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Paddock postcard from Europe 30 May 2004

Is Mika Hakkinen (FIN) returning to Formula One?
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany, Practice, 28 May 2004 Luca Badoer (ITA) Ferrari Test Driver takes a prize winner on a lap of the circuit.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany, Qualifying, 29 May 2004 Olivier Panis (FRA) Toyota takes a prize winner on a lap of the circuit.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany, Qualifying, 29 May 2004 Martin Brundle (GBR).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, European Grand Prix, Nurburgring, Germany, Qualifying, 29 May 2004

It may not have Monaco’s glitz, but there are still plenty of famous names in the Formula One paddock at the Nurburgring.

International test cricketer Sachin Tendulka made his second consecutive appearance at a Grand Prix, courtesy of McLaren, while a Network 10 television film crew from Australia included V8 racing star Greg Murphy and renowned commentator Neil Crompton.

Former drivers Hans Stuck, Jacques Laffite and Marc Surer, who have duties with their national television networks, were joined by former touring car ace Klaus Ludwig, who made the days of a group of journalists earlier in the week as he taught them how to drive the famous ‘old’ Nurburgring, the Nordschleife, for Mercedes-Benz.

Numerous Formula One race fans have also had a taste of the famous German circuit. Drivers including Juan Pablo Montoya, Olivier Panis, Luca Badoer, Takuma Sato, Nick Heidfeld and Ricardo Zonta have been giving lucky competition winners flying laps of the Nurburgring in specially prepared road cars. Hundreds more got to check out the current Formula One machinery and meet some of the drivers in Thursday’s pit lane walkabout.

And in the supporting Formula 3000 race yesterday afternoon rising star Vitantonio Liuzzi suffered ‘a Schumacher’ when his hopes of winning all of the races were dashed by an early attack by former champion Tomas Enge in Turn 3. The result was bent suspension and a broken wheel, and an extra pit stop that kept him to an 11th placed finish and zero points score after a brilliant performance in qualifying had seen him take a comfortable pole.

The race fell to BCN Competition’s Enrico Toccacelo after a strong drive, which gave him the series lead with 34 points to Liuzzi’s 30. The ‘other’ Italian was comfortably clear of a big fight for second between Liuzzi’s Arden International team mate Robert Doornbos, Yannick Schroeder, Esteban Guerrieri, Raffaele Giammaria, Jose Maria Lopez and Enge (who also clashed with Patrick Friesacher). Jeffrey van Hooydonk, who led the early stages after making a stunning start from the third row, was seventh.

Britain’s Dominik Jackson took one second place and pole position for today’s two Formula BMW encounters, with strong competition from championship leader Sebastien Vettel, Atila Abreu, rookie title leader Sebastian Buemi, Chris van der Drift and newcomer Adrian Zaugg.