Paddock Postcard from Bahrain 06 Apr 2008
Bahrain was in full Grand Prix mode all week, which kicked off with the first Motor Sport Middle East Forum in the Ruf Building at the Sakhir circuit on Tuesday and Wednesday, followed by the FIA Medical Summit on Thursday.
The former was notable for gripping presentations by McLarens Ron Dennis, Nadia Petrossi of Kangaroo TV, His Excellency Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, Talal Al Zain of Bahrain Mumtalakat Holding Company, the investment arm of the Bahraini Royal Family, and Debbie Stanford-Kristiansen of the Bahrain Exhibition and Convention Authority. The Forum attracted huge interest and generated some strong business links between European visitors and the emergent motorsport community in the Middle East.
A Simply Red concert and paddock parties provided entertainment, as did a gripping Asia series GP2 race on Saturday which was won by ARTs Romain Grosjean and was memorable for the amount of overtaking.
In Speedcar, Uwe Alzen was disqualified for not wearing his HANS device, leaving Frenchman David Terrien victorious after a spectacular collision between Jean Alesi and Stefan Johansson late in the race. Other familiar faces in that series included polesitter Johnny Herbert (whose car developed an engine problem), Ukyo Katayama, JJ Lehto and debutants Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jacques Villeneuve.
Elsewhere in the paddock, familiar F1 regulars Sir Jackie Stewart, Christian Danner and Marc Surer were joined by 1979 world champion Jody Scheckter and former Brabham and Williams racer Riccardo Patrese, whose record for the most Grand Prix starts is set to be broken later this year by Hondas Rubens Barrichello. Famous fans included impressionist Rory Bremner, former Indian cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin, and rock legend Eric Clapton.