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Welcome to The Capitalism™

Howdy, hi, hello. Welcome to Engine Failure, a culture newsletter that dives into what the fuck is really going on in Formula 1. It’s written by me, Lily Herman.

Howdy, friends and enemies! Whew, I’m still recovering from the utter slog that was yesterday’s Singapore Grand Prix, but I can’t rest too long, because today’s a big day: Engine Failure now has a Patreon. (Read below to learn about that!)

Also, for those interested in the other stuff I do as, you know, a professional writer and editor, check out my interview with critic and academic Hua Hsu about his new memoir Stay True. It’s one of the best books I’ve read all year. Onward!

Support Engine Failure Through Its New Patreon

Esteemed colleagues, the time has come: You can now regularly tip me for my work on Engine Failure if you feel inclined to do so by joining the EF Patreon. Click here to do just that!

To be completely honest, I dislike talking about money in regards to EF because finances make some people Weird™. (You probably know the types of folks I’m alluding to.) However, considering how big Engine Failure has gotten and what my schedule looks like, I’ve had to start thinking about the dirty mistress known as Capitalism™.

Engine Failure is a joy to write every week. I started the newsletter at a time when I was really losing a sense of what being a writer meant to me and what my editorial voice sounded like. There was a lot of other stuff going on, and it was pretty fucking dark, to be honest. But I always looked forward to scribbling down my thoughts on George Van Smoot syndrome and the driver who best represents Taylor Swift’s beloved single “Style,” even if it was just a few dozen people following along. One great thing about EF blowing up in numbers though is I do, in fact, have confidence that what I create is valuable, and I deserve to be compensated for my time, effort, thoughts, and ideas.

Enter the Engine Failure Patreon. Among the many costs these tips will cover:

  • Email marketing fees (I choose Mailchimp for a very specific set of reasons, and it costs money, especially for such an exponentially growing list.)

  • Licensing fees for things I’d like to incorporate into the newsletter in the future but can’t right now because I’m not paying hundreds of dollars out of my own pocket.

I don’t think I necessarily need to sell you on this, but here are Good Reasons™ why you should consider setting up a recurring tip:

  • Much as it loathes me to write this (because I hate buzzwords), Engine Failure is an independent media operation, which is a fancy way of saying that I’m a professional writer and editor who pens this thing in between the other 27 things I do with no outside help or backing. The world of media is already in shambles, and folks who go the indie route are always teetering on the brink of destruction. Money (especially from readers and not advertisers) helps me avoid that.

  • I know for that fact that I talk about a looooot of stuff that other publications — American or otherwise — simply don't when it comes to F1 and motorsports at large. If you like this unique blend of ye olde internet humor mixed with my feminist Yankee-yet-Southern sensibilities, make it easier for me to keep writing.

  • Between the research I do for each issue, writing the issue, sourcing photos and credits, proofreading, answering as many reader emails/DMs as I can in between my paid work/life, and everything else that goes into EF, this is easily 10-15 hours of unpaid labor a week, if not more. That’s a lot to ask someone to do without any form of compensation, especially long-term.

And to go over my own fine print: I don’t consider this a subscription in the traditional sense; you won’t be paying me for more stuff, nor does offering $5 a month mean I will give you more access to me, editorial oversight of any kind, or anything else. Instead, consider this a recurring $5 tip every month to say, “Gee, it’s very nice of Lily to already write 4,000-7,000 words (or more!) every week about Formula 1. I’d like to show gratitude for her time and effort in the form of a small but incredibly helpful ongoing monetary contribution.” That’s it! I may decide to give patrons a little extra thing from time to time, but you should not go in expecting that. As for everyone else who doesn’t join Patreon to tip me, this newsletter will still remain free for the foreseeable future.

However, because I consider myself a Kind Person™, the Engine Failure Patreon will include an ongoing conversation series called Spare Parts. (Thank you to the Sleutheria DM for thinking of the name!)  In the coming weeks, patrons will see discussions around (but not limited to):

  • The anatomy of an F1 thirst trap

  • An F1 driver whom I think would make the ultimate enemies-to-lovers hero

  • The WAGs who’d create the best coven

  • An in-depth look at if the Haas F1 team or Louis XVI flopped harder

And a whole lot more!

Now for a gloomy disclaimer that won’t apply to 99% of y’all because you’re lovely people (but I have to say it anyway): If you are someone who gets Annoying™ when any amount of money is involved, please do not sign up for Patreon; just continue to enjoy getting this newsletter for free. If you ever send me a douchey “But I pay money for this!!!!!" email or DM as a means of highlighting your discontent over something (especially if it’s insignificant, which it likely is), I will happily remove you as a patron and go on my merry way. The bottom line: I don’t tolerate entitlement. Self-awareness is a gift. Know thyself!

Anyway, that slightly dour note aside, thank you to those of you who choose to tip me monthly and continue to be a delight to write for and talk to! I look forward to chit-chatting about F1 things with y’all. Here’s that Patreon link one more time.

Lando’s Post-Breakup Hobbies

Folks who follow my Instagram Stories know that I’ve been diligently tracking the progression of Lando’s post-breakup hobbies. (For those who want to read my analysis of that whole Lando/Luisa situation, you can do so here.)

As you’ll recall, we first had DJ’ing during early and mid-September, but as of the Singapore Grand Prix race week, Lando has decided to suddenly focus more on photography. In fact, he was so hype about it that he started his own photography Instagram account to show off his skills. And hey, he’s pretty decent! A little edgy! Slightly emo!

Personally, I like Lando channeling his conscious uncoupling blues into this endeavor. It’s creative, harmless, and fun. Don’t worry about him being too wholesome though; he posted a series of shirtless photos after his P4 finish yesterday. Hey, he wants to win the breakup!!!! Let him try!!! (Also, today's Conspiracy Corner question has to do with Lando's lil' hobbies, so if you're someone who's been DM'ing me about LN's shenanigans, now's your time to shine.)

Let’s Talk About the W Series…Again

Ooooooooof, y’all. Last week, The Telegraph (meh) broke the news that the W Series is currently so cash-strapped due to funding issues that it may not even complete this year’s 10-race season. Its founder Catherine Bond Muir made it very clear to the media that she’s working tirelessly to get the rest of the money needed to finish out this year, and I appreciate her using her time in the spotlight to highlight how common these problems are for women in racing. But even if she does get the money she needs to get everybody to the U.S. and Mexico, the future of the series as a whole is still very much a question mark.

My thoughts? Uh, for starters, I’d love to hear from W Series Advisory Board Chairman and F1’s favorite girlboss, David Coulthard. You’ll recall I had much to say about him and his various empty initiatives to supposedly help women get into motorsports and specifically F1. Where is he in the midst of this mess? (Also did he ever apologize for those nipple or mother gene comments? What say you, DC?)

Coulthard’s faux feminism aside, I unfortunately don’t have too much to say that I haven’t already stated across various other EF issues (including here, here, and here) about the broader problems with this series. That said, let’s recap: The concept of the W Series, while well-intentioned, was flawed from the start; it currently takes place in its own vacuum away from the junior formula pipeline, and the series itself doesn’t really know what it is. (Part of that issue is, of course, financial constraints; it’s hard to create an identity for any brand and expand on it if you're monetarily drowning all the time.) And seeing as Jamie Chadwick is about to become champion again for a third time (she’s literally the only person who’s ever won the W Series), we’ve got biiiiiig problems.

There are a lot of interesting grassroots efforts and organizations working to get women into motorsports, but they'll always struggle to make serious inroads without larger consistent backing — both financially and institutionally. To put it simply, it’s all incredibly bleak unless these bigger motorsports organizations themselves and their sponsors get actively involved for a very long time.

While we’re talking about what sponsorship looks like for female drivers though, let’s switch gears a bit…

Could We See Beauty Brands Enter the Sponsorship Mix?

Last week, I received an interesting DM: Manvi Mittal, an account supervisor at a New York City-based PR agency (and massive F1 fan), recently noticed that several of the beauty brands she works with as a publicist were getting quite a few inbound sponsorship requests from American female drivers. 

Their collaboration questions were geared towards other motorsports series (and not F1), but it still opens up an interesting question: How might the sponsorship and media needs of women differ across racing compared to men — and should they? I suspect many of y’all will have a variety of opinions. I’ve thought about this a lot over the past year ever since I saw Canadian driver Samantha Tan giving her skincare routine to Glamour and American racer Toni Breidinger discussing her love of makeup with Bustle; I was fascinated by the various pros and cons of this media strategy (and the move of specifically going after women’s media placements). This is something we’ll definitely continue to talk about in EF.

In the meantime, a big thank you to Manvi for messaging me and answering a bunch of questions to get us all thinking. Here we go:

Engine Failure: Can you briefly explain a little bit more of this phenomenon you’ve seen of female drivers looking for collaboration or sponsorship in the beauty space?

Manvi Mittal: For big household name beauty brands, it’s pretty standard to receive requests from budding influencers, makeup artists, and brands asking for collaborations or sponsorships of many kinds. This past year specifically, or past few months actually, I’ve noticed a new category coming into play: Budding female motorsports drivers. [They’re] asking to sponsor upcoming races or full seasons even. Companies are listening, be it legacy makeup brands or cult-fave skincare brands; they are not necessarily closed to the idea.

EF: When did you first notice that this started happening, and roughly how many female drivers have you heard from?

MM: I’ve been in this industry for over four years now, and this past summer is the first time I’ve ever received these emails in my inbox. I’ve heard from about 3-4 already, but I have some friends around the agency circuit who have also noticed the same.

EF: In your professional PR (and motorsports fan) opinion, why do you think female drivers are looking to these brands for sponsorship? What does partnering with a beauty brand do that more traditional companies of motorsports sponsorship don’t?

MM: It’s no secret that motorsports is an expensive and male-dominated industry; having women even at the more senior and heavily-funded level of racing championships like Formula 1 is an anomaly. For these young female drivers, collaborating with beauty brands is a great way to carve out their niche in a highly competitive market where everyone and their peers are fighting for funding from the same brands. The most common type of brand sponsorships we see on the American and international tracks are usually limited to spirit brands, local sports teams, energy drinks — basically conventionally alpha-masculine marketed brands. Working with beauty brands is a great option for these young female drivers to stand out and also appeal to this new generation of female fans of the sport.

EF: What do these beauty companies look for when considering a collaboration, especially with a public figure/celebrity or athlete?

MM: When considering collaborations in general, from a press standpoint our first thought is always to make sure this person is mediable, which is that the media would be interested [in chatting] with them and that there is a story to tell. The most successful partnerships are the ones where there is a common thread between the brand and ambassador and an authentic narrative where the collision of those two worlds makes sense.

EF: If a brand were to move forward with one of these driver sponsorships or partnerships, how would that take shape? And from your standpoint as a PR professional, what would “success” look like?

MM: In my dream world, I’d love to see a beauty brand sponsor a big race and a young female driver (or all female drivers!) driving that season. A big sponsorship like that could entail social media content, new product lines, and on-location activations. (I’d feel so much better about paying hundreds of dollars to see a race if I got a free manicure with it.) The possibilities are endless.

Given that this is still a pretty new area, I’m not sure anyone really knows what success would look like yet, but I do think this is an exciting era for motorsports, particularly in America. Drive to Survive has opened the American audience to this whole new world, and while Formula 1 is not-so-slowly and steadily increasing their presence, people are also gravitating towards NASCAR and IndyCar more than ever before — and it’s not just men anymore.

Thanks, Manvi! Also, Millennial pink Glossier car WHEN?!?!

Like what you see? Check out other recent Engine Failure issues, check out the EF website, join EF’s Patreon, and then forward this newsletter to a friend because you're a nice person who wants to see me ~succeed~:

And if you have tips, suggestions, theories, intel, gossip, or questions, tweet me, send me an email, or use EF’s anonymous tip box.

We really had a classic Lewis Hamilton weekend from a sartorial perspective. He wore almost entirely fits from runway collections that just debuted for next season, and he was largely leaning on design heavy hitters like Versace, Missoni, and Kenzo. I’m baffled that this man didn’t pass out while wearing that blue and yellow sweater on media day, but hey, you can make anything work when you’re a bazillionaire. (It should also be noted that we had a newer name styling L this weekend according to the F1 fashion IG accounts: Eric Mcneal. Lewis’ usual stylist Law Roach must be busy after being named to the TIME 100 and taking part in various duties for the Business of Fashion 500. We'll keep an eye on if Eric sticks around!)

More critical to this newsletter, a brave and generous soul asked Sir L to drop his skincare routine. He said…soap and water plus a moisturizer. Anticlimactic, I know. For the record, he answered this question back in May and noted that he does “a cold splash in the morning and [uses] a special soap to wash my face...I use a toner kind of lotion...and I use two different serums.” Lewis!!!! My guy!!!!! Did you not listen to Manvi and see the sponsorship opportunities here????

Now of course, nobody asked, but if I had to recommend a brand to Lewis Hamilton, I’d probably say Youth to the People. Their products are vegan and this Superberry Hydrate + Glow Dream Mask would make him feel like he’s on a Vogue “Beauty Secrets” video. (He should absolutely do one of those, btw. And while we’re at it, the Sleutheria DM also said he should record a Harper’s Bazaar “Go to Bed With Me” feature too. I concur!)

Lastly, while we’re talking about Lewis: His +44 merch brand put up two new images (here and here) ahead of the next drop, which will take place during this weekend's GP in Japan. As always, these riddles likely lead nowhere, but I remain vaguely intrigued.
On the WAGs front, we got more of the same this weekend: Sandy Dziwiszek stuck to her usual neutrals and a few muted prints, Kelly Piquet also stayed with neutrals and gladiator sandals, and Charlotte Sine wore some ensembles that didn’t quiiiiiiite go together. I liked her Balenciaga bag though!
Away from the paddock, the one thing really getting me going this week (as with every week) is Carmen Montero Mundt’s daily OOTDs. Look at her! And look at that exquisite tailoring!
I don’t really have too much to say about Mom and Dad this week. They did their usual bikey bike thing and drank their lil’ gin and called it a day. What more could you ask for?
Folks, I’ve practically given up on this man. Showing up in navy shorts???? For the entire weekend??? No wonder Max cooked his tires and Lewis crashed. Carlos really said, “Wow, mercury is almost no longer in retrograde, so let me just make everything worse in the meantime.” Somebody needs to take this Earth sign down a peg. Virgos, collect your man.
The real reason Checo won in Singapore. George Russell was on Throwing Fits but didn’t get to talk a whole lot about his fits. Behold: Isa Hernáez made her Pinterest profile public. Yes, Esteban Ocon knows that everybody calls him Estebestie. What’s up with this old Gilles Villeneuve biography? There’s gonna be a Vegas GP launch party next month. Wait, would Red Bull sell AlphaTauri? The lucky losers of Monza. A Seb documentary on Netflix? Hmmmm, maybe this is evidence that Nyck de Vries is getting that AT seat after all. Valtteri Bottas and Zhou Guanyu agree on who’s the most handsome at AR. Awwwww, Cocos! I’d trust F1 teams to know how to beat jet lag. Looks like Lewis Hamilton has a jewelry exemption. Ohhhh, the Merc FE team has a new documentary. Is the Singapore Grand Prix all that great? Let’s talk about Audi’s entrance to F1. What the fuck is up with crypto’s hold on this sport? How many penalty points do all of the drivers have? How did Formula 1 catch fire? Yeeessss, Lewis dropped a new playlist. Lance Stroll’s sister is now on TikTok.

Thank you to everyone who wrote into last issue’s Conspiracy Corner question: You’re the Ferrari fashion line’s new creative director, and you’ve been tasked with putting out a single clothing item or accessory that encapsulates the F1 team’s 2022 season. What do you create and why?

As always, y’all had things to say and I couldn’t include every single response:

  • Charlie: Definitely a tie — that way they can wear it to their own funeral.

  • Julia: A pair of high waisted white jeans. Groundbreaking? No, like Ferrari having a shitty season. Pretty? Yeah, for two minutes before you stain them with something, like a Ferrari weekend you start great just to fuck it up on Sunday. But you always come back to them because of the emotional value and how great they make you look.

  • BH: Monogrammed handkerchiefs with rosso corsa details — for crying into when Ferrari inevitably messes up strategy. Again.

  • Elena: I’d emperor’s new clothes it. Create nothing but talk a lot about how great and impressive it is.

  • Bec: A single glove. A gorgeous, well-made driving glove, but completely fucking useless without the fourth tire…I mean, other glove.

  • Emily: A broken tire gun purse.

  • Olivia: I'll keep it simple: A clown suit.

  • Nikki: A suit made of a gazillion question marks that are....on fire. The fire is in Ferrari red and yellow, of course, and it symbolizes Carlos' car on fire and Charles' engine up in smoke, plus the "questionable" strategies. As creative director, I would walk down the runway with the model and ask the crowd, "Do you want to buy this suit? Question."

  • Julia: A mullet dress. Not too bad when you first see it, but the more you look at it, the worse it gets.

  • Andrea: A branded blindfold.

  • Hannah: The poncho. It has its moments and its diehard fans, it cycles in and out of style, and it has plenty of fabric for Charles to rage-scream into when he realizes he’s been fucked yet again.

  • Fiona: A beautiful, sleek red leather handbag, the base of which is made of a gossamer-thin material which frequently fails and causes everything to fall out and the user to become increasingly frustrated. A triumph of style over substance.

  • Andie: A graphic T-shirt depicting a trash fire and Mattia looking on and not appearing vexed at all. It costs $450.

  • Molly: A Snuggie that's FASHUN. Ferrari fans deserve something cozy and comforting (but still stylish!) to help them endure the rest of this miserable season.

  • Susie: An ankle-rise Ugg. A lot of potential in theory, but then in practice, it’s quickly revealed to be a troll-footed mess that looks good on no one.

  • Meghan: A thneed, of course! (From The Lorax.) "A-fine-something-that-all-people need." (Except we don't.) Nonsensical chaos that wrecks paradise. (The Tifosi's hopes and dreams.)

  • Emma: Okay, hear me out.... Ferrari should be taking inspiration from Julia Fox, the chaotic tabloid-bait Kanye West ex-GF. Specifically, I would like a red version of this hooded boob-sling top with a giant Ferrari logo in the middle. Why? Does this not give major luxury chaos? How many races has Charles retired partway through, like a top that quits before even covering the underboob? It screams, “We are Ferrari and we don't play by the rules of mortals. You couldn't possibly understand. You'll hate us for it though.”

Today’s question: As we've established, Lando is currently making his way through a series of post-breakup hobbies. What should his next hobby be and why?

Submit your answer here.

Photo credits: Kym Illman, Lando Norris, W Series, Samantha TanToni Breidinger, IMAGO, Carmen Montero Mundt, Valtteri Bottas, Tiffany Cromwell.

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