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The Dream of Dreamers

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, folks! It feels like practically every driver on the grid (yes, including Checo as well as Johnson & Johnson baby soft angel face Mick Schumacher) posted a shirtless photo on Instagram last week, so I have a feeling the girlies and the guylies need a lil’ time to collect their thoughts.

Before we get going, I have two pieces of housekeeping. First, I want to give a huge thank you to Elizabeth Blackstock over at Jalopnik for the lovely write-up of Engine Failure. She not only perfectly captured the essence and spirit of EF but also got at what makes it so fun to write. (You can also pre-order Elizabeth’s book (written alongside journalist Alanis King) on Haas’ disastrous Rich Energy scandal and listen to her wise words on the Choosing Sides: F1 episode about Haas.) Thanks again, Elizabeth!

Second, this is a reminder that next week’s newsletter will include info on how you can financially support Engine Failure if you so choose. I’d start budgeting around $5 a month if I were you.

We had another non-race weekend, which means I have 7,000 words’ worth of other stuff to talk about. Unfortunately (and actually probably fortunately, given the recent white pants situation), this also means no Carlos Sainz Denim Watch. Onward!

Is Micksteban the New Lansteban?

One of the first EF issues I ever wrote was a deep dive into the friendships of a certain Esteban José Jean-Pierre Ocon-Khelfane, and the top one that was discussed at that time was Estebestie’s love for Lance Stroll. (In fact, their bro-ship was so well-known that both Aston Martin and Alpine basically didn’t go a race weekend in 2021 without posting a pic of the them.) However, it appears that EO has a different paddock ally that’s dethroned his old one: Mick Schumacher.

To be clear, Esteban and Mick have been friends for a while. After all, he was at Esteban's fateful 25th birthday dinner last fall, where the Este/Mick/Lance trio all brought their then-GFs with them. (It was also one of few sightings of Mick’s ultra-mysterious girlf Justine Huysman without a face mask that entire season. I even had multiple sources confirm that it was her.)

However, the two have become increasingly close since then. They took a little bro-cation or two a while back, there’s been quite an array of photos and videos of them together around the paddock, and Mick again made an appearance at Este’s bday this year (while Lance didn't). More significantly, the two (along with Esteban’s gf Elena; not sure if Justine was there since she’s a motherfucking ghost) went on a media trip to Disneyland Paris and other places last week.

Does this mean that Lance is completely out of the picture? Not necessarily. He’s just been even more offline than usual this year, especially since his breakup with girlfriend Sara Pagliaroli last spring. As of late though, he’s been Stateside (he randomly went to a Giants game?) and hanging out with other friends in Canada. Perhaps absence will make the heart grow fonder.

But given that both Este and Mick live in Switzerland (and Elena just started a job as a luxury real estate agent in the country), it seems like the pair have a shorter commute to hang out. I still don’t know what these two quiet biddies talk about, but I love their friendship nonetheless.

What’s the Harry Styles x Daniel Ricciardo Connection?

Ever since a photo of Harry Styles wearing Daniel Ricciardo merch went viral last month, *Carrie Bradshaw voice* I couldn’t help but wonder…how do these two know each other, if at all?

As anyone who watches my unhinged Instagram Stories knows though, I’m incredibly suspicious of Harry Styles as a concept and was not necessarily into One Direction growing up. (We’ve previously established that I was a contrarian try-hard in high school and spent my time jamming out to Max Bemis to prove that I was A Weirdo™.) I don’t know the first thing about this man other than that he has a chaotic forthcoming Gucci line and can't really act but wants to be in a movie that, like, feeeeels like a movie.

Lucky for me, Nicole Sievers, a friend of EF and one half of the duo behind the ultra-popular F1 fan community Two Girls 1 Formula, is a is a longtime One Directioner. She, along with TG1F day one comrade and resident Harry Styles expert Carly Gerard, were kind enough to give me (and y’all) the goss on this HS/DR mystery. Just call them Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson. (That said, don’t ask me who’s Holmes and who’s Watson. Or, more importantly, who’s Benedict Cumberbatch and who’s Martin Freeman.) Anyway, here’s Nicole’s summary of their exhaustive quest for The Truth:

Daniel Ricciardo is a Harry Styles stan. Stars, they’re just like us! In a recent interview with Fitzy & Wippa, Danny Ric finally addressed the photo. If you’re not sure which one I'm alluding to, it’s the image that rocked the world as we know it, changed the timeline we're all on, and felt like a personal reward from the universe: Harry Styles in Daniel Ricciardo merch

Danny had previously declined to comment on something that was so important to us F1Direction girlies, and we were all wondering why that was. After all, this was the best possible marketing moment for him. But our prayers were answered when he was directly asked about it and said on the show, “It’s hilarious. I was pretty stoked. We have a mutual friend…when that picture came out, the mutual friend said it’s funny this didn’t get picked up earlier because Harry wears this all the time.”

Hold the phone. 

“We have a mutual friend.”

“We have a mutual friend.”


Mutual friend??? WHOMST could this be?! And you know what? We — Carly and I — made it our entire mission to figure it out.

Background: My roommate Carly is one of the biggest Harry Styles fans I know, and when that initial photo dropped on that fateful morning of August 14, 2022, there was a lot of screaming in our apartment. So when Danny mentioned a mutual friend, we knew this was a case for the two of us. I brought Danny knowledge and she brought Harry knowledge. We spent all day wandering around our apartment throwing out names, and we eventually narrowed it down to three potential suspects. Extensive research was done, and we left no stone left unturned in our journey to solve this case. If you’re interested in seeing the complete list of potential connections, check out our PowerPoint presentation.

That said, here are our top three prospects and the thought process behind them.

Third Place: Natalie Pinkham

Our thinking was such: Harry Styles used to date presenter Caroline Flack (RIP) → Sky Sports F1 commentator Natalie Pinkham used to be good friends with Caroline → Danny is good friends with Natalie. [Editor’s note: Danny and Natalie are also business partners in DR’s whole Blue Coast Brewing operation. *cue Twilight Zone music.*]

Ultimately we didn’t feel 100% confident in the Harry-to-Natalie part of the connection, but it wasn’t so far out there that we could rule her out completely. 

Second Place: Louis Tomlinson

Louis Tomlinson has a photo with Daniel in the Red Bull garage circa 2016 and has been involved in F1 a lot lately (see his Monza’s F1 Tracks playlist curation). Louis is obviously tied to Harry as a former One Direction member. [Editor’s note: For all of the One Directioners and fans of The Originals, the 2016 Monaco Grand Prix was also one of the biggest public outings for Louis and then-girlfriend Danielle Campbell during their chaotic relationship. They broke up roughly half a year later.]

This one felt too obvious. We also pulled back from this being our top link because of the semantics of Danny’s quote, “The mutual friend said it’s funny this didn’t get picked up earlier because Harry wears this all the time.” All. The. Time. 

This person would have to see Harry enough to know when he wears this shirt in private considering we’ve only ever glimpsed him wearing it in public once. And if you know anything about Harry Styles, it’s that any time that man steps foot outside, he is photographed by someone. Louis and Harry haven’t been seen publicly together since the X-Factor appearance following Louis’ mothers passing. Therefore, we didn’t count Louis Tomlinson as our number-one suspect. 

First Place: Xander Ritz

Xander Ritz (sort of a businessman and member of the Harry Styles entourage, among other things) and Harry have been linked since 2014, but what’s the Danny connection here?

Despite the DR question mark, we felt good about waging our bets on Xander. Again, this person would have to spend a lot of time with Harry behind-the-scenes to know how much he wears the shirt, and Xander fits the bill. We also had the most compelling evidence when XR was wearing the same Danny Ric shirt at a Harry Styles concert recently. 

However, we didn’t have an official link back to Danny since Xander has very little internet presence. What we did have though was a video from a recent Harry Styles concert with Xander and his unnamed GF, and we used that to comb through Danny’s followers to find a woman who looked like her named Jacquelyn Jablonski. We gave her account a quick look and there they were: Photos of Jacquelyn and DR’s girlfriend Heidi Berger in the McLaren garage at the Miami GP that were liked by Danny.

This was the final clue, the missing link, the puzzle piece we needed to confidently confirm: Xander Ritz is The Mutual Friend.

Thank you for coming on this expedition, and if you’re interested in hearing us break this down over a glass of wine, please head to the TG1F Instagram and check out the 28-minute video discussing our detective work.

Bless you, Nicole and Carly, for your incredibly vital service to the fine people of the F1 internet and Engine Failure. Who says journalism is dead?

A Very Succinct WAGs News Rundown

There’s been a lot of other random WAG news floating around, so let’s go through the highlights of the last week:
1. Danny Ric said he’s in love with Heidi. My Instagram DMs and text messages popped the fuck off shortly after DR went on Fitzy & Wippa — and not just because of the Harry Styles connection unpacked above; he said during his appearance that he’s got the hots for his GF Heidi. It’s pretty much the first time Danny has really acknowledged the relationship in an intentional and public setting. I’m happy that he’s happy! Good for them!

2. Pierre Gasly may have a new lady friend. I've been holding onto this info for a while until there was a little more steam behind it (i.e. these two being out ‘n’ about more publicly like they were this weekend), but rumors have been flying for a few months now that Pierre is seeing model Kika Cerqueira Gomes

The big issue some people have with this alleged relationship (other than any driver getting a new girlfriend, of course) is that Pierre is 26 and Kika is apparently 19. A few folks have countered that Danny Ric and Heidi have an age gap of eight years (she’s around 25 and he’s 33) while Max Verstappen and Kelly Piquet are famously (or infamously) nine years apart in age (he’s 24-almost-25 and she’s 33-almost-34). That said, I also understand people taking a bit of a pause over a 26-year-old dating someone who’s in their teens, albeit a legal adult.

We don’t have any idea how serious this situation is or what exactly is going on, so I won’t be commenting on it too much unless they go more public or post about each other on Instagram. In my mind, Pierre is still living his proverbial Slut Summer™ until officially proven otherwise.

3. People thought Elena Berri soft-launched an engagement to Esteban Ocon. The other big piece of news that led to a massive uptick in my DMs and texts was a series of two photos Elena posted to IG Stories that begged the question: Are her and Esteban not-so-secretly engaged? Or, even wilder, are they married??? (Peep that left hand!)

Tbh, while these two types of rings often resemble traditional engagement and wedding bands in many cultures, Elena’s had this same stack in photos dating all the way back to at least 2018; it just seems like a jewelry preference of hers. Not to mention, I think Elena would want a liiiiiittle more fanfare as a quasi-influencer if the two of them got engaged. She posted these close-ups of her hands in the midst of third-wheeling Micksteban’s trip to Disneyland Paris, which doesn’t seem like the most romantic way to announce a betrothal.

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As I said at the top of this issue, I’m not sure what’s in the F1 water this week, but apparently the Singapore Grand Prix is synonymous with shirt-free men. We got a lot of different interpretations of the classic Shirtless Thirst Trap™, so I’d like to rank them.

Note that we won’t be talking about bodies here. No, no; I’m analyzing aesthetics. Feelings. Narratives. A compelling arc. Who’s giving us a story to invest in?

Let’s go through the list:

P1: Charles Leclerc. I mentioned this on Twitter last week, but out of everything I linked to in that bonus issue about Pierre’s female gaze-y Instagram photos, the most-clicked link by far was the one of Charles’ shirtless back photo. And I mean, I get it. The contours! The lighting! The filter! The high brow-low brow mix of $110 Ferrari socks alongside Crocs! This frame doesn’t contain a single imperfection. “It’s cold,” his caption reads. With this cinematography and art direction, I believe it!!!!

P2: Lewis Hamilton. This thirst trap is very much in line with Sir Lewis’ usual portfolio, but I appreciate the lighting as well as the pants he chose to wear in it. I’m not sure about the bathroom locale, but given how much Lewis provides to us on this front, he gets a pass. It’s giving Tinder prof pic circa 2016 (albeit with a sharper image), but I’d swipe right!

P3: Valtteri Bottas. I can’t believe I ever thought this list wouldn’t include Valtteri Bottas, but just in the nick of time yesterday, he posted a Reel in conjunction with Tiff that included a naked trip to the sauna. I give this very autumnal video a 10/10, and Val’s reimagining of his well-known Drive to Survive moment was a Scorsese-esque high point. True cinema!

P4: Carlos Sainz. I’ll admit that the production stills from this TikTok/Reel aren’t the best, but I enjoyed the clip overall. The music really sets the mood here. Carlos wants to be taken SERIOUSLY.

P5: Mick Schumacher. Mick only gave us part of his upper body in an Instagram Story, so it wasn’t a full shirtless pic. That said, I don’t think this man has pretty much ever given us any form of bare chestedness. Is he okay this week??? Can someone check???

P6: Lance Stroll. I was mostly just shocked to see Lance posting anything on Instagram, let alone a Reel of himself having fun with friends on a body of water. I viewed this clip with sincere intrigue, but alas, it didn’t give us much. The dog is cute though!

P7: Sergio Perez. Listen, a lot could’ve been done with this shot of Checo’s suffering in the heat, and he delivered on none of it. He needs to step up his game!!!!

Welcome to Sponcon Central (#ad), a new recurring section that’ll discuss the big sponcon happenings on the extended F1 grid.

Even before Charlotte Sine’s whole Sunday Riley debacle, I’ve been fielding a lot of questions over the past month or so from folks (primarily on Instagram) asking me to explain some of the basics of sponcon and how it relates to F1. I take for granted that I’ve been steeped in this culture for over a decade, so below is a beginner FAQ for folks to better understand what we’re talking about in terms of sponcon and why it matters. (And if you want a larger meta-analysis of where we’re at in the world in influencer culture, one of my favorite newsletters called Embedded did a great piece on the subject recently.)

Y'all sent in these questions, so let’s dive in!

What counts as “sponsored content”?

Here’s what’s ultra-confusing: Sponsored content — sponcon for short — is an extremely broad category that means different things to different people. As its simplest, sponsored content in the influencer sense has basically come to be defined as content that an advertiser (i.e. usually a brand) has paid an individual or group to promote on their digital platform(s).

However, sponcon gets tricky from here, because some people say only certain things count as sponcon, while others have a series of broader categories under the umbrella:

  • Paid content: In an ideal world, these types of transactions involve contracts and payment in legal tender. This is likely what Charlotte Sine did with Sunday Riley a few weeks back for Monza given how choreographed her posts online were with their team. Of course, this is all easier said than done; there’s often a period of contract negotiations and back-and-forth over the content that’ll be posted long before followers ever see it.

  • Gifted or compensated (i.e. “comped”) products, experiences, or services: Many influencers are sent free solicited or unsolicited PR packages and/or event invites by brands in the hopes that a popular person on the internet will post about something that’s sent or an experience that’s had. (We’ll get into the latter more in a sec.) In fact, the world of PR box openings/hauls has become a cottage industry in it of itself, and folks like Charlotte, Kelly Piquet, Elena Berri, and Isa Hernáez have been known to do these quite frequently. (Along these lines, I suspect Kelly Piquet’s weird hotel posting from last weekend was because of a comped visit in exchange for some IG Stories about her stay. It wasn't a paid partnership per se, but it appears that she didn't have to cough up the typical amount of money owed for those luxury accommodations.) That said, some people don’t count this stuff as official “sponcon” because it doesn’t fit into a traditional paid advertising structure.

  • PR access/invites and brand activations: One way a lot of wannabe influencers get their start in the field is trying to get invited to big brand events or activations where they know they’ll gain some clout just for being there and taking photos/videos. After all, most of us want to follow folks who are in-the-know, and that starts with going to the right stuff. I definitely wouldn’t consider this sponcon outright, but there are many ways it can veer more into that territory. (For instance, maybe an apparel brand sends influencers free clothes to wear to their event in the hopes they’ll take photos and videos in them. There isn’t always a contract in those situations legally binding an influencer to do anything, but there’s pressure to post anyway in order to maintain a good relationship with a company.)

Moreover, not all sponcon deals are created equal. An influencer could have a deal with Company A to promote a product solely on Instagram while having a deal with Company B to promote their product on all of their social media channels. Some deals call for a single social media post, while others include multiple posts, Stories or Shorts, videos, and more. And that’s just the social media side of the equation.

Aren’t influencers supposed to disclose when something is being paid for?

This is a huuuuuuge gray area that really depends on the country or region. In the U.S., for example, the Federal Trade Commission has laid out its guidelines in this handy-dandy PDF so that American influencers can avoid legal pitfalls. Meanwhile, every country in Europe, including every nation in the EU, has its own rules. (And that doesn't include special disclosures needed for certain products or services, such as anything having to do with alcohol.)

You may be asking yourself: If influencers could be sued for not properly disclosing sponcon, why do so many of them skip this step anyway? Honestly, a lot of influencers and the people who manage their sponcon deals are 1) lazy/apathetic and just don’t care about disclosures, 2) don’t fully understand disclosure rules, and/or 3) don’t really get the differences between various types of content. 

Could government agencies or watchdogs go after individual content creators who post sponcon without disclosures? Depending on the country and region, technically yes. However, that’d be a huge waste of resources, so many of these oversight groups only focus on particularly egregious, harmful, and/or widespread cases. In the U.S., some of y’all might remember when the FTC went after Teami for claiming its teas could lead to weight loss and treat diseases. Woof.

In my opinion, the best influencers are those who pick brand deals that make so much sense that followers don’t care if something is sponsored and who are proactively upfront about when a third party was involved in their acquisition of a certain product or service, even if it was gifted. Being that type of influencer though takes skill, intelligence, creativity, a desire to work hard, and a moral/ethical compass; the F1 world at large isn’t necessarily known for simultaneously possessing all of those traits…

How much are these F1 people earning off of their sponcon?

This is probably the hardest thing for me to answer since so much of it is hush-hush. For drivers, a lot of the sponcon you’ll see online is just part of some larger sponsorship deal they have with a brand. (For instance, you’ll see drivers post about their expensive watches on Instagram from time to time, but a bigger part of those sponsorships is making sure they wear them around the paddock and in press interviews. The Instagram part of that is usually a little bit of an afterthought.) That said, we know that someone like Lewis Hamiton is making a zillion times more dollars off of whatever he’s hocking online than someone like Nicky Latifi, who was never all that popular on IG and is now on his way out of the sport. (Sorry, GOATifi fans!)

One example from this week: I got a lot of questions about Lewis Hamilton posting very clear sponcon about Athletic Greens. It turns out that Lewis is an investor in the brand, so I wouldn’t be surprised if part of his contract stipulated him posting ads from time to time. After all, most of these companies don’t bring on celebrity investors to keep them hidden. (Also, I’ve never had Athletic Greens before, but I’ve come across their ads on virtually every podcast I listen to, and many of y’all told me some of their products taste gross. Run, Lewis!)

For F1 WAGs, many of whom were already wealthy long before they got into influencing, it appears that quite a few aren’t even doing paid campaigns so much as being gifted products, experiences, and services or comped perks.

Why do a lot of F1 folks stick to Instagram sponcon and not branch out to TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, or any other platforms?

Many drivers have the highest concentration of followers and engagement on Instagram (plus it's a visual medium), so it makes sense that companies would want their marketing dollars to go towards that. The demographics of the audience on each platform also matter. But to be frank, the management teams that most F1 folks surround themselves with aren’t always particularly social media-savvy themselves and are already busy running around the world with these drivers, so they just don’t pay as much attention to other platforms. This is why I sort of eye roll every time a driver hops on TikTok or YouTube; they probably won’t be posting consistently, and the content will just be cross-promoted elsewhere anyway. It's not interesting!

Out of anyone on the grid, I’d say the most innovative driver on multiple digital platforms is Lando Norris. His esports and lifestyle brand Quadrant is a genius idea and a perfect fit for Lando, and it seems like something he’s genuinely incredibly passionate about. If you want to learn more about the Quadrant Cinematic Universe, I did a rundown of its members about a year ago, though it’s obviously grown and evolved since then. 

After Lando, Daniel Ricciardo is probably trying to branch out the most, though his YouTube channel is still largely sponsored videos from brands like GoPro. Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc have also stopped and started their YouTube channels on multiple occasions, and the pair both post only sporadically on TikTok; often their videos are also cross-posted to Reels.

On the WAGs side, ladies like Charlotte Sine, Isa Hernáez, Lily He, and Elena Berri have put some stuff up on TikTok, but again, we’re not seeing anything especially innovative or consistent here.

Where do those influencer agencies or someone’s management factor into the F1 sponcon machine?

This depends on the person. F1 drivers’ managers likely get a cut of all of the sponsorship deals they put together, and the same goes for any WAGs who have representation. Again though, drivers themselves tend to have a more traditional sports management/agency situation, whereas WAGs are sort of left to fend for themselves, hence why some (like Kelly and Charlotte) sign with those influencer-specific agencies.

That said, as I pointed out last week when discussing Charlotte’s agency E-Idols, influencer-targeted management companies can be a bit…complicated and unprofessional. There are a lot of questions surrounding how much they actually help influencers and if they’re just scamming them.

Is any of this sponcon actually effective?

It depends on what you mean by “effective.” The big problem is that very few products that F1 drivers and WAGs promote are actually financially or logistically accessible to followers. Plus, as I said earlier, in the case specifically of drivers, often the products they talk about are part of a larger sponsorship campaign. (Like, am I really gonna buy a $500,000 watch because a driver posted about it once on Instagram Stories? Not likely, starting with the fact that I don’t have $500,000 to casually throw around on wrist hardware.) I'd say sponcon in the F1 world is largely about selling a certain lifestyle than a specific product.

When it comes to the WAGs, such as in the cases of Charlotte and Kelly’s sponcon earlier this month, often they’re just taking whatever comes their way or enables them to get something for free. Let’s be real here: Most of us don’t really have a use for $120 glorified moisturizer or a French hotel that costs at least $700 per night. Again, it's about the vibes!

Which brands do you think would actually pair well with certain F1 drivers or WAGs?

Tbh, this is a complex question and one I have too many scattered thoughts on. For one thing, F1 drivers and practically all of the WAGs are already rich people. They don’t really need sponcon money, and I trust few of them to hock anything I’d care about deeply.

Here’s where my head’s at though:

  • I don’t want any of the WAGs working with fast-fashion brands whatsoever for ethical reasons, but I’m surprised none of them have really tried. Carlos’ girlfriend Isa has done one of the only more affordable fashion collaborations as of late, but that had some logistical limitations. (If you want to read more about the more recent clothing and jewelry collabs that WAGs have done, you can find that info here.)

  • I’ve long argued that the WAG who actually has the most potential to make a killing if she ever went more of the influencer route (but I don’t know if she would, at least not for the time being) is George Russell’s girlfriend Carmen Montero Mundt. She’s the WAG I get the most style questions about, and while her taste is expensive AF, she does wear a few brands (such as Tommy Hilfiger) that are a little more in the “affordable luxury” price point than things that other significant others wear. (Much as I’d love to, I cannot justify buying a custom Prada dress like former F1 WAG Minttu Räikkönen.)

  • As for the drivers, I really think both Lando, Danny, and Lewis have set themselves up long-term for a lot of sponcon success depending on what they do. Even if DR isn’t on the grid next year (or…ever again), I have no doubt he could successfully get people to buy all sorts of shit he advertises if it’s in the right price range and not an obvious scam. What do all three of them have in common? They’ve slowly built lifestyle brands around their presences and done so in a way that makes sense for them. (And I think if he sticks around long enough, Zhou Guanyu could join ‘em!)

The WAGs are out ‘n’ about at all sorts of global fashion weeks this September, including London, Madrid, and Milan. (Lance Stroll’s sister Chloe Stroll also attended several shows and events in New York.) While this certainly wasn’t the first year some of them went fashion shows, there was definitely an uptick not just in the number of WAGs hitting the circuits but the types of opportunities they were given at these events.

For a quick rundown:

  • Isa stuck to Madrid Fashion Week and went to events and shows with TOUS and Paige in addition to a few industry happenings.

  • Charlotte was in both Madrid (with Isa at one point) and Milan. She went to an event sponsored by Sunday Riley (surprise, surprise).

Additionally, Pierre Gasly was in Milan hanging out with J Balvin and the crew during the Hugo Boss-related festivities, and Lance Stroll was there too. (As a reminder, Hugo Boss is a partner of Aston Martin’s F1 team.) And in one of the most egregious ill-credited photo captions, Getty mistakened Lance for Pierre in its photos from the HB show.

I have a feeling we’ll only continue to see a proliferation of F1 drivers, WAGs, and other adjacents through the rest of Fashion Month this season and in subsequent seasons. (Paris Fashion Week kicks off this week and then we begin this whole exhausting process all over again at the start of February.) Why the more recent uptick? In addition to the increase in the sport’s popularity, any city’s fashion week nowadays isn’t just about industry chatter but also exclusivity, inaccessibility, luxury, and Being Perceived™, all things that F1 very much wants to be a part of. It sounds like the perfect fit.

(That said, not all attention is good attention. The conversation around TikTokers in particular at NYFW this year has dominated the fucking discourse for weeks.)

Let’s move onto the Ferrari fashion show as part of Milan Fashion Week. WHEW.

To give some context to Ferrari’s latest foray into fashion — specifically, high fashion: Ferrari hosted its first runway show last year in June 2021. Like all of us, the sartorial world was just as confused as to why the fuck a car brand had any interest in this shit.

My honest review of the clothes and accessories themselves: This year’s collection was infinitely more wearable than last year’s dumpster fire, though I couldn’t stop laughing at the brand sending replicas of Carlos and Charles’ racing suits and various team kits down the runway. But all of these clothes — even the cuter items — are easily things we could all find elsewhere for much cheaper prices and with better production quality. 

Moreover, this show’s expensive, boring fabric was clouded in a haze of tired marketing buzzwords. Seriously, the show’s theme was “The Dream of Dreamers” (I legit can’t even type that with a straight face), and the descriptions used to set the scene were phrases like “a divine mix of sophisticated monochromes and vibrant patterns,” “a coherent and harmonious rhythm,” and “a refined evolution.” Have you ever seen such a meaningless pile of fluff in your life? Probably the most impressive part of this show was Vogue writer Luke Leitch’s review of it, which was packed to the gills with excellent F1 racing metaphors. Gold star, Luke!

Here’s the thing though: While I’m sure the company has hired some talented people, Ferrari doesn’t actually give a flying fuck about creating anything innovative or interesting that’ll change the course of fashion, at least not for the time being. I don’t even think the brand truly cares if anyone — rich people included — wears its clothes after a certain point. In fact, the company said as much to the New York Times last year when it had its “brand diversification” chief tout its first runway show collection as an exercise in expanding its footprint as a luxury lifestyle brand as opposed to just a luxury car manufacturer.

Let’s dive into this a little more. Recently, I read this incredible deep dive into the athleisure brand Alo from venerable fashion and culture journalist Amy Odell. In it, she discusses how Alo has expanded to numerous new business properties — including podcasts, restaurants, and philanthropy — for the sake of expanding the company’s bottom line and general presence, not because they care about making anything good or interesting or new or helpful in those spaces. (Tbh, the best thing to come out of Alo’s pile of useless offerings was a Kanye West podcast episode where he — a man who founded a private school — said he’s never read a book because it’s “like eating Brussel sprouts.”)

Of course, if Ferrari actually wanted to make inroads in fashion, it’d have accessible clothes, both in terms of price point and sizing. However, that’d be quite the tee-hee for an expensive car brand, so at the very least, they could put out some interesting stuff that its rich clientele can’t find anywhere else. They’re not gonna do that though; that’d be too much work, and Ferrari just wants to create stuff for people who care about the brand name and logo more than the clothes or accessories themselves. Honestly though, I can’t blame ‘em. That’s the world we live in.

Even more proof that this is Ferrari’s plan: The brand also launched its own high-end restaurant last year. Again, I don’t think Ferrari really cares all that much if the food is especially good or that the vast majority of people in this world won’t ever be able to afford or try it. It doesn’t need us or them. The inaccessibility — and the striving to eventually belong — is the point.

And if you’re asking yourself, “Hey, is this the same reason Red Bull has that awfully boring and pricey fashion line AlphaTauri?”, the answer is a resounding yes. It’s all in the name of brand expansion and capitalism, not sartorial innovation or loyalty from the masses. As I’ve long maintained, AT’s clothing is basically an expensive and slightly more European-influenced version of Uniqlo mixed with Everlane.

To put it simply, the fashionista in me is bored. The capitalist-aware writer in me is…begrudgingly impressed. (I’m never buying this outfit though, even if I had all the money in the world.)
It didn’t really feel like autumn to me until Tiff and Val decided to galavant around Norway biking around the fall foliage. We still don’t have access to the world-famous OATH Gin over here in the States yet (Tiff!!!! Val!!!! Get on it!!!!), but if you’d like a gin-infused autumn cocktail to warm you up this fall, might I suggest this espresso martini courtesy of OATH’s own IG page?
Ahhhh, the last Bus Bros episode of the 2022 IndyCar season! Would you buy this house that has a Ferrari room? The perfume you should wear based on F1 Grand Prix location. Lando Norris played in a golf tournament. Yuki Tsunoda re-signed with AlphaTauri, while Nicky Latifi is out at Williams. Wow, Christian Horner said something sensible. Oh hey, it’s Lewis Hamilton and Valentino on some double decker buses. Speaking of Lewis, he’s got unfinished business. Nope, Colton Herta isn’t coming to F1 after all. Lando Norris’ post-breakup hobby of DJ’ing continues. Love when a GOAT respects another GOAT. Ohhhh, Merc is now using ~biofuel~ to power its transport trucks. Awww, Zhou Guanyu loves Sir Lewis. Helmut Marko is consistently a nightmare. Alexander Rossi is IndyCar’s Roy Kent.

Thank you to everyone who wrote into last issue’s Conspiracy Corner question: Which F1 driver do you think would have the most chaotic pizza topping preferences and why? (Also, which topping(s) would they choose?)

This was one of the more popular questions (so I couldn’t include anywhere close to every response), but y’all made excellent arguments:

  • Elena: Lando probably likes some weird-ass pizza that involves no cheese (just the crust, sauce, and pepperoni) because that’s what my four-year-old niece insists on and Lando eats like a child.

  • Andie: Lewis. He’s vegan and afraid of onions. I bet there are beets involved.

  • Nikki: Esteban Ocon would choose any toppings that Pierre dislikes.

  • Hannah: Definitely Yuki. My fitness-hating king would do something completely chaotic, like pineapple, pepperoni, seaweed, potato chips, and anchovies.

  • Shaun: Lance Stroll. It wouldn't be anything complicated or exotic, just a strange, unconventional choice that he'd insist is great (and probably would be). Something like sliced turkey pizza or shredded beef jerky.

  • Erin: Daniel. You know he’s the one who would say things to his friends like, “Do you dare me to eat this pizza covered in ghost peppers, chocolate sauce, anchovies, and Skittles?!” And no one says anything and he does it anyway.

  • Robert: Valtteri Bottas. I mean, did you SEE any of those pizza monstrosities he made during lockdown?!?

  • Nina: Yuki 100%. It's probably some mix of Japanese greens and French snails (thanks, Pierre) and the best pizza dough in the whole of Italy that he always orders without any toppings because the pizza place refuses to but *that* on pizza.

  • James: Lando would order a chip butty pizza and I would immediately fly to England to glower at him.

  • Liz: George. Crumpets and jam! Right proper, innit?

  • Rachel: Latifi would probably take his love of Nutella too far and dip his pizza in it.

  • Kelcie: Why would you even feel the need to ask when this is CLEARLY Yuki's lane? He seems like a Sour Patch Kids with anchovies kinda guy. [Editor’s note: I don’t know why, but y’all kept bringing up anchovies with this Q. What’s the tea on EF readers’ harsh feelings about anchovies???]

  • Julia: Bottas just by nature of being Finnish. Have you ever looked into Finnish pizza toppings? There's a fairly common pizza called the Opera that's ham, salami, and TUNA. Not to mention blue cheese and mayonnaise are also popular toppings you'll find in Finnish pizza shops.

  • Susie: Yuki, hands down. The man just has some feral energy about him and I could see him requesting something like bananas, pineapple, and ketchup or some other equally cursed combination.

Today’s question: You’re the Ferrari fashion label’s new creative director, and you’ve been tasked with putting out a single clothing item or accessory that encapsulates the Ferrari F1 team’s 2022 season. What do you create and why?

Submit your answer here.

Photo credits: Mick Schumacher, Esteban Ocon, Daniel Ricciardo, Reddit, Natalie Pinkham, Louis Tomlinson, formula 1, Xander Ritz, Jacquelyn Jablonski, Heidi Berger, Pierre Gasly, Kika Gomes, Elena Berri, Charles Leclerc, Lewis Hamilton, Valtteri Bottas, Tiffany Cromwell, Lance Stroll, Carlos Sainz, Sergio Perez, Charlotte Sine, Kelly Piquet, Isa Hernáez, Carmen Montero Mundt, and Ferrari Style.
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