Manor’s Will Stevens is hoping his will be a memorable week in Monaco – and not just because the Arsenal fan began it playing football alongside William Gallas.
The 23-year-old is one of three British drivers on the grid in Monte Carlo, along with reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
This is just Stevens’ fifth Grand Prix start and one which he prepared for by swapping the track for the pitch, when he took part in the annual pre-Monaco charity match at the Stade Louis II.
Novak Djokovic captained an all-star side against one made up of Formula One drivers, which included the Brit as well as the likes of Felipe Massa and Sergio Perez.
Im about to play a match for Prince Albert team as captain and wearing . Probably good idea to warm up! pic.twitter.com/73tfPD8U7A
— Novak Djokovic (@DjokerNole) May 19, 2015
Former France international Gallas joined the drivers and, while they may have lost 3-1, it is an experience Stevens will not forget any time soon.
“It was pretty surreal,” he said. “It was actually nice to play football last night. I think it’s a really nice thing to do.
“I think it is cool when people from different sports come and do it as well. I was playing at right-back for a bit so I had to cope with (Djokovic) for a while.
“Considering he is probably double my height, it was a little bit tricky but I was alright.
“(Playing alongside Gallas was good), especially as I am huge Arsenal fan. I know he left and went to Spurs, but I think it is really cool.”
— Will Stevens (@WillStevens_) May 19, 2015
The charity match provided some light relief ahead of Stevens’ first F1 race in Monaco.
Little is expected of Manor given they have yet to get a point this season, but he wants to capitalise on any incidents up the field at the Circuit de Monaco.
“Coming into Monaco, I think everyone knows there is potential for things to get mixed up,” Stevens said.
“If there is any race this year where we can be closer to the back of the field, it is going to be here.
“Coming off Barcelona with hard tyres and here with the supersoft, that’s going to help us as well. I am really excited to get out there.
— Manor F1 Team (@ManorF1Team) May 20, 2015
“Obviously last year was great for the team and if there is a bit of controversy during the race, we will be there to hopefully pick up the pieces.
“It is a great event and it is great to be here. I am really looking forward to it.”