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Logan Is Ready to Lose Himself

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.

Greetings, weirdos!

Annnnnnd just a few days after last week’s delayed 9,500-word issue, we’re back at it! Unlike the rats of New York, the F1 drivers DO run this city, we don’t!

I had a much smaller email list this time last year heading into the off-season, and some of you might be wondering, “What’s there to talk about when the drivers aren't racing?” Um, A LOT, folks! And it gets very unhinged in these parts!!!! Stay tuned!!!

We can fast-forward through my usual spiel about signing up for the Patreon (aka "financially supporting independent creatives who put out good work is A Nice Thing to Do™ if you're able to, yada, yada, yada"). Onward!

Goodbye, Seb

Tbh, I don’t think I have anything new to write about Seb given that the entire F1 stratosphere has been saying goodbye to him for several months now.

I actually gave him my best send-off earlier this season in two separate newsletters over the summer. Here’s what I wrote back in July when talking about Fernando Alonso’s issues with moving on and growing older: “Perhaps Alonso could learn a few lessons from someone like Sebastian Vettel, who's attracting new fans for veeeeeery different reasons nowadays than he was a decade ago. He appears to embrace the fact that many of his best days on the track are behind him; he’s known to lots of newer folks in the sport as primarily a crunchy granola activist dad who builds bee hotels and rides a bike to the paddock during race weekends. He’s not the same person he was even a few years ago when he was at Ferrari — and he seems at peace, even content, with that. I don't think that's the worst thing.”

I followed it up in August with this: “To me, the thing that’s most admirable about Seb is his growth trajectory: Here once stood a 20-something pain in the ass who was an excellent driver but could be obnoxious and a bit too cocky for his own good. Now he leaves this sport a humbled dad in his mid-thirties ready to focus on making the world a better place and being there when his children get home from school. (They will no doubt immediately run straight to their rooms and ignore him sometimes because that’s what kids do, but at least they know he’s gonna be there.)

To me, that’s the best any of us can hope for: We figure our shit out eventually and evolve into better people by the end of any given life phase. There are more than a few drivers I’m ready to fully embrace if they decide to follow a similar path, and I hope we get to see them make it there. But if we can take away anything from Sebastian Vettel’s ~arc~, if you will, it’s that growth is good — and it’s just as important to know when to hang up the F1 race helmet.”

And lastly, my earlier reflections on the beauty of Sebastian Vettel and Mick Schumacher’s friendship: “We don’t often get to discuss how rare it is to see such a pure, kind, supportive, and gentle show of male friendship, particularly in as hyper-masculine an arena as Formula 1. I’m gonna miss that so much, and I think a lot of people, especially other men, benefitted from seeing that on the grid, however subtle it was at times.

There are other driver friendships I really like, but many of them are still rooted in some form of competition or alpha flexing. (Or, at the very least, certain drivers can’t talk about their fondness for one another without getting sarcastic or snapping into weird emotion-distancing territory.) The fact that Mick and Seb hugged a lot, waited for each other after races, and were always happy to speak about one another at press conferences with zero pretense was a breath of fresh air.

Seb seems to have been a friend to quite a few drivers on the grid and also showed them that he was an ally at critical times. Again, what a guy he turned out to be.”

Happy retirement, Seb. Mazel tov on completing the ultimate enemies-to-lovers hero’s journey. Please go buy Hanna a drink or 12.

The Evening Y’all Want to Talk About

If you’re a person in the F1 world who follows any bit of the sport on social media, there’s a 100% chance you saw one or both of these two ~driver events~ floating around last Thursday: A group shot of all 20 drivers that I call The Class Photo and then a second series of pictures of the drivers eating dinner together at what I refer to as The Last Supper. What made The Class Photo even more wild is that almost every driver on the grid reposted a version of it on Instagram with a yearbook-y HAGS caption; meanwhile, images from the dinner largely came from the newfound photographers of the grid, Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo. But let's dive into both incidents further!

(Also, for those who are wondering: Lewis Hamilton reportedly organized the outing and picked up the tab. Good stuff.)

Of course, I’m a biddy who loves the goss, but I felt out of my depth handling this level of social complexity and musical chairs alone. As such, I kindly asked my pal Emily Selleck from Page Six to give me a boost and break down what could’ve theoretically happened in both of these scenarios. Emily has single-handedly carved out the Formula 1 beat over at the New York Post and has attended many races herself as press. On top of that, she has an encyclopedic knowledge of every celeb who has ever lived (and who will ever live!) and has an instant recall of what she’s heard about them, where she heard it, and what she’s seen with her own two eyes. She also gave Engine Failure an exclusive scoop below.

Let’s actually start with dinner before moving to the group shot, which likely happened afterward.


The Last Supper

I’ve never seen such demand for anything in my life as y’all wanting a comprehensive analysis of The Last Supper’s seating chart. (And props to Twitter user @chillibadger for creating this graphic so that my lazy ass didn't have to. *shudders in Photoshop*) Contrary to internet rumors, Salt Bae had nothing to do with this meal; this dining experience was actually at the Michelin-starred restaurant Hakkasan Abu Dhabi. But let’s dive into what else Emily told me:

1. First and foremost, because I’m not one to (always) bury the lede, Emily says she received an insider tip on what went down. "I'm told the group was in 'high spirits,' and a 'celebratory mood' was felt throughout the meal," she explains. "The drivers dined in a private area of the restaurant with 'heavy security' and enjoyed top-shelf liquor including Don Julio 1942, Roku Gin, and Clase Azul Tequila. They ordered Dim sum, Duck salad, Peking duck with caviar, Honey seabass, and Smoked Wagyu beef, among other dishes from the Michelin-rated kitchen. Lewis, who I'm told dined at the Tao Group restaurant on three other occasions over the race weekend, enjoyed the Stir-fry lettuce wrap, Mooli puff, and Eryngii mushroom dumpling. When he returned on Sunday, he was spotted hanging out with 'Happy' singer Pharrell Williams, while his teammate George Russell enjoyed a private dinner with his friends." Fascinating!

2. Annnnnd now onto how we ended up with this somewhat wacky seating chart. Below, Emily posits her theories (with a tiny assist from myself). Really though, she’s playing 4D chess while I’m a basic biddy playing checkers. And again, these are just theories:

  • Emily made the smart observation that many of these drivers probably arrived in their team pairings since quite a few were likely coming from the circuit. (A couple may have gone somewhere to change, but given how many duos were next to their corresponding teammate, this makes more sense. It also explains several of the stranger interactions.)

  • According to Alex in interviews, he and Nicky were the first to arrive and were there 20 minutes before everyone else. (“Punctual kings” was Emily’s note and I 100% agree.) Emily thinks Haas were the next duo to join since they too are likely punctual — and they sat on a similar side of the table as the Williams guys.

  • From there, Emily theorizes that the Aston Martin and Mercedes drivers arrived together, placing Seb next to Mick with Lewis on his other side. She says it makes sense, then, that George would sit across from Lewis since he wouldn’t want to get stuck at the end of the table. [Editor’s note: I could see the warring factions in George’s head wanting to pick the seat at the ~head of the table~ while also being afraid of not being part of 18 different conversations at once. The man is perpetually running for class president, after all.] This, of course, leaves Lance: Where does he go? He makes his way to the head of the table — not because he wants to be the main character, Emily notes, but because that’s where most of the drivers already are and he wants to sit next to his buddy Mick.

  • The question I got MOUNTAINS of DMs about from all of you was how the hell Max and Esteban ended up sitting next to each other. Emily hypothesizes that this started with Red Bull and Alpine arriving next: “I think Esteban beelines towards the end of the table to be near his besties Esteban and Mick. Max looks at who’s there already and notices he either has to sit next to Lewis or opposite [of] Lewis, or he can go near Alex, Esteban, and Mick,” Emily tells me. “Not really his crew, but that decision would make sense to me.”

  • Next on Emily’s list: At this point, it would appear that Alfa Romeo arrived followed by Ferrari, which is how Valtteri ended up sitting across from his old teammate Lewis and next to the guy who replaced him aka George. Zhou chooses to go next to Fernando because Nando is Zhou’s childhood idol (smart!), while Carlos decides to sit in the seat left between Checo and Lewis. “I can’t imagine Checo or Lewis were saving it for Carlos specifically,” Emily explains. “And it wouldn’t make sense that Ferrari arrived at the same time as [Alfa], otherwise Charles would’ve just sat next to George.”

  • Emily believes the McLaren guys arrived towards the end of this little parade because, if given the option, Danny Ric would’ve likely sat in the middle of the table. (That’s just…how he is.) And lastly, we have the AlphaTauri dudes arriving. Pierre grabs the head of the table (because it’s…Pierre), while Yuki opts to sit next to him.

Is Emily a genius? Yes. And onto a few of her other observations:

  • Based on the scoop above, Emily was surprised the guys had “heavy” security seeing as Lewis is the only driver known to have someone with him in the paddock. “‘Heavy’ security implies multiple people. Was there team security too?” she posits.

  • Circling back to the ~interactions~, Lando mentioned in interviews that he got to talk to some people he’d never spoken to before and Daniel gave similar sentiments. Emily theorizes that this has to be about Yuki and Zhou, since LN and DR both already seem pretty friendly with Pierre. “Maybe Fernando falls into that camp as well given that he doesn’t spend as much time with the younger guys,” Emily continues, “which I think is really wholesome.” (Emily and I both hope this means a new friendship between Nando and Zhou. Also, Zhou could really help Nando level up his wardrobe.)

  • Probably the most out-of-place person at this entire dinner was Carlos. “I don’t think it makes sense for him to be in the middle like that, but obviously [he] and George are friends, so maybe it’s not that weird,” Emily explains.

The Class Photo

My eyes nearly popped out of my head when the first posts of The Class Photo dropped on drivers’ profiles — and then they just kept coming. I actually read less into these images than I did The Last Supper (since standing around for a photo is more improvised than choosing where you’re gonna sit and converse for a multi-hour dinner), but Emily once again proved that there’s hypothetically way more to this sitch than meets the eye:

  • She points out that Max is still standing near Alex, Nicky, Kevin, and that whole crew from his side of the table. “Did he come away from that dinner with some stronger friendships?” she asks. [Editor’s note: MAYBE.]

  • “The thing that I’m immediately struck by is that they’re all [separated] by the same color palette,” Emily explains. “I’m not of the impression that there was any kind of dress code for this occasion, but I think it’s interesting that everyone’s in black or white more or less.” It’s a quirky crew of drivers who are wearing more colorful clothes, like Esteban, Fernando, Alex, and Kevin. (Zhou, the fashion king he is, of course dressed for the occasion.)

  • Both Lewis and Pierre are wearing deep royal purple, which is fascinating considering that the two of them have become closer recently, including bantering back and forth and chatting elsewhere on social media. “They had to have laughed about matching, because this seems like such a niche color choice,” Emily says.

And a few other (less insightful) points from moi:

  • A bunch of people also DM’d about Lewis’ arm looking mighty chummy around Checo. I’m…not the least bit surprised that it was read by the public as a show of solidarity in the wake of Interlagos. BEEP BOOP.

  • For as much as Seb Vettel hammered home in his Beyond the Grid interview that he and Fernando Alonso are NOT friends away from the track, the two seem to get along just fine here. Nando was weirdly emo about Seb’s exit all weekend in a way that was strange but…touching?

  • A couple folks have asked about the cards that drivers like Checo and Yuki are holding; apparently Seb wrote everybody individual notes!

A tremendous thank you to Emily for joining me in this journey, giving us a good scoop, and having wildly amazing insights on both of these events!!!

Should We Care About the F1 Academy?

Late last week, Formula 1 finally gave its answer to the “why the fuck aren’t there any women in F1?” question by announcing the F1 Academy for the 2023 season.

But before we talk all about that, I recommend sinking your teeth into this fantastic feature from Jezebel’s Emily Leibert about the state of women in F1 that was published the day before this academy news dropped. She’s worked on it for MONTHS, and it’s my go-to primer now for describing the male-dominated situation in this sport. Emily will hopefully be in a future EF issue to talk about this article in-depth (and to unpack some of the more niche stuff that didn’t make it in!).

Anyway, there’s been a lot of chatter ever since the F1 Academy announcement. 

My first thought: Please dear god tell me David Couthard ISN’T involved in this. (And speaking of our favorite nipple-loving #girlboss, how’s that vanity project More Than Equal going, DC? Haven’t heard a peep since its glossy launch over the summer. Hmmmm.)

My second thought: I’m doing a little bit of eye-rolling and have questions about what the intangibles of this project are going to entail, like mentorship and technical training. Personally, I’m not as concerned with F1 doing everything perfectly off the bat; the requirement of perfection for any social equity initiative to be deemed “worthy” is part of the framework of oppression.

At the same time, F1 has a tendency to wander away from these types of enterprises within a year or two — the minute the immediate and superficial PR payoff begins to wane. Look no further than #WeRaceAsOne (sigh) and #DriveItOut (lmaaaaao), the latter of which lasted for…exactly one Grand Prix, never to be heard of again following a fancy video and a social media post on every team’s Instagram. While there are certainly individual actors who care about these actions within the F1 world, the entity as a whole doesn't like it when things are difficult or without an immediate monetary gain and/or public kudos.

I’m going to track this initiative over the course of the 2023 season and beyond (...if it makes it that far) to see how it pans out. Here are the list of questions I’ll ask myself to evaluate how it’s going: 

1. Where does this factor in with the W Series, which is prominently mentioned in the marketing for the F1 Academy but is already struggling to find funding for 2023? Is F1 — and the FIA — prepared to step in and help? (For the record, the W Series CEO says she’s fully prepared to support this initiative.) And what other adjustments will be made to junior series like Formula 2 and Formula 3 to ensure equal opportunity and access on a larger scale? What changes to the super license system need to be made?

2. Is the F1 apparatus consistently soliciting feedback from the young women drivers and other folks who are actively working on this project in real time? How are they collecting and processing that information, and how are they incorporating it?

3. Is F1 fully prepared to financially sink its teeth into this initiative long-term, or is it going to meet a similar fate as the W Series a few years in? (As in, will we even be talking about the F1 Academy in a year like 2025 or 2026?)

4. Is F1 ready to address the full pipeline and create other initiatives that address disparities that exist even at entry points in motorsports like karting? What does that look like?

5. How will F1 factor additional intersecting identities into their work to bring new faces from different backgrounds to the grid in this opportunity and others?

Only time will tell.


Cartier Rising: The Bracelets Return

This is a deep cut for the biddies who’ve been around the EF block for a while: Last December, I casually mentioned that Max, who’d worn a single Cartier Love bracelet for a while, had conspicuously added a second Cartier Love bracelet between the 2021 U.S. and Mexican Grands Prix. Such a cheugy show of wealth seemed a little out-of-character for Max, and my Sleutheria DM has periodically internally referenced The Case of the Cartier Love Bracelets ever since.

Now, however, the plot thickens: Sleutheria stalwart Byrd Pinkerton noticed that Max added a third bracelet to the mix, which is now squished between his two Cartier bangles. What is it? Where did it come from? And what does it ~represent~?

I’ll let Byrd explain the quest to figure out the origins of this latest accessory.

My fellow little Engine Successes, I am part of Lily’s group chat the Sleutheria. We are the collective Watsons to her Sherlock, and we need your help.

To start, some context. You may remember last December when Lily described one of our first real attempts at sleuthing: The Case of the Two Bracelets. To recap, one of our more eagle-eyed sleuths, Elena, spotted not one but two Cartier Love bracelets (or very similar accessories) on Max Verstappen’s right wrist. These bracelets are a wacky, silly way for rich people to declare their committed love for each other, as they have to be locked onto the wrist with a specialized key. The mystery here was not “Why did Cartier decide that love is best symbolized with golden handcuffs?” but instead “When did Max actually decide to add these bracelets to his wrist — and for whom?”

We had a fair amount of evidence to work with. Max wears these bracelets…seemingly everywhere? Like, he’ll wear them while helicoptering around, while reading newspapers, while doing his little Zooms, and even sometimes (but not always) while working out. (Side note, some of Max’s workout pictures are very hilarious.) Would he wear them on a plane? Yes. Would he, could he on a boat? No, it seems that even though he wore them at the beginning of this sailing video, he then took them off when he went out on the water. He also doesn’t have them on in his F1 car, presumably because of the jewelry ban, which suggests that if they’re actually Cartier Love bracelets, he has to carry around the bangles AND their two little corresponding keys to every circuit.

Anyway, after a whole lot of time scrubbing through press conference footage and Instagram, praying that Max would 1) be in short sleeves and 2) touch his face to reveal his wrists for scrutiny, we determined that a first bangle was added at some point in 2020 and the second was added much later between the 2021 Austin and Mexico GPs. (He had a single bracelet in the Austin press conference and a second after Mexico, so it was sometime between October 24, 2021 and press day on November 4, 2021. Yes, I also question how I choose to spend my time.)

Our wildly unsubstantiated theories were that the first bangle was for his girlfriend Kelly Piquet, whom he started dating around the time the initial bracelet appeared, and the second was for his mom Sophie Kumpen, who — if Wikipedia and various Instagram posts are to be trusted — has a birthday on October 30th.

So far, so conspiratorial. Case closed.

Except now, folks, the case has been reopened, because it seems that Max has added another bangle! And this one is different! It’s thinner, with beads or enamel of some kind. We know he was not wearing it at the Hungary press conference in July. But by September, when he got the “Extremely Orange, Very Dutch, Good Job” award, he was wearing it, and he has continued to wear it since; you can see it in this shot from his celebration of his mother’s birthday in October and this one, courtesy of Lando-dot-joyful-photo-god. 

Which means we now have The Case of the Third Bracelet, and we need your help, because we have a lot of questions. We have, as yet, been unable to identify the brand/design of this third accessory. [Editor’s note: Byrd and the Sleutheria also asked various jewelry-based subreddits but to no avail.]

Any and all tips that help narrow down what brand or type it is would be much appreciated. We’d also love to know more about when Max added the third bangle. Was it sometime in August? Is this one for Penelope, Kelly’s daughter? Whomst knows? Perhaps you?

Thank you for helping the Sleutheria during this trying time where we create an absolutely absurd and unnecessary Formula 1 mystery out of thin air and then try to solve it for no reason. Huzzah!

Another Discussion of FASHUN

There were two fashion news items I wanted to quickly highlight:

1. The aughts really must be back again, because Pacsun is reportedly coming out with an official collection with Formula 1. It debuted the line at a recent convention, but it’ll be available online and in select stores starting on December 12th. Of note, the price range will be around $30-65, significantly lower than a great deal of current F1 merch.

A number of fast-fashion websites have created incredibly unsanctioned F1 merch in recent months, but this is Formula 1's first big attempt at working with a major American retail brand. At the same time, Pacsun seems random AF; it reminds me of shopping for surfer clothes in middle school at the Avenues Mall in the mid- to late 2000s. (That said, it's reportedly making a comeback on TikTok.) Just to put it in writing yet again though: I’ve been advocating for quite some time for F1 to partner with Abercrombie, which seems like more of a brand-fit in some ways. Regardless, less expensive F1 merch is a good thing! I'm glad the org is catching on!

Separately, the Italian streetwear brand Palm Angels announced a partnership with Haas. I’m definitely curious about what this will look like, because the F1 team has nowhere to go but up when it comes to apparel; its merch line alone is borderline offensive.

2. Eliza Huber, an editor at Who What Wear and a known F1 fan, published a fabulous feature on how Formula 1 has become fashion’s favorite sport. I appreciate that she not only got interviews with folks like driver Yuki Tsunoda (who says his DMs sometimes contain more questions about his fashion than his driving during race weekends) but also the person who runs one of the biggest F1 style accounts. (Huber also mentioned several others.) It’s always refreshing when someone else who’s in the trenches of F1’s internet fandom writes so knowledgeably and treats fashion like the important cultural touchstone that it is.

What’s Up With This Latest Formula 1 Hire?

I put this Deadline story in last issue’s Other People Talk section, but I wanted to dig deeper into Formula 1 hiring Isabelle Stewart, a former Universal and Studiocanal executive, as Head of Original Content. Deadline writes that in this newly created role, “Stewart will be in charge of expanding F1’s content production and creating new relationships and partnerships with creators.” (Using two different forms of the word “create” in a single sentence is a bit of an editorial oversight on somebody’s part, but I digress.)

There are two things that caught my attention about this. First, it’s interesting that at a time when there are several Hollywood projects in the works about the sport (Brad Pitt’s F1 movie, whatever the fuck Daniel Ricciardo is working on with Hulu, the Lewis Hamilton documentary, the list goes on and on), Formula 1 itself has hired someone straight from the source.

Second, when it mentions “creators,” I’m really curious about the scope. Does this just mean other big Hollywood players? Could this be creators in the social media or indie sense? I’m keeping a close eye on this.

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.

For the last time during the 2022 season (in…literally November), we’ve gotta do a quick update on how silly season panned out now that next year's grid if finally (FINALLLLLLY!) complete.

Hello to…Logan

*Julie Chen voice* It’s official: Logan Sargeant is going to be a Williams driver on the Formula 1 grid in 2023, marking the first time since 2015 that an American will compete in an F1 race and the first time in a decade and a half that an American has a full-time F1 seat. WHEW.

Goodbye, Nicky. We’ll miss you and your attempts to make liking Nutella an entire personality. We're a Logan Nation now — depending on who you ask.

For those who want to catch up on the biggest pieces of my Logan Sargeant coverage over the past year before heading into the 2023 season, here’s where you want to start:

  • The entire explanation of Logan’s incredibly messy family history, including his dad’s white collar crime and his uncle's role in Donald Trump’s impeachment, plus some discussion of Logan's alleged politics.

  • A little rant on why it matters that we acknowledge Logan’s complicated family money situation.

And now for my analysis. I’ve spent a lot of time tracking Logan Sargeant's rise over the past 13 months, and I think we’re allowed to feel multiple ways about the lad. Yes, I wish he had even an ounce of natural charisma. I also wish he wasn’t driving for statistically the worst team on the grid (but Williams will always be a winner in our merch-loving hearts!!!!!)

There’s one thing I do trust as I watched Logan give his first official F1 driver interview to Williams: I have no doubt he’s going to give it his all. He doesn’t take this for granted. (He said as much here by inadvertently quoting a line from Eminem's “Lose Yourself,” which I found…oddly endearing considering he once said it's his favorite pre-race song.) And probably for the first time while watching this interview, I saw some genuine emotion when he started discussing his enthusiasm to race at three U.S. circuits next year and even go to Suzuka. I'm already bracing myself for what might come out on the personal and/or political life front over the next year, but the video gave me a little hope that there's something here.

That said, I still want him to work on the PR stuff more, as quite a bit of that can be taught. It doesn’t take much to build a persona on the grid; hell, Kimi Räikkönen was lovingly known as The Iceman partially for hating the press and avoiding all forms of marketing fluff. It’s not that hard!!! My wish for Logan is that maybe as he starts to feel more comfortable, he’ll settle into who he wants to be. (He could even go the Maxwell Jacob Friedman route like in pro wrestling and be the ~lovable douche~! I would dig it!) Even if he's earnest and quiet, that's okay; he just needs to do something. (But in the meantime, I have a feeling that Logan and Oscar Piastri will spend the season duking it out over who can give us less.)

Overall, even I — a Logan Sargeant skeptic — can admit that there's a tiny bit of excitement as he takes his seat on the F1 grid for the first time. Sure, he might flame out in a year and we Americans could have to wait another three-quarters of a decade to get another driver from this country. But maybe he’ll turn into something more — and better. Maybe 15 years from now, we’ll all look back at the iconic career Logan had and chuckle about how we doubted him at the start. More likely than not, reality will fall somewhere in between both extremes. That’s okay. That’s racing. The most I can give right now is that I'm intrigued — and hopeful.

Also Hi to…Nico

In case you didn’t see the news before the Abu Dhabi GP got underway, Nico Hulkenberg is back on the grid. Sucked KMag balls aside, I...couldn’t be less enthused about Nico’s return. I feel like there was a real opportunity to, at the very least, put someone new and interesting in the seat if keeping Mick Schumacher really wasn’t an option. Of course, there's a lot more to Nico's story (and the highs and lows — and misfortunes — of his lengthy career), so maybe he'll surprise us. And hey, Kevin Magnussen himself had a renaissance this season; we’ll see what happens.

Annnnnd Danny Ends Up Where He Started…Allegedly

Seb has ridden off into the blond sunset with his delightful wife Hanna to fix climate change, but let’s just quickly recap where the other three lads leaving the grid are going:

  • Daniel Ricciardo: Helmut Marko, the grid’s resident swamp monster, first let it slip that Danny was going to act as a third driver for Red Bull in 2023. Team principal Christian Horner, ever cleaning up Helmut’s messes, clarified that DR had been given a contract that basically amounts to getting some behind-the-scenes driving time and doing the team’s marketing and PR but without actual on-track benefits. Danny has yet to sign on the dotted line, so who knows? Let’s give the man a little space.

  • Mick Schumacher: Mickolas’ Haas dumping was announced right before the final GP race weekend started. Poor guy. Personally, I was rooting for a little Williams chaos in them picking him up instead of Logan (because we know I love sheer pandemonium), but there wasn’t enough time to execute on that. Toto Wolf did mutter something about a test or reserve driver role for Mick at Merc though. I swear to God if another Schumacher gets a second life at Mercedes…

  • Nicholas Latifi: Ah, our little backmarker is reportedly trying to head to another motorsports series. If all else fails, he has a cushy job working for his dad’s billion-dollar food emporium waiting for him. He’s free to wear his very obnoxious Balmain and Givenchy shirts without distraction. I wish him well!

A Final Look at the WAGs’ Silly Season

More important than the driver silly season is the WAGs silly season. I’m going to start posting about the new WAGs (and no longer posting about a few others) going forward, so here’s who you can see coming on the 2023 F1 grid:

  • Lily Zneimer: We’ll soon find out if the WAGs grid is big enough for two Lilies, because Oscar Piastri’s GF joins us this winter. (Her Instagram account is marked as private, so as is my personal EF policy, I won’t link to it unless she goes public in the future.)

  • Eva Bruggenwirth: I already gave an introduction to Nyck de Vries’ longtime girlfriend Eva when Mr. Clean made his F1 race debut at Monza, but she’s officially on the grid in 2023! Maybe she can bond with Egle over their love of knits…

As for Logan Sargeant, we haven’t heard any rumors of a serious girlfriend (and he follows…quite a few Instagram models), but eh, he’s free to do as he pleases on that front.

And here’s who’s departing the WAGs grid:

  • Hanna Prater: Seb’s wife has been out of public view for years and is on no public social media, so while we love her (and Seb’s mention of her in his Beyond the Grid episode was sensational), we’ll just let her go back to living her life. Hat’s off to you, Hanna!

  • Heidi Berger: Heidi may pop up from time to time depending on what Daniel’s up to in whatever F1 position he’s in next year (if any), but I won’t cover her as an official F1 WAG. She’s posted about filming some difficult self-tapes recently, so maybe DR’s Hulu show is up for grabs…

  • Justine Huysman: F1 WAGs Instagram accounts have been debating for a month or two whether or not Mick Schumacher and Justine are even still together (no idea why), but either way, our witchy camera-avoiding queen is out of EF for the time being.

  • Sandy Dziwiszek: Nicholas Latifi’s New York bar-certified model/lawyer girlf is packing up her form-fitting neutrals and occasional print dresses and moving on. Chances seem good that she ends up on this side of the pond at some point if she and Nicky are still together down the line.

Sorry to Lewis, but this is more important: Pierre Gasly’s new-ish girlfriend Kika Gomes made her paddock debut in Abu Dhabi — first donning a look that’s eerily similar to what his previous girlfriend Katerina Berezhna (otherwise known as Kat 2.0) would’ve worn, sans maybe a few extra ruffles. (And to answer your question, yes: I’ve long thought that Kika bears a slight resemblance to Lando Norris’ ex-girlfriend Luisa Barosa Oliveira.)

As you’ll recall, there’s been a little noise around their relationship since Kika is 19 and Pierre is 26. (They were first spotted together in April, a few months after her birthday.) Kika turns 20 in January, but I don’t think that’s gonna silence the eyebrow-raisers a great deal. As for her style: The pink Kat-esque dress is from For Love & Lemons, the blue fit is Capsula Organic, and the pink set is also Capsula Organic. The two Capsula outfits are giving me some Elena and Luisa vibes, so we’ll see what else Kika brings to the grid next season.

It was a relatively run-of-the-mill fashion weekend for Lewis, though the outfit I got asked about most was his weird butt/nipple holes ensemble from Craig Green. I guess the intentional nip slip is in for menswear.

Y'all had MUCH TO SAY about this bizarre brown ensemble from George Russell. Folks referred to him as Colonizer Chic™, Safari Beige™, and Prince Philip on His Honeymoon™, and I can’t say I disagree. He followed it up with a classic blue-and-white-striped button-down and another preppy-tastic Sunday outfit, so…he tried.

Oh, and then Lando did us the disservice of taking photos of George’s feet and legs. We are not blessed!!!!
He was never a Fashion King by any stretch, but Seb was out ‘n’ about in some fun shirts for the final race of his F1 career.

And now for the rest of the WAGs fashion grid! We had an absurd number of significant others at the final race of the season, and the sartorial energy was all over the map.

George Russell’s stylist half Carmen Montero Mundt was largely in a Tommy Hilfiger mood (as were Merc’s drivers), while Esteban Ocon’s girly Elena Berri threw down with quite the series of ensembles; one day she looked like she was going to The Club™, the next day she wore a cropped button-down (a signature piece for her) with patchwork denim and a Birkin. (I just want to know about how she procured it, though I hear it’s getting easier to find them.)

Kelly Piquet, who’s largely been quiet about her love for Max for the past few weeks, wore A Very Kelly Outfit (white dress, gladiator sandals) and posted plenty of the duo on Instagram Stories and her feed, Lily He dazzled in a damn tie (!!!) and continued to show her adoration for vintage Prada and Miu Miu, Sandy Dziwiszek did her whole neutrals/print dress aesthetic, and Charlotte Sine donned a more interesting green dress but continued to carry around that damn Balenciaga bag that matches nothing in her wardrobe.

Oh, and in keeping with our tracking of Nadine Merabi moments, Tiffany Cromwell stepped out in a pair of NM shorts — along with a pair of gladiator sandals. I will truly never know peace.

It was the last race weekend and what did our Patron Saint of Thigh-Hugging Denim give us? That’s right: A heaping pile of NOTHING. It was navy shorts and pants all around! I’m truly concerned that all of this bad juju is gonna unleash itself in the 2023 season and Carlos 'n' friends are gonna be royally fucked. I'll have a more analytical look at the Denim Watch later in the off-season.
I hope y’all are on Linkedin, because McLaren is hiring. Lewis has a year left on his current contract, so...what comes next? A Lando Norris interview with a side of Tumi promo. The Black Eyed Peas x F1. NYT says it was an intense season of F1. Is Austin or Miami the better GP venue for fans? Will the FIA investigate that wayward Monaco GP quali session? We know when the six 2023 sprint races will be. How does one make an F1 start following an induced coma? Seb discusses his retirement. Danny Ric wrote a lil’ letter to McLaren fans. George Russell wants to keep racking up those GP wins. Give it up for Britta Roeske, Seb’s longtime press manager. This video of Lando showing Kelly his party pics while Max fist-pumps in a club lives rent-free in my head. This take on the F1 theme song is a bop. Formula E is trying pit stops in 2023 — kind of. This duo shares a single brain cell. The Carlos Sainzes together. Mmmm, I don’t think calling Kelly a trophy is The Move. Such a rich text from Nikita Mazepin. Lily He says Alex's golf game is bad!!! How to lose an F1 championship.

Thank you to everyone who wrote into last issue’s Conspiracy Corner question: What did Checo actually do to make Max so vindictive? (Wrong answers only!)

Among your many opinions:

  • Olivia: Literally exist. This man wants RBR all to himself!

  • Byrd: Checo stole the keys to Max’s Cartier love bracelets back in June, thinking it would be a fun prank. But A) Max takes love very seriously and B) he was genuinely concerned he wouldn’t be able to take them off and get yelled at by the FIA jewelry police.

  • CJ: On a recent flight together, the boys decided to hype themselves up for the upcoming World Cup (cue the running list of issues) and play some FIFA 23… and despite being the elder teammate, Checo absolutely embarrassed Max. And as expected, top-tier hypermasculine athletes don’t like losing.

  • Emma: Used his oat milk from the communal RBR fridge.

  • Ysa: Checo took all the singing Baby Shark toys after they filmed in the RB yacht in Monaco, which left Max with no gift to give Baby P. Cue his burning hatred for the Mexican driver.

  • Rachel: Christian Horner (Daddy Spice) walked into the briefing room and hugged Checo before Max.

  • Taylor: Checo’s oldest son defeated Max’s quasi-stepdaughter Penelope at a simple game of hopscotch. (I don’t even know how you win hopscotch, but somehow it was a competition.)

  • Anna: Checo took Max's world champion celebratory tequila shot and Max has been pouty ever since.

  • Maryann: Checo sent in Max’s coffee order, and instead of a no-foam, soy latte, Max ended up with a full-foam, full-dairy concoction.

  • Robert: Have a supportive dad. (Sorry, I had to be this blunt.)

Today’s question: Your least favorite driver on the 2022 grid has to quit motorsports racing (cars, motorcycles, etc.) for good and try a completely different sport. What does he pick, why, and how does it go?

Submit your answer here.

Photo credits: Kym Illman, Formula 1, Logan Sargeant, Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, Pacsun, Box to Box Films, Mick Schumacher, Daniel Ricciardo, Haas, Nicholas Latifi, Egle Ruskyte, Eva Bruggenwirth, George Russell, Mercedes, Elena Berri, Alfa Romeo, Lily He, Carmen Montero Mundt, and Carlos Sainz.
Copyright © 2022 Engine Failure, All rights reserved.

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