“If you have everything under control, you’re not moving fast enough.”
— Mario Andretti
They say a lot of girls would kill for a job in fashion. We can’t imagine what a guy would do for a day in Marlon Stöckinger’s life.
At only 25, he’s already established a name in the motorsport world: having raced in the Michelin Formula Renault UK Championship, winning at the 2012 GP3 Series at Monaco, and being the first Filipino to be granted a seat at Formula 1 (the pinnacle of all motorsport, before you ask). Imagine having a Filipino in the NBA, but better.
Motorsport inspires awe in little boys and billionaires alike–it’s the ultimate marriage of technology, testosterone, danger, and glamour. And by virtue of being a race car driver, a man is immediately assumed to have the heart of a warrior, tactical genius, sexual prowess, and piles of cash. It’s a dream only a select few have the privilege to live.
“Some are there because of talent, some because of money. I’d say I was there more for talent,” he says with a sweet smile. It may be because he was born and raised a true-blue Filipino in the streets of Malate, but for someone so desirable, Marlon is endearingly modest.
Truth be told, lady luck was kind to him–he was born into the right family, his Swiss father encouraging his passions. But winning in the lottery of life wasn’t enough–he wanted to win all the time, and racing was the perfect drug.
He blames his dad for introducing him to go-karting at 9 years old. “Racing has been a part of my life ever since I sat in that go-kart.” When asked why, he answers as any man would. “I’m addicted to the feeling of winning. That nervousness I get before I step onto the racetrack.”
To recreate that feeling in more accessible ways, Marlon also does snowboarding, rock climbing, and triathlons. But racing is a different animal altogether, if only for the heightened sense of danger. “You can crash, and people can crash with you. It’s always a fine line between hitting the wall, or making it past the corner and winning the race.”
Needless to say, the sport requires lightning-fast reflexes, and fine-tuned instinct. “It’s something you can’t teach. You need controlled aggression. It’s a battle with control, because you’re constantly avoiding being out of control.” We don’t know how he does it, and we’re not even sure he knows either. “When you’re not overthinking, your natural talent will take over.”
If you’re worried about him busting that movie-star face, don’t. “I have an instinct to feel out whether accidents will happen or not.” Does death ever cross his mind? In true fighter spirit, he says, “You don’t think about dying because if you do, you’re gonna go slower. I always think about winning more than anything.” He has indeed crashed multiple times, as it comes with the sport. “I don’t like hitting the wall. On TV, it doesn’t look like it hurts, but it really does. Thankfully it’s a lot safer these days, with the proper harnesses and medical staff.”
It almost seems like these death-defying racers are celebrities–and they are. Marlon has met the biggest names, from F1 legend Michael Schumacher to football phenom Cristiano Ronaldo to Brad Pitt, but “everyone says that motorsport is like show business. We admire them, but they admire us back.”
But more than the fun and adrenaline, racing gave him invaluable life lessons that made him into the man he is today. “Although I didn’t finish my studies, I think I found a good school in life in motorsport.” Becoming a pro at the ripe old age of 16 forced him to mature. “I had to deal with people who are much older than me, if not decades older. I had to grow up fast. It’s a fast-paced world, literally.”
Bad puns aside, it is indeed true that you’ll learn a whole lot more beyond the walls of a classroom. “The higher up the ladder you go, the more executive people you meet–CEOs, sponsors of teams, bosses. You’re basically doing job interviews as to why you should be sponsored. Real world stuff.”
Not only was life his best mentor, he also got guidance from his dear friend, F1 protégé Chris Wassermann. “You can try and listen to your parents,” he jokes, “but everyone needs a guru. You always think you know everything, but you actually don’t. It’s always good to have a guide who knows what you’re going through.”
It all makes us wonder what this man’s favourite car could possibly be. For someone who has driven everything from the fastest to the fanciest, Marlon’s tastes are pretty simple. “I’m spoiled for choice, but for everyday, just a comfy van, something that gets me from point A to point B. Because you can’t race on the streets anyway.”
Marlon may not advocate racing illegally, but to the drag racers out there who don’t get to experience what he does, we kind of understand. “My frustrations and anxieties are let out on the race track. So when I’m on the road, I just want to relax, listen to music, have a little road trip.” And besides, the traffic situation here is abysmal. “I wanna buy a helicopter–that’s my next move. That’s the only way it’s gonna work!”
When you’ve got something so good, you wouldn’t want to let it go. “I wanna race ’til I’m almost 90! But really, I still have 10 more years of my prime, so it’s all good.” But with his looks, charm, and wit, it’d be a shame not to venture out. “I’ve always been open to anything. A movie would be something I would wanna do on the side. But if you wanna do anything professionally, you gotta commit yourself. People don’t realize how much work goes into making a movie.” See how much heart this guy pours into things?
A second career could be possible, once he frees up his schedule. “Right now, I’m normally in Manila only 2-3 months in the beginning of the year. I hate the cold in Europe. And winter is off season in motorsport.”
It’s really good to be Marlon nowadays (besides the fact that he’s got Miss Universe Pia Wurtzbach in his arm, but that’s a story for another day). If there’s anything boys can realistically take from him, it’s his off-duty-James-Bond sense of style.
“I don’t mind dressing up. As a racer, you always have to look proper.” But he’s not your typical Gucci or D&G guy–he gets his suits custom-tailored by obscure Italian designers. “My younger sister works for an online collective. She sends me European-inspired merchandise and gear. I get clothes I’ve never heard of! I like that European laid back style.”
His jet-setting does influence his everyday style. “When I’m gonna be on long haul flights, I wear joggers and sneakers. If I’m on vacation in Europe, I’ll wear a leather jacket and boots. It’s easy to overpack, but I’ve learned to be efficient–one toiletry bag, comfy clothes.”
He’s fond of Swedish retail giant H&M, whose basic pieces are a jet-setter’s best friend. “I like their recent tie-up with Alexander Wang. And Kenzo. [for Marlon’s style tips and more H&M Fashion Inspo, click here].
It’s easy to see why he has almost half a million fans. If there are real-life Barbie dolls, we’ve found our real-life (Pinoy) James Bond. “I do hope that what I’m doing in motorsport is what I’m recognized for. It’s a nice platform to promote yourself and represent your country, but fame is not something I look for. I’d be happy to be incognito in a coffee shop, watching other people instead of them watching me.”
If only it were that easy. ~
Story | Iris Lee Photography | Johanne Dalogdog Assistant Photographer | Franco Hosena Styling | Raizel Dy Hair | Everlyn Galab of Maquillage Professionnel Makeup | Karmela Jabla, Gemma Bobisse and Lyramanne Bayrante of Maquillage Professionnel