Formula for Fun – F1 Driver Hobbies

Model train HO - Modélisme de train HO

Model train HO - Modélisme de train HO (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The gap between the Malaysian and Chinese GPs has been filled with stories of what the drivers do in their spare time.  We have seen endless shots of Jenson Button competing in the Hawaiian iron man event, which might have been marginally more entertaining if he’d only worn a hoola skirt.

Past drivers have had more eclectic hobbies. For example, what connects 1980s pop peddler, Pete Waterman and long-serving F1 racer Riccardo Patrese? Surprisingly, they both share an enthusiasm for model railways.  If you think that makes Patrese sound too sedate then watch the super You Tube clip of him scaring the lunch out of his wife at the Jerez circuit.

Not surprising for a sport relying on hand-eye co-ordination, a number of F1 stars have been radio control airplane enthusiasts, including Ayrton Senna, Alex Zanardi and Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

Frentzen’s one-time teammate, Jarno Trulli will have more time this year to produce his now famous wine, although fellow Jordan old-boy, Giancarlo Fisichella might be too busy in the Ferrari simulator to fulfil his passion for stream fishing.

Former World Champion and reformed ‘tash’ wearer Nigel Mansell was a serious golfer, owning his own course and once competing as an amateur in the Australian Open.  In 2003 he just missed out on joining the European Seniors Tour when his golf buggy suffered a massive tyre blowout on the final fairway.

Away from the track, both Jamie Alguersuari and Sakon Yamamoto spin tracks as DJs.  Alguersuari and 1997 Champ Jacques Villeneuve went further by releasing their own albums.  Alguersuari’s Organic Life briefly topped the iTunes chart, whilst Villeneuve’s Private Paradise didn’t.

More daredevil hobbies can get drivers into difficulty.  For example 1970s and 80s French pilot Patrick Depailler broke both legs in a hand gliding accident, whilst Juan Pablo Montoya hurt his shoulder playing “tennis”.

Hell-raising reputations can sometimes belie more tranquil hobbies.  For example, James Hunt was a demon backgammon player and budgerigar breeder.  Similarly, modern day bad boy Kimi Raikkonen apparently enjoys more cerebral pursuits as a computer geek, or at least I’m sure I read that during his McLaren days he was a regular in a laptop club.



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