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GP Week : Issue 206
24 GPWEEK.com // 24 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: whaT'S IN a paSSpORT OPINION I was born in Britain – london, england if you want to get technical – to scottish parents. I have a British passport, and currently live in the uK, but having grown up far from the united Kingdom I am hesitant to refer to myself as British, english, or uKish. Instead I call myself a mongrel, a bitsof, or a diplobrat. Colleagues in the paddock joke that – thanks to my predilection for black coffee, red wine, and high heels – I cannot consider myself an English woman. Were I a real Limey, they say, my preferences would be for tea (I’m allergic), white wine (can’t stand the stuff), and comfortable footwear. In the run-up to the German Grand Prix the biggest non-story doing the rounds was Lewis Hamilton’s off-the-cuff remark that his teammate was a ‘plastic German’. Born in German to a German mother and a Finnish father, Nico Rosberg moved to Monaco as an infant and spent his childhood in the international school environment, a world where everyone is from nowhere and everywhere, the children of journalists and diplomats posted to new countries on a four-year cycle. As a consequence, Nico is both German and not German, Finnish and not Finnish, Monegasque and not Monegasque. Instead he is an IB kid, the only suitable label for those global citizens who spent their formative years in an educational programme aimed at breaking down national barriers between children while teaching them to respect their cultural differences. The benefit of coming from everywhere and nowhere all at once is that you grow up as a cultural chameleon, able to fit in anywhere and free to claim whatever identity suits you best. As a racing driver, Nico has five home grands prix – two of his own, and three which belong to his team. Monaco is his residential home race, while Germany is his maternal home race. Mercedes claim Britain (as the factory base) and Malaysia (Petronas) as home races, plus the German Grand Prix, while this year the Silver Arrows also laid claim to Austria, birthplace of team bigwigs Niki Lauda and Toto Wolff. It may not seem fair for a driver to call 25 percent of the calendar a home grand prix for self or team, but there’s another driver in the paddock who can do exactly that: one Lewis Hamilton, who comes with a British passport, a Monaco residence, and team connections to Germany, Austria, and Malaysia. Red Bull’s drivers can claim three apiece – Austria, Britain, and Germany/Australia, while Fernando Alonso has two (Italy and Spain) to Kimi Raikkonen’s one. The McLaren drivers this year have only England to call their own, although the arrival of Honda as an engine suppliers will bring next year’s total up to two. But what the whole business of home races really serves to emphasise is the truly international nature of Formula One. Polyglot Rosberg with his five (and counting...) languages may be an extreme example of the cosmopolitan nature of the modern Formula One driver, but is it not fitting for a sport with a global reach – which takes place across five continents and is paid for by sponsors from around the world – to be made up of drivers with as many passports as they have race wins? Fans want a local hero of their own to cheer on, and the current generation of racing drivers, the bulk of whom are bi- or tri-lingual and all of whom feel as comfortable in Australia as they do in Austria, are the closest we’re going to get until all of our new territories start producing home-grown racing stars. RIGHT This week Hungary and, sadly. neither Nico, nor Lewis, nor Daniel, nor Sebastian ... nor anyone, has a Hungaran passport! OPINION KATE WALKER