Meet Real Housewives with Hybrid Engines: A Girl’s Guide to Formula One

Formula One
Photo: Jonathan Chng

The joy of Formula One racing goes way beyond the on-track action.

That’s right — you don’t have to care about engines or overtaking to enjoy Formula One, the world’s most elite and luxurious form of racing. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that the best parts of F1 take place off the track, in the sport’s prestigious circus of luxury and intricate dog-eat-dog alliances. What else would you expect from a sport affiliated with brands like Rolex, Moët & Chandon champagne, and fashion designer Hugo Boss?

When you get down to it, F1 is essentially a reality TV series that takes place on race tracks with fast cars. It’s the Real Housewives with hybrid engines. It’s one of drama’s best-kept secrets because your guy friends who watch it want you to think F1 is all about serious engineering and stone-faced driving. But as a long-time F1 fan myself, I can tell you with confidence: there is so much more to this form of global open-wheel racing than you might expect. You should absolutely start watching it for the same petty rivalries, off-track opulence, and voyeuristic pleasure you get from a binge session of Keeping Up with the Kardashians.

Related: Tons of Women Will Be Racing on a Circuit Near You in 2021

Formula One

Photo: Darren Nunis on Unsplash

A Little Bit of History

Some F1 fans are absolutely obsessed with the history of racing, but I’ll tell you all you need to know. F1 evolved out of ‘Grand Prix racing.’ This was basically a phrase used to denote specific, challenging international races in the pre-World War II era. These races were mostly contested by wealthy aristocrats since that’s the only demographic that could afford the cars and lavish travel. It’s always been a race to see who can spend the most money.

F1 officially became a thing in 1950 and has been taking place ever since. Each era came with its own unique set of challenges. With unsafe track conditions and confusing regulations, there was, unfortunately, a lot of death. It’s that latter bit that generally engenders the “macho” stereotype that surrounds racing. Some folks like to compare racers to gladiators duking it out for glory.

However, death doesn’t reflect well on the shiny veneer of glamour F1 has worked so hard to build. Therefore, the nature of the sport has changed drastically from that mindset since the early 2000s. Racing is still dangerous, of course, but anyone who still calls F1 drivers ‘gladiators’ is living firmly in the past.

Related: Rebelle Rally: Empowering Women Off Road

Formula One

Photo: Nicolas Peyrol on Unsplash

A Luxury Getaway

Nothing compares to the pomp and circumstance of a Formula One race. The elite flock to races behind the wheel of their luxury cars for an afternoon spent drinking champagne. They dine on lobster served over a close-up view of F1’s intricate, industry-changing machines. You can even get a little taste of the action, too.

F1 Experiences

Seriously. F1 has its own travel subsidiary called F1 Experiences. This allows you to choose a track you’d like to visit and includes tons of goodies: hospitality, photos with drivers you meet in your tours through the garages, and often a gift bag with anything from Bluetooth speakers to gorgeous watches. These trips can also include your hotel stay, airfare and ground transportation if that’s something you’re interested in.

Some tracks include incredible experiences. If you head to Monaco for the iconic Grand Prix through the city streets, you can even stay in a yacht at the harbor overlooking the track. If you want a seat in the track proper, you can buy one that also includes an art tour of the city. However, it can cost you a pretty penny. Track access may be anywhere from $500 to $13,000, depending on the package you select. But if you’re anything like me, you can justify the cost in the form of bottomless champagne.

If you’re on something of a budget, that’s fine too. Find tickets to a covered grandstand on race day. Make the most of your trip by planning a gorgeous vacation around it. If you’ve wanted to visit the French countryside, the brightly-lit streets of Singapore, the Austrian Alps, or the nightlife of Austin, Texas, an F1 race is a perfect excuse to see each of these places in fine form.

Of course, you can always catch races on Sunday mornings on ESPN.

Related: How Electric Cars Will Become a Reality for Us All: Through Formula E Racing

Formula One

Photo: Alexander Naglestad on Unsplash

Drivers and Teams You’ll Love (and Love to Hate!)

Now, no drama is complete without a cast of characters to root for and cheer against. F1 has plenty of that. This year, 10 different teams are competing for the overall World Championship. This is the highest honor in the motorsport world. Each team is composed of two drivers who do all the racing. However, don’t think for a moment that it’s only about the drivers. Yes, the people behind the wheel have their own delightful personalities that we’ll talk about in just a second, but the real drama comes in when you consider the dynamics of each team. And of course, we’ll provide that for you, too!

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team

Mercedes is like that girl in high school who was obnoxiously good at everything. She was smart, athletic, and never had a hair out of place. This team has been impressively dominant for the past several years, and it doesn’t even seem like Mercedes has to try. You’re either going to hate them or love them. There really is no in-between.

  • Lewis Hamilton (No. 44): The G.O.A.T. Hamilton is at the top of his game, breaking records, winning races, and treading all over his competition with ease. He is largely considered the best F1 racer of all time. He’s also been using his platform to advocate for social change and racial equality—and people hate it. But you know what? He is consistently the best-dressed man in the paddock. He’s also friends with the Kardashians, and it’s pretty damn satisfying to watch him trounce the field, even on his bad days.
  • George Russell (No. 63): George Russell was a high performer in the 2022 season and ranked the second-best driver of 2022 by Nico Rosberg (a former F1 driver). You’ll want to follow him on Instagram because he seems like a genuinely nice guy.

Red Bull Racing

To keep with the high school analogies, Red Bull Racing is like the girl who continues to be petty and holier-than-thou after graduation just because she won prom queen in senior year. If there’s drama afoot, Red Bull Racing is sure to be involved somehow. But be warned: this is a team with very clear favoritism. This car is designed specifically for one driver. Everyone else is expected to play catch-up or risk demotion.

  • Max Verstappen (No. 33): Max Verstappen is Red Bull’s golden boy. He’s been doing his growing up on the international stage since he was a teenager. If he comes off as a bit entitled, that’s because he’s pretty much had the racing world at his mercy for years. He’s a race fan’s racer, so he’s probably not going to be a favorite of someone looking for a little more pizzazz.
  • Sergio Perez (No. 11): Always the bridesmaid, finally the bride. After approximately 1,000 years in F1, Perez scored his first win in the 2021 season and has celebrated by moving to a team that is going to place his teammate’s needs before his. Let’s pour one out for Sergio.


Oh, Ferrari—the legacy team that’s raced in F1 since the very beginning yet somehow manages to be a complete disaster. Mercedes is what Ferrari wants to be so badly but fails at every turn: bad strategy, slow pit stops, and absurd politics plague this team at every turn. I don’t recommend being a Ferrari fan because its serial mismanagement will take a toll on your mental health. Just watch and laugh from a distance.

  • Carlos Sainz Jr. (No. 55): Carlos has been looking for a new home after escaping the clutches of the Red Bull Racing junior driver program several years ago. He’s a wonderful driver you’ll want to follow on Instagram just to see what shirtless shenanigans he’s getting up to now.
  • Charles Leclerc (No. 16): Charles Leclerc is a model. He’s been Ferrari’s new hope. The team couldn’t have picked a better face to represent the brand. You want them to succeed just so see Charles’s smile. This, unfortunately, does not happen a lot.

McLaren F1 Team

McLaren sees its roots in Bruce McLaren, a legendary racer from New Zealand. You’re going to notice this team straight away for its papaya-orange livery and its two gorgeous drivers, who also have a keen sense of humor. If you’re in the market for a new favorite team, I highly recommend McLaren. It probably isn’t going to win races because Mercedes and Red Bull are so dominant, but you’re going to have so much fun you won’t even mind.

  • Oscar Piastri (No. 81): Formula 2 Reigning Champion Oscar Piastri is one of the new rookies in F1 this season. Definitely keep an eye on him and his blooming career to see how he holds up on the track.
  • Lando Norris (No. 4): Lando Norris is considered one of the best drivers in F1. With tons of wins under his belt, he’s an exceptional racer to boot.

Williams Racing

Williams, Williams… this former championship-winning team has struggled to finish anywhere but the very back of the grid for the past several years. Now, it doesn’t even have the benefit of Claire Williams as deputy team principal (the daughter of team founder Frank Williams) to paint its dramatic downfall with slightly more beautiful colors. You’ll love them for trying so hard and getting so far, even though in the end, it doesn’t even matter.

  • Alex Albon (No. 23): Alex Albon previously raced for Red Bull and Scuderia Toro Rosso. He is an excellent driver, one that people think may actually lead Williams Racing in a new and more positive direction.
  • Logan Sargeant (No. 2): Logan Sargeant is another rookie that people may be watching closely. Keep in mind that he narrowly lost to fellow rookie Oscar Piastri in a previous F3 race a few years back.

Aston Martin Cognizant F1 Team

The Aston Martin name is new to the team this year. This is thanks to a buy-in by Lawrence Stroll, part-owner of the team and father of driver Lance. You can forgive the nepotism because Lance is actually a fairly decent driver. This is another team that has enough brief flashes of brilliance to keep you motivated during the races where everything goes completely wrong.

  • Fernando Alonso (No. 14): Fernando Alonso is a bitch, and I mean that with all the kindness in my heart. He expects the best of the best and will absolutely pitch a fit when he doesn’t get it. You’ll hate him. (You’ll love him.)
  • Lance Stroll (No. 18): Picture a wholesome frat boy. You know, the one who’s not afraid of a good kegger but who still calls his mom every Sunday. Congratulations: you’ve just pictured Lance Stroll.

Alpine F1 Team

Formerly known as Renault, Alpine went through a drastic name and personnel change in 2021, which makes them a little difficult to evaluate. They do have a very beautiful French flag-inspired livery, which is unfortunately why I will be riding the Alpine Pain Train this season.

  • Pierre Gasly (No. 10): Do you want a heartbreaker in every possible way? You want Pierre Gasly. He’s beautiful enough to bring a tear to your eye, but he’s also been through the ringer. His best friend, Anthoine Hubert, was killed while racing at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium back in 2019. Just after, Pierre was demoted from Red Bull for failing to live up to the team’s absurd expectations. Then, in 2020, he won his first race, after which he wrote a touching tribute to his lost friend. He’s a star. You’re going to want to wrap him up and keep him safe forever.
  • Esteban Ocon (No. 31): Esteban Ocon seems like a nice person, but you’ll mostly just know him as being just over six feet of French accent and adorable face.

Scuderia AlphaTauri

AlphaTauri is Red Bull Racing’s junior team, the place where young drivers are primed in the workings of F1 before moving up to Red Bull Racing proper. It’s also a dumping ground for the drivers that Red Bull deems not good enough for its top-tier program (sorry, Pierre Gasly). AlphaTauri pulled a race win out of its magic hat in 2020, but I wouldn’t count on it repeating that this year. This team is mostly just going to make you feel bad for the next Red Bull driver to get shafted by the main team.

  • Nyck de Vries (No. 21): Nyck was a part of McLaren’s young driver program for nearly 10 years and made his F1 debut last year.
  • Yuki Tsunoda (No. 22): Want to feel old? Yuki Tsunoda is the first F1 driver to be born in the 21st century. He’s full of raw talent, and it’s going to be exciting to watch him refine it into some exceptional racing skills.

Alfa Romeo Racing

Alfa Romeo may share a name with an iconic car manufacturer, but it’s mostly just… there. I can guarantee you that Alfa Romeo will do nothing surprising, exciting, or fun during the 2021 season, aside from maybe have a first lap crash. Which, I suppose, is fine. Not everyone needs to be spectacular!

  • Valtteri Bottas (No. 77): Valtteri is like the slightly-gawky friend the popular girl keeps around to make her perfection seem more effortless. He’s a good driver, but he’s not as spectacular as Lewis and has the personality of a butter pat until he’s forced out of his shell.
  • Zhou Guanyu (No. 24): Zhou is the first ever Chinese driver to race in F1, although his performance is undermined by the fact that many people believe him to be a pay driver (someone who provides sponsorships/money to the team in exchange for getting to drive on the team). Still, he’s respected by many and chose his F1 number to be 24 in honor of the beloved Kobe Bryant.

Haas F1 Team

Oh, Haas, the double-edged sword. Haas is a newer team that purports American roots despite shedding almost every recognizably American trapping that might encourage fans from the U.S. to join in the fun. It seemed promising right out of the gate, but Haas’ performance dropped rapidly in 2019, a season where it was also duped by its title sponsor Rich Energy, which turned out to be an energy drink company without the money to actually pay for its name to be on the car. It’s all been downhill ever since.

  • Kevin Magnussen (No. 20): Kevin isn’t ranked amongst the most elite in F1, but he holds his ground on the grid. Additionally, he is considered by some to be an excellent defensive driver.
  • Nico Hulkenberg (No. 27): To put it bluntly, Nico Hulkenberg has been competing in F1 for 13 years and has nothing to show for it. He has zero wins, yet he has tons of endearing fans who are ever hopeful that he’ll win this time around.
Formula One

It doesn’t get more glamorous than Monaco. Photo: Felix Fuchs

The Real Housewives-Style Drama to Follow

I’ll be honest: some of my favorite parts of Formula One take place off the track. Yes, on-track battles are fun, but nothing quite compares to the drama that follows an event.

You’ll have Red Bull Racing’s team owner filing protests against everyone that seems to have gained a performance advantage in between weekends, just to force The Powers That Be to confirm their cars are not illegal. Ferrari may be coming up with about 1,000 different excuses as to why it performed so badly during the race. One weekend it’s the engine, the next it’s the drivers, the next it’s a fault in the brake system.

There’s no better example than the Mercedes team of the recent past, composed of childhood friends Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg. With such a long legacy between them, these two were constantly at each other’s throats. Of course, the media absolutely ate it up.

You’d have Lewis saying that, no, actually, he was never friends with Nico. Nico might refuse to follow the team orders that would prioritize Lewis on the track because Lewis was closer to winning a championship. You’d have both drivers throwing hats at each other after the race, then pretending like nothing happened afterward. It’s the kind of drama that F1 fans thrive on.

Want Another Taste?

If you’re still a little skeptical that you could enjoy F1, then I have a great recommendation for you: try out an episode or two of Formula One: Drive to Survive on Netflix. This is a documentary series where each season follows a different year of racing. It starts with the 2018 Championship. While certainly engine noises abound, this series is an incredible way to gain a quick—and massively entertaining—understanding of the sport. Drive to Survive has provided viewers with a totally unprecedented look at the ups and downs of a racing season, from teams going bankrupt after spending lavishly to the intra-team competition going on between drivers battling for a contract extension. The producers do a wonderful job of teasing out the storylines of the year. The end product could rival The Bachelor.

Seriously, the drama never ends, and Drive to Survive is the best way to get a taste of F1 without having to commit to a race.

I'm Elizabeth Blackstock, managing editor of AGGTC, blogger, journalist, novelist, editor, MA/MFA graduate student, wife, motorsport fanatic, and bearer... More about Elizabeth Blackstock