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F1 2022

F1 drivers reveal future career plans for life after the sport

As the likes of Fernando Alonso have shown, Formula 1 can provide a long career for many drivers. But what might the future hold for some of the current names on the grid when their time in the sport comes to an end?

In the current era of Formula 1, age is seemingly not a barrier. Drivers not only often begin their career in the sport at a younger age than in past times - see Max Verstappen, F1's youngest-ever entrant upon his debut at 17 - but can stay around for many years too. Fernando Alonso, who will turn 41 this year, is proof of that, as was Kimi Raikkonen, who retired just last year at the age of 42.

Yet not all drivers have a extensive stint on the grid and, even if they do, there still remains the question of what comes next. Raikkonen, for one, seems happy to focus on spending time with his young family before deciding on his future path.

And whilst the idea of walking away from the sport may be very far from the minds of several current drivers, some have already given thought to what they might do with their lives when their time in Formula 1 comes to an end...

From Formula 1 to fashion

Charles Leclerc often shares his hobbies outside of F1 with his social media fans, with the Monegasque posting videos of himself playing the piano on Instagram as well as showcasing his interest in fashion.

These are both areas that the Ferrari driver could see himself pursuing in the future, though, at 24, he is understandably not giving his retirement too much serious thought yet.

"I hope it's in a long time," Leclerc told media including RacingNews365.com when asked about what he might do after Formula 1.

"I haven't thought about it yet, to be honest. For now, I'm really, really focused on my Formula 1 career. After that, I've got different things that I like. Fashion, architecture, music...

"Whether I will be able to do something in those things, that will be great, but I'm not sure yet. And maybe something else racing related from another point of view, but yeah, I haven't thought about it yet."

In his current line of work, Leclerc battles against his friend Pierre Gasly on the track, but it sounds like they could potentially work together on another venture in life after F1.

"[I] have a couple of common interests with Charles, so [we] might be ending [up] doing something together," Gasly added.

"Obviously, fashion is one industry that I love. Business in general, I've been always since [I was] a very young kid interested [in that] but, as Charles said, there is a time for everything, and obviously F1 takes a lot of time, commitment, dedication and energy.

"So at the moment, I like to switch off when I'm [away from] the track, but it's still a bit too early to think about these things. So we'll see in the future."

			© rn365/michaelpotts
	© rn365/michaelpotts

No plans to stop racing

For some, the allure of racing proves too hard to even think about giving up. Valtteri Bottas has faced a lot of speculation about his future throughout his time in Formula 1; the Finn was only ever handed one-year deals during his stint with Mercedes, meaning that questions over his next steps would arise annually.

His immediate plans in the sport are now clear, of course, with 2022 marking the beginning of a multi-year deal between Bottas and Alfa Romeo. But when it comes to thinking about how he will spend his days after F1, Bottas cannot see himself giving up motorsport.

"I'm positive I'll be racing something, because I just love driving cars to their limits, and I love competition," Bottas told the Beyond The Grid podcast.

"I'll be driving something, whether it's going to be professionally or super competitively, I don't know. But it's going to be something and I'm really open, one day after Formula 1, [to] what that is going to be.

"I'll just keep following my passion, and keep following whatever comes ahead and opportunities and take them as they come. That's what's exciting in life, you just never know what's behind the corner."

Fernando Alonso, perhaps unsurprisingly, shows no signs of wanting to switch to another career in the future, either.

The Spaniard competed in other categories of motorsport during his recent two-year hiatus from Formula 1, and is now two-thirds of the way towards earning the Triple Crown, which consists of winning the Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Indianapolis 500.

With the Indianapolis 500 victory still alluding him, Alonso has not ruled out the possibility of trying to win it when he is no longer racing in F1, so the idea of the two-time World Champion quitting racing altogether seems unlikely.

			© McLaren
	© McLaren

Activism and family life

The increased presence of younger - and older - drivers in Formula 1 is not the only change in recent times. There has also been a move towards the sport, and those involved in it, using their platform to speak out on various social issues.

One of the most prominent figures to do so has been Sebastian Vettel. During 2021, Vettel showed his support for a range of causes, whether it was environmental issues or becoming an ally to underrepresented groups.

As such, Vettel has been questioned on whether he might enter politics when he retires from F1. This is not a path that he sees himself taking, but he has hinted at continuing to pursue the causes that he has become interested in.

"Not being a fan of the media, I'm not sure politics would be the right place for me," Vettel told The Race. "Look at my age and I'm not going to be around F1 for the next 10 years.

"For sure, I'm thinking about what might be next. I'm easily captured by passionate people even if it's things I don't currently have an interest in. I can easily grow a new passion."

Vettel also can't envisage becoming a pundit, a common career for many ex-racing drivers to take, though he isn't ruling anything out.

"For any sportsman or racing driver in the past, it's been a big challenge to find something," Vettel added. "The easiest way would be to become a Sky reporter and find yourself in the same place for the next few years.

"I don't see myself doing that but I love the sport and don't want to turn my back on it and say 'never again'.

"For sure, I'm thinking about other things. I have a family so it's easy to have things to take care of when I retire."

			© Mercedes
	© Mercedes

Hollywood beckons for Hamilton

Another driver to take a keen interest in activism is Lewis Hamilton. The seven-time World Champion launched the Hamilton Commission, which last year released a report identifying barriers to the recruitment and progression of black people in UK motorsport.

Hamilton has spoken openly about how this work has given him an extra motivation, and it is clearly a passion that he will most likely continue to pursue when his F1 days are over.

However, the Mercedes driver has many other interests too, including fashion and film. In fact, Hamilton has previously spoken of his desire to become an actor.

"I want to be the best. In everything I do I want to be," he told DAZN. "I would love to act one day. But I am very conscientious. I like to learn step by step.

"I had opportunities and I know that I need time to prepare myself. Because I want to be the best. In everything I do I want to be. To do the best I can.

"If I'm going to make a movie, I'll go to class, study, and make sure I express my emotions as I should."

The topic of Hamilton's future is a prominent one right now, with speculation remaining over the possibility of him not returning to Formula 1 in 2022.

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: How real is the threat that Hamilton will leave F1?

F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Thomas Maher and Mike Seymour weigh up the possibility that Lewis Hamilton might leave F1 behind, as well as analysing what might be uncovered during the FIA investigation into the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

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