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Is F1 Not Enough? Meet the Drivers Moonlighting

Written by Katie Jeromson, Edited by Sean McKean

Hamilton drinking Almave in Mexico; Credit - Kym Illman/Getty Images

At the 2023 Mexico City Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton announced his brand-new venture: Almave, a non-alcoholic spirit created from blue agave. This came as no surprise, though, as the internet had already whipped itself up into a storm, after discovering a private Instagram account named ev10am26la, which, if you take out the letters and reverse them, gives you Almave and the date October 26th – Mexico Grand Prix weekend. 


Why did they go searching for it at all? For that, we need to jump back a few weeks, to the Japanese Grand Prix, where, in the media pen, Hamilton took the quickest of sips out of a glass, proclaimed it was good and continued the interview. From there the internet took over and quickly went into overdrive; a smart, effective and most importantly free tactic.


Of course, this is not Hamilton’s only venture beyond the world of F1. He is also the co-founder of Neat Burger, a UK-based vegan burger restaurant that also has the backing of acting giant Leonardo DiCaprio.


The British driver is also a part owner of the Denver Broncos NFL team, has a team in the Extreme E driving series, X44 Vida Carbon Racing, set up a film and tv production company Dawn Apollo Films and has created fashion lines with Mercedes sponsor Tommy Hilfiger.


Hamilton isn’t the only one making hay while it shines though! Ex-teammate Valtteri Bottas and Olympian girlfriend Tiffany Cromwell created OATH gin, along with OATH lounges where you can enjoy the F1 experience, relax in a high class lounge and meet Bottas himself. This is along with being a 10% owner of ice-hockey team the Lahti Pelicans and founding Kahiwa Coffee, a coffee roaster and coffee shop, also based in Lahti.


You may often see Fernando Alonso adorned with a Kimoa cap. Kimoa is a recycled lifestyle brand that Alonso is a part founder in, and has brought with him to partner a line with Aston Martin F1.

Alonso in Austria; Credits - Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Not to be outdone, Daniel Ricciardo has collaborated with St Hugo Wines to create the DR3 Fine Wines series, now in its third year. Plus like Hamilton, he has dipped into the world of fashion. At the United States Grand Prix in Austin he launched Enchante, starting with the Enchante Records line.


Ricciardo along with many other drivers also have their hand in a karting team. For Ricciardo it’s the aptly named Ricciardo Kart. For Charles Leclerc it is CL Karting. Fernando Alonso is down a similar route with FA Racing, as is Lando Norris and LN Kart.


Norris has not stopped at karting though, as he formed Quadrant in 2020, which the website describes to be: “a gaming and lifestyle brand that combines Lando’s love for Gaming, Lifestyle, Content, and Apparel.” Norris, who is particularly well known with younger fans, makes regular appearances on social and gaming platforms such as Twitch, getting involved with Quadrant’s gaming element.


Max Verstappen is another driver getting involved in the world of esports. Rrecently announced is the partnership between the Oracle Red Bull Sim Racing Team and Team Redline.


Team Redline is an esports team supported by Verstappen and Red Bull. Via Verstappen.com Racing, the site is set up with an idea to “expand the Verstappen name past Formula One and into GT3 racing, Rallying and Virtual Racing.” On the Rallying side Verstappen’s father Jos Verstappen has joined the team, starting in 2022, he is now racing under the Verstappen.com Racing banner for some Belgian Rally Championship races.


The Verstappen’s aren’t the only ones making it a family affair, Carlos Sainz Jr. is the son of World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz Sr. The family have the Carlos Sainz Racing Tracks and partner with Shell, who of course are also partnered with the Ferrari Team that Sainz Jr. drives for.

Jos and Max Verstappen ahead of the US Grand Prix; Credit - Kym Illman/Getty Images

Current Red Bull driver Sergio Perez is also pursuing racing interests but of a rather different kind, he has an electric boat racing team in the E1 championship under Team Mexico. The team competed against other famously backed teams, with the likes of Tennis Pro Rafa Nadal and DJ Steve Aoki having teams in the series too.


Perez is also a shareholder of Kavak, an online car buying and financing firm, Kavak started in Mexico City and now is expanding worldwide.


Perez’s pursuits don’t simply line his pockets though, he has also created the Checo Perez Foundation, providing support to vulnerable children across Mexico. The Foundation has helped with building homes, ensuring children get access to medical care and getting children a good education to ensure a good future.


Which brings us full circle, back to Lewis Hamilton, widely considered to be one of the most active charitable drivers on the grid, driving for diversity and accessibility via Mission 44 and the Hamilton Commission.


Mission 44 is a charitable organisation and their website reads three main goals: “Education - Build a more inclusive education system led by diverse teaching staff, Employment - Open doors to careers within STEM, motorsport, and the creative industries and Empowerment - Empower young people to become an influential force for change.”


Mission 44 helps fund projects and as Formula 1 has traveled round the world, they have hosted events for young people at those tracks to get a taste of motorsport. Some partners working with Mission 44 include Motorsport UK, The Royal Academy of  Engineering and The Black Equity Organisation.


The Hamilton Commission is more specifically geared towards accelerating the representation of black people in motorsport, once again partnered with Motorsport UK and the Royal Academy of Engineering. The Commission has also produced a report about representation in the sport, saying: “The report explores the barriers to the recruitment and progression of Black people within UK motorsport, which start in early life and throughout their educational journeys, and provides ten recommendations to address them.”


F1 drivers are capable of making decisions in fractions of seconds in the car and it looks like that may include outside of the car too! This is by no means an exhaustive list of the side hustles the current grid is running, but it's enough to make the average joe rather exhausted.


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