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That Dog Emoji

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.

*Emma Roberts voice* Surprise, bitch! Engine Failure is back for a bonus issue this week. Look at that! I truly spoil y’all!

Before we get going, this is a reminder that the season finale of Choosing Sides: F1 dropped yesterday, and Michael Kosta made his choices for the Formula 1 team and driver he wants to support off the bat. Enjoy! And thank you to everyone who followed along all season!

Anyway, let’s get our lil’ selves going.

Pierre Gasly: A Willing Object of the Female Gaze

Friends, there've been cataclysmic moments throughout history that reconfigured the very foundation of human civilization as we know it, like the 1883 eruption of Krakatoa, the Protestant Reformation, the universally panned Game of Thrones finale.

But we saw another one of these massive societal fractures on September 14, 2022 at approximately 2:00pm EST when Formula 1 driver Pierre Gasly uploaded his usual post-race photo slideshow to Instagram and included a meme making fun of his, uh, position on the track. The screenshot (below) included a tweet from him that read, “Can someone tell me in which position I will start tomorrow’s race?” and a genius Twitter user by the handle @livvbedumb responded with a single word: “Missionary.”

Moments later, race car driver (and Pierre bestie) Tom Blomqvist commented on the slideshow saying, “You look like a missionary kinda guy,” to which Pierre responded with a dog emoji. A. DOG. EMOJI.

Esteemed colleagues, where do we even begin?!?!?!

To start, if you've paid attention, you'd know that this moment was a long time in the making for Pierre. Ever since he and his girlfriend Katerina Berezhna broke up early in the year, the scruffy Frenchman has slowly descended into a specific brand of chaos. Suddenly, we've seen photos with more beard action and chest hair than ever before. A magical chain not unlike that of a certain fictional Connell Waldron appeared with increasing regularity. The man’s BDE was just radiating, even over Instagram.

But things really got going in May when it looked like Pierre began what I can only describe as a Slut Summer™. Keep in mind that I don’t necessarily mean this in the carnal sense; I’m talking about vibes and the particular perception that Pierre is putting out there on the internet. Much like this 2016 Mic article about Zayn Malik’s debut solo album, Gasman’s entire aesthetic over the past several months has been all about making sure you know he’s having Good Times™.

We’ll come back to Pierre Gasly And The Great Slut Summer (an excellent title for a mid-aughts teen romcom, btw) in a little bit. But first, I want to talk about what I call the Daddyfication™ of Pierre and why it matters in terms of the sports fandom. More specifically, let’s unpack why this particular version of Pierre is doing it for so many people (especially women) who didn’t really give him the time of day before.

Am I arguing that he’s anywhere close to perfect? No. Am I saying he’s a woke king? Absolutely not. Moreover, I don’t think Pierre has ascended to full Daddy status yet; after all, he’s only 26, and he’s still getting his footing. He’s made mistakes — both personally and professionally — and is still learning from them. And let's be real: A true Daddy wouldn’t be stuck at AlphaTauri. But I am saying that he must’ve talked to Toto Wolff about a 10-year plan and then read a little feminist social theory somewhere, because this man has decided in 2022 to become the living embodiment of the female gaze.

To be clear: The female gaze is about more than a thirst trap. Plenty of F1 drivers have taken those and showed off their bodies; that’s nothing new whatsoever. But what Pierre’s various recent photo dumps and other happenings have shown is that he’s evolved past simply letting us (the general fanbase) know that he knows he’s attractive. He wants us to see ~what's on the inside~.

Obviously, we need to have a general working definition of the female gaze for all of us to abide by for the remainder of this newsletter, and I really like this one from Tori Telfer’s Vulture article on the subject from 2018: “It’s emotional and intimate. It sees people as people. It seeks to empathize rather than to objectify. (Or not.) It’s respectful, it’s technical, it hasn’t had a chance to develop, it tells the truth, it involves physical work, it’s feminine and unashamed, it’s part of an old-fashioned gender binary, it should be studied and developed, it should be destroyed, it will save us, it will hold us back.”

While Telfer is talking about this more in cinema, much of it still applies to the way Pierre goes about presenting himself on social media as of late. (Also, if you’re new to discussions of the female gaze, I recommend reading more here, here, and here. And to be clear, there are many valid criticisms of where the female gaze has its limitations; in our current media, it’s often portrayed as white-women-focused and cis-het in nature.)

To continue on our journey, just look at a few of these photos from his 2022 slideshows over the last six months:

As you can see, they’re far more artistic and thoughtful than the average F1 driver’s posts. They tell a story. We’ve got quite a few shots from behind as well as some shirtless photos in windows and in bed. We’ve seen more than our fair share of chest hair from Pierre all of a sudden this season. Even the photo he uses as his Instagram profile picture isn’t a typical headshot or obviously related to racing (unless you know it's from the Monaco Grand Prix). There’s intention here.

But the female gaze isn’t solely about aesthetics; it’s about feelings too. Pierre has shown a lot of outward emotions in the past three years. He penned an incredibly beautiful tribute to his late friend Anthoine Hubert back in 2021, and I think few things will top the mix of feels in those iconic photos from his 2020 Monza win. More recently, we saw him spend a lovely day driving with his dad and half-brothers and go on a family summer vacation; everything simply looks joyful. He’s someone we know can wear his heart on his sleeve from time to time, even if we don’t always see this side of him on the track.

Personally, I think Pierre is a genius for this female gaze pivot over the summer, however intentional or unintentional it might’ve been. Between this and his (now-overplayed) love of the “Liked by Pierre Gasly” meme, the Frenchman is showing that he’s embracing the new fandom in all of its digital-first and female-driven glory. While some annoying dudes on the internet are circle-jerking over each other’s bad, boring, and unoriginal takes about whether or not people (specifically women) should find the drivers hot, Pierre is providing those women (and many others) with the content they want. And you know what? This man will have a better and more fascinating fanbase for it in the long run; he's certainly become infinitely more interesting to me over the past five months or so than he ever was. Last week's missionary talk and DGAF attitude only added to the intrigue.

To be clear, Pierre isn’t the only driver to embrace the female gaze, especially over the past year or two. Lewis Hamilton has sprinkled these types of aesthetics among more traditional thirst traps for a while, and this photo of Charles Leclerc’s back should be hung in the Louvre. (Also, Lewis with his niece and nephew??? A different type of female gaze-y moment!!!!) Carlos Sainz and Valtteri Bottas also do the female gaze in their own ways, albeit on rarer occasions, while Susie Wolff shows off her man in this light all the time. However, Pierre’s quicker-than-normal entrance into this type of content is worthy of note, especially against the backdrop of his ongoing Slut Summer.

And is there a driver on the grid whom I think is going the complete opposite route from Pierre and plunging into male gaze chaos? Well…

Let’s Bring Lando Norris’ Fuccboi Fall Into This

As I teased in Monday’s newsletter, I think it’s time to contrast this with what we’re seeing from Lando Norris’ Fuccboi Fall. (Similar to the Slut Summer, Fuccboi Fall is a state of mind and not simply based on the time of year.)

Lando’s past few weeks post-Luisa breakup have been categorized by him hanging out with a bunch of dudes in various capacities, semi-jokingly learning how to DJ (while also chilling with various super famous DJs), and very conspicuously taking private transportation everywhere. Not to mention, he posted that unnecessary and weird breakup message on Instagram Stories that got his drama splashed in various British and American tabloids. In other words, he’s clearly in the midst of a bro fest that he doesn’t want to end for the time being. I get it: We’ve all gone through an “it’s all about me and my homies!!!!!” phase after a bad breakup. That’s incredibly normal. It’s a little cringey, but fine in the short term.

Do I think all hope is lost for Lando? Not at all; he’s not even 23 years old yet. But I do think he needs to talk to Pierre a little more and come up with a new plan. Or, at the very least, he should have a chat with his British pal Lewis; he could get some pointers on how to pull himself out of whatever this is.

All this to say, just call Pierre Judith Butler, because he may very well be on his way to becoming an important feminist theorist in his own right.

Formula 1 Decided Women Needed More Reminders That Sexism Exists

A lot of Women Stuff™ has come out in the world of F1 that I haven’t gotten to address over the past month, so let’s give that rundown:

1. I didn’t get to comment on F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali’s  remarks from a few weeks ago about how it would take a meteorite for another woman to end up in F1.

First of all, far smarter science folks have already explained that meteorites hit Earth frequently, so Domenicali's little metaphor doesn’t even work from a factual standpoint. (Ah, it feels nice to “but actually” a man from time to time.)

Second, Stefano isn’t necessarily wrong about us being a long way off from having a woman simply taking part in an F1 weekend — but the fact that he won’t implicate himself and the organization he represents as the problem is what’s so aggravating. Women aren’t racing in F1 en masse because of some unknown force; they’re not on that grid because of decades of men like Stefano Domenicali (and women who’ve aided them, let’s be clear) who have found all sorts of ways to keep them out at every level of motorsports. Beep boooooop.

2. Tatiana Calderon is back in Formula 2 after having sponsorship issues with her full-time drive in IndyCar. Full disclosure: I interviewed Tatiana for Choosing Sides: F1, so while I don’t know her well personally, I spoke to her on one occasion almost six months ago.

I wouldn’t necessarily hail this move a #girlboss win, but Tatiana’s return to F2 was met with a great deal of unnecessary derision in my opinion. As I’ve long maintained, true progress on this front isn’t about moving the needle for a one extraordinary woman; it’s about how we create sustainable pipelines over time. That will include female drivers who aren’t winning all the time and who move around a lot. If you have problems with how the system is set up, take issue with that instead of a single individual — especially because this infrastructures affects men in faaaaar greater numbers than women.

3. Two-time W Series champion Jamie Chadwick is doing an Indy Lights test, completely taking her outside of the junior formulas. This does not mean that Jamie is completely giving up on getting to Formula 1; it just sounds like she’s keeping her options open, including going through IndyCar’s development series. Still, it’s not like tons of women make it through there either — and it’s even more bleak that a woman hasn’t been able to run a full-time IndyCar season since 2013. (Just look at what happened to Tatiana Calderon this year during her attempt to change that.) I just find this whole situation exciting in some respects but depressing in others.

4. Over the Dutch GP weekend, Red Bull principal strategy engineer Hannah Schmitz, who’s received increased attention this season for her work contributing to Max’s championship blowout this season, endured renewed abuse for 72 hours following the race over Max’s home GP win.

The running theory: Between Sergio Perez’s spin on that Saturday’s qualifying (which ruined both Mercedes’ cars final runs in Q3) and Yuki Tsunoda’s bizarre incident retirement during the race, F1 Twitter developed the theory that Red Bull had put these plans in motion to secure Max the win; the idea soon spread that Hannah Schmitz was at the center of these actions. 

While I definitely raised an eyebrow or two on both days, I think it’s more than a bit of a stretch that Max (who’s already the championship leader by a loooooot) and Red Bull (also comfortably leading the constructors’ championship) would strategize to further sabotage other people to this extent in order to deliver Max the win. I’m a suspicious person by nature and don’t trust anyone, but uh, even I believe that whole conspiracy was a liiiiittle bit much.

While we’re talking about this though, I doubt that Red Bull (or any of these teams, for that matter) have the proper support mechanisms in place to help employees who face racist, sexist, homophobic, or other types of abuse (both internally and externally) just for simply doing their jobs. I sure hope RBR gets with the program, especially since they seem hellbent this season on trotting Hannah out as pretty much the only evidence of their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

5. Soooo many people on my various social media feeds were so excited about the FIA hiring Natalie Robyn to be its female CEO. Personally, I don’t think this is the big feminist win some folks are painting it to be. While on a surface level it’s nice to have female representation in the highest echelon of motorsports, Natalie doesn’t seem like some sort of revolutionary really here to shake things up; I don’t trust the FIA to hire someone like that. Still, I’ll give her a chance to show us what she’s got. (That said, her hiring does not mean that we should hold her to a much higher standard than her male counterparts when it comes to substantive change; we have to put pressure on the men in this institution as well and not throw it all on just her to fix everything.)

6. This section has been bleak, so to end on some good-ish news: Four female drivers drove Formula 3 cars during some testing this month. Of course, my immediate question is, what the hell comes after that? Is there an actual pipeline here, or is this just a one-off PR thing to try and make the formula system look good? But still, I hope these women had a good time, learned a lot, and made valuable connections.

Another American Will Be in Formula 2 Next Year

Heyooooo, it looks like Logan Sargeant is gonna have an American buddy in Formula 2 if Williams keeps him in the junior series for 2023. Seventeen-year-old North Carolina boy Jak Crawford said he's moving up to F2 from F3, where he finished seventh in a tight championship. He won a race this season and was on the podium four other times.

My personal rule is that I don’t comment too much on minors in the sport; it feels weird to look too closely into the backgrounds of people under 18 unless there’s something especially egregious or important. (Not to mention, many of them drop off of the junior formula scene around their late teens.) For the time being though, I’ll just say I’m excited to see what Jak does next year. I’m also intrigued by what’ll happen now that we suddenly could have two Americans in F2.

And for those who are keeping track of the American Formula 1 pipeline, the other big name coming up the feeder series is Ugo Ugochukwu, who’s currently in P3 in the Formula 4 British Championship and the sole official member of McLaren’s actual Young Driver Programme.

Soon It Won’t Even Be Fun to Attend a Grand Prix

Folks, I’ve gotta be honest: After I attend the 2023 Canadian Grand Prix next June, I’m not sure if I’m attending an F1 GP IRL for a loooooong while.

I had a fabulous experience in Montreal last summer, and I’m sure next year will be great. However, as we’re seeing more and more information come out about the awful experiences folks are having buying tickets to and then attending various GPs around the globe, it’s obvious that this is a feature and not just a bug of Formula 1.

Let's go through a smattering of just the recent summer fuckery, shall we? There were reports of harassment at the Dutch Grand Prix as well as horrendous ableist moments, bullying, and logistical incompetence at the Italian Grand Prix. The Silverstone ticket sale website was, by all accounts, an absolute fucking disaster last week. (And I’ll speak from experience in saying that the Canadian Grand Prix’s rollout and sales system wasn’t much better this year. This doesn't even include what a nightmare finding accommodations was, where hotel and Airbnb prices in Montreal have skyrocketed over 1,000% for the race weekend in some cases.) Plus, Liberty Media is planning on making next year’s Las Vegas Grand Prix at an inconvenient time for practically everyone in the world except some West Coast Americans who like staying up late. To put it simply, the list of nonsensical-at-best and horrible-at-worst fan experiences — as TV viewers as well as GP attendees — goes on and on.

Obviously, these massive complications and obstacles existed long before 2022. But I’ve been thinking a lot about what RACEWKND co-founder and publisher Magnus Greaves told me a few weeks ago about how Formula 1 views itself as more of a B2B business than a B2C one, and nothing has made that more clear than the past two months. Between all of the logistical and behavioral issues at its various circuits as well as the borderline-apocalyptic ticketing experiences and now unnecessarily packed 24-race calendar for 2023, it’s never been more apparent that F1 doesn’t actually give a shit about the actual people involved — and by that I mean the teams, drivers, and fans. Formula 1, the FIA, and Liberty Media wanted the sport to see a major uptick in growth; well, they got one, and as institutions, it appears that they don’t seem to care about new fans, veteran fans, or anybody else but themselves.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy fix to these kinds of large-scale problems. We can’t make F1 and its archaic ways change overnight. But what we can do is think about how our Formula 1 fandom elsewhere can lead to better experiences for all of us. That means just simply being nice to people on the internet, at watch parties, and at circuits. That also means supporting small entrepreneurial endeavors (merch lines, independent media businesses, digital communities, and more) that are trying to create fun products, services, and experiences for non-wealthy fans since Formula 1 largely won't. That means that if you watch F1 races at a bar or restaurant (I’m speaking mostly to Americans here, because our country’s tip-based service industry structure is trash), give that bartender and/or server lots of money as a thank you for taking care of you. And lastly, that means telling F1 over and over again to get its shit together. Remember: You’re paying them money. It’s more than okay to make demands.

Like what you see? Check out other recent Engine Failure issues, check out the EF website, 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.

I can’t believe it, but it’s been nine months (NINE WHOLE MONTHS???) since we did a Dress Like a WAG feature. The first installment of what was supposed to an ongoing series was all about Carmen Montero Mundt (the crowd favorite style muse), but today I’d like to talk about another fashionista on the grid that y’all like quite a lot: Isa Hernáez, Carlos Sainz’s longtime GF.

To recap what we’ve already said about Isa time and time again: She’s 27 and worked in the world of fashion PR for several years before moving over to more full-time influencing. She also runs a voyeuristic Instagram account called Madrilenians in Madrid, which documents the style of (I hate to say it, but typically only skinny, white, and rich) women in the city.

Isa’s style tends to lean more into a mix of casual and looser-fitting preppy silhouettes for every day use and then a few show-stopping and brightly colored fits for special events.

Similar to Carmen, Isa’s got an incredibly distinct personal style, so let’s go through what makes up her wardrobe and what you can wear if you’re looking for inspo and options. And as a challenge to myself, I didn’t pull picks solely from Scalpers (aka the fashion brand Isa used to do PR for) too much.

Annnnnd now you’re all set!

Heyooooo, Nicholas Latifi’s GF Sandy Dziwiszek was admitted to the New York Bar. George Russell as a Sim. Wait, why are stethoscopes part of pit stops? Behold: The 10 worst F1 teams of all time. Mick Schumacher took over the aux. Ohhhh, an interview with the Pirelli motorsports tire chief. Formula 1 has new fancy TAG Heuer watches. Eyewear is quickly becoming a go-to F1 accessory to sell. Guess who’s raced the most laps this season. Nikita Mazepin is very attached to the Russian flag. Lando Norris is coming close to an unwanted F1 record.

This week’s question: Which F1 driver do you think would have the most chaotic pizza topping preferences and why? (Also, which topping(s) would they choose?)

Submit your answer here.

Photo credits: Pierre Gasly, Lando Norris, Jamie Chadwick, Tatiana Calderon, Jak Crawford, Dutch Grand Prix, Daniela Fermin, and Isa Hernáez.
Copyright © 2022 Engine Failure, All rights reserved.

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