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It's Time for Media Talk

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.

Welcome back to a very 2023 issue of Engine Failure! New year, same shenanigans!

To go through some housekeeping: Engine Failure patrons had a fun time over the past week. My chat about F1 thirst traps with romance novelist extraordinaire Andie J. Christopher went live, as did a list of 10 Formula 1 tidbits I never got around to publishing in EF in 2022. On the Patreon docket for the rest of January: A Q&A where patrons get to ask for my thoughts on whatever F1 topics they want (goss will be dropped!) and an entire week of Spare Parts convos at the end of the month.

Second, my only New Year’s resolution is to get back to being an Inbox Zero Girly™, something I was before 2018/2019 and that I’d like to achieve again, as I’ve slacked on emails in recent years. As such, if you send me an email and it makes sense for me to respond, I’ll try to get back to you within 72 hours (or much sooner if it’s urgent).

Lastly, if you feel so inclined, I’m expanding my lil’ email newsletter empire yet again with the addition of And Another Thing, my free monthly-ish culture newsletter, on January 18th. Y’all can subscribe here! The first two issues will discuss my prediction for the biggest mid-2020s heartthrob and an in-depth look at the rise of book influencers.

Anyway, I’ve got my long-awaited essay on F1 media access, a reading list for Nyck “Mr. Clean” de Vries, and another Dress Like a WAG installment, so let’s! send! it!

So…F1 Media Access

The time has come: I’m ready to talk about access in F1 media — and by that, I mean the mix of broadcasts, blogs, websites, YouTube channels, Twitch streams, podcasts, social media pages, and other programs that "report" on Formula 1 in various ways; that includes big corporate entities as well as small independent ones. (However, let me be clear: We should absolutely look at corporations and individual endeavors with differing levels of scrutiny.) I’ve been thinking about this topic in different forms ever since I got into Formula 1 as a fan and have teased a discussion about it for months. But more specifically, I want to talk about the state of F1 media’s quality, the complexities that come with half-hearted attempts at diversifying in this field, and the obsession in the sector with ~access~. Additionally, I have much to say about how a collective fan mindset shift could push the entire system towards better offerings for us.

But first, let’s dive into what kicked off this latest flurry of thoughts on the subject. Little media kerfuffles pop up in Formula 1 every week, but a lot of fan frustrations came to a head in early October when conversations turned to a podcast called PitStop. It's co-hosted by two men who are brand new to F1, and in addition to talking about races and such, they get to interview drivers, principals, and other high-profile people in the paddock, attend races and big events at the invitation of teams, and more. A huge part of their shtick is asking F1 newbie questions (which can be informative but sometimes border on ridiculous; it's part of their bit) and getting answers from insiders. (To add some detail: The co-hosts in question are Jake Boys and Fabio Bocca. Boys had a successful internet presence away from Formula 1 (though he’s removed most of his previous videos), so it’s not like this duo truly appeared out of thin air online. There’s definitely a digital paper trail here, and that hard work done to build up a platform shouldn’t be discounted or minimized.)

There’ve been rumblings around the pair’s immediate access to the sport’s greats for a while, but in October, the discussion online broadened to how people from underrepresented backgrounds (women, people of color, and LGBTQIA+ folks, to name a few) aren’t provided such a wide berth to be lauded as very public ~new fans~ and never get the same opportunities as these two dudes. The sitch further blew up when a number of higher-profile (mostly male) F1 commentators and podcasters decided to get involved on Twitter, which…never goes well. They tried to pivot the discourse to “cancel culture,” as predictably boring internet-famous humans who are afraid of accountability and irrelevance often do. (To be clear, the vaaaaast majority of the PitStop discourse wasn’t about boycotting them. Most fans just wanted more opportunities to be given to other folks too.) Anyway, many of those big-name journalists and creators quickly deleted their tweets because they were simply embarrassing.

As if that wasn’t enough, during the 2022 U.S. Grand Prix in late October, we once again had the tired discussion about Formula 1 giving clueless celebrities access to the grid before races. F1 commentator Will Buxton tried to defend himself against other credentialed journalists over whether or not the media corps is allowed to talk to certain famous people; it was an entertaining Twitter mess. Again though, conversations morphed into questions surrounding who’s even allowed into the paddock in the first place (including who from the media has access to these celebrities) and if there’s any value in these types of grid walks and similar gimmicks. Why are we still doing them if a lot of people don’t like them, don’t care, or simply want something different? Is this really the best way the F1 media can utilize these famous humans? Why aren’t journalists and commentators trying anything new?

To be clear: I don’t really want to dive much more into the specifics of the PitStop incident or Will Buxton’s USGP quasi-kerfuffle; I find that boring, and I always aim to talk about the larger picture as opposed to the specific comings and goings of individuals. Not to mention, I want this discussion to be a reflection on what we as fans and media consumers can do to create the communities and culture we want in the sport. (Plus, I’m aware that more than a few professional F1 writers, editors, and content creators read Engine Failure; perhaps this can be a small catalyst for a little more introspection on all of our parts, myself included.)

All this to say, these incidents and others before them spawned a few big questions in my mind:

  • Is F1 media right now even all that great to begin with — and if not, why are some people so hellbent on saving a system that simply isn’t working for a lot of consumers and aspiring F1 media members?

  • How would having a more diverse and multifaceted F1 media corps help the sport’s coverage — and in what ways does Formula 1 both intentionally and inadvertently hinder that growth and creativity?

  • Is ~F1 media access~ actually helpful and important, and what are its limitations?

  • What can we do about our own media consumption habits to create an F1 media world that satisfies our tastes and preferences while also helping us expand our views on the sport?

Is F1 Media as Good as It Could Be?

Let’s start with the first question: Is the current F1 media world — its official journalism (editorial and broadcast) units, all of the motorsports magazines and blogs, the big podcast slates, the indie sector, the YouTube channels, the Twitch streams, and more — as good as it could be?

Well, friends, that’s a deeply complicated and multifaceted question. (When is anything in this newsletter simple? Why can’t I ever just be like, “Listen, these losers suck ass!!!!”?)

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Quite a few of the F1 media world’s more popular offerings tend to be incredibly middling at best compared to what they can and should aim for — and they’re terrified of us (as in, large swaths of fans) figuring that out. When we don’t seek out new voices, ask what better content offerings would look like from existing properties that have the ability to change, and foster an environment for new entities to thrive, we as a fanbase deprive ourselves. As followers of this sport, we’re all putting in so much time, energy, money, and discourse; why wouldn’t we want media that matches that?

The problems with the current F1 media landscape are pretty extensive, and they mirror a lot of what we see in other spaces, especially in sports coverage. I'm ready to drop some haterade on a few of the biggest ones:

  • Many of these outlets, streams, podcasts, and blogs don’t have the most diverse teams (internally nor externally) or guests, and those that claim they do often rely on a predictable brand of tokenism (“See! We have ONE woman!”) to poorly defend against criticism regarding simple representation. I can also point to more than a few instances of media people from marginalized backgrounds being mistreated by these outlets, their fanbases, or a combo of both.

  • Because quite a few better-known individuals, programs, and outlets have been doing the same ol' tricks for a while, there can be a lack of interest, curiosity, and drive to try a variety of things, break new ground, search for different sources, or find greater nuance. (And yes, there are ways to stick to your bread 'n' butter while finding avenues to expand your coverage.) In other words, many takes and approaches are growing stale, and a larger number of fans — not just newer ones — are starting to wonder why F1 media can't do better. This has led to a lot of the tussles we’ve seen online.

  • Given how the F1 multiverse has expanded in recent years and connections between the sport and the rest of the world are more regularly discussed, a lot of existing channels simply aren’t prepared to unpack those links. Many of the major commentators — not just those employed by F1 but also from well-known motorsports/general sports publications, podcasts, and more — are often truly out of their depth when they’re talking about anything cultural or sociopolitical related to Formula 1. No one needs to (or can be) an expert in everything, but a little awareness and research goes a long way.

  • Going further on the above point, lots of media folks I’ve seen try and engage with the sport’s larger cultural content — such as fashion, WAGs gossip, and/or any serious foray into political context — don’t know how to ask for help or collaborations (or simply don’t want to) with different people who actually know what’s up. That’s often an issue of egos and laziness rather than not knowing where to turn.

    This latest problem also explains why some of these F1 media people get so upset, defensive, and condescending when we talk about topics that've never previously popped up in their programming: Rapid shifts in Formula 1 fan culture are slowly rendering these folks obsolete and irrelevant. Instead of thoughtfully pivoting (or just outright admitting that something isn’t in their wheelhouse and offering recommendations for fans who want to look elsewhere), much of legacy F1 media (I include plenty of longtime independent operations in this too) choose to create conflict where there isn’t any. It’s becoming a world full of big egos, no range, overdone offerings, and skeptical fanbases.

  • To move towards the independent F1 media sector for a second, though this can sometimes be a wider issue: I’ve noticed that quite a few pieces of programming often rely on — yet don’t cite — takes and info from spaces led by and centered on women, people of color, and queer fans. (An important life lesson: You can admit when a piece of information is new to you without claiming that it is therefore new to everyone else!)

Here’s the next logical question: What would happen if we demanded more out of our F1 media apparatus? What if we assumed the coverage we were getting today was average at best and we were deserving of better work from journalists, content creators, and others, particularly from those who have the money, access, and other resources to do more? How do we make space for those who are trying? What would you seek out, and what would you ask for? Let’s allow that train of thought to simmer for a bit.

What Does Better Representation Look Like — and How Does F1 Hinder Its Potential?

Let's say we’ve decided to demand more out of the F1 media apparatus at large. Would having underrepresented folks with more access (in the paddock, through other press opportunities, etc.) automatically lead to better F1 content? There’s a lot more to the answer than meets the eye, so let’s unpack it and see if we can dig deeper than descriptive representation. (Look at me using phrases from my high school AP American Government class!!!!)

First and foremost, I believe having stakeholders from a range of backgrounds and experiences automatically elevates media from what we’re seeing right now. We’ve witnessed this in a million other industries and verticals: When people are tackling subject matter from different points of view, that’s when we see innovation.

That said, I’ve noticed that when it comes to F1 (the org as well as individual teams) granting access to folks from marginalized backgrounds into their spaces, a few complications routinely pop up. Just because new people have physical access to a space doesn’t mean anyone will give them the time of day or any significant effort in return. (For instance, more than a few female reporters and reporters of color have told me over time about the boys’ club atmosphere of F1 media and how, depending on a number of factors, it can still be impossible to talk to a lot of drivers and team principals even if you technically have credentials and are “allowed” to speak with them.)

Moreover, the F1 world has a tendency to do the bare minimum with DEI efforts, which includes only diversifying in ways that keep everything contained inside their narrow parameters. That sometimes means only letting in new voices who’ll play by the org’s rules and won’t rock the boat whatsoever, which can create some issues for creators if that content doesn't align with what they usually do. (And also, when I say "rock the boat"  or allude to folks trying something different, I don't mean people being inflammatory or downright ridiculous; nuanced reporting and commentary comes in many forms. We're just not always seeing a wide array given F1's oft-slim definition of what a Formula 1 media corps member should look and act like.)

All this to say, new journalists, writers, and content creators in the paddock or at events would inherently bring something different to the table, but if F1 and its teams aren’t prepared to attempt new things with those folks or truly bring them into the fold, that doesn’t actually create substantial change past a certain point. I want more new voices and faces in the paddock in general — and I also want them to have the freedom to do what they do best.

Is Paddock Access Worth It?

I won’t bury the lede: For the most part, I find the obsession with getting paddock access — and by extension, access to high-profile F1 people and events — overrated in many cases. It’s made a not insignificant amount of Formula 1 reporting lazy; no one says anything new a lot of the time, and folks are so terrified of angering the F1 org, teams, and/or drivers (and getting that coveted access revoked) that they don’t experiment.

I get a lot of questions about if I’ll ever chase after more exclusive F1 media access in the future. To be honest, I’m not particularly interested in pursuing that in Engine Failure’s case unless I get to do something truly off of the beaten path (or, well, unhinged) with drivers, team principals, or other bigwigs. Also, someone else would have to pay me (gobs of money) to do it. Not only are there often tons of rules around what’s on- and off-limits around these high-profile individuals, but these folks are media-trained to death and tend to regurgitate the same points over and over again. (I talked about this when I analyzed that recent GQ profile on Max Verstappen. A great reporter was given nothing new to write about and obviously had other parameters to keep in mind!) Plus, the less-than-stellar stories of exclusion that I mentioned above leave me even less enthused.

But all of that aside, I don’t have an interest in publishing what everyone else has already put on the internet ad nauseam. There's no doubt that there are some excellent reporters, podcasters, streamers, and commentators who give us incredible work from their visits to garages or interviews with F1 hotshots; I just don't think that level of access serves the same purpose for everyone, especially me. Y’all come to Engine Failure for a specific and one-of-a-kind brand of chaos; I’ve done all of that without stepping foot in the paddock. While I have no doubt that I’d find something new to say if I was physically inside an F1 garage, it probably wouldn’t be the type of stuff institutional Formula 1 people find “valuable,” though I’ve never sought to impress them anyway; in fact, I would likely uncover a few things they don’t like or want out there. The bottom line though is that in EF’s current form (as a side project that isn’t my full-time job nor my entire life and that I can do from the comfort of my couch), my only allegiance is to myself. There’s a freedom that comes with not having to keep drivers, teams, circuits, media orgs, Formula 1, or Liberty Media happy. To me, getting scoops on things like what the drivers ate at The Last Supper and what George Russell and Carmen Montero Mundt were like at the Avatar premiere are way more interesting. I always welcome those, and y’all do too.

(In that vein, people have asked if I’m gonna be at the AlphaTauri livery unveiling in New York this February. I haven’t been invited to any sort of launch event, and it’s a hard sell for me to stand out in the cold during my least favorite month of the year, particularly if it’s in the middle of the workday. But hey, maybe some stars will align and I’ll do some fun on-the-ground reporting. That said, I personally find livery announcements dull, and I’m also afraid that Helmut Marko will be there and try to suck out my young, spry Millennial blood with his slimy fanged tentacles. You can never be too careful in Eric Adams’ New York.)

So, What Can We Do About These F1 Media Problems?

Maybe you’re reading this and you’re like, “Huh, now that I think about it, I could broaden my horizons a little bit and see what else is out there. I deserve it!” Let’s talk about next steps and questions to ask.

Demanding strangers change their behavior on the spot isn’t a particularly effective strategy for making a difference, so what I can do is put forth a few considerations as you continue to think about the F1 media you consume and what you’re actually getting out of it. As such, there are no right or wrong answers here, and there certainly won’t be a quiz on the matter afterwards (it’s just a list of reflections for yourself!):

1. Who are the Formula 1 voices you follow? What are the backgrounds of those individuals, and is there variety in those experiences? Yes, this can include race, gender, sexual orientation, and more on those fronts. But I also think hearing from people based in a variety of different places can be incredibly helpful (EF, for instance, is very much an F1 newsletter created by an American in the States), and I personally love hearing from others who’ve followed F1 for different periods of time. In more than a few cases, I’d even argue that some insights from newer fans can be more valuable than those who’ve been around the sport for longer and have inadvertently become desensitized to certain aspects of it. Additionally, I love following commentators from other motorsports disciplines who discuss other series and/or F1.

2. So you’ve thought about the media folks and orgs you follow. Next question: Who are the people, organizations, and communities they interact and collaborate with? Are they only working with people who come from similar backgrounds as them? If so, why? (There may be a good reason for that!) And when they do bring guests into the fold who don’t share the same backgrounds or identities, how are those folks treated by those hosting them and that fanbase? (Tbh, I don’t care how good a writer, commentator, or podcaster is if their fanbase sucks; media creators set the tone, and recurring poor fanbase behavior — especially if the creator is aware of it and leaves it unchecked — signals to me that something is off. Personally, I’m not gonna stick around to see more.)

Related to this point: Where are your favorite voices in F1 — whether institutional or independent — getting their info, and are they at least attempting to be transparent and forthcoming about that when they can/should be?

3. How many independent writers, commentators, podcasters, and content creators do you follow versus bigger media outlets? (And within more major media outlets, how many are smaller orgs versus larger and/or better funded ones?) There are various strengths and weaknesses with all of ‘em.

4. When your favorite voices, outlets, and creators are presented with valid or gently presented feedback, how do they take it? I know from experience that it can be hard (especially if F1 media isn’t your full-time job) to respond to everything. Plus, I’ll be honest: Sometimes feedback is totally incoherent, or it’s obvious that the person giving it isn’t familiar with your work or point of view; no one can be all things to all people. But if a writer, streamer, or other creator routinely provides rude or confrontational responses to relatively mundane critiques (or worse, tries to publicly embarrass fans who are offering that feedback), it may be time to rethink a few things.

5. How are you offering support to the media outlets and professionals you like? Yes, monetary boosts are delightful (I love my patrons!!!!), but individuals’ budgets are tight these days. Giving love on social media, sending things to your group chats, and generally making sure the good word is out there are all helpful in small ways. It's more crucial to uplift those who are doing incredible work we love than to spend too much time in the weeds with those we're not fans of. (The latter group will often wilt into irrelevance anyway.)

That’s all I’ve got! And remember: The point of going through all of these sections and questions is that you deserve to enjoy the sport the way you want to. That means the landscape you’re told to enjoy might not fit what you actually want and need. You can — and should — seek out something different if you want to. There's so much more out there.

Another American Media Outlet Takes on F1

Let’s follow up that diatribe about F1 media by talking about…more F1 media!!!! 

This unfolded throughout December: The Athletic, the American sports media juggernaut that was acquired by The New York Times at the start of 2022, put out several F1 writer and editor job listings here, here, and here (which had been taken off of their jobs board and then put back up); they also put up a general motorsports editor one. (The Athletic didn't have salary ranges listed during the first go-around, but those seem to have been added at a later date. That said, when some of the those ranges vary by $80,000, I as a media professional don't find that particularly insightful.) The site hasn’t published a consistent or robust amount of Formula 1 coverage (or motorsports coverage generally speaking) until this point, so building out an entire team all at once two months before the season starts in order to take on a Euro-centric sport is interesting — and ambitious.

(Full disclosure: A member of The Athletic’s team reached out to me via email about looking into these roles right during the holidays — after about 90% of this feature was already written. I cordially declined to apply or move forward with the process.)

This is a fascinating move for a couple of other reasons. First, there’s been some ongoing tension for the past year over how The Athletic versus the Times’ Sports desk can coexist in a world where they cover similar topics. (NYT rival The Washington Post even wrote an article on the behind-the-scenes drama, which y’all know I loved because American media gossip is so silly.) Freelancers like Luke Smith, Phillip Horton, and Ian Parkes have largely held down NYT’s F1 beat with a few other notable interludes, so I’m curious about what this staffing will look like on The Athletic’s end over time — and if it’ll improve on the issues I laid out above with other F1 media orgs. (So help me God if it’s another F1 vertical staffed mostly or entirely by white dudes...)

But on top of that, I’m intrigued by the size, scope, and duration of these efforts. How long will The Athletic fund this latest foray into Formula 1, especially since getting any new beat up and running (even if it’s flush with cash) can be a difficult endeavor? (I can’t be the only traumatized American media person who’s seen Too Much Shit™ and immediately thought of the Netflix Tudum debacle from last year.) I spoke to four people with knowledge of The Athletic's F1 team recruitment pipeline on the condition of anonymity, and several of them gave the impression that some alternative sources of funding maaaay be at play here, at least at first.

In addition to figuring out how The Athletic’s foray into F1 will differ from the Times’ coverage and what the whole Money Sitch™ looks like, my other question is, how will it carve a niche that isn’t simply regurgitating similar info to what other major American sports outlets like ESPN or Sports Illustrated publish? Between what I saw in the job listings and what others told me, it doesn’t appear that the org is interested in getting too wacky to start. (That could, of course, change over time — and I hope it does!) This also isn’t factoring in the fact that many European outlets — particularly those in the United Kingdom — have decades-long relationships with the F1 org and already provide a great deal of baseline coverage to consumers worldwide, including Americans. While The Athletic has certainly made inroads into coverage across the pond, it's still considered an American publication first and foremost, so perhaps it's hoping to introduce Formula 1 to a different kind of sports fan as opposed to only picking up existing F1 fans who go elsewhere for their media scoops.

European F1 media shenanigans aside, American media brands that meld together sports and culture, such as The Ringer, GQ, and Defector, are also putting out excellent Formula 1 coverage on the reg for a largely American audience; that provides another potential obstacle to consider in a market that’s increasingly saturated. (Speaking of which, let’s see if I can spin this newsletter’s penchant for spicy tidbits into a guest appearance on Defector’s smash-hit podcast Normal Gossip. We all know I love judging others and being loud about it!!!!!)

Overall, it’s certainly waaaaay too early for me to be explicitly pessimistic or optimistic about The Athletic’s endeavor; I’m certainly intrigued to see what goes down here over time after the vertical finds its footing. I always root for American media outlets to succeed at their F1 work, and I hope that’s the case here too. 

I’ll keep y'all posted on how this develops, but if anyone has any insider info, my inbox and the EF Anonymous Tip Box are always open.

Is the F1 Grid Horny in 2023?

I don’t know what’s in the water this year, but after years of Formula 1 couples largely keeping their hands off of each other when cameras were around, folks are gettin’ hot ‘n’ heavy in 2023 — on their own social media. We’ve got pairings like Alex Albon/Lily He, Pierre Gasly/Kika Gomes, and George Russell/Carmen Montero Mundt putting a little more out there on Instagram. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more of the same this year.

It’s decided: Formula 1 is horny on main in 2023!!! Allosexual nonsense is running amuck!!!

Did George Russell and Fernando Alonso Party Together?

It was 12:03am on New Year’s Day when my Instagram DMs started blowing up: Folks wanted to make sure I’d see The Photo™ of George Russell and Fernando Alonso celebrating 2023 together. Everybody wanted to know: Did they plan this? Did they arrive together? Were they in the same group?

All signs point to no. George and goddess GF Carmen arrived with friends (a group that included Jamie Chadwick and her boyf Struan Moore), and while Fernando wasn’t photographed or filmed with his girlfriend Andrea Schlager, they both appeared to be in the same place that night. (Also, several people have pointed out that they haven't been photographed together in a while, so I’m…very lightly keeping an eye on that.)

My favorite funny detail of this situation: Both parties were celebrating at the Monaco-based Twiga location, which is part of a hospitality empire owned by none other than Flavio Briartore. (Yes, that Flavio Briatore.) Fernando Alonso is a very public regular at Twiga (and has posted about it a few times on social media), so it was more surprising to see George, Carmen & co. there. But hey, I’m glad everybody had a good time.

An Instagram Hard Launch

Another thing y’all were excited about: Pierre officially included Kika on his Instagram account to ring in the new year.

To be clear, this is not the first time Pierre and Kika have publicly acknowledged their relationship; they did that all the way back during the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in November. However, the move to bring the relationship to the forefront of Instagram is definitely a ~big deal~ for this himbo. And there's even more good news for the pair on the horizon: Kika's birthday is later this month, and Pierre will no longer be technically dating a teenager!

Bono’s Kid Wants to Be in Brad Pitt’s F1 Movie

A small, funny, non-media aside: Bono’s daughter Eve Hewson had a bit of A Response™ to that viral Vulture nepo baby feature. In the midst of that though, I didn’t realize that she’d done an interview with The Face around the same time (thank you, Nadia, for finding it!) where she talked about her love of Formula 1. In fact, she wants to play RBR race engineer Hannah Schmitz in Brad Pitt’s upcoming F1 film. Huh.

(Also, while RBR’s PR/comms department might be still bashing their heads against a wall over the Max Verstappen Radio Incident™, I’m serious when I say I give them credit trotting out Hannah Schmitz's contributions for all of their press in 2022. She may be the only female strategist a lot Formula 1 fans can name off the top of their heads now because of their efforts.)

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, DM me, send me an email, or use EF’s anonymous tip box.

Folks, welcome to a new recurring Engine Failure segment I call Read the Room (name suggested by Sleutheria DM member Dara), where I’ll curate a list of books to read under a very specific F1 theme. These books will almost never be about racing and are just a place for me, a person who has done professional book coverage for over half a decade, to have fun.

Today’s syllabus: Books to Prepare Nyck de Vries for the Mental Torture of Helmut Marko (as suggested by fellow Sleutheria DM member — and avid reader — Elena)

  • More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth: This should be your mantra in 2023, Nyck!!!!

  • Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane: It’s a dysfunctional family tale that unfolds over several decades. I’ll provide no more commentary.

  • The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas: It’s about a woman and the house she lives in trying to kill her. Hmmmm!

  • New Waves by Kevin Nguyen: I just feel like Nyck would have lots of things to say about the workplace presented in this book.

And now onto our third installment of a beloved section: Dress Like a WAG! To recap, this is the segment where I use an F1 significant other as sartorial inspo and find dupes so you can dress in a similar style at a more affordable-ish (emphasis on "-ish"!) price point. (And if you want to see what I suggested for Carmen Montero Mundt and Isa Hernaez, you can go here and here. That said, I need to do an updated one on Carmen since her style has pivoted a bit over the past 12 months.)

Today’s WAG: The 2022 Best of F1 WAGs Sponcon honorable mention Elena Berri. She’s a luxury real estate agent in Switzerland and has dated Esteban Ocon for a number of years after meeting him on vacation (and initially having no idea who he was). If we were living in the 2000s, she’d perfectly embody a rich European version of the “day-to-night” look that American fashion magazines told us would be a critical part of our lives as working professionals.

While Elena has always been an obvious one to do because she posts soooooo much outfit content, I’ve been slightly intimidated to tackle her style given that it’s so different from my own. But what’s 2023 about if not facing fears?

Here are the major elements of Elena’s wardrobe and what I suggest as inspo:

  • Turtlenecks: After Carmen, Elena is probably the biggest fan of a turtleneck on the WAGs grid. (She’s never rocked a red one before though.) She likes form-fitting options as opposed to more relaxed knits. Try this Everlane top that comes in a bazillion colors.

If you want a smattering of other clothes that look like they could very much be part of Elena’s existing wardrobe, I suggest this feather trim set from Nasty Gal, this Chrissy red dress from Nadine Merabi, and this Tularosa Nalla cardigan.

And lastly, if I was going to make some suggestions for how Elena could evolve her style (while still keeping the core ethos), I’d recommend:

The “Drive to Survive But It’s Tennis” Netflix series premieres part one on January 13th. When are we getting Chloe Stroll’s album? The 2022 season except it’s a meme. This is what the Las Vegas GP gives you for a $5 million ticket. Let’s talk about Group C sportscars. Will female fans fuel F1 in 2023? The best F1 drivers of all time ranked exclusively by facial hair. A Formula 1 watchdog says F1 teams need to be more ethical (lmao). A lot of motorsports series suddenly realized they need more women drivers. Zak Brown really is the real villain. Haas superfan and football icon J.J. Watt is retiring from the NFL. Love me a juicy F1 scandal. The F1 Arcade is coming to America (and other places!). It turns out that famed author Fredrik Backman is a Kimi Räikkönen fan — and a fan of his biographer. The most important F1 moments of 2022. Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez eat Mexican food. Will we have a Chinese Grand Prix in 2023 after all? The best 2022 F1 drivers — chosen by fellow F1 drivers. Andretti to F1???

Thank you to everyone who wrote into last issue’s Conspiracy Corner question: What’s your wildest (and yet also slightly plausible in a dream world) prediction for the 2023 season? It can be an on- or off-track scenario!

I low-key hope every single one of these comes true purely for commitment to the bit:

  • Elena: Lewis Hamilton clinches the championship before the final race, immediately announces his retirement, and Mick jumps into the car for the end of the season.

  • Hannah: Carlos leaves Ferrari for his future collaboration with Audi…

  • Dre: Nyck de Vries doesn’t make the full season because Red Bull Racing will inevitably have another itch and be unable to resist being the main characters again. Call forth Liam Lawson!

  • Juan: Alpine drops below Aston Martin in the Constructors Championship after Aston Martin gets their concept right and Alpine continues to have reliability issues.

  • Byrd: Nyck wins the World Drivers' Championship AND all of our hearts, as opposed to just winning all of our hearts.

  • Timothy: Now-idle Daniel Ricciardo co-drives for Shane Van Gisbergen at the Bathurst 1000 and wins. The publicity leads to the F1 Internet discovering the absolutely delightful V8 Supercars pit lane reporter Mark Larkham, who is hired to co-commentate with Sam Collins on F1TV.

  • Alan: Lando and Oscar become best friends Carlando-style. Lando becomes a leader off-track as well as on-track, pushing Oscar to come out of his shell a little bit, and it results in a great pairing for McLaren. Just in time for them to climb up the grid and start competing for championships in 2024 and 2025. (Just let me dream.)

  • Robert: Logan Sargeant is found to be laundering (is that the right word to describe it? It would certainly be him disguising the actual source of the money...) MAGA money into F1 through a corporate sponsor and he gets dropped before the end of the season over it.

  • Bec: Me. Charles. Dating. That’s it, that’s the 2023 prediction.

  • Sarah: After realizing Red Bull isn’t paying him enough to put up with Helmut Marko’s racist BS and be Max’s doormat, Checo makes a shock announcement that he’s moving to IndyCar. Having learned it would take a really long time to get across the USA on a 50cc motorcycle, it would often be very cold, and he is likely to encounter wildlife, Daniel Ricciardo goes back to F1 and immediately returns to 2018 form. Christian Horner, tired of the creepy looks from Jos and bored because he had no one to fight with in the media pen, decides to entertain himself by NOT prioritizing Max in Bahrain. After coming in second to Daniel in FP1, Max becomes enraged and accidentally runs over Lawrence Stroll’s foot in the pit lane. He is immediately forced into hiding and gives up his seat to Nyck de Vries. As the season progresses, more chaos ensues: Toto leaves F1 so Susie can become Williams team principal and the entire Mercedes team suffers from a mysterious season-long outbreak of viruses; Fernando Alonso stages a coup during the summer break to take over Aston Martin and there is talk McLaren may have been involved, as several drivers reported speaking with Zak Brown about testing for Lance’s seat; Pierre and Esteban are briefly jailed before the Dutch GP for a violent brawl involving stroopwafels; and Ferrari, in a desperate bid to save Charles Leclerc’s sanity, replaces their entire strategy team with Carlos Sainz mid-season. Danny Ric refuses to focus on the negativity and wins 18 races. Everyone climbs back on the hype train while claiming they never said he was washed and Red Bull clinches the constructors in Spa, and one-two in the drivers' championship at COTA and Las Vegas. To formally celebrate the victory, DR and Harry Styles ride Horsey McHorse into the FIA prize gala, do shoeys out of their cowboy boots, and sing a medley of Spice Girls songs with Geri. After making another fortune selling overpriced commemorative T-shirts on his website and investing in Valtteri Bottas’ gallery of tasteful nudes, Daniel retires for real and moves to LA to ride bikes and start a celebrity interview podcast with Dax Shepard and Blake.

Today’s question: Charles Leclerc wants to spice up his dating life in 2023 and decides to become a contestant on The Bachelorette. Which week of the show does he make it to, why, and what leads to his elimination?

Submit your answer here.

Photo credits: Vanity Fair, GQ, Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, George Russell, Carlos Sainz, Valtteri Bottas, Lando Norris, Daniel Ricciardo, Zhou Guanyu, The Athletic, Carmen Montero Mundt, Kika Gomes, Lily He, Jamie Chadwick, Andrea Schlager, Eve Hewson, Red Bull Racing, and Elena Berri
Copyright © 2023 Engine Failure, All rights reserved.

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