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What have Formula 1 drivers done in the off-season?

Formula 1 drivers have posted various updates throughout the 2023-24 off-season, so here is a look at what they have done ahead of the new campaign.

The drivers pull away for the formation lap prior to the start

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The 2024 Formula 1 season starts this month as the Bahrain Grand Prix begins on the 29 February where Max Verstappen will commence his championship defence.

Before then is also F1 pre-season testing (21-23 February) and car launches with reigning champions Red Bull being the last team to unveil its 2024 livery on the 15 February, meaning the off-season is quickly coming to an end.  

So, in the two months since the 2023 Abu Dhabi season finale, what has each F1 driver been up to in this time off?

Max Verstappen 

Verstappen still goes to a race track even in his downtime, as the triple world champion posted pictures of him and his father Jos driving a Ferrari GT3 in Portimao a week before Christmas. The 26-year-old is known to be an admirer of sportscars and the GT3 was decked in Red Bull colours with Verstappen.com branding, so it could be linked to the fact that he’s aiming to set up his own GT3 team for 2025

 

But, the driving did not stop there for Verstappen. The Red Bull driver is also a keen sim racer and he claimed a GTD class victory at the iRacing Daytona 24 Hours in January, so even when there are no grands prix Verstappen is still behind the wheel.  

Sergio Perez 

Sergio Perez has done a lot of sponsor work in the off-season as has been made clear through his social media. Perez, who finished a career-best of second in the 2023 drivers’ championship, was announced as an ambassador for NESCAFE, featured in an advert for KitKat and spoke at an event for used cars marketplace Kavak. 

Meanwhile, Perez also attended December’s FIA Prize Giving Ceremony in Baku where he, Verstappen, and Red Bull boss Christian Horner collected the trophies for first and second in the drivers’ standings, as well as the constructors’ championship trophy.  

Lewis Hamilton  

Lewis Hamilton often visits the Colorado mountains in the off-season, where the seven-time world champion goes hiking, skiing and paddling near his home. However, this off-season Hamilton also visited California to watch the Los Angeles Charges versus the Denver Broncos in the National Football League. 

 

Hamilton has been a part-owner of the Broncos since August 2022 and he was seen wearing a vintage Denver jacket as they beat the Chargers 24-7 on 10 December at SoFi Stadium. The Mercedes driver also went skydiving and surfing, while posting a video of him reuniting with his bulldog Roscoe at Christmas.  

Fernando Alonso 

Fernando Alonso runs a karting facility in his Spanish hometown of Oviedo, so the double F1 world champion has spent much of his off-season at the track testing karts and inspiring the next generation, which included doing doughnuts in a two-seater kart. Alonso also posted pictures of him driving an Aston Martin Vantage DTM at Spain’s Alcaniz Circuit done in partnership with his firm A14 Management, so the 42-year-old rarely spends time away from a race track. 

But he has done so at some points in the off-season, as Alonso travelled to northern Italy to ski in the valley of Val Gardena while he also posted a funny video of him playing table tennis with George Russell on a private jet.  

 

Charles Leclerc 

Charles Leclerc has ended his off-season by signing a multi-year contract extension with Ferrari, having driven for the Scuderia since 2019. It came despite a winless 2023 where the Monegasque finished fifth in the championship, scoring six podiums in a disappointing year for Ferrari who came third in the constructors’ standings.  

In a bid to recharge for 2024, Leclerc visited many places in the off-season as he went skiing in Italy, visited LA’s Venice Beach, saw in the new year in Portugal and relaxed in his hometown of Monte Carlo, while the Ferrari driver also appeared as a cover star for Italian magazine L’Officiel. 

Lando Norris 

Lando Norris also capped off this off-season by signing a multi-year contract extension with McLaren, who he has driven for since his rookie year in 2019. Last season was much improved for the British outfit as it climbed to fourth in the championship, while Norris scored a career-best seven podiums in a campaign, yet that maiden grand prix victory still eludes the 24-year-old.  

In non-F1 news, Norris enjoyed downtime travelling to Southeast Asia and Australia, went skiing like many other drivers, played football in an empty Parc des Princes - home of French giants Paris Saint-Germain - and played the video game Fortnite on a Twitch live stream with famous British YouTubers Angry Ginge and Yung Filly.  

Carlos Sainz 

Skiing is clearly an F1 driver’s favourite pastime as Carlos Sainz tackled the snow in northern Italy during his off-season. It is a great way of maintaining fitness away from the track, as is cycling and the gym which are also activities Sainz undertook in the off-season as he completed a training camp in Portugal.  

The 2023-24 off-season will also be one that Sainz fondly remembers, as he travelled to Saudi Arabia to watch his father, Carlos Sr, become the oldest driver ever to win the Dakar Rally at the incredible age of 61. Sainz Jr posted Dakar pictures on his social media with the simple caption “we’ll never forget this”, after his world champion father won the rally raid for a fourth time.  

 

George Russell 

While Russell played table tennis several thousand feet above the ground with Alonso, the two also celebrated the new year together which is just one of many things the Mercedes driver has done in the off-season. 

 

Russell also visited Old Trafford for Manchester United versus Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, announced that he is a new global ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger and went skiing in Austria with Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel

Oscar Piastri 

Oscar Piastri is entering 2024 following an outstanding debut season in F1, scoring two podiums and a sprint race win, which earned him Rookie of the Year at the Autosport Awards and FIA Prize Giving Ceremony.  

After receiving such accolades, Piastri headed to Paris to watch basketball while undergoing a training camp in Lanzarote before returning to the McLaren Technology Centre in mid-January.  

Lance Stroll 

Lance Stroll has remained pretty quiet over the off-season with very little social media posts indicating what he has been up to. However, he did post one video of him snowboarding which comes as no surprise because the Canadian is known to be a big fan of winter sports. 

 

Stroll is approaching a very big 2024 because, although he finished a career-best of 10th in the 2023 standings, the 25-year-old finished 132 points behind Aston Martin team-mate Alonso, so the question is will the Canadian close that deficit to the world champion?  

Pierre Gasly 

Pierre Gasly goes to the United Arab Emirates every off-season for a training camp and this year was no different. He was also spotted doing many different activities as the Alpine driver went karting with former AlphaTauri team-mate Yuki Tsunoda at Dubai Autodrome, posed for a picture with his parents in front of the Burj Khalifa and was spotted with Premier League footballers Kevin de Bruyne and Virgil Van Dijk. 

There were also a couple of social media posts that caught the widespread attention of his fans: a picture of Gasly’s garage featuring cutouts of Hamilton, Norris, Leclerc and Verstappen on the wall and a trip to London where Gasly rode the tube, fell over on an ice rink and stood next to Hamilton’s wax figure at Madame Tussauds.  

 

Esteban Ocon 

Gasly’s Alpine team-mate may not have taken somebody out while ice skating, but Esteban Ocon did also undertake winter activities by going skiing. While in the mountains, as per social media it appears that Ocon saw the new year with good friend and Mercedes reserve driver Mick Schumacher, who has also secured a seat with Alpine in the 2024 World Endurance Championship.  

Ocon also posted a trip to Venice on his social media, while he and Gasly spent time with football legend and Alpine ambassador Zinedine Zidane at a work event in Madrid. This came after a disappointing 2023 where the French outfit dropped from fourth to sixth in the championship, so 2024 needs to be a much-improved year for the squad.  

Alex Albon 

Alex Albon started by visiting Thailand, the birthplace of his mother, where the Williams driver and his partner Lily He visited Koh Yao Noi and Phuket. Afterwards, they went to Los Angeles where Albon prepared for the upcoming season by cycling and spending time in the gym.  

It comes after a very good year for the Thai-British driver, who pushed Williams from last to seventh in the championship as he scored 27 of the team’s 28 points in 2023 and out-qualified rookie team-mate Logan Sargeant for all 22 grands prix.  

Yuki Tsunoda 

Tsunoda was in Dubai with Gasly where the 23-year-old cut a sweat in the gym, played padel tennis with his fellow F1 driver and both of their performance coaches and ate luxurious food.  

Before Tsunoda headed to UAE though, he attended the Honda Thanks Day at the Mobility Resort Motegi - approximately 78 miles north of Tokyo - with the Red Bull family where the Japanese driver did a demonstration run in a Brabham Honda BT16 

Valtteri Bottas 

As he often does, Valtteri Bottas went down under this off-season as he spent the Christmas period in Adelaide which is the birthplace of his partner Tiffany Cromwell. Cromwell is a professional cyclist, so much of Bottas’ off-season has naturally been spent cycling across South Australia where the pair even partook in gravel cycling event RADL GRVL.

 

Not all of Bottas’ downtime has been in Australia though, as he and Cromwell also cycled across California before the Sauber driver made a quick trip to see the northern lights in native Finland ahead of his trip to Australia.  

Nico Hulkenberg 

Nico Hulkenberg spent Christmas at home with his wife and daughter after the German’s first full-time season back in F1 since 2019. This came before the shock announcement that Guenther Steiner was to leave the Haas F1 Team imminently, so Hulkenberg posted a tribute to his former boss. 

The German driver was next seen hiking in Serra de Tramuntana, a mountain range in Mallorca, before training camp ahead of the new season after Haas finished bottom of the 2023 constructors’ championship. 

Daniel Ricciardo 

Daniel Ricciardo had quite the 2023, starting it as Red Bull’s reserve driver before landing a seat at AlphaTauri only for him to get injured after two grands prix with a broken hand which sidelined him for two months. 

Ricciardo started the 2023-24 off-season with Honda Thanks Day before heading to native Australia to truly relax after a hectic year. The 34-year-old always goes home in the off-season where he spends time on his family’s ranch while exploring the outback with activities like riding dirt bikes to maintain that adrenaline rush.  

 

Zhou Guanyu 

Zhou Guanyu went home to Shanghai once the 2023 Abu Dhabi GP was done and, early in the off-season, he made the decision to braid his hair. In the following weeks, Zhou gave insight into his home life with pictures of his cat which included one of it wearing a Santa hat on the 25 December.  

So, Zhou’s off-season has mainly been spent just enjoying downtime in Shanghai with friends and family, while also doing various promotion events in China before returning to work at Sauber’s Swiss base in January.  

Kevin Magnussen 

Kevin Magnussen has not really updated fans with what he’s done in the off-season, as his only posts on social media have either been a photo dump of a grand prix from 2023 or various clips of a one-on-one interview he did for partners.  

However, Magnussen has a wife and two young daughters so it is presumed he will have used the off-season to enjoy quiet time with his family at home in Denmark. Magnussen’s Haas contract expires at the end of 2024, so his future might be a big talking point this season especially after a disappointing 2023 for the 31-year-old, as he finished 19th in the championship and was consistently beaten by team-mate Hulkenberg. 

Logan Sargeant 

Despite a disappointing rookie season where Sargeant scored just one point, the Williams driver has been retained for 2024. In a bid to hit the ground running once the Bahrain GP is here, Sargeant has been training hard in the off-season spending time in the gym. 

But it’s not all been work for the American, as soon after the Abu Dhabi GP Sargeant headed to the UAE desert to drive dune buggies.  

 

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