BARCELONA, Spain — It’s not often you see a 6-5, 230lb athlete trying to squeeze into the tight confines of a Formula One car. A note to any trying it in future: it can be done, you just have to rip the entire seat and headrest out first.
Swiss-born WWE star Cesaro, a six-time tag team champion, managed to get into the cockpit of a Toro Rosso — albeit, slightly modified — ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix, where he was a guest of Formula One throughout the weekend.
— Toro Rosso (@ToroRosso) May 11, 2019
Cesaro joked that he hoped to take the car with him to London, which hosts Raw on Monday, marking the start of the WWE’s European tour.
“I actually wanted to drive a race car to the ring… I don’t think they’ll let me,” he told me on Sunday morning ahead of the race. “The WWE in London usually has the red British phone booth and a taxi on the ramp.”
Cesaro had a better idea, involving the man who went on to win Sunday’s race: “I think we should have Lewis Hamilton’s silver arrow [the nickname for Mercedes] there instead. Yeah — that was an invite to Lewis! He should come to a WWE event one day.”
Hamilton is the most recognisable face F1 has, evidenced by the fact his final act before climbing into the car for the Spanish Grand Prix was to receive a good-luck message and hug from Brazilian footballer Neymar. Cesaro, who grew up watching F1, thinks Hamillton would be a natural fit in his wrestling world.
“I started watching a little before Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Michael Schumacher obviously, he was amazing, but now we have Lewis… he may even surpass him. He’s an amazing driver and he has an amazing car. He’s just been crushing it and I know he’s got some great moves in his arsenal so I think he would fit right in [at a WWE event].”
In an F1 paddock that can sometimes be too serious for its own good, it was enjoyable to watch a star of professional wrestling — also known, for good reason, as sports entertainment — doing his thing and having so much fun being around the weird and wonderful things to be found within it. The Swiss athlete also helped the team conduct some pit-stop practice, helping them get a tyre change turned around in just 2.2 seconds.
— Cesaro (@WWECesaro) May 11, 2019
Cesaro stands out in an F1 paddock. Most drivers are under six feet tall, and although rule changes allowed them to bulk up a little bit ahead of the current season, none come anywhere close to a pro wrestler’s physique.
There were a few other towering structures in the paddock at the weekend. As the first race of the European season, it was the first chance for teams to bring their famous motorhomes to the paddock. As we wrote in our Spanish GP diary, Red Bull led the way in this department, introducing a brand-new one — replacing its 14-year-old Energy Station with the Red Bull Holszhaus (or Wood House, as the interior is fashioned from 417m³ of sustainably-sourced Austrian timber).
Three storeys high and with 1,221 square metres of floor space, it can be built in 32 hours and taken down in one day by a crew of 25. When built, its kitchen will serve 100kg of pasta, 120kg of fish and 180kg of meat at every race. Sounds just about enough to feed a WWE wrestler or two.
When I told him they were referred to as “motorhomes”, Cesaro laughed and said: “That’s crazy, because this doesn’t look like a motorhome. This is like a premium truck-home compiled out of like 10, 12 trucks, made into this enormous house that literally drives from grand prix to grand prix! That’s not a motorhome, it’s a monster.
“I sent all this to John Cena. I was like ‘hey, if you need design inspiration for your new bus, maybe one of these will do’. He’s a car freak and he loves Formula One.
“I think he’s a bit jealous that I’m here. Hopefully we can bring him to a grand prix in the future.”
Even if he disagrees on the name, he loved the idea of bringing something like the Red Bull Holszhaus to WWE’s flagship PPV.
“I think we need some of these motorhomes ourselves. There needs to be a RAW motorhome, a Smackdown motorhome at Wrestlemania. They have the paddock here, we could have this outside Wrestlemania, VIPS, sponsors, fans. There’s definitely something here we can do for sure.”
He had some advice to go the other way, too, suggesting F1 — a sport now owned by American company Liberty Media and which is looking for more ways to engage with a younger audience, something WWE has become famous for — should look to amplify the personalities of its performers a little more.
“I think they are similar worlds, they are just portrayed differently. I think they need some more promo time with the drivers where they just yell at each other!
“If you watch Formula One or you watch wrestling, you know that a look can say more than a thousand words… like after qualifying, the top three stood together, posed for pictures, there’s lots of tension there… but then it’s like, snap, they’re gone. I would love to see more emotion from the drivers. I guess it’s hard to drive emotionally, that’s the difference, but there must be some way for those guys to get it out.”