Paddock Postcard from Brazil 24 Oct 2004
The Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace at Interlagos always attracts a healthy flock of celebrity visitors, and 2004 has been no exception. In fact, if they were to run a combined Formula One and Indy Racing League race, it might look like this.
Nelson Piquet, a familiar sight at British circuits for Formula Three races these past two seasons, has been catching up with old friends at Williams and Renault (nee Benetton). Seventies F3 and Formula One racer Alex Ribeiro, who of course used to drive Professor Sid Watkins medical car, has been around again, and current Formula One testers Antonio Pizzonia and Enrique Bernoldi are also here.
Former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi was a popular visitor on Saturday, together with past Champ Car champion Gil de Ferran who reports that he is very much enjoying retirement, and newly crowned IRL champion Tony Kanaan, who says he is just as much enjoying his major success.
Other familiar faces have included former drivers Pedro Diniz, Raul Boesel, Norberto Fontana and Tarso Marques. BAR director Craig Pollock is also back again, as is Canadian race organiser Norman Legault, while Williams entertained several high ranking government officials today on behalf of Petrobras.
Fernando Alonso received a bottle of Cachacha from Real Madrid footballer Roberto Carlos, a native of Sao Paulo. The presentation was made by Roberto's girlfriend, Renata Borges, as he is unable to attend the Grand Prix in person due to soccer commitments.
In the year of the tenth anniversary of his death, Ayrton Senna was remembered as his nephew Bruno, who made his single-seater debut in Britain earlier this year, completed some demonstration laps of Interlagos in one of his uncles old Formula One cars, the Lotus 98T.
In the support race, upcoming Formula Palmer Audi and Formula Renault racer James Jakes has boldly come all the way out to Sao Paulo to wave the Union flag at Dragao Motorsport as part of his racing education, a smart decision that could pay off for him in the future if his upward career path continues.
Finally, and fittingly, Brazilian supermodel Giselle Bundchen will wave the chequered flag as the race ends.