The Alternative Guide To The 2018 F1 Grid.



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. 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.



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!




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.



(P.S. Just in case you’re lurking Nico, let me know when you’re coming to Manila!)