Paddock postcard from Barcelona 15 May 2006
It wasnt just a sell-out crowd of almost 350,000 that were drawn to the Spanish Grand Prix weekend, there were also plenty of celebrities to be spotted in the Barcelona paddock. We caught up with just a few...
To get a true taste of life in the fast lane King Juan Carlos of Spain got into a Renault Megane with Fernando Alonso in the drivers seat to do a flying lap of the Circuit de Catalunya. It was an extraordinary experience for me to do a lap with the reigning world champion, he said. And after handing the winners trophy to Alonso three hours later: Everybody knows that I am a huge Formula One fan, but to see Fernando win was an extra pleasure for me. And the fans in the stands surely felt the same pride that I did.
A famous face fresh from Hollywood was that of actor Owen Wilson. Star of box office smash Starsky and Hutch, Wilson was on a promotional tour for his latest film, Cars, the new animated epic from Disney/Pixar. An all-American boy who grew up with stock car racing, Wilson was swept away by his first Formula One experience: In the US we think that NASCAR is cool, but F1 is another dimension - this is racing from another planet! Its my first race ever, but I am already planning to come to either Montreal or Indianapolis!
Recently named one of the worlds 100 most innovative people, Pixars chief creative director John Lasseter accompanied Wilson to see how the real cars do it. This is fantastic, he enthused. An F1 car is more like a low-flying rocket than something we commonly see as a car. I followed the F1 development in the US for quite some time and was sorry for what was going on in Indy last year. This year I hope that all the cars will have their four wheels on to give the American race fans a great performance. And when running into race legend Niki Lauda: I am so flattered to meet you. You are a hero, even in the US!
A big shot of another kind was WPPs CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell. The man whose network of agencies holds many of the marketing accounts for Formula One sponsors came to the Barcelona paddock to see how the sport is boosting the image of his customers. F1 is a wonderful platform for many of our clients given their marketing strategies, he said. I am very satisfied with what I see and will encourage our clients to stay part of F1.
Carlos Sainz, Spains multiple world rally champion, was another famous face in the Barcelona paddock and he was very excited about compatriot Fernando Alonsos win: We always have been good in Moto GP and rallying, but now we have a reigning F1 world champion who is again leading the championship. This is fantastic for the talent development in Spain. I am sure Fernandos success will pave the way for many youngsters on their way to serious racing.