Paddock Postcard from Shanghai 16 Oct 2005
The second Chinese Grand Prix marks the end of an era in Formula One racing, and the paddock has been full of emotional farewells.
The fun started on Wednesday when Jenson Button hosted a riotous party downtown for the British media, where father John and manager Richard Goddard provided much of the life and soul. The emotions began to flow on Thursday as BAR were the hosts to a tearful farewell from journalist Ray Matts of British newspaper the Daily Mail and from Jim Rosenthal, front man for British television broadcaster ITV.
In a rather more decorous, but similarly emotional, cocktail party on Friday Peter Sauber took his leave as a team principal, and it was Michelins rollerblading tyre supremo Pierre Dupasquiers turn on Saturday. As a measure of the Frenchmans popularity, rivals from Bridgestone were there in force and Bernie Ecclestone joked to the gathered audience that they were there to thank Michelin for their only victory of the season.
Later that evening Jordan celebrated their 250th and last Grand Prix, and Paul Stoddart threw a giant barbecue in Minardis stilted pavilion to say his goodbye.
Emotions were running high in many quarters, as the end of a long, but gripping, season finally reached its conclusion. Next year Sauber will be BMW, Minardi will be Squadra Toro Rosso, Jordan will be Midland and BAR will be Honda.
In Formula One racing, nothing stays the same for long.