Paddock Postcard from Melbourne 18 Mar 2007
Famous faces out to celebrate start of 2007 season
Singer Leo Sayer was one of the stars of the annual Grand Prix Ball on Friday night as the great and good of Formula One racing gathered to honour Bernie Ecclestone. The diminutive singer, who lives in Sydney, felt no need to escape the event, after his experiences last year on the UKs Celebrity Big Brother TV show, and provided some of the entertainment as State Premier Steve Bracks surprised Bernie and his wife Slavica with a special presentation of two sterling silver bowls in recognition of his 12 years of work with the Grand Prix Board in Melbourne and his 59 years in motorsport.
Famous faces in the paddock over the weekend included singers Kylie and Dannii Minogue, retired cricket ace Shane Warne, ex-Formula One team owner Paul Stoddart, Sir Stirling Moss who was running in the classic car events, Sir Jack Brabham and Sir Jackie Stewart.
Elsewhere, Northern Ireland were crowned champions in the F1 In Schools World Championships as Team FUGA from Coleraine Academical Institution secured the Bernie Ecclestone trophy on Friday. Jonathan Steen, David Anderson, Aimal Khan, Philip Taylor and Alistair Adams, all 18 years old, fought off the intense competition in this global student technology challenge, beating 17 teams from nations in Australia, Europe, Asia, America and the Middle East to lift the title and win coveted Automotive Engineering degree scholarships at The City University, London.
The team also won the Fastest Car Award, smashing the Malaysians world record from last year set at 1.083 seconds, with a 1.02 seconds run, and shared the honours for Best Engineered Car with the team from Germany. Second and third places on the F1 in Schools podium were taken by two all-girl student teams. Team Lightning from Blairgowrie High School, Scotland were runners-up to the Irish, with Mercurial Aces from Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan, Malaysia in third position.
The Malaysian team also won the Team Sportsmanship award, loaning a spare set of model car wheels to the Canadian contingent who, on arriving in Australia, found that some of their luggage was lost en route, which included the all-important rubber for racing. Tanza Knights, a team from Stellenbosch High School, South Africa took the Best Sponsorship and marketing award, with Best Newcomer being presented to C2 from Woburn C.I. School in Canada and the Collaborative Team trophy was awarded to Team Hybrid, a joint initiative from Lochgelly High School, Scotland and East Cobb Middle School, USA.
The F1 in Schools Technology Challenge is contested in 20 countries around the world, with six million students participating in the competition.