Paddock Postcard from Monza 04 Sep 2005
Who's who in the Italian pit lane this weekend...
No race fan ever comes to Monza without a feeling of great wellbeing. This great temple of speed is one giant celebration of all that is good about the sport.
Familiar racing faces abound in the paddock, with Ferraris mid-Nineties team of Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger being reunited; Enzo Ferraris son Piero Lardi Ferrari was here with president Luca di Montezemolo; Eddie Irvine continued his quest for a team to buy; Professor Sid Watkins naturally chose Monza for one of his infrequent but welcome visits; and Max Mosleys former partner Robin Herd made his second paddock visit of the season.
Monza regular, Italian singer Eros Ramazotti, is also in attendance, and has revealed some unexpected news: Everybody knows that I am a big race fan - I have demonstrated this many times with my visits. And as an Italian I hope that Michael Schumacher will remain with Ferrari and that Ferrari starts to win races again. But to show how a big race fan I am, I have plans to get involved with a GP2 team as it seems for me to be the perfect platform for young talents, and because it is connected to Formula One, it gets the right media exposure needed to make it a success.
Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz, not as frequent a visitor to races as one might expect, is making one of his rare appearances. Monza has always been a special place as it is one of the tracks with a lot of history, said the Austrian. It was always a pleasure for me to come here team owner or not.
Making his first Formula One visit is footballer Clarence Seedorf. The AC Milan star is a guest of Renault and he was delighted to see his hosts finish second and third. To be here is incredible enough, but to be with a team that has an incredible finish to celebrate is even more than I expected, he enthused. As athlete in a sport that takes a season to find out the champion, I know that it is important to stay sharp and alert throughout the year and play it strategically, as the counting of points on the last day is what matters.
Elsewhere, Kiyoshi Kawashima will be a revered guest at Honda. A close friend of the late Soichiro Honda, who founded the company, Kawashima has been involved with it since 1947, was the second president (after Mr Honda) and was responsible for bringing the company back to the sport in the late Seventies.
Famous names present from the business world include one of the biggest hitters in Formula One advertising, Sir Martin Sorrell, head of ad-agency conglomerate WPP, which includes names such as JW Thompson, Y&R and Ogilvy & Mathers. I still do believe that Formula One is the ultimate global sport and the perfect ticket for every company that focuses on the same geographic dimensions, he said.
Back to racing names and today will also see celebrations to mark the 40th anniversary of Sir Jackie Stewarts first grand prix victory, when he narrowly defeated team mate Graham Hill to triumph for BRM in the 1965 race here.
And on the track, the battle between GP2 contenders Heikki Kovalainen and Nico Rosberg intensified as they headed home Saturdays finishers.