How Arizona Cardinals star JJ Watt became an F1 super fan


TEMPE, Arizona – During the summer, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker TJ Watt gave to his older brother, Arizona Cardinals defensive lineman Jj watt, a Netflix recommendation.

TJ had watched “Formula 1: Drive to Survive” with a friend and suggested it to JJ, who by chance knew F1 because he had already been to Monaco, home of the famous Monaco Grand Prix. So JJ lit the show, joining 50 million others in 2021 who watched the show, according to Business Insider.

What happened the following week made Watt more than just an F1 fan. Much more.

“I’m deep,” Watt told ESPN. “I’m deep inside. I love it.”

How far has the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year gone who drives a Ford F150 and has no interest in, as he put it, “luxury cars”?

As the F1 public would say, buckle up.

“I know more now about an F1 car and about a Christian Horner or a Toto Wolff ox,” Watt began. “I know it’s pretty crazy that Alex Albon just got the Williams seat [for 2022], when there is a Mercedes engine in the car but [Red Bull boss] Christian Horner is here saying “I want Alex Albon in F1”. He has four seats and he can’t give her one.

“It’s quite interesting and I’m deep inside. It’s a fascinating thing and obviously Toto wants Nyck de Vries to have a seat. Now he has no seat. Maybe you could settle for an Alfa Romeo seat, but it looks like it’s fine in Hulkenberg.

Watt said it was about “1000%” deeper than he expected.

It took him a week to get through the show’s three seasons, calling the look behind the scenes “captivating” at one of the most private sports on the planet. Then, on July 26, a day before the Cardinals showed up for training camp, Watt revealed his passion and obsession with F1 with a tweet.

It quickly took off, echoing those who watched the show and found themselves watching more – or any – Formula 1 than they have in the past. He has over 40,000 likes, but of the 2,200 responses, one caught Watt’s attention.

Mercedes, Lewis hamiltonand winners of the last seven world championships, invited Watt to their garage.

“I’m not saying my loyalty can be bought, but it would be cool to be in Lewis’s garage and see how it all works,” Watt said with a smile.

Even NASCAR driver Brad Keselowski tweeted to Watt, saying he’s happy Watt enjoys motorsports.

And the official Formula 1 account responded, to which Watt then responded himself with a glimpse of his newfound expertise.

Watt’s tweet was noticed on the F1 circuit.

Daniel Ricciardo, who drives for McLaren, saw Watt’s message. He also heard from his agent at CAA, where Watt’s agent is also based, that Watt is becoming an F1 fan.

“JJ is obviously a big name, a big star, so it’s cool to have that,” said Ricciardo, who is a huge Buffalo Bills fan.

“I think we place American sport pretty high. I think America does sports so well and you have your big stars in MLB, NBA, NFL so having one of them shows interest and tweeting about us is cool, so we certainly appreciate it.

Ricciardo, who played wrestling with Tom Brady through the yachts in Monaco and met UFC Hall of Fame member Georges St-Pierre, loved seeing the new and growing interest in the sport through “Drive to Survive”, especially when that attention comes other athletes.

“I like people to get involved,” he says. “It is obviously a sport that I have been in love with all my life in order to, say, bring more interest and, I say, new fans but above all other athletes to appreciate what we do and respect this that we do is super cool.

“I am a sports fan. I like other sports so it’s cool that we have this exposure now and the interest of others.

Watt isn’t the only NFL player to enter F1 in recent times.

During training camp, he mentioned his F1 fandom to fellow defensive lineman Zach Allen and former Cardinals lineman Margus Hunt. As it turned out, Hunt, from Estonia, was such a big fan of Formula 1 that he not only knew the intricate details of engine floors and exhaust systems, but also had a car simulator of F1 at home. Allen, however, looked more like Watt, just stepping into the show. They always have a group chat about F1 and every week before qualifying they choose four drivers. How they qualify for the race sets a draft order, and then the three NFL players draft for the real race.

It has become their own fantastic F1 league.

Watt has never been to a race. The annual US stop on the International Circuit, now held in Austin, Texas, took place during football season, excluding a visit to the Circuit of the Americas. But Watt hopes to compete in the new Miami race which has been added to the Formula 1 schedule for the first week of May.

Ideally, however, he wants to go to an international race.

For now, Watt makes sure to watch every race possible, which has been a bit more difficult since moving to Arizona from the central time zone, as most races start on Sundays between 5 and 7 a.m. in Arizona. Watt’s body is conditioned to wake up between 5:15 a.m. and 5:15 a.m., so he’s been awake most of the time, but he usually doesn’t get a chance to watch workouts as they start early, very early in the US. United.

Watt’s consumption in F1 was recently halted due to the NFL season.

“I won’t watch the races unless I’m up and just hanging out,” Watt said “But, no, otherwise, on Sunday I couldn’t watch, but, you never know, maybe that they’ll calm me down on game day.

Ricciardo laughed at the idea but didn’t totally dismiss Watt.

“Well actually I mean some races can be a little boring so maybe,” Ricciardo said with a big smile. “Maybe. I mean, it’s a roll of the dice… some can be intense and biting and some can be a bit processional. So, I mean, maybe.

“No matter what works for JJ, I’m not going to argue with him. He is slightly taller than me. So I’m not going to step on his toes.

Cars were never Watt’s thing, but the drama of auto racing? It is an entirely different question.

“I’m more about rivalries and teams and relationships and fights and battles,” Watt said.

“Like now, I care about, ‘Is Haas ever going to score a point in their program history? ” [Haas team principal] Gunther Steiner is one of my favorite characters on the planet. I just know her head explodes every time [Nikita] Mazepin gets off the road.

Watt is in depth, indeed.

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