Paddock Postcard from Singapore 28 Sep 2008
Its been hard to move around Singapore without being caught up in the party spirit and the general enthusiasm for Formula One, as the city has reached out to embrace a sport as important to it as the Olympics is to those who win the contract.
Fittingly, there have been a host of famous racing faces all weekend, with more world champions gathered together than for many seasons.
Regulars such as Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda (and, of course, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen), were joined by Damon Hill and his wife Georgie, who were also guests of the Down Syndrome Association of Singapore for their annual meeting, Jody Scheckter and Mika Hakkinnen, who was acting in his capacity as a brand ambassador for Johnnie Walker.
Other familiar faces in the paddock included former Onyx team boss Mike Earle, veteran television commentator Murray Walker, and Indian film and reality TV star Shilpa Shetty.
There was sadness, too, over the death on Saturday of movie star and race fan and IRL team owner Paul Newman, from cancer. Newman starred in the 1968 Indy 500-based film Winning, and raced himself until recently. McLaren chief Ron Dennis said of him: "I met him quite a few times, and liked him a lot. In fact I arranged a secret test for him in a BMW Procar many years ago, and he acquitted himself pretty well. He competed in quite a few races, and the highlight of his competition-driving career was a fine second place in the Le Mans 24 Hours race of 1979.