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Paddock Postcard from Bahrain 04 Apr 2004

His Highness the Crown Prince Shaikh Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa with Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault and Juan Carlos (ESP) King of Spain.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2004 Star Wars Director George Lucas (USA) in the paddock.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2004 (L to R): Flavio Briatore (ITA) Renault Team Principal, Prince Andrew (GBR) and Juan Carlos (ESP) King of Spain.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2004 Jaguar Team Associate Jackie Stewart (GBR).
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2004 Bernd Pietschrieder (GER) VW Boss.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Bahrain Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Bahrain International Circuit, Bahrain, 3 April 2004

It is royalty rather than celebrities that have been the feature of the Bahrain paddock this weekend.

Crown prince HRH Shaikh Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa has naturally been a very keen spectator, together with Bernie Ecclestone who first mooted the idea of a Bahrain Grand Prix. They have been joined by King Abdullah of Jordan, King Juan Carlos of Spain, HRH Prince Andrew the Duke of York and Prince Albert of Monaco. Prince Maktoum Hasha Maktoum Al Maktoum from Dubai, the Sultan of Brunei and Prince Hans-Adam of Lichtenstein are also here.

In the celebrity stakes, Star Wars producer George Lucas, a car buff, made a visit, together with Volkswagen chief Bernd Pietschesreider, and incoming and outgoing Mercedes-Benz heads Dr Wolfgang Bernhard and Jurgen Hubbert. On their behalf both Jean Alesi and Niki Lauda have done demonstration laps in the Mercedes-Benz W196 streamliner which won the French Grand Prix at Reims on its competition debut in 1954 in the hands of the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio.

Race drivers here this weekend include a busy Sir Jackie Stewart, who has been much in evidence on the social scene, fellow knight Sir Jack Brabham, Jacques Laffite, Marc Surer, Christian Danner, Allan McNish, Martin Brundle and Mark Blundell.

Former Ferrari sporting director Marco Picinnini, tipped in some quarters as a possible eventual successor to FIA president Max Mosley, also made an appearance.

The support races featured Formula BMW, establishing a beachhead in the Middle East. The first race saw Hong Kong Formula Three racer Marchy Lee take pole position and victory in Saturday’s race, for Peter Thompson’s Team Meritus. Indonesian Moreno Soeprapto, brother of that country’s Sental Circuit owner and named after Roberto Moreno, is on pole for today’s race for Minardi Team Asia.

The Thoroughbred Grand Prix Championship has given enthusiastic spectators the chance to see some superb Formula One machinery of yesteryear, including the Williams FW08s of Joaquin Folch and Richard Eyre, the FW07s of Fredy Kumschick and Tony Smith, Hubertus Bahlsen’s Arrows A4, and John Delane’s immaculate Tyrrell 001. Their race begins at 1100 local time this morning.