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Superstitions in F1: From The Underpants To The Odd Number

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Even though they drive expensive cars and bikes at a very high speed on famous circuits round the world, at the end of the day, the racing drivers are just humans like us. Like almost all of us, they too have superstitions, some silly and embarrassing ones included.

The racers follow some weird rituals however in the case of underpants, I cannot even call them rituals. Some drivers tend to use odd numbers while some think that a certain color is lucky for them. So, let’s get started with the superstitions of different drivers.

The superstition was present in motor racing from as early as 1918. Barney Oldfield took his Ford 999 to achieve one mile in less than a minute for the first time in the history of mankind. During his retirement in 1918, he had all the speed records in the world. Barney Oldfield believed in number games. He liked the number 13 in his car. At an age of 55, Barney in an ‘old cars’ derby, drove the car on a Friday the 13th, in a field of 13 cars, on a racecourse of 1,300 feet, crawling at 13 mph. That is some superstition. Even his real name has 13 letters Berna Oldfield counts then up.

Michael Schumacher is considered as the most superstitious driver in the Formula 1 grid. The legendary German is so superstitious that he asked his current team Mercedes to change his number. Subsequently, his number was replaced with his teammate’s number. Michael was quoted in the German newspaper Blid, “Ross Brawn knows that I like odd numbers.”

This is not the end. Schumacher is also known for his superstitions, a kind weird stuff that he likes to carry a toy hairbrush which was given by his daughter in his overalls pocket. The German also had a lucky charm which was given by his wife and he always carries it with himself.

Now from one German to another, let’s take a look at the superstition Force India’s driver Adrian Sutil has. The Force Indian’s driver loves to be on the right. He wear right glove first and then right boot and he even steps into the car from right side. He said that because the race weekend has same routine his preparations have to be same. Only Adrian knew how that affects his driving and what that means. The German was quoted as,

“The whole race weekend is a routine. Same schedule, same program, same questions. First I’ll wear the top and then the lowers. It’s a sequence. I always step into the car from the right side. I wear the right glove first and wear the right boot first. All the preparation has to be the same.”

Adrian is not the only driver who has this ‘direction’ superstition. There are plenty of drivers present in Formula 1 who have this habit. Force India’s reserve driver, Nico Hulkenberg, has the same direction habit. The German always gets into the car from the left side only.

The Red Bull racing Team’s driver Mark Webber also has same type of superstition. The Aussie always gets in and out of the car from the left side of the car. That is quite strange but one thing should be noted that even in the tense situations he doesn’t forget doing it.

Former Formula 1 driver Alexander Wurz had the tendency to wear two different colored shoes in the race. The Lotus Renault driver Nick Heidfeld chose to wear two wrist watches, however it didn’t bring much luck to the German when he was working with Prost.

The most weird and ”yuck” superstition was followed by the former Red Bull and McLaren driver David Coulthard. He was so superstitious that in the early days of his F1 career, David had a pair of lucky underpants that he wore until they wore out. That was the funniest superstition any driver has in Formula 1.

Talking about the superstition of multiple times Moto GP champion and current Ducati rider Valentino Rossi. Rossi always greets his bike before each race, he also feels that the color yellow bring good luck to him, he also has a special sun and moon design on his bike, and always uses the number 46.


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