Paddock Postcard from Monte Carlo 24 May 2009
As usual, Monaco attracted motorsport royalty all through the weekend, with world champions Mika Hakkinen, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell (supporting son Greg who was racing in World Series by Renault), Keke Rosberg and Jacques Villeneuve much in evidence. Less so was motorcycle legend Valentino Rossi, who preferred a grandstand seat to a high paddock profile.
Jean Alesi, Riccardo Patrese, Rene Arnoux, Tim Schenken, Mika Salo, Ukyo Katayama and Andrea de Cesaris were also visiting, as was former Williams and Tecno racer Giovanni Nanni Galli, back at a Grand Prix for the first time since the Seventies.
There was some real Royalty too, in the form of Princess Beatrice, while Prince Michael of Kent may attend on Sunday. Plus, of course, Prince Albert of Monaco.
Familiar faces from other sports included 400m runner Michael Johnson, while singer James Blunt visited the Red Bull drivers. Former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell, actor Jesse Metcalfe, director/producer George Lucas and radio presenter Chris Evans are further possible attendees on race day.
Adding to the glitz, Steinmetz, creators of the worlds finest diamonds, teamed up again with McLaren and worked closely with Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen to create their own personalised race helmets. They displayed their race numbers with Steinmetz diamonds inscribed with the Forevermark hallmark.
On Friday evening Amber Fashion held their A-list charity event, which was first launched in 2006 by Prince Albert of Monaco. The Fashion Show and a charity auction afterwards benefits chosen charities; the latter is led by Sothebys Paris and has included items like Sharon Stone's 1974 Corvette or Elton Johns piano.
Various top-end designers, such as Jimmy Choo, Chopard and Damiani show each year, but celebrities such as Elizabeth Hurley with her Haute Couture Swimwear or Petra Ecclestone with her FORM menswear collection which used Formula One drivers as models, have also featured. This years event was attended by Naomi Campbell.
On the track, Romain Grosjean won the main GP2 race, on Friday, for the Barwa Addax Team but was eliminated from Saturdays sprint event in spectacular style after an airborne brush with Andreas Zuber approaching Tabac. Pastor Maldonado was the victor for ART Grand Prix.