Paddock Postcard from Monza 13 Sep 2009
The Monza paddock has been full of familiar faces this weekend. Sir Jackie Stewart held a little function at Williams to commemorate the 1969 race here in which his dramatic 0.19s blanket-finish victory over Jochen Rindt, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Bruce McLaren clinched him his first drivers championship.
Fellow drivers Jean Alesi, Ricardo Patrese, Luciano Burti, Maria Teresa de Fillipis, Johnny Cecotto, JJ Lehto and Adrian Fernandez were all in evidence. From the two-wheeled world World Superbike (and soon to be MotoGP rider) Ben Spies was Mark Webbers guest, while Max Biaggi popped up at Ferrari. Engine guru Mario Illien, Ferrari technical ace Rory Byrne and former Ferrari and Super Aguri team manager Daniele Audetto, who is now with Campos getting ready for their 2010 debut, also put in appearances.
England football manager Fabio Capello was also a guest at Ferrari, while Lewis Hamilton met up with FC Inter Milano captain Marco Materazzi at McLaren courtesy of Vodafone. Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo was there on Thursday as Santander announced their 2010 deal with the Scuderia.
On Saturday evening Toyotas Jarno Trulli joined around 100 VIPs at an exclusive charity auction to raise money for the victims of the Abruzzo earthquake. Helmets and overalls from Formula One drivers were auctioned to raise funds for his Abruzzo nel Cuore appeal, along with watches from Audemars Piguet, who organised the event, which brought in a healthy Euro 300,000.
On the track, Dutchman Diego van der Garde claimed victory after a chaotic and slippery GP2 Saturday feature race whose start had to be delayed 40 minutes because of the rainstorm which flooded sections of the track. He and championship contender Vitaly Petrov waged a close duel until the late mandatory pit stops decided the issue in the iSport drivers favour. Behind the Barwa Addax Russian, Lucas di Grassi brought his Fat Burner Racing machine home third.
Championship leader Nico Hulkenberg was briefly up with the leaders in his ART Grand Prix car but ran wide at the Parabolica and lost ground. He eventually finished fifth behind Jerome dAmbrosio (DAMS) and Edoardo Mortara, who set the fastest lap for Telmex Arden International.
Sunday mornings sprint race, far less dramatic than the feature, saw victory go to Luiz Razia after an excellent drive from pole to see off a fast-starting Di Grassi. The man really celebrating, however, was Hulkenberg whose third place was enough to clinch him the 2009 main series title.
Saturday's Formula BMW Europe race was a very close affair, when the track was damp but drying. Daniel Juncadella (ES/Eurointernational) took his first win of the year, followed by team mate Felipe Nasr, with Robin Frijns (NL/Josef Kaufmann Racing) in third and making sure of the Rookie Cup title.