The Formula One paddock is a busy place that hosts a lot of serious business over a race weekend, but this blog will aim to bring you some of the more colourful moments from the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend.
Rosberg in hot water
Former world champion Nico Rosberg has landed himself in a rather embarrassing situation after having his F1 paddock pass taken away for misusing it during the Chinese Grand Prix.
Rosberg, who retired after winning the title in 2016, still frequents the paddock as a pundit for various TV broadcasters and as a vlogger on his YouTube account. Access to the grid ahead of a race is carefully managed and Rosberg, who has a special pass as a former world champion, apparently gave his pass to someone not authorised to be on the Shanghai grid. The German had requested additional passes for the race, but was denied by Formula One Management.
Ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, rumours circulated that Rosberg had been banned from the paddock for that infringement and various Italian media outlets reported as much on Sunday morning. F1 soon issued a clarification tweet dismissing that report, but in doing so confirmed that his pass had been taken away from him in China.
Funny to see how fake news can spread so quickly! @nico_rosberg misused his pass in China, apologised immediately and will get his pass back at the next race he's set to come to - Monaco. No ban! #f1pass #f1— F1 Media (@F1Media) April 28, 2019
Hamilton uses FP1 debacle to catch up on GoT
A loose drain cover may have cut short first practice in Baku, but five-time champion Lewis Hamilton didn't seem overly concerned. With no laps to his name, he left the garage, went back to his room in Mercedes' hospitality unit and switched on Game of Thrones.
"How could they have not checked and sealed the drains?" he wrote on Instagram. "Oh well, just gives me extra time to catch up on Game of Thrones."
Hamilton started watching series six of Games of Thrones earlier this year ahead of the release of season seven, but has now gone back to series one with the aim of binge watching every episode before the finale.
In an earlier post on Instagram, he added: "Guys, I think I'm ill. I'm so addicted to Game of Thrones, it's now like I can't wait for my day to finish so I can go home and watch it before I go to bed! It's changed my life, it's the greatest thing ever. To all the cast and crew that made it, I just want to say a big thank you."
Robin Raikkonen: 2039 world champion?
You read it here first, the son of Kimi Raikkonen could be F1 world champion in 20 years' time ... well, as long he has fun during his go-kart debut later this year.
Anybody following Raikkonen's Instagram feed will have seen videos of his son, Robin, getting to grips with a mini motocross bike in recent weeks. Raikkonen Senior revealed a couple of races ago that he has adapted the throttle on his son's bike to keep it at safe speeds and now he is planning to give his 4-year-old a first taste of the sport that made him famous.
"For sure, he is into it," Raikkonen said of his son's newfound interest in motorbikes. "He enjoys cars but more bikes right now. But who knows, today they like one thing and tomorrow it is completely 180 degrees on something else.
"Probably in the summer we will take him in a go-kart for the first time and if he likes it he can do it. But you never know with the kids: one day it is this and the next day it is that. I don't mind, if it only comes as a hobby then it is a great hobby for them and it is probably easier for me!"
However, Raikkonen says he and his wife, Minttu, are not pushy parents and will be happy to support their two kids in anything that keeps them away from computer games and ... train stations.
"But both of them we will support: If they want to be dancers, then for me I have absolutely zero issues as long as they enjoy it. I think anything that they do is better than hanging around in a train station, fighting or staying at home playing computer games."
Lewis Hamilton calls for Tiger Woods movie
Lewis Hamilton's press session focused largely on three topics: Charles Leclerc and Ferrari, Ayrton Senna and the upcoming 25th anniversary of his death, and Tiger Woods' recent return to glory at the Masters.
Lewis was philosophical on the first one, slightly irritated by the second -- saying "I've answered this a billion times," which in fairness, he has -- and then excited by the third one.
It's hard to disagree with his summation of the Woods story: "I think it's now time for a movie -- it's a perfect movie! I look forward to seeing it."
Hamilton also opened up about how he was able to tick off a bucket list item at Wimbledon's tennis tournament last year.
"It was quite emotional to watch, just knowing his journey and where he started and the things he's gone through to come back after so many years is just proof that never giving up on your dreams. I had the pleasure of meeting him last year at Wimbledon for the first time. I'd always wanted to meet him, and years before that he'd sent me a flag from one of the holes when we were both with one of our sponsors.
"Just really, really proud to see him up there showing everyone you should never give up, keep pushing and keep believing in yourself."
A costly business...
Last year's driver market was a big one for Daniel Ricciardo, as he made the decision to leave Red Bull for Renault. But the Australian revealed an amusing anecdote on Thursday that suggested he wasn't too good at predicting how the pieces of the 2019 grid were going to fall into place.
When he was told about Red Bull chief Helmut Marko joking that he had won a friendly wager about whether Valtteri Bottas would still be at Mercedes in 2019, the Australian driver laughed and said, "He did win 1000 Euros from me.
"He always wants to bet more... but when he wants to bet more you know he already knows the answer! I'm not a gambling man, I don't go to casinos, so 1000 is not by choice...
"We did another one in Melbourne, and I won it back -- so we're even. It was qualifying, he thought [Red Bull] would be top three in qualifying and I thought they wouldn't. They weren't, so I got my money back... I don't want to bet with him anymore! But it's OK, if our relationship is like that it's quite fun."
I went to Daniel Ricciardo's media session assuming he is a fan of Marvel's "Avengers" franchise. Ahead of the release of "Avengers: Endgame," F1 tweeted this photo in the morning.
Whatever it takes.— Formula 1 (@F1) April 24, 2019
Join Captain HAMerica, The Incredible Hulk, Rocket Raccoonen and all your other favourite heroes for the fight of their lives ⚔️#AzerbaijanGP #AvengersEndgame pic.twitter.com/HVGojG7mMS
Ricciardo laughed when it was pointed out that Max Verstappen's head had been placed on top of female superhero Captain Marvel, but the fact he needed explaining who the various characters were -- he asked if his own character, Hawkeye, was cool -- suggests he has some catching up to do on the comic book franchise.
When I said I had expected him to be more of a Marvel/Avengers fan, he said: "Nah, not really. Should I be? To be honest there's still one thing which I need to get into and that's 'Game of Thrones.' The whole world is talking about it and I've still never really got into it."
Ricciardo has four weeks to catch up in time for GoT's finale. That series has been mentioned before in F1 paddocks -- Daniil Kvyat once revealed he was watching an episode of the series when Red Bull called him to say he was being demoted to Toro Rosso in 2016 (Verstappen got promoted in his place). Hamilton has also recently revealed on Instagram he is trying to get through the TV show's seven seasons in time for its conclusion, although he has admitted to not watching it in order.
F1's social team also used the beginning of GoT's final season to work another bit of photoshop magic earlier this month, reimagining Hamilton as the person seated on the Iron Throne and Raikkonen as the Ice King.
Stuck between a Hard Rock and a street race
News broke on Thursday that Miami's proposed street race has suffered another setback, with the Miami Herald reporting F1 and local organisers are now considering switching location. The proposal has been controversial locally, with businesses and residents upset at the disruptions that would come with an event on the scale of an F1 race. Despite a few tweaks to the layout of the circuit, there was no escaping the fact that any race around the Biscayne Boulevard area and bridge would cause major disruptions to the dockyard and port area.
It seems the plan now is to see if a race using the home of the Miami Dolphins, the Hard Rock Stadium, would be possible. While still in Miami, it is north of the Florida city and offers a far less appealing backdrop than a street race would have done. F1 is still determined to increase the amount of races on offer in America, so it is not surprising it is exploring new avenues with Miami, which has been very keen to put on the spectacle despite local opposition.
The new plan might be easier to achieve, but whether Miami is on next year's calendar remains to be seen. If it is, it is likely to look significantly different from what everybody involved had in mind...