Paddock Postcard from Monte Carlo 28 May 2006
Forget all the post-qualifying controversy; Monaco was humming long before then. This is always the race for A-list celebrities, with Cannes and its annual Film Festival right down the road. And with Red Bull again promoting a movie - Superman Returns - thespians were thick on the ground.
Kevin Spacey, now artistic director of Londons Old Vic theatre, was much in evidence, together with fellow Superman stars Brandon Routh, Kate Bosworth and Robin Williams. Supermodel Eva Herzigova was also in town, co-presenting a poolside fashion show at the Meridien Beach Plaza on Friday in aid of the Tereza Maxova Foundation. Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, was also in the paddock.
Besides the celebrities, there were plenty of racing stars. Former Grand Prix driver Derek Warwick was still bubbling with enthusiasm for the sport, Britains seven-time offshore powerboat world champion Steve Curtis was amusing everyone with tales of his latest incidents, and ex-Formula One team owner Eddie Jordan was keeping an unusually low profile. Former world champion Damon Hill also made a quick low-key visit, while Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner from the motorcycle racing world were enjoying all that Monte Carlo had to offer, and former unlimited hydroplane and CART entrant Bruce McCaw made a visit. And seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has been hanging out with Ferrari.
Assisted by their new sponsor Johnnie Walker, McLaren were celebrating 40 years in Formula One racing, Bruce McLaren having driven his Ford V8-powered M2B here in 1966. Team principal Ron Dennis recently visited the Cardhu distillery in Scotland where he personally blended a special one-off hand-crafted magnum of Johnnie Walker Blue Label which was decorated with Steinmetz diamonds. This was later presented to him by Paul Walsh, the CEO of Johnnie Walker owners, Diageo.
In GP2, Britains Lewis Hamilton sped to the most convincing victory of his career for ART on Saturday, in doing so taking the series lead from Nelson Piquet Jnr and further boosting his prospects for a Grand Prix drive for 2007.