In the past six months, the sporting world has been dominated by crossover bouts.
We’ve heard of MMA fighters mixing it up with boxers inside the squared circle (thanks to Conor McGregor and Floyd Mayweather for that), and that trend looks likely to continue once other fighters take into account the money each man made.
However, there was another cross-sport event that took place last weekend, as five former footballers swapped their boots for driving gloves and got behind the wheel to take on some of Formula One’s finest.
The race, on a purpose-built go-kart track, saw five UEFA Champions League Legends take on five F1 drivers in support of Heineken’s ‘When You Drive, Never Drink‘ F1 programme with €25,000 being donated to an Italian road safety charity.
Louis Saha, Francesco Toldo, Michel Salgado, Dida and Christian Karembeu all got behind the wheel and took on Daniel Ricciardo, David Coulthard, Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Sergio Perez on the tarmac.
Check out some of the footage here:
Afterwards, we spoke to Ricciardo about taking on some unfamiliar faces and he revealed that revenge was in the air, after the footballers defeated the F1 team in a game of football last year:
It’s good, it’s a bit of fun. They toyed with us last year [the footballers won 22-10] and we’re toying with them this year.
I’m just getting them back [for the football beating]. This for them is fun and the football for them last year probably was a gimmick but for us it was cool.
We’ll have to get something neutral for a decider. Maybe MMA, set up a cage somewhere!
Ricciardo also spoke of the light-hearted nature of Heineken’s event being something that he enjoys, as it takes away from the seriousness of the Formula One business:
There’s a bit of camaraderie and you can actually chat to a few of the guys before you get on track, usually it’s just blinkers on, so yeah, it’s nice to shoot a bit of shit.
Get into the Force India boys, wind them up a bit…there’s no pressure for any of us, so it’s fun to do something and give them (fans) a chance to see more of our personalities as well, it’s good.
Heineken’s doing a good job with this, in F1, so it’s good when they create a few things. For us as well Thursdays usually pretty boring, we just do so much media that this breaks it up quite nicely.
With team F1 (unsurprisingly) coming out on top after five races, former Manchester United, Fulham and Everton striker Saha echoed Ricciardo’s thoughts:
It was really great fun. I just enjoy competition in any sport, and this was another field, another atmosphere, very good.
You don’t want to lose. Especially on their field, they’re real men, they want to win, it’s normal. We done our best and hopefully put on a great show for the fans.
During the five one on one races, Ricciardo, Verstappen and Ocon all won their contests, with Perez vs Salgado descending into chaos after both men went through the barriers, causing carnage on the hallowed Monza tarmac.
However there was some good news for the footballers, as former Real Madrid and France midfielder Karembeu held off the challenge of Coulthard to ensure they didn’t receive a whitewash.
Sir Jackie Stewart, one of the main men behind the event, was pleasantly surprised with the standard of the drivers, although maybe that’s down to the fact that he was training the former pro’s behind the wheel…
The tall guys, the two goalkeepers (Dida and Toldo) are so tall I wondered if they’d get in the car! But they did very well, and they enjoyed it.
The players have had a great time. They’re a really nice group of people, they’re real sportsmen of course. I love football so to get close up to some of the best football players in the world is always a nice a thing.
I think it’s great that Heineken put it together, there’s nothing else like this in the world. So it was great fun and I loved coaching the boys.
So with the score levelled at one win apiece, we look forward to the decider next year! Someone give Dana White a call…