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So...George Russell's Eyeballs

Howdy, hi, hello. Welcome to Engine Failure, a Formula 1 culture newsletter that dives into what the fuck is really going on in F1. It’s written by me, Lily Herman.

Before we get into the water-logged cataclysm that was the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, let me remind you all to forward this newsletter to a friend and tell them to subscribe. I’ve got big plans! Also, send them last week’s newsletter about the F1 summer break! I swear it’s fun!

Anyway...

Every single thing about this weekend's race was built for chaos. George and Vatteri being stuck together on Media Day. This outfit from Sir Lewis Hamilton. THE RAIN.

Today though, I’d like to discuss something ultra-polarizing in Formula 1. No, I’m not talking about Lewis and Max’s tumble at Silverstone, Fernando Alonso’s return to the sport, Spa's podium, or Aston Martin’s choice of green car hue. (That last thing is a bourgeois problem if I ever did see one.)

No, instead we’re talking about George Russell’s eyeballs. More specifically, why no one can seem to agree on if they’re absolutely stunning or downright terrifying.

Here’s a recap of George Russell for those who are new: He’s the baby-faced 23-year-old whiz kid over at Williams, where he’s patiently waited in the wings for almost three years to take Valtteri Bottas’ spot over at Mercedes. In terms of the British drivers on the grid, Lewis Hamilton is the cool older cousin who introduced you to weird house music, always knows ~a guy~, and is probably in a cult, while Lando Norris is comfortably situated in the “internet dweller who definitely committed all of the Sims cheat codes to memory” slot.

It’s obvious that George isn't interested in snatching either of those crowns, instead going for more of a “would fit in no problem at a polo match and totally brag to you about his tangential connection to the Royal Family” vibe. He’s never met a preppy blue-and-white striped shirt he didn’t like, and if you told me he wears only a long nightshirt to bed, I’d believe you, no questions asked.

Because of this, no one can quite put their finger on George. Is he really a fine bloke, or is it all just an act? 

This is where his eyes come in, because I think they’re the core reason why people are so undecided on him. It tooootally has nothing to do with his racing.

First, here are three photos that contain George’s eyes, courtesy of his Instagram:

Chances are you had a strong reaction to them. You either said, “OMG he’s adorable!” or you thought, “Get those things away from me!!!!”

So, how did George’s genetics do him dirty? After a great deal of scientific analysis on my part, I’ve concluded that he has what I call George Van Smoot syndrome.

For those who haven’t watched every single episode of How I Met Your Mother at least 1,300 times (I don’t blame you, it hasn’t aged like a fine wine), there’s a character in the sixth season named George Van Smoot, better known to the characters as The Captain, played by silver fox Kyle MacLachlan.

Simply put, The Captain petrifies Ted Mosby and his band of emotionally stunted misfits, and they can never quite articulate why. That is, until one day resident goober Marshall Eriksen figures it out: It’s the fact that his eyes and smile don’t match.

Take a look at this clip. Get what I mean?

I shall use this same principle but applied to George Russell. There’s his smile. It’s nice! Friendly! Cute! And then there are his eyes. Sure, they might look okay sometimes, but could they also potentially rob you in the night and not in a cool, sexy way? YES.

Put another way: The man has the facial features of both the love interest and the douchey Other Guy™ villain in a rom-com!!! It's unsettling!!!
Does all of this fodder have anything to do with George’s chances of finally putting his compact lil butt in that Merc seat or whether or not he deserved that podium yesterday? Nope, but I'd argue that this is much more important work.

Today I’m ranking a bunch of the drivers based on their red flag garage activities, because what else is there to talk about?

P1: Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc. Watching them play chess against each other had to take the cake. (You can actually see their game here!) Also Carlos’ chess screen name being “chili55” despite him saying on multiple occasions that he hates spicy food is just funny. I also appreciate their commitment to meme shenanigans.

P2: Daniel Ricciardo. I know the Ricciardhoes are running with that P4 result, and I’ll allow it. On an earnest note, I appreciated Danny Ric trying to entertain the crowd throughout the three-hour snoozefest. Watching him put his trainer Michael Italiano in a headlock was equally amusing.

P3: Lando Norris. I’m still recovering from bb Lando’s betrayal over the vacation break, but watching him mock the F1 cameramen and nap his way through the chaos was a mood.

P4: Lewis Hamilton. The dude had what can only be described as a harrowing bathroom experience worthy of 10 years of therapy. Godspeed, king.

P5: Pierre Gasly. He wanted some sausages, and I hope he got those sausages.

This section is largely dedicated to Lewis Hamilton (with occasional appearances by Pierre Gasly) because let’s be real here: No one else on this grid has any sartorial imagination. They do not want us to be entertained!!!

I was still recovering from earlier this season when Lewis showed up to the paddock looking like a beige Teletubby, but I think this "lumberjack after a rave" outfit might be my least favorite. The “Beverly Hills mom on her way to pick up a pressed juice” sweatsuit is marginally better. Still, he served us...#lewks.

Meanwhile, poor Pierre had to wear a painfully baggy Alpha Tauri ensemble to the track (*shudders*) and then deal with a bit of a hair snafu during the race. He too gave us something, but it wasn’t his best. RIP Vacation Pierre™.

(Photo creds to Lars Baron and Mark Sutton.)

We should’ve known this weekend was going to be a disaster when Carlos showed up to the track wearing *chinos* instead of denim. CHINOS. It was all downhill from there!!!

1. This is just a video of Daniel Ricciardo being Daniel Ricciardo in Los Angeles. I know what my readership wants, and I’m giving it to y’all.

2. This essay from Pierre Gasly about his friendship with Anthoine Hubert, the Formula 2 driver who died racing at Spa in 2019, was published earlier in 2021, but it felt important to include during the weekend. I’ve got no snark; it’s just really beautiful and poignant.

3. Will Formula 1 adapt to climate change? The answer, in my opinion, is LMAO.

4. For those still getting up to speed on George's whole sitch, here ya go.

Thank you to everyone who wrote in about last week’s Conspiracy Corner question: You’re stuck on an island with a Formula 1 driver. Who would you choose and why?

Here are a few great answers I got:

  • Emma: “Val for sure. He clearly knows his way around the outdoors and could take nice pics of our island for the joint memoir we release about it after getting rescued.”

  • Carly: “Guenther Steiner. Cons: not a driver. Pros: funniest F1 human no contest.”

  • B: “Pierre Gasly. Not because he has any particular survival skills. I just want to hang with Pierre.”

  • Adrianna: “Danny Ric - He’s from Australia which is an island so I feel like he could handle it and man is he beautiful.”

  • Natalie: “Mick. Not sure how much he’d offer survival wise but who doesn’t want to be stuck with a golden retriever-like companion?”

Today’s question: Pretending for a second that everybody is single as a Pringle, which driver should be the lead on the next season of The Bachelor? Make your case in three sentences or less.

Submit your answer here.
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