, on the 3rd of February, I interacted with the account Parc Ferme F1 (@PFF1) and asked him something about Sebastian Vettel’s supposedly revolutionary new visor during testing. For some reason, whoever runs that account must have looked at my profile and saw my Pinned Tweet. That account then retweeted the link to more than 8,000 followers. Another account, MSportXtra (@MSportExtra), must have seen the retweet and in turn, retweeted it again to more than 3,000 followers. I started getting lots of Likes and Retweets and Replies. I thanked everyone as best as I could and then went to bed, thinking, “Oh it’s nice how that Open Letter is getting attention again. I hope Rosberg fans like it.”

The next day, I went out to run errands, and while I was having a waffle snack break, I checked my Twitter and found that my Nico Rosberg Open Letter Tweet was still spreading its way through the F1 community. I got tweets from lots of fellow fans all over the world, but two tweets stood out for me: One was from the F1 producer of the NBC Sports Network, who gave me a kind review and tagged Mercedes AMG F1 on his tweet saying that the letter should be passed on to Nico Rosberg. The other was a tweet from Georg Nolte, one of the members of Nico Rosberg’s management team, who called my post a, “fantastic & emotional letter.”

My mouth dropped open (thankfully, I’ve finished my waffle). The letter was literally one person away from Nico Rosberg himself. I thanked Mr. Nolte for taking the time to read it and then cheekily added that I hoped Nico Rosberg would be able to see it. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, right? I thanked the rest of the Twitter people (tweeps?) who took the time to tweet me about the letter and then closed the app, ready to go about the rest of my Saturday.

When I got home, I flicked through my new interactions and saw a “Nico Rosberg” among them. To be honest, my first thought was, “Oh look, a fake account pretending to be Rosberg read my blog post.” But then, I quickly scanned the rest of my mentions and saw all the extreme reactions and OMGs. Wait, could it be that THAT was the real, actual Nico Rosberg? I rechecked the tweet and stared at it for a full minute. Yes, yes, it was the Nico Rosberg with the blue tick.

I put my phone down for a moment and took deep breaths.

The 2016 Formula One World Champion actually took the time to read my open letter to him. Nico Rosberg actually laid eyes on my blog. Holy cow. Holy guacamole. How cool is that?!

While of course I was unbelievably pleased that the letter somehow reached its intended recipient (only 2 months after it’s been published!), a part of me got quite embarrassed at the thought of Nico Rosberg actually reading about my F1 ramblings and real feelings about him. I mean, this isn’t exactly a mainstream racing blog; who would’ve thought a legit racing driver, let alone THE reigning World Champion, would deign to even lay eyes on it? I remember covering my face with my hands and groaning out loud, wishing I took more time to polish it and make it…better. Yes, that’s me, always the overthinker. After a while though, I decided to let it be and just let go of my doubts. Shake it off, shake it off.

When at last I regained a semblance of composure, I finally replied to his tweet, thanked him for reading it and asked him to come visit my country, anytime he wants.

As soon as Rosberg sent that tweet, my blog hits and views have risen steadily. I’ve gotten lots of kind comments on Twitter, especially from the legit Rosberg fans who seem to be genuinely happy for me (they’re a good bunch). Though a part of me expected to get some trolling comments, none have been made so far (whew).

While it’s not exactly a huge, life-changing moment, that incident became quite a bright spot in my recent life and I still smile whenever I think about it.

So for the nth time, I would like to thank the random strangers who decided that my open letter was worth reading and sharing. I still can’t fathom what made Nico Rosberg check it out but I will always be grateful for that act of graciousness. Even if he never got to see my letter, my sentiments remain the same and I mean every single word I wrote. I am honestly humbled and overwhelmed by the response I got and the replies that I’m still getting. I suppose the best way for me to truly express my gratitude is to remain as authentic as I can be, which means that my F1 rants, raves and snark will continue to grace my Twitter timeline and this blog will be kept alive as long as I still watch sports.

For anyone else out there who wants to write and share what they feel–whether it’s F1-related or not–my advice is to go for it. Do not underestimate the power and magic of your thoughts and feelings. Go for it with all the humor, optimism, and enthusiasm that you can possibly give.

Serendipity is everywhere and sooner or later, it’s bound to find you.
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(P.S. Just in case you’re lurking Nico, let me know when you’re coming to Manila!)