Formula 1 Personalities and Their 'Star Wars' Alter Egos
Like many of us in these exciting days following the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mercedes AMG Petronas executive director Toto Wolff has Star Wars on his mind. Or at least he did recently, when he compared the Mercedes team—which has won the last two Formula One World Drivers' Championships—to the dark side of the Force.
Speaking with the Mail's Oliver Holt, Wolff acknowledged:
Our dominance is bad for Formula One. It is. It makes the racing boring. It becomes predictable how the result is going to be. The sport needs multiple winners. It needs the odd freak result. It needs the underdog to win. The moment you become a dominant force, you suffer and your brand suffers. You become the dark side of the force.
He went on to compare the Infiniti Red Bull team in their F1 infancy to the Jedi, before the team's four straight titles robbed them of any sympathy and had many fans rooting against them.
By now, you're probably thinking, "Keep going, Toto! Give us the F1 equivalents of Luke, Han and Chewie!"
If so, you are in luck. Things are about to get all nerdy up in here as we compare F1 personalities to Star Wars characters.
May the Force be with you, and feel free to play along in the comments with your own suggestions (our comparisons are limited to people currently working in F1, but you should not feel similarly constrained).
Max Verstappen: Anakin Skywalker
Key Star Wars quote: "He is the chosen one...you must see it."
No, that isn't Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko touting his latest prodigy. It's Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn insisting on Anakin Skywalker's potential skill with the Force to the Jedi Council.
Likewise, Scuderia Toro Rosso's Max Verstappen has been marked, almost since birth, as a potential F1 superstar. His first year in the sport did nothing to dampen those expectations, as he produced results not seen at Red Bull's sister team since Sebastian Vettel was racing for the Faenza, Italy-based outfit.
Of course, Anakin Skywalker eventually turns to the dark side and becomes Darth Vader. Wolff has already told us that Mercedes represents the dark side, and they did try to seduce Verstappen in 2014, ultimately failing to sign him at the time.
If Verstappen continues on his current trajectory, though, it may not be long before Sith Lord Wolff tries again, this time with a big bag of cash.
Kimi Raikkonen: Boba Fett
Key Star Wars quote: *cold, silent stare*
Boba Fett and Kimi Raikkonen may not say much, but both exude coolness and are extremely popular. They are also very good at what they do. Raikkonen is a world champion and the winner of 20 grands prix, while Boba Fett is one of the most respected and feared bounty hunters in the galaxy, tracking the Millennium Falcon and leading Darth Vader to Han Solo and Princess Leia in Cloud City.
Both Raikkonen and Boba Fett also like to enjoy themselves when they are not on the clock. After winning the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Raikkonen was asked how long he would celebrate for. "I have almost two weeks," he responded, per the BBC's Andrew Benson. "As long as I manage to get myself to the next race I think the team is happy."
After Boba Fett delivered Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt, he didn't fly off immediately in search of his next quarry. Instead, he hung out at Jabba's palace, flirting with those alien back-up singers until Luke Skywalker arrived.
Bernie Ecclestone: Emperor Palpatine
Key Star Wars quote: "Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design."
Perhaps this comparison seems a bit too easy, but it is apt. Like Senator and then Chancellor Palpatine in the Galactic Senate, Bernie Ecclestone slowly built up his influence in F1, from driver to team owner to chief executive of the Formula One Group.
After taking control of the Senate and eventually disbanding it, Palpatine became known simply as the Emperor. Similarly, Ecclestone is often called F1 supremo, given his all-encompassing role in the management and operation of the sport.
Character of the Week: Palpatine: the self-proclaimed Emperor of the galaxy. pic.twitter.com/GfRosB5K— Star Wars (@starwars) February 17, 2013
One area where the two men differ, though, is in their comfort with new technology. While Palpatine regularly uses the latest holographic communicators to issue orders to his underlings, instant communication in Ecclestone's world likely occurs when he pays extra to overnight a letter.
Jean Todt: Nute Gunray
Key Star Wars quote: "We should not have made this bargain."
Nute Gunray was the Viceroy of the Trade Federation, who was manipulated by Palpatine into creating a conflict with the peaceful planet Naboo. As the realization slowly dawns that they are pawns in a much larger scheme, Gunray's chief lieutenant, Rune Haako, acknowledges that they never should have made a deal with the future emperor.
Just like Nute Gunray, Federation Internationale de l’Automobile President Jean Todt might like to think he is in control, but he made a bargain with Ecclestone for some quick cash in exchange for the FIA's power to regulate F1. So far, the deal has not been good for the sport.
Lewis Hamilton: Han Solo
Key Star Wars quote: "Punch it!"
That quote is from Han Solo, telling his copilot, Chewbacca, to make the jump to hyperspace. But it has echoes of, "It's Hammer time," a frequent radio call from race engineer Peter Bonnington to Lewis Hamilton when it is time for the Mercedes driver to push the limits of his car.
Han Solo is a loner and a highly skilled pilot who makes a ton of money for rescuing Princess Leia from the Death Star and then has an on-again, off-again relationship with her.
Hamilton is also a loner, as his former team-mate Jenson Button told Sky Sports F1's William Esler. Hamilton is a highly skilled driver as well. "My best friends, my closest friends. I can count on one hand. I have a lot of associates and colleagues," Hamilton said in the same article. However, it could have been ripped straight from Harrison Ford's Star Wars dialogue. Hamilton makes a ton of money for driving an F1 car and had his own on-again, off-again relationship for years with singer Nicole Scherzinger.
This comparison was actually a tough call, as Hamilton is also the best paddock stand-in for Luke Skywalker, an occasionally whiny prodigy who rubs some people the wrong way but rises from an obscure background to become a great hero. Hamilton also once admitted that, when he was a child, he wanted to be a Jedi like Luke Skywalker, per the Mirror's Nicola Agius.
We'll stick with Solo, though.
Nico Rosberg: Chewbacca
Key Star Wars quote: "He made a fair move. Screaming about it can't help you."
As much as no one in the Mercedes team wants to admit it publibly, Nico Rosberg has become their No. 2 driver. He is the Chewbacca to Lewis Hamilton's Han Solo, minus the life debt.
At the United States Grand Prix last October, Hamilton muscled his way past Rosberg at the first corner, and Rosberg was not happy. "He was trying to drive me off the track, but I wasn't moving because I have the right to the track there," Rosberg said, according to Autosport's Lawrence Barretto and Mitchell Adam.
"So he drove into me, and that's definitely one step too far."
Unfortunately for Rosberg, Hamilton made a fair move, and whining about it won't help him.
And like Chewie at the end of the original Star Wars film, Rosberg has ended the last two seasons empty-handed, without a medal (or in his case, without a trophy).
Niki Lauda: Qui-Gon Jinn
Key Star Wars quote: "Do not defy the council, Master, not again."
An old master who does what he wants and says what he thinks, emboldened by his years of success and weighty reputation. That could be a description for either Qui-Gon Jinn or Niki Lauda.
The former is a Jedi Master who felt he was not bound by the conventions of the Jedi Code and decided to train Anakin Skywalker against the advice of Yoda, Mace Windu and the other Jedi Council members.
"Always remember: your focus determines your reality" - Qui-Gon Jinn pic.twitter.com/HkxJwhP1— Star Wars (@starwars) October 29, 2012
The latter is a three-time F1 champion, now non-executive chairman at Mercedes who does not feel bound by the conventions of the F1 paddock. Niki Lauda has had the adjective "outspoken" attached to his name more times than the number of ridiculous pairs of pants that Eddie Jordan owns.
Claire Williams: Princess Leia
Key Star Wars quote: "Somebody has to save our skins."
Just because Princess Leia and Claire Williams are two of the only women in positions of authority in the Star Wars and F1 universes, respectively, does not mean they were automatically matched up here. But they do share other similarities, such as their devotion to their underdog organizations: the Rebellion and the Williams F1 team.
Both women derive some of their power from their family connections, but they were not handed their positions on a silver platter. Leia's adoptive father Bail Organa was a senator in the last days of the Old Republic. Leia became a leader in the Rebellion, risking her life to keep the plans for the first Death Star out of Darth Vader's hands.
Claire Williams' father, Frank, is the founder and team principal of his eponymous team. Williams worked her way up from communications officer to her current position of deputy team principal.
Oh, and both women spend a large portion of their working lives staring at a variety of screens:
Sebastian Vettel: Poe Dameron
Key Star Wars quote: "Are you talking first? Or am I? Who’s supposed to talk first?"
Like Sebastian Vettel, Poe Dameron is one of the best pilots around. But he also has a sense of humour, and he doesn't mind using it to throw his rivals off-balance.
Vettel, who erased any doubts about his immense talent with an impressive first season at Ferrari, couldn't seem to go one press conference this year without poking fun at the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg.
Similarly, in The Force Awakens, Poe Dameron drops the above line when captured by the fearsome Kylo Ren, letting everyone know that he is not afraid, despite his apparent mortal danger. Ren later acknowledges that Dameron is the best pilot in the Resistance—a fact confirmed when (mild spoiler alert) he destroys about six TIE fighters in 10 seconds in the Battle of Takodana and then blows up Starkiller Base, or Death Star 3.0.
Now, what do you think? Do you have an F1 alter ego for characters like Lando Calrissian or R2-D2? Let us know in the comments.
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