As promised in part one of this post, TPL has been conducting an experiment collecting F1 autographs through the mail for the last month-and-a-half. If you follow TPL on Twitter (and why wouldn’t you? – @TheParadeLapF1) you know how the experiment has been going. In a word: well.
As I wrote in part one, I don’t have much experience collecting F1 autographs. For the experiment, I decided to choose one person from each of the 11 current F1 teams and send them a request. As I live in Canada, it is quite difficult to secure British postage, and most of the teams are based in the UK. Therefore, I elected to forgo the traditional staple of through-the-mail collectors: the self-addressed, stamped envelope. I still sent an envelope with my address, but no postage (if anyone can tell me why the Royal Mail will not ship stamps to customers outside of the UK, I would love to hear from you).
Each of the requests was addressed to the person, c/o the team and sent to the address listed on each team’s website. Along with the envelope, I sent a photo of the person (usually a driver, but not always) I was requesting the autograph from and a brief note explaining why I wanted their autograph. To make these authentic, I tried to choose someone from each team that I cheered for, rated as a driver, or otherwise admired. The lone exception was Jenson Button, who I am not particularly fond of. Three-year-old TPL mascot Little Jense, on the other hand . . . well, let’s chalk this up to poor parenting.
To be honest, sending my requests out during the middle of the season, I was not expecting a great response rate. In fact, I would have been happy with one autograph – specifically, that of Peter Sauber, founder of the Sauber F1 Team. The requests only went out on August 19, but we have already done quite a bit better than that. See for yourself:
The responses so far are a bit overwhelming. As you can see, Adrian Newey replied almost immediately and included a nice personalized message. I was thrilled to receive three-time World Champion Niki Lauda’s autograph, which he mailed from Austria. Force India returned my photo of Paul di Resta unsigned, but included signed autograph cards of both di Resta and his teammate, Adrian Sutil. And I was absolutely shocked to receive an autograph from Kimi Räikkönen. Based on the way he shuns the spotlight, I thought he would be the last driver to sign extra autograph requests sent to the factory. I only sent it to him as he has been one of my favourite drivers since his move to McLaren following his rookie season (three years at Ferrari notwithstanding). He may not like the media, but he obviously knows how to treat the fans!
As a bonus, I also received a large, personalized photo from Caterham driver Charles Pic. I did not send him a letter, but his personal website has a contact form which says to send your mailing address if you would like an autograph. I did and, a month or so later, this arrived:
I expect that a couple more autographs will trickle in as the season finishes, and I will keep you informed of any further arrivals on Twitter. In the meantime, why not send out a few letters yourself and see what happens? This experiment has demonstrated that collecting F1 autographs is not as difficult as it may seem, given the relative remoteness of the drivers compared to athletes in other sports.
Now, if you will excuse me I am going to get ready to watch some free practice from Japan and hopefully not fall asleep – it starts at 1 a.m. here.