Paddock Postcard from Silverstone 06 Jul 2008
As usual, Silverstone was en fete for the British Grand Prix, with Royalty mixing with echoes of Hollywood. Sir Jackie Stewart was escorting the visiting Duke of Kent early in the proceedings, while the Toyota team and Warner Bros celebrated the summer UK release of the film The Dark Knight on July 25. This is the follow up to the 2005 action hit Batman Begins and reunites director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale, who again portrays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. Michael Caine, the late Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Morgan Freeman also star.
The TF108s bore Dark Night artworks, as did the overalls of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, and the team's motor home. Also on show throughout the weekend were the iconic Batmobile and Bat-Pod vehicles, supported by some special media events.
The Batmobile took to the track on Thursday evening for a demonstration run alongside a TF108, followed by photo opportunities with the Bat-Pod and Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock. The Batmobile is around 3m at its widest point, 4.5m long and 1.5m high. It runs on unleaded fuel and weighs 2.5 tons. The vehicle has six wheels - two in the front, outfitted with sprint car race tires, and four at the back, which utilize monster truck tyres.
Familiar faces within the paddock included Bette Hill, former F1 stars Derek Daly and Patrick Tambay and their racing sons Connor and Adrien, former rally star Andrew Cowan, former BRM team manager Tim Parnell, Indy 500 winner Gil de Ferran, Le Mans winner Allan McNish, multiple touring car world champion Andy Priaulx and Saturo Nakajima. The latter was making his first paddock appearance to watch son Kazuki race for Williams, having been at the circuit without getting so close in Malaysia. Showbusiness stars in attendance included Harry Potter actor Rupert Grint, and from the cricketing world Sachin Tendulkar was a guest at Force India.
On Saturday Hondas Jenson Button got together with Sky Sports Italia co-host and presenter, Tamara Ecclestone to celebrate Silverstones 60th anniversary and to help raise funds for charity. Both were sporting a commemorative t-shirt designed by the fashion team at Alpinestars. One t-shirt will be signed by the current Formula One drivers and F1 personalities before being auctioned off later this month in aid of the Make-A-Wish Foundation UK, which grants wishes to children and young people fighting life-threatening illnesses.
And in GP2s Saturday race, a storming drive from Giorgio Pantano saw the Italian extend his lead for Racing Engineering after catching and passing early leader Lucas di Grassi, who himself had taken control after polesitter Bruno Senna lost the initiative by sliding wide on the exit to Stowe. Senna finished sixth as Karun Chandhok completed the podium.