Formula 1 is a highly technical sport with some of the best minds from the scientific and engineering worlds working in it. They design the most advanced and technologically advanced cars. The drivers who get to race these cars also need to have a high acumen when it comes to the technical side of things as they need to understand exactly how the cars work to extract the most out of them. They have to be quite technically proficient to do this. As such, you would expect them to approach life in a scientific manner that has no place for superstitions. However, F1 drivers often do have quirks that can sometimes be necessary in the highly competitive and high-pressure world of the sport and some of these can be in the form of superstitions. Here is a look at six such superstitions.
1. Stefano Modena’s Hatred For The Left Side Of The Garage
Modena was a driver who was liked by those around him but he sometimes did make their life quite difficult to appease his superstition beliefs. One such incident took place at the 1989 Brazilian GP. It was during the era of F1 when there were too many teams and they had to go through pre-qualifying to be able to participate in the race weekend. As such, garages were allocated on a rotational basis. During this race, Modena’s Brabham team were asked to move to another garage after they successfully completed pre-qualifying. The team’s mechanics had to work extra hard to get the garage ready for the subsequent sessions but just as they were finishing up, Modena created quite the fuss as his car had been set up on the left side of the garage and the mechanics had to oblige despite being quite tired and short on time. It was also thought that he wore his gloves inside out for similar reasons but he later confirmed that it was just to avoid the seams cutting his fingers.
2. Alberto Ascari And His Many Superstitions
During the era that Ascari raced in, just being a good driver driving a good car wasn’t enough to avoid crashes. Every race was a roll of the dice and drivers went into each race weekend fully knowing that they had a one in five chance of crashing, often fatally. As such, drivers from this era often found solace in superstitious beliefs. Ascari was particularly notorious in this regard and he abided by many superstitions. He kept well clear of black cats and unlucky numbers. He also ensured that no one apart from him ever handled the case containing his special pale blue helmet that he wore throughout his racing career.
3. Alan Jones And His Lucky Underwear
This is not an uncommon thing in sports in general. There are many in F1 as well but few were or are as committed as 1980 world champion Alan Jones. During his career, he always wore the same red underwear during races. In fact, during the penultimate race of the 1980 season in Canada, he realized that he had forgotten his lucky underwear at a motorhome in Brands Hatch on the other side of the world. He made his wife drive to the motorhome to get the underwear and had it delivered to him by special express that reached him just in time for the race. His commitment seemingly paid off as he would wrap the title-up at that very race. David Coulthard and Felipe Massa also deserve a mention as they too had a particular fondness for their underwear with Coulthard hanging on to his for over a decade up until a mechanic threw it away mistaking it for a rag.
4. Sergio Perez’s Papal Memento
While the cockpits of F1 cars have very little room for personalization, many drivers keep a picture or two stuck to the walls usually of family members and loved ones. Sergio Perez, however, keeps a photo of the late Pope John Paul II with him during races. Perez, who is a devout catholic has explained that he feels a special connection to the Pope whom he met in the 2000s and feels that this brings him good fortune.
5. Sebastian Vettel And His Lucky Charms
Vettel has often been described as a technically-gifted driver who knows the workings of an F1 car inside out. He is also renowned for providing precise feedback about the car broken down to its finest details. However, that hasn’t prevented him from being a bit on the superstitious side. He is known to keep at least four objects on him during races as lucky charms that we know of. He has special pouches in his race suit to keep a small metal pig and a one-cent coin. The coin was something he found on the streets in Indianapolis just before his F1 debut in 2007. Apart from this, he also keeps two pieces of silver tucked under the laces of his shoes. These pieces of silver were given to him by his grandmother and includes a medal for St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. He also ensures that he gets into the car from the same side, a superstition he shares with many others on the current F1 grid.
6. Michael Schumacher And His Love For Odd Numbers
As a seven-time world champion, most people assume that Schumacher was a driver certain of his skills but he too believed in a few superstitions. The first and most well-known of these was his penchant for odd numbers. This came to the fore in 2010 when he returned to F1 racing with Mercedes. Initially, he was allotted the number 4 with teammate Nico Rosberg getting the number 3. Schumacher immediately asked the numbers to be switched. It was initially thought that this was a part of the mind-games he was known to play to gain an advantage over Rosberg but it turned out to be just a superstition. Schumacher had won all 7 of his world championships while driving a car with an odd number. Another quirk he had was to carry an amulet with him that had the initials of his family members during races.