Last weekend I made the point on Twitter that just as the national final season was dying down, and thoughts of a social life could return, along comes the F1 season. There’s a surprisingly high crossover between Eurofans and those that follow the elite tier of motorsport. Although, is it that surprising? Both require a knowledge of flags, a capacity to quickly keep up with the numbers and both have featured a guy called Leclerc.
There have, over the years, been an intriguingly high number of crossovers between the two. It may be news to most that a former Melodifestivalen winner has adorned the side of an F1 car of the past. But who was, I imagine you’re asking? Eric Saade on a Sauber? Loreen on an Alpine? Bengtsson on a Benetton? The Toyota Carola? OK OK, I’ll stop.
Wait! Each car has four Perellis. Right. Now I’ll stop.
Anyay, it was none of these. It was the most famous Melfest winners of them all, Abba!
Swedish driver, Slim Borgudd, entered 12 Grand Prix for ATS (pictured) and 3 for Tyrrell in the early 1980s. The lad was clearly at one when working with a tool in hand, whether that was a steering wheel or a pair of drumsticks. As well as being a racing driver Slim was a session drummer for Bjorn Ulvaeus, working at times with Abba. So when Borgudd entered F1 Ulvaeus allowed him to use the band’s logo, as a gesture to attract attention and sponsorship for his ailing team. Unfortunately for Slim, he was not the winner that took it all with a highest finish of 6th.
The main direct connection between the two is the pre-race national anthem performance. As of 2015 F1 introduced a performance of the local anthem by a singer of that nation as part of the pomp and ceremony leading into the race start. Whilst it’s hard to imagine Silverstone wheeling out Bonnie Tyler or Englebert to mumble out our dirge of an anthem, a number of Eurovision artists have done the honours. Fresh from her interval act last year Davina Michelle went on to sing prior to the race at Zandvoort. Sabina Babayeva & Il Volo have both performed prior to their respective nation’s races. Most iconic of all though, is an artist who F1 Twitter would go on to refer to as “drum girl”. You might recognise her…
Given the passion of the Ferrari fans, known as the Tifosi, it’s hardly a surprise the Italians were going to be involved here. Il Volo are in fact the only act to have performed the national anthem pre-race at two different tracks, Monza and Imola. Francesca Michielin may have only done the one but her association with the sport doesn’t stop there. Michielin (yet another tyre manufacturer sound-alike) has gone well beyond just performing at the race itself with a track dedicated to her favourite driver. Nestled in her album 2640 is Francesca’s tribute to everyone’s favourite grumpy Spaniard.
You’ve spent the last few months glued to the action, following multiple screens at once trying to make sense of the nonsense happening in front of you. Well now you can just keep it up by following the comings and goings of some of the best drivers of the world! And Guanyu Zhou.