1. You are one of 20 Formula 1 drivers currently racing. What’s the biggest misconception people have about what you do?
It’s an unusual sport, and there are misconceptions about the training and what it’s like to actually race. I’ll tell people how I can lose 10 pounds for a race and they’ll say, “Why is that necessary, you’re just sitting in a car?” And then I’ll try to explain g-force and the clothing we wear and why it’s so hot and they’ll say, “Wait, the car doesn’t have AC? You don’t have water in there? Can’t you listen to music while you drive?” It looks glamorous when you come to a race weekend, but the stress is so high. Two thousand people have worked to give me the car I have, and the pressure I put on myself to win is immeasurable.
2. What’s the first thing you do in the morning on race day?
I wake up, brush my teeth and open the blinds. I like to see if it’s raining or dry, because it helps me get my mind in gear. And then I check my phone to stay on top of messages.
3. Do you have any lucky charms or race-day superstitions?
I’m 38 years old and one of the veteran drivers, so I don’t have any of those things. But when I was younger, I did. I had a lucky conker [the nut of a horse chestnut tree] that I put in my suit — but I lost it. Then I had a lucky pair of boxers that my stepmom shrunk and dyed pink. I was done [with “lucky charms”] after that. I think superstitions are things we make up in our minds; they’re blockers. Doing what I do, I can’t have those limitations.
4. What song pumps you up for a big race?
Music is a very big part of my life. I do music production; I write songs. I work with a lot of musicians around the world and we’re bouncing around a lot of ideas. To get pumped up, I might listen to something someone suggested, or just beats or something I love. It could be Stevie Wonder, Prince, Marvin Gaye or Michael Jackson. Or reggae, hip-hop or R&B. I’ll just look at my phone and decide what the vibe is that day. That’s the great thing with music — there’s something for whatever mood you’re in. It’s really the universal language.
5. How do you celebrate a win?
Not as spectacularly as you’d think. When I’m in Europe I like to get home [to Monaco] and be in my own bed, so most of the time I leave straight from the track to the airport. One of my friends recently told me that I don’t celebrate the moment enough, but I’m planning for the long-term goal — winning the World Championship.