The drivers of the Formula 1 grid have taken part in the charming Secret Santa tradition once more.
As seen on YouTube, the 2022 edition features the entire F1 grid, bar Lewis Hamilton. F1 Secret Santa has been run intermittently since the first instance in 2017. It's a chance for the drivers to share gifts and demonstrate how well they know each other. It's a fun bit of levity at the end of the season that shows off the personalities on the grid. It's also an opportunity for some sneaky jibes at times, which are always good for a chuckle.
Yuki Tsunoda had the most heartwarming reaction to his gift, a framed picture of him with teammate Pierre Gasly. The two Alpha Tauri drivers have shared a close friendship over the past two years of racing together. "This is [a] really nice present," said a beaming Tsunoda, adding "I think [the] best present I got in my life." The gift was courtesy of McLaren driver Lando Norris.
Gasly himself was strangely prescient, guessing he would be gifted Monopoly before even opening the gift. The Cotswolds Edition of the game was a hint that the gift was from a member of a UK-based team. However, Gasly was quick to point out that this was barely a clue, given around three-quarters of F1 teams are based there. "Well, thank you very much Fernando!" said Gasly, after figuring out his Secret Santa. "On top of giving me his car, he gives me Monopoly as well!" he added, cheekily referencing his upcoming move to take Alonso's vacant Alpine seat.
Tsunoda's "best present" ever, gifted by Lando Norris. I'm not crying, you're crying. YouTube/Formula 1
This year's World Champion, Max Verstappen, was given a copy of F1 2022. Hilariously, the PS5 game featured an altered cover with Charles LeClerc edited into every position on the front. The card from LeClerc read "For my biggest fan," referencing the duel between the two drivers during the 2022 championship.
Perhaps the sillest gift was given to Kevin Magnussen. The Haas driver was given a black and orange flag, after having been shown it 3 times this year on track. The rest of his stocking included a novelty stress ball, a beard care kit, and a door stop. The latter may have been a reference to a Drive to Survive episode where Magnussen is accused of smashing Gunther Steiner's Haas office door. The cheeky package was put together by Williams driver Alex Albon, with the help of his mother.
The honey badger himself, Daniel Ricciardo, was given a Polaroid Instax Mini camera, along with a Harry Styles shirt. The latter references the former One Direction singer, who was spotted wearing a Ricciardo shirt earlier this year. Ricciardo guessed that the gift was from Lando Norris, George Russell, or Lewis Hamilton, but it actually came from Canadian driver Nicholas Latifi.
Ricciardo's position as the jolliest driver on the grid made him the most common guess for Secret Santa. His assigned giftee was actually Esteban Ocon. He bought the Alpine driver a compendium of Amazing Spiderman comics, which was well received by the French driver.
Other heartwarming highlights included Vettel's gift of 61 drone bees to Nicholas Latifi, to commemorate the 61 Grand Prixs at which the two drivers lined up together. Vettel himself was touched by a gift from Lance Stroll, which appealed to his environmentalist side. His Aston Martin teammate purchased a maple tree in his honor, to be planted to support the natural landscape in Switzerland.
The almost-annual tradition gives us a chance to see F1 drivers gently ribbing each other with in-jokes and references to the season past. Here's hoping it continues long into the future, and we get to see more hilarious, imprudent gifts given in holiday seasons to come.
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