SO, what did Santa bring you on Christmas Day?

Over in Abu Dhabi, at the last get-together of the Formula 1 crowd, just after the last grand prix of 2019, the traditional secret Santa gift exchange between the drivers produced some, shall we say — unusual items.

McLaren star Lando Norris, for instance, got a manual breast pump and a tube of nipple cream. 

It had the young Brit McLaren driver in stitches, but the relevance remains unclear.

From who?

Alexander Albon, who, in turn, got a truck-style mirror to fit to his Red Bull. 

It was in reference to the Brazilian Grand Prix where  Albon was on course for his first podium in F1 until he was spun around when Hamilton crashed his Mercedes into him from behind on the penultimate lap of the race.

Before Albon opened the gift he shared the message that came with it, ‘To Alex for the next time your fighting for a podium’, it read.

“So this is from George Russell,” Albon said.

“I know whatever it is, it is going to take the mick out of my podium.

“I’ll tell my mechanic to fit it on so I make sure that I can see Lewis [Hamilton] next time. Perfect.”

When Renault’s Daniel Ricciardo began to unwrap his gift he quickly realised it was a karaoke machine.

“The first person that comes to mind with this is Charles [Leclerc],” Ricciardo said.

“That’s because he got interviewed in Suzuka while I was singing in another interview right next to him.”

Also in the very well-wrapped box was a top 40 biggest karaoke Christmas hits album.

“I’m so confused. I thought we had a €20 budget or something,” he said, realising that the kit cost a lot more than that.

“I think this person has really gone all out.”

Then he had second thoughts: “Maybe it’s from Max (Verstappen) because he knows me.

Right.

“Now I know why he spent a little more. He won in Brazil. Bonus money, baby. Thanks Max.”

As for Verstappen,, he guessed who his Secret Santa was within seconds of opening his miniature golf gift set.

“Ha, oh my god I know already who it is, Carlos [Sainz],” he said.

“I’ll probably have to play some golf with him now.

“It must be Carlos.

“I am really bad at golf and I don’t like it, so the combination of all this makes it perfect.”

Sergio Perez gave Sainz a big can of jalapeno peppers and Kimi Raikkonen gave the Mexican star a toy dog, knitwear, shoes and chocolates.

Romain Grosjean gifted Kimi a cooking pan and chocolate and the Frenchman’s present, a jigsaw puzzle of the Louvre, was from Nico Hulkenberg.

The German has a pet miniature dog and his gift, from Robert Kubica, was an Incredible Hulk suit for the dog.

Cubic got a bizarre packager from Lance Strll: a sun hat and some bum cream.

Recipient of the classic gift of socks was Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, who was actually pleased with his gift.

“Daniel,” Leclerc said as he guessed straight away before going on to explain why.

“We went to Las Vegas for holidays and I had very bad socks, so I finally get the socks I wanted.

“Thank you so much Daniel I am so happy. That’s a lot of socks though.”

Racing Point’s Lance Stroll gave George Russell a knitted polo shirt with a golfing motif, while the Canadian got an air hockey game from Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat.

Haas driver Kevin Magnussen gave heavy metal fan Kvyat a Metallica figurine and the newly-married Dane received a fondue set from Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi.

The magnificently raven-maned young Italian was given a set of hair curlers, clips and shampoo by Pierre Gasly, who, in turn, got a very noisy recording of him and his pit crew raving about his podium place in Brazil.

It’s a quite lengthy and boisterous series of woooaaaahs, yesssses and oooowaaahs hat was one of the audio hits of the 2109 F1 year.

The sender?

Charles Leclerc, who had a stellar year, securing Ferrari’s first win of the year in the Belgian Grand Prix in September and another win in the Italian Grand Prix.

He also took seven pole positions, the most achieved by any driver in 2019.

A few days after the secret Santa event, he signed a contract to stay with Ferrari for at least the next five years.

And now he has enough socks to last him through the entire contract.

Absent from the gift-swapping were the Mercedes team and Sebastien Vettel.

Hamilton posted a picture of himself with his two bulldogs, while teammate Valtteri Bottas was probably not in a festive mood, having just split from his wife of three years, Finnish beauty and Olympic swimmer Emilia. No mention of who got custody of their pet dalmatian either, but it was said to be an amicable parting, so they might share the dog walkies.

And Herr Vettel?

Nada. 

Have a great new year, anyway.

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Buys

Bill Buys, probably Australia’s longest-serving motoring writer, has been at his craft for more than five decades. Athough motoring has always been in his DNA, he was also night crime reporter, foreign page editor and later chief reporter of the famed Rand Daily Mail. He’s twice been shot at, attacked by a rhinoceros and had several chilling experiences in aircraft. His experience includes stints in traffic law enforcement, motor racing and rallying and writing for a variety of local and international publications. He has covered countless events, ranging from world motor shows and Formula 1 Grands Prix to Targa tarmac and round-the-houses meetings. A motoring tragic, he has owned more than 90 cars. Somewhat of a nostalgic, he has a special interest in classic cars. He is the father of Targa star Robert Buys, who often adds his expertise to Bill’s reviews.