As Europe gears up for Euro 2020 mania, we have taken a humorous look at what a Formula One pan-Europe football team would look like.
If we accurately reflected the qualified nations and the fact that 15 F1 drivers across eight different nationalities would be eligible, even counting Monaco’s Charles Leclerc as French in footballing purposes.
I therefore have had a go at creating a pan-European F1 footballing XI reflective of the actual Euro 2020 being held across Europe and here are the results after much deliberation, with explanations following below.
Team: Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo/Italy), Nikita Mazepin (Haas/Russia), Fernando Alonso (Alpine/Spain), Carlos Sainz (Ferrari/Spain), Lando Norris (McLaren/England), Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri/France), Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin/Germany), Charles Leclerc (Ferrari/France*), Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes/Finland), Max Verstappen (Red Bull/Netherlands), Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes/England)
* Charles Leclerc is Monaco born but Monaco is often recognised as part of France in football terms.
First-choice goalkeepers are often the most highly experienced players yet can often be the quiet player in various matches if their team is dominant, so I thought that the only perfect fit would be Raikkonen.
With 19 seasons of F1 experience behind him and a strong defensive ability as well as pushing forward to capitalise on opportunities in a currently tight rear-end battle, I thought why not stick Raikkonen between the sticks because he has the experience and reliability befitting of a goalkeeper.
Like the goalkeeping role, defence can often require experience so it makes sense to place Alonso in a three-man as the central defender who can control his fellow defenders and bring extra experience to the back lines ahead of Raikkonen in goal.
At right-back, I have gone for another Spaniard in Sainz purely on his adaptability as evidenced by how he quickly adapted to F1 moves, whilst showing excellent racing ability and pace when the car has suited him and plus he would be a useful foil for the right winger which we will come to later on.
Across at left-back, it makes sense to put Mazepin in defence because although he hasn’t had chance to show his attacking prowess, he certainly is one hell of a defender against drivers attempting to lap him and would add some unpredictability.
In central midfield, I have gone for youth in Norris and Gasly simply because those two are currently in strong form and are able to maximise their opportunities to move up the order and defend well if necessary like Gasly did in Monaco and Baku.
In simple terms, Norris and Gasly would be like playmakers who create opportunities to drive forward yet able to drop deep into defence such have those two qualities been their biggest strengths this season.
Just further up the pitch in attacking midfield, I have gone for Vettel as the central attacking midfielder (CAM) because although his performances have recently dipped with age, he can still deliver with the ideal car and conditions as shown in Turkey last November and Baku most recently
Another reason for placing Vettel in that CAM position is that my two striker selection are in much better form than the German, who I feel is currently at that up-down line of excellent and good quality and therefore fits the CAM role in between the two strikers given his ability to cause trouble when on form.
Across on the right wing, it makes sense to have Bottas in that role because with Hamilton as a striker, it would make ideal sense to have Bottas supporting him and providing attacking moves up the right, just like the Finnish driver often provides wider strategy options in races for Hamilton.
In relation to how having Bottas as right winger relates to Sainz at right-back, the Spaniard could use his pace and adaptability to cause extra issues on the right and even make overlapping play with Bottas who isn’t consistent this season.
Leclerc meanwhile would fill the left wing because we know that he has the pace but currently lacks the sharpness up front against superior opposition, yet would provide Verstappen with the perfect attacking partner up the left in terms of pace and creative play into the box.
This was by far the easiest selection because Hamilton would be the perfect striker given his attacking prowess and success rate, even if he can make the occasional mistake or get frustrated as seen in the last two races as examples.
I also have put Verstappen up front as the second striker because he is currently in hot form with six podiums in last seven races and has excellent mixture of single and race lap pace, so would certainly provide extra attacking intent in a striker partnership with Hamilton.
Verstappen and Hamilton are also the top two in the championship at time of writing so it is hard to not think of any other position for both drivers.
If were to name one Team Principal as manager based on who knows how to win constantly then Toto Wolff would be the ideal man, yet I would go for McLaren’s Zak Brown as manager of this team simply because he certainly would know how to get the best out of the team and help the younger stars develop.
We just have to look at McLaren’s record since he arrived in early 2018 of 6th, 4th and 3rd in the constructor standings to know just how impressive his management is, albeit in a CEO role with Andreas Seidl as Team Principal who I would install as Assistant Manager.
It is also worth pointing out the form of Norris under Brown and Seidl because the Brit is in his third F1 season and already posting impressive results, as evidenced by the fact that he is the only driver to score points in all six races this season which points to their developmental ability of young stars.
With our main XI complete, it is only fair that we don’t forget about the four snubbed European drivers who would miss out, instead making up the substitutes bench.
- Antonio Giovinazzi (Goalkeeper) – Not the best overall driver out of the four substitutes but can often be consistent on his day, so would suit the backup goalkeeper role well.
- Mick Schumacher (Defender) – Often outshines Mazepin but not done much overall in attacking ability so would make a reliable alternative defender.
- Esteban Ocon (Midfielder) – Consistent in performance even despite often let down by his Alpine A521 so would make a solid all-round midfield option.
- George Russell (Forward) – Got the speed and single lap consistency even if often struggled in long runs at times due to his Williams car, which would make him an useful impact substitute striker.