Lewis Hamilton is going to need a miracle before he can take the fight to Ferrari with his under-performing Mercedes. But with Imola coming up this coming weekend, it reminded me that this wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened.
At Imola, the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, there’s a very special cat. His name is Formulino, and he wanders about the pits looking for some love while secretly plotting how the race is going to end. This grey tabby cat has become synonymous with Imola with the drivers who now give him a stroke for an extra touch of luck during the race.
He was first seen in 2020, the first time Imola was part of the F1 calendar since 2006, and became a well known name around the pits as he bonded with the drivers and the teams. He got a good scratch and pat from Lewis Hamilton as both stood in the Mercedes pits watching over the preparation of the cars.
Mercedes’ Twitter account remarked that the 7-time world champion had been “blessed by the Imola cat” at the time. And Hamilton needed it if he was to win over Max Verstappen.
But there was another driver who also needed a bit of luck but turned down cuddles from the almighty Formulino.
“It’s good luck if he comes and sees you,” presenter Ted Kravitz told Sebastian Vettel as the cat approached the German during an interview in the F1 media pen.
Vettel wasn’t having any of it, though. “I don’t like cats,” he said. “I have nothing to offer it. He’s a bit overweight though…”
During the following race, Hamilton has a great bit of luck as he overtook both Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen which led to his first victory at Imola. Vettel wasn’t so lucky as he finished P12 thanks to a horrendous pit stop that lasted for 13 seconds thanks to a wonky wheel nut.
Because of this, there is no doubt that Formulino is a powerful but fair cat. And one that needs to be spoilt by the drivers as they bustle about their pits. In fact, Formulino is one of the most famous animals of the F1, coming only second to Hamilton’s dog, Roscoe. But he’s still managed to get himself a VIP paddock pass.
So this weekend, watch out for drivers giving this lovely cat a pat, and it’s likely Vettel will join in, too. He’s definitely in need of some good luck.