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When sporting worlds collide

With football fever taking over the world, we look at when F1 stars have strayed to other sports

Formula 1 is responsible for some of the most iconic sporting moments in history, but as a sport based around a human's ability to control and manoeuvre extremely fast machinery, it's widely considered to be rather different to many other sports, whether it be football, rugby, tennis or golf.

But even so, at their very core, racing drivers are athletes, amongst the fittest on the planet to be precise, with many comparable attributes. Put them on any sporting field, and they'd compete to a solid standard. So, what would happen if you did exactly that?

Well, it's actually happened on many occasions, and with football fever currently taking over the world, and the Formula 1 season unfortunately over, we dove into the McLaren archives and searched for examples of when our drivers have tried their hand at other sports, from football, golf and Tennis to basketball and even MMA.

Kicking off

The worlds of football and Formula 1 often collide. Nazionale Piloti are a charity football team made up of racing drivers and their side in 2016 featured several former McLaren drivers for a 'Champions for charity' match, held in honour of Michael Schumacher in Mainz, Germany.

Daniel Ricciardo, Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard joined several other famous faces from the F1 world, as well as some footballing legends, including Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski.

The beautiful game

Ayrton Senna, Andrea de Cesaris and Fernando Alonso are three of the other names to have previously played for Nazionale Piloti. Senna did so in 1992, with the Brazilian scoring one of four goals for his team in an eight-goal thriller that ended 4-4.  

Bat or bowl?

On the face of it, cricket and Formula 1 are vastly different sports. However, they aren't actually quite as many worlds apart as you might think, with cricket balls bowled at speeds of around 161km/h. Still significantly short of a modern-day F1 car, but scarily quick, nonetheless.

Ahead of the 2009 Australian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen got the chance to find this out for themselves, with the McLaren duo each getting a turn in front of the wicket. Being bowled at by the late Shane Warne, it was Hamilton who starred, smashing three sixes.


Our 2009 pairing aren't our only former drivers to try their hand at cricket, with an F1-themed cricket match taking place prior to the 1974 British Grand Prix. Denny Hulme and Mike Hailwood were our representatives on a field that also featured a selection of McLaren drivers past and yet-to-be, including James Hunt, John Watson, Peter Gethin, Jody Scheckter, Derek Bell, Niki Lauda and Jochen Mass.

Game, Set, Match

Back in 2005, Juan Pablo Montoya infamously missed testing and two races due to an injury suffered whilst playing tennis. In rumours still debated to this day, it was claimed that he actually injured himself driving motocross, which was prohibited by his contract.

Funnily enough, Montoya would have preferred this to be true. Yet, he was forced to deny these claims on more than one occasion, saying: "It was tennis. I would rather say it was on a bike than tennis, it sounds kind of dumb, but that's the way it went." Despite Montoya missing Bahrain and San Marino Grands Prix, we still managed to secure second in the Constructors' Championship and Montoya (probably) continued to play tennis.


Back in 2016, former McLaren racer Alain Prost offered out canine tennis lessons via his Twitter account after he and his pup, Hippie, were snapped on the courts, but this was far from the Frenchman's first foray into tennis. The Frenchman was quite often photographed enjoying a game ahead of a race weekend.  

Serve's up

Niki Lauda is every dad when on holiday in this image. During some off-time in the heat of South Africa, the Austrian racing hero picked up a paddle and ping pong ball and enjoyed a relaxing game of table tennis in the shade.


Lando recently hailed his basketball-themed helmet for the Miami Grand Prix as his favourite of the season, but that wasn't the British star's only slam dunk of the year. Ahead of the 2022 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Lando and Daniel spent some time in the Team Hub shooting some hoops using a small basketball hoop and ball that Daniel had been given during lockdown.

It took a few more attempts than he'd care to admit, but Lando eventually hit the target… In his defence, Daniel had gotten in plenty of practice during lockdown. The game also produced one of our favourite images of the season.


As well as basketball, Daniel Ricciardo's sporting linkups include American Football and MMA, with the Honey Badger saying of MMA athletes: "I respect mixed martial artists. For me, they are at the top of all sports."

Ahead of the 2022 Brazilian Grand Prix, Daniel linked up with former UFC World Champion Charles Oliveira for a training session. After some pad work, the duo enjoyed some light sparring, with Daniel conceding that he was "not very good as a fighter."

Rub of the green

Come on, we couldn't write this article without shouting out to our own amateur golfer, Lando. Previously describing himself as "addicted to golf," we're pretty sure we know how he will be spending his off-season, weather permitting.

After the 2022 Miami Grand Prix Lando lived out every golfer's dream by playing a round at Augusta, the home of the masters, with our CEO Zak Brown. And who introduced him to golf? Former McLaren driver Carlos Sainz, who Lando has labelled as the "best golfer" on the F1 grid.