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Paddock Postcard from Suzuka 09 Oct 2005

Jean Alesi (FRA).
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, Japanese Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Suzuka, Japan, 8 October 2005

Suzuka habitually draws familiar racing faces and 2005 has been no exception. Both Jean Alesi and Aguri Suzuki have been finding themselves even more popular than ever, as both have been linked with the rumoured new Honda-affiliated 11th team for 2006.

The Frenchman, who drove his last Formula One race here in 2002 for Jordan, laughed and said, “I have never had so many young drivers coming up to speak with me about possible drives!”

Sir Frank Williams finally made it here, but not before his plane went technical in mid-air over Siberia en route on Wednesday, much to the consternation of Frank and his chief executive Chris Chapple. The pilot was obliged to make a three-hour return trip to Helsinki for suitable repairs to be effected. Technical director Sam Michael couldn’t wait that long, but was able to hitch a ride on Flavio Briatore’s private jet.

Other famous faces in the paddock included ‘Gentleman’ Jacques Lafitte and German television commentator Christian Danner, along with Katsuaki Watanabe, the new president of Toyota Motor Corporation, here to see one of his company’s cars on pole position at Suzuka for the first time.