After compiling a list of iconic F1 team radio messages, FormulaRapida.net felt compelled to make a similar list, but with off-track moments.
Our list includes drivers’ quotes to media like the unforgettable “If you no longer go for a gap,” as well as cool-down room conversations, jokes among F1 drivers and iconic press conference moments, from heated exchanges to heartfelt moments.
Here’s some of the best F1 press moments over the years – in no particular order:
“First-lap nutcase” – Mark Webber, 2012 Japanese GP
After being taken out of the Japanese GP in the first corner by Romain Grosjean’s Lotus, Red Bull driver Mark Webber was irate with the Frenchman, who had been involved in many accidents earlier on in the season. The Australian lashed out at Grosjean, who he labeled a “first-lap nutcase.”
“Have you got pubes yet?” – Daniel Ricciardo to Lando Norris, 2019 British GP
In a humorous press conference ahead of the 2019 British GP, discussion on the matter of facial hair led to Renault driver Daniel Ricciardo asking a probing question to McLaren driver Lando Norris. “Have you got pubes yet?” the Australian asked, to which Norris responded “No!” When asked by a reporter about the age of himself and George Russell, Norris couldn’t keep himself together and he began laughing hysterically.
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgTUfVfuMBI
Pranksters in the presser – Juan Pablo Montoya, 2004 Australian GP
Before the 2004 Australian GP, pranksters who had infiltrated a press conference decided to play games on Juan Pablo Montoya by using the word “one” with its homophone, Juan – also, coincidentally, Montoya’s name. Their question, however confusing to hear, went as follows: “I have one for Juan, just one: one hypothetical, Juan. As Juan the wunderkind, the rising number one of Formula One, Juan, one wonders, should Juan only win one Formula One [race], one year, would Juan want to have won that one in round one, Juan?” Acknowledging the humor in the stunt, Montoya played along before a more audacious question was raised, to which he said “no comment.” Later, when the comedian pretended to be on the phone having a conversation with a friend, Montoya became annoyed and left the media availability.
“Suck my ****s honey” – Kevin Magnussen, 2017 Hungarian GP
After being forced off the track in the 2017 Hungarian GP, an infuriated Nico Hulkenberg disrupted an interview to call Kevin Magnussen “the most unsporting driver on the grid.” The Dane responded, perhaps inappropriately, by saying “Suck my ****s honey.”
Video link: https://youtu.be/IwSqm5CTvOg?t=32
German driver tomfoolery – Schumacher, Vettel, Rosberg, 2012 German GP
In a press conference prior to the German GP in 2012, Nico Rosberg – upon being asked a question – adjusted his microphone to louden himself, but adjusted too greatly so as to make the microphone far too loud. Finding this amusing, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel further adjusted his microphone, bringing it closer to his mouth and worsening the blaring audio. Rosberg eventually re-adjusted his microphone, and playing off of the joke, Mark Webber shouted into his microphone, “Have you checked the radio volume?”
“Like a torpedo!” – Vettel to Daniil Kvyat, 2016 Chinese GP
After coming together early on in the 2016 Chinese GP, Vettel and Kvyat both found themselves in the top three at the end of the race, and in the cooldown room the former approached the latter to express his grievances. “You came in like a torpedo!” Vettel said, to which Kvyat responded, “But that’s racing!” Responding, Vettel argued, “Yes it’s racing but if I [had kept] going on the same line we’ll crash!”
Seagull debate – Vettel, Hamilton, 2016 Canadian GP
After falling short of Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton in 2016’s Qualifying for the Canadian GP, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel blamed two seagulls on the exit of turn one for his poorer lap, and suggested that Hamilton had been more willing to risk their lives. Vettel said, interrupting an interview, “He’s not braking for animals! You should give him a hard time because of that.” Vettel eventually conceded that as a racing driver, he sought “some kind of excuse,” but remained stunned by the audacity of the seagulls.
“Lick the stamp and send it” – Daniel Ricciardo, 2018 Chinese GP
Asked to explain his thinking in a bold overtake for the lead in 2018’s Chinese GP, Ricciardo reminded media that risks often need to be taken in attempts to achieve something such as a race victory, asserting that “Sometimes you’ve just got to lick the stamp and send it.”
Video link (for overtake): https://twitter.com/F1/status/1251533633317490688
“If you no longer go for a gap…” – Ayrton Senna, 1990 Japanese GP
When pressed on his multiple collisions in the 1990 season and those preceding it – a symptom, many believed, of overaggressive driving – Senna was taken aback, and replied with a response one line of which is quoted frequently today: “You should know that, by being a racing driver, you are at risk all the time. Being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you’re no longer a racing driver.”
Sarcastic exchange post-race – Montoya, Schumacher, 2004 San Marino GP
After nearly coming together while fighting for position in the 2004 San Marino GP, a heated exchange veiled by sarcasm highlighted the post-race press conference. When asked of the rough racing, Juan Pablo Montoya – who had been forced off-track by Schumacher – said, “Well he said he didn’t see me. He thought I wasn’t there. I was amazed, I actually got in front of him when we were braking, but oh no he didn’t see me there! Wow, no… pwoah, no chance! You gotta either be blind or stupid to not see me but you know, it’s racing.”
Emotive moment post-race – Schumacher, 2000 Italian GP
After equalling the win record of the late Ayrton Senna in the 2000 Italian GP – and that too for Ferrari, Schumacher was reminded of his feat in a post-race press conference, upon which he broke down into tears. After then being asked to explain why equalling Senna’s record was so meaningful, Schumacher respectfully requested another question.
High-tension hat-throwing – Rosberg, 2015 US GP
After losing the drivers’ championship in 2015, Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was unamused when teammate and championship winner Hamilton tossed a podium hat at the German in the US GP, and in retaliation, Rosberg threw the hat back at the Brit. There were no words exchanged, the moment underlining Mercedes’ intra-team battle at the time.
“I’ll headbutt someone” – Max Verstappen, 2018 Canadian GP
After a slew of accidents early in his 2018 campaign, Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was repeatedly asked what about his driving style made him so prone to accidents. Verstappen responded, “I don’t know, and like I said in the beginning of this press conference I’m getting really tired of all the questions [about my crashing], so I think if I get a few more I’ll headbutt someone.”
“Kimi parties all the time” – Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, 2018 Australian GP
After taking pole in the 2018 Australian GP, Hamilton explained that he had waited to set his best lap “to wipe the smile off [Vettel’s] face.” Vettel responded, saying that, while Mercedes would have the opportunity to party on Saturday night, it would be Ferrari who was partying come Sunday. Hamilton, quick-witted, joked that the usually-reserved Kimi Raikkonen “parties all the time.” Raikkonen did not respond, seemingly not even acknowledging the comment and causing the room to erupt in laughter.
Video link: https://youtu.be/k9gaBf2zhhE?t=48
“Big balls” – James Hunt, 1976 Spanish GP
When being interviewed by Sir Stirling Moss in the midst of the 1976 Spanish GP weekend, McLaren driver James Hunt was asked how his team maintained competitiveness amid regulation changes. The Brit was quick to reply that “Big balls” were the deciding factor, and, after being told his answer was not fit to be aired, he asked, “You can’t print that?” adding, “It’s true!”
“I like free practice” – Verstappen, Vettel, Hamilton, 2018 Abu Dhabi GP
In the press conference for the 2018 Abu Dhabi GP, a question from a media member regarding the plans of the drivers in the off-season prompted a reply from the quick-witted Vettel: “What are your plans? You seem to be counting the days!” the German remarked. Vettel was then asked by Hamilton if he intended on conceiving another child, to which the then-Ferrari driver said that this was “quickly done,” drawing laughs from those in the room. Vettel continued, “If you need advice I know how to do it. I don’t know how long you two want to be in Free Practice,” before Verstappen chimed in to say “I like Free Practice!” to get the last laugh in an innuendo-laiden exchange.
Here’s some more which were good moments in front of F1 media:
Jarno Trulli vs Adrian Sutil during 2009 Abu Dhabi GP press conference
Max Verstappen gestures middle finger during 2018 Singapore GP PC
Max Verstappen’s reaction after losing podium in 2016 Mexico GP and 2017 US GP
Felipe Massa vs Fernando Alonso after 2007 European GP contact
Here’s F1 Moments list of radio messages from driver-to-pitwall
Here’s F1 Moments list of circuits known for lifelong memories