What Formula 1 Drivers Did on Their Winter Holidays
The official business of the 2014 Formula One season kicks off this week in Jerez, Spain with the first testing session for the new cars. Therefore, it seems a good time to look back at what the drivers have been up to since the end of the 2013 season.
Not every driver is included in this slideshow, since it consists only of images posted on the drivers' official Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. Not everyone has one, and even some that do have not posted anything interesting lately.
So, although there are rumours floating around that Sebastian Vettel is a new father, until it is "Facebook-official", it will not be included in this list. Likewise, we can only assume that Kimi Raikkonen had a fun holiday, but his lack of social media presence means we cannot get beyond the speculation stage.
But from new pets to new wheels to new (potential) careers, many of the drivers did document their adventures with photographic evidence. Here they are, in alphabetical order (just because).
Fernando Alonso celebrated the end of another hard-fought F1 season with the opening of an exhibition about his career at the Centro de Exposiciones Arte Canal in Madrid.
The Fernando Alonso Collection, according to its website, is:
the most ambitious show that has ever been held about a Formula One driver. More than two hundred and seventy objects make up this collection, of which the highlights include Formula One single-seaters, formula feeders and many of the karts which the Asturian racing driver has driven in his sporting career.
Even better, as you can see from the photo above, Alonso has made a couple surprise visits to the exhibition, taking time to mingle with his fans.
Jules Bianchi got into the Christmas spirit with fellow Ferrari Driver Academy member Raffaele Marciello.
The French driver also received an early Christmas present when he won the Rookie of the Year award from Autosport.
For 2014, Bianchi will once again be partnered with Max Chilton at Marussia, as the team looks to build on its 10th-place finish in the 2013 Constructors' standings.
Valtteri Bottas made a new friend this winter, while at the same time playing right into the hands of anyone in a warm country who assumes that all northerners spend their time building igloos and fighting off polar bear attacks.
It has not been confirmed by either Bottas or his publicist whether the reindeer will be attending any races with the Finn in 2014 (with fur that thick, though, we can safely rule out Bahrain and Abu Dhabi).
Max Chilton braved some rough weather, including flooding, in search of a Christmas turkey. Obviously his Land Rover has a bit more ground clearance than your typical F1 car!
So far, Chilton has not issued a comment on which vehicle handles better between the SUV in 12 inches of water or his Marussia MR02.
I know, I know—everyone wants to see more photos of Roscoe and Coco. And for those who do, Lewis Hamilton's social media feeds do not disappoint. For the record, it seems like the dogs had a great Christmas... lots of sleeping.
But Hamilton has a number of other interesting, non-canine posts, too. Here, he is showing off his new wheels. A Christmas present to himself? More likely from the bigwigs in Stuttgart.
Either way, Roscoe and Coco will be travelling in style (if they are allowed on the leather).
Felipe Massa's son, Felipinho, is pretty good at setting up an F1 grid. And it looks like he has his dad's old Sauber pretty near the front.
Some of those vehicles do not appear to conform to the latest Technical Regulations, though, so the scrutineering team might be busy after this race.
There are even some jeeps or vans in there! But to be fair, kids are pretty impressionable and, if Felipinho was watching the 2013 Korean Grand Prix, he probably just thinks those vehicles are part of a normal F1 race.
Sure, Sergio Perez is a good lookin' guy. But the cover of GQ Mexico? That's a pretty big honour (I think).
Is GQ Mexico owned by Perez-booster and multi-billionaire Carlos Slim? A quick Google search leads me to think "no," but I wonder how many degrees of separation there are.
Anyway, now we know that if the whole F1 thing doesn't pan out, Perez might have a career back-up: spokesmodel.
I cannot count the number of times I have heard "Formula One" and "Sri Lanka" in the same sentence. Literally. How do you count something that has never happened?
But that did not stop Red Bull from sending its new driver, Daniel Ricciardo, to the island nation for some P.R. work. With the Indian Grand Prix off the calendar for 2014, Ricciardo's trip may be the only time fans in the area get to see an F1 car for a while.
Meanwhile, the Australian has a daunting task ahead of him this year as he replaces countryman Mark Webber as Red Bull's No. 2 driver and teammate of four-time defending world champion Sebastian Vettel.
Speaking of alternate careers, Nico Rosberg tried his hand at watchmaking over the winter break. Along with Lewis Hamilton, Rosberg is a brand ambassador for the Swiss watch company, IWC. And we already knew he had a thing for watches when he had one printed on the wrist of his driving glove last year.
Maybe in 2014 the graphic will be replaced by a Rosberg-handmade model—although the FIA would probably frown on that.
Adrian Sutil's girlfriend, Jennifer Becks, actually has a more interesting Twitter account. But this slideshow is confined to images posted to the drivers' official accounts, so this is the best I could come up with for the new Sauber driver.
I think he is catching a rainbow. But why is there a rainbow if the sky is perfectly clear? And isn't there supposed to be a pot of gold? This is all very confusing.
Jean-Eric Vergne was passed over for the vacant Red Bull seat in favour of his Toro Rosso teammate, Daniel Ricciardo. Now, it looks like he has found a new ride for 2014.
Of course, this glorified ride-on lawnmower does not have the same top-end speed, nor the cornering ability, of the RB10. It also features a weight limit even lower than the current restrictions forced on the drivers by F1's Technical Regulations.
On a positive note, this car would fit right in on Felipinho's grid.
Follow Matthew Walthert on Twitter @MatthewWalthert