Paddock Postcard from Monza 12 Sep 2010
As befits its status as one of the worlds greatest Formula One venues, Monza was packed with famous faces over the weekend.
England football manager Fabio Capello joined Eric Clapton, Hugh Grant and band of the moment Kasabian, while racing faces included world champions Sir Jackie Stewart and Emerson Fittipaldi (who was doing stewarding duties); IndyCar champion and Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti and racing brother Marino (visiting cousin and Force India third driver Paul di Resta); and fellow racers Alex Zanardi (now the reigning Italian handbike champion), Maria Teresa de Fillipis, Nick Heidfeld, Paulo Barilla, Marc Gene, Luca Badoer, Luciano Burti, Derek Daly and racing son Conor, Roberto Moreno, Jonathan Palmer and racing son Jolyon, Emanuele Pirro and Markku Alen.
From the pit lane side, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo made a visit, as did former Ferrari team manager Daniele Audetto, Giancarlo Minardi and, recently celebrating a milestone birthday, the indefatigable former McLaren rock, Tyler Alexander.
Out on track Briton Sam Bird fulfilled all the promise he has shown all season with a superb victory for ART in GP2 on Saturday. Starting from second he beat team mate Jules Bianchi to the first corner and had already opened a gap before the safety car was deployed after mayhem behind him in the first chicane. He then pulled away again, only for the safety car to come out again. When the race finally got going he simply kept his head and pulled away a third time and swept on to win from Bianchi and fellow countryman Oliver Turvey in his Racing Steps iSport car.
Series leader Pastor Maldonado had another difficult race but put one hand on the title when Barwa Addax rival Sergio Perez was punted out of the race on the third lap.
By the end a delighted Bird beat Bianchi by 8.5 seconds, and behind Turvey Christian Vietoris took fourth for Racing Engineering ahead of DAMS Jerome d'Ambrosio and Trident drivers Adrian Zaugg and Edoardo Piscopo. Ocean Racing Technologys Max Chilton was eighth, thus claiming pole for Sundays sprint race.
Mexicos Esteban Gutierrez made some history by taking pole position to clinch the inaugural GP3 Series for ART Grand Prix. He then went on to score his fifth victory in a great race with former title rival Rob Wickens, who took his Status car from fifth on the grid to an early lead. Then Gutierrez was also passed by Jenzer Motorsports Nico Muller and Atechs Roberto Merhi as a race-long fight developed together with Manors Rio Haryanto that was reminiscent of F1s former days at the autodrome. Gutierrez kept his cool and picked off his rivals one by one by the flag, as Wickens cemented his runner-up slot in the championship from Haryanto and Muller.
In Formula BMW, Briton Jack Harvey lost his series lead to winner Robin Frijns after being punted out in his Racing Steps car.
To buy tickets for 2010 Formula One events, click here.