Rose tinted glasses seem to be the fashion accessory of choice for Formula One fans. Maybe it is an age thing, maybe it is the fact that in such a quick-to-give-an-opinion, connected world, it is easier to highlight the bad rather than celebrate the good.
Five minutes ago, we were up in arms that F1 had lost its soundtrack. Now, thanks to Netflix, you can’t be a fan unless you can name the amount of rivets in an original Fangio car.
F1 needs new fans if it is to continue to be the pinnacle of motorsport and so, for all fans new or old, here is our take on this seasons drivers. Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve never had it so good…
Now considered part of the ‘old’ guard, Lewis is a megastar. Make no bones about it. Accolades and championships aside, he garners more attention than the rest of the paddock collectively. He is the Messi of motorsport and we should be proud that he is there. He has a passion for the sport. Lets get it said; he doesn’t need the money. He does it for the love and passion of the competition. Tragically, we normally mourn these heroes when they are no more yet we are witnessing such a talent, that we should savour it. He will retire. He will be replaced. But will he be bettered? Who cares.
A consummate team player, he has always put the team first. At Williams, he was noted by Claire Williams as being their ‘superstar’ and that still rings true. He can be quiet but his determination to push Lewis and not be too hot headed to lose out for the team makes him a classic Nordic personality. He will be easy going right up to the point of pillaging the points while still being cool, calm and collected.
I’ll admit it, there was a moment when I wanted to let him know where to put that finger at Red Bull, but he is just a nice guy. Away from the paddock at least. He isn’t one for the glitz and razzmatazz of the traditional F1 playboy, quite the opposite. A family man yet he has a ruthless racers streak on the circuit. Always happy to be in and around the fans, he has a keen sense of humour and is one of the good guys. While Ferrari may look to support the talent of his teammate this season, Seb still had to beat his team mates at Red Bull to win his titles. Expect to see him hungry for more.
Even people who hate Ferrari love this kid. I’ll go as far as to say, I’m one of them. I’m not a Ferrari fan, although I do love some of their cars, I don’t hold with their sway over the FIA, prize money or belief, that they ‘deserve’ to be higher up the grid. That is wrong in my opinion so get over yourself. But in Charles, they do have a talent and a likeable personality. While Seb has struggled, Charles can be seen as part of a new wave, new blood and new generation of F1 driver. Calm under pressure yet still ready with a gallic passion whether things go right or wrong, he is a shining light in the series. He is to be celebrated just as much as his team mate this season.
Never short of self confidence, Max has a growing swell of fans and rightly so. The youngest winner of a race in F1, Max has his fathers opinions married to being a better driver. Occasionally hot headed, he is a reason to be a follower of Red Bull. With the fanatical following of seemingly the whole Dutch nation, a wonderful nation of people in their own right, you’d be hard pushed to argue against them. If Honda have made the right steps this season that people think they have regarding the engine power, he may just yet deliver on becoming a world champion sooner rather than later. And that would be great for the sport let alone Max.
If you wanted to embody the definition of humble in a human being, it would be this guy. With last seasons switch between him and Pierre Gasly, it would have been easy for him to become a bit of a cocky driver. But he has knuckled down, knowing that if he doesn’t deliver, there will be another Red Bull academy pilot itching to replace him. Smiles in the paddock bely his ruthless driving ability. Will he push Max for podium places and points? I hope so.
Another personality in the paddock we will miss when he’s gone, the ‘Ice man’, ice-cream aficionado and lets not forget, world champion, Kimi is a fully paid up member of the old guard. An object lesson in how not to PR, Kimi is a fans dream. Well, he would be if he could be pushing further up the grid but he is so unique that he is still a good honest draw for the crowd. Gone are the race wins but the laconic drawl in a press conference or post race chat is the same; measured, calm and slightly sweary. Ace.
While he hasn’t had his share of screen time from Netflix or Formula One, he is a charming, easy going guy. He showed improvement during the last campaign but wouldn’t it be icing on the cake to see him and all of his hair hit the podium. An Italian guy in an iconic Italian car? What’s not to like! As with many on the grid, he hasn’t got there with a lack of talent after his close runner-up finish in 2016 GP2 to Pierre Gasly. And he must be liked by his team mate too if, for nothing else, he runs number 99, a classic British ice-cream.
Speaking of Pierre, here is the hero to zero of last season. Devastated to be dropped by Red Bull back to the then called Torro Rosso team, he also lost his dear friend, Anthoine Hubert at Spa. But, the raw emotion of his podium with the ‘second’ Red Bull team in Brazil is a reason for loving this sport. As the team has branded to become Alpha Tauri, we hope to see that smile and fluid driving ability return this year. We do like to see nice things happen to nice people.
Another driver who was messed around by Red Bull, probably more than any other. While he had his share of issues, he looks to have his mojo back. After looking likely to exit F1 completely, he has shown a resilience that makes him one to be admired in this group. Lets see if his comeback confidence transfer to a good points haul this season. That piano keyboard smile is worth seeing.
A great British driver showing grit and determination in another iconic brand on the grid. While he has needed to deploy a mixture of British wit and sarcasm, the car, after all is pretty rubbish, George has come of age. With solid support in the form of the Mercedes driving academy, you cannot rule him out of eventually making his way forward in the grid. Wether that will be in a Williams may be in question, but with a mature head on young shoulders, George is a great addition to the ‘next’ generation of F1 stars.
A late starter in the world of karting at thirteen has done nothing to diminish this guys ability. 11 years from first sitting in a kart to taking a grid slot in F1 – boom, get in. He has a great sense of humour which Williams may need given that this seasons car is a development from last years. The team has a great atmosphere with these two guys in it and it is needed. The injection of having Robert Kubica return last year and Paddy Lowe have a short lived position as technical director from Mercedes, failed to deliver any lasting life last season. The team needs to start new and these two should help no end.
Softly spoken in many real life situations, Romain is a genuinely ‘nice guy’ and you would be hard pressed to find many who would disagree. Clearly, the love of his life is his wife and seeing them up close in Singapore, it was refreshing to see them just be a normal couple. Holding open car doors, walking hand in hand, he is clearly a lover not a fighter. Until the flag drops of course. Hopefully, infractions with his teammate won’t reappear this year as he is a quality driver. As well as a romantic.
Another reason to love the Nordic approach to life, Kevin is as refreshing as a dip in to Danish waters in winter. Purely driven to win and move forward, the rest of the circus of F1 is seemingly of no importance to him. And why should it be? He does what he needs to do, he says it like it is, he goes home. Isn’t that what we all want from a job?
Superstar smile extraordinaire, Daniel lights up everything F1 with his presence. If you have a chance, go to You Tube and watch his overtakes since being an F1 pilot. There are many and they are all worth the excitement that he provides. While many doing the podium interviews will not relish him being up there as he does love to drink his champagne from his used race boots, the top steps do suit him and his energy. He is definitely the mate you would want out of all these guys to head to a bar with. As long as he keeps his shoes on.
Speaking of mates, Esteban is a good friend with the new crop of drivers in the paddock. See him with Lance Stroll for reference points on that. He had the ultimate sacrifice made for him to be here too. His parents sold everything and they all lived in a caravan travelling from race to race in his early years and look how that sacrifice has been returned. His friendship with Lance shows his character too seeing as it was Lance who replaced him while at Force India when his father stepped in financially to support the team. He has returned to the grid which tells you everything about the grit of his character.
There are many traits you can use to describe Carlos Sainz junior that he has inherited from his father; intelligent, instinctive, tenacious. Nicknamed Chilli, he is one spicy driver that’s for sure. But he is also a leader and he makes an effort to include the whole team win or lose. He and his teammate are constantly playing around with each other which further shows that when not on track, that camaraderie can bring the team and the fans together.
I know, I know, he looks about ten, but don’t underestimate him. His attitude to being in F1 and the humour he brings has also brought new fans to the sport. And they are much needed. We hope to see this transfer to another solid season for him as well as more off-track entertainment. This team needs to be higher up the grid, leading the midfield would be a great start. These guys are a breath of fresh air in comparison to some of the not too recent past. Long may that continue.
‘Checo’ as he is referred to by many, is the definition of underdog. Podiums have come when the car he is in doesn’t deserve it. He can have a gung-ho attitude to his wrestling of a race car as well as edging his teammates out of the way on occasion. But that doesn’t stop us getting excited when he is pushing on tyres that should’ve been replaced laps ago. He isn’t always going to give you a podium finish but he can deliver a grandstand performance more often than not.
It is easy to level ‘his dad is a billionaire’ at this guy, but that is just lazy criticism. Usually from the jealous. He has been a solid on-track performer, excelling in wet weather and generally moves forward during a race. Away from the race, he is to be found giving back to his supporters with his time, approachability and easy going smile.
Heading into the season, we have a plethora of talent in front of us. Talent from the front to the rear of the grid. It is easy to be a keyboard warrior troll or snide observer, but the sport really has got all the right people racing in it right now. It would be great to see women come into the seats from the new W-series as they also deserve to be fighting in this upper echelon of motorsport.
While we wait for that to happen, here at Caracalla, we are looking forward to wearing out the edge of our seats this year.