Paddock Postcard from Bahrain 26 Apr 2009
As usual, Bahrain embraced its Grand Prix in its inimitable style this week. Eddie Jordan and his band the Robbers were the featured players at the Welcome Party in the paddock on Thursday evening, together with local singers and dancers. Musicians were very much a part of the meeting, with Pink Floyds Nick Mason making a visit from Friday onwards, Eric Clapton arriving on Saturday and Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant present on Sunday.
On Saturday current champion Johnny Herbert closed to within a point of longtime Speedcar series leader Gianni Morbidelli with an emphatic victory over Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Tonio Liuzzi. Jean Alesi had been running second when his engine grenaded in spectacular style on the pit straight. Sundays race went to Liuzzi, with Morbidelli retaining his series lead to scoop the cash jackpot.
Making it a great Saturday for Toyota as Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock wrapped up the front row of the grid for the Grand Prix, their test driver Kamui Kobayashi celebrated clinching the GP2 Asia Series for DAMS after starting from pole position and finishing fourth in the first of the weekends two races. Diego Nunes won again from team mate Roldan Rodriguez in a one-two for Piquet Sport, and Kobayashis partner Jerome dAmbrosio.
It feels great, really! Kobayashi said. Thats what really mattered today. Its important to show that you can be quick and take risks, but in the end, my job is to take the title. Job done! Now we have another step with the main Series. Its another target and another challenge. I cant wait.
Elsewhere in the paddock, familiar F1 habituees Sir Jackie and Helen Stewart were joined by Christian Danner, Jacques Laffite and Marc Surer, together with Niki Lauda making a welcome return to his television commentator duties.
Other off-track attractions were Bernie Ecclestones collection of mouth-watering Grand Prix cars which were on display in the paddock, McLarens first outward-facing VMM180 meet the team hospitality event, and Sir Richard Bransons Virgin Galactic space flight programme. The latter has been set up to make private space travel available to everyone and by creating the world's first commercial spaceline, based on Burt Rutans history-making SpaceShipOne.
Spaceships are now under construction which will allow affordable sub-orbital space travel for the first time in history, to give the man in the street the opportunity to be one of the worlds first private astronauts. And to travel at almost 2500 mph, or more than Mach 3.
Brawn driver Rubens Barrichello already has his ticket booked - and three-time F1 world champion Niki Lauda actually wants to pilot one of the craft!