Paddock Postcard from Sao Paulo 27 Nov 2011
It may be the final race of a long season, with the paddock yearning for a spell of rest and relaxation, but if anywhere can reinvigorate the F1 community its Brazil. With a challenging track layout and the infectious enthusiasm of the fans, Interlagos is a great location for the 2011 finale.
Ahead of the on-track action, local hero Felipe Massa took time out to visit the Hospital das Clinicas di San Paolo, a cutting-edge childrens facility which specialises in treating rare diseases and tumours. As well as meeting up with the hospitals doctors and nurses, Massa chatted to several patients during his visit.
It was a moving experience for me, said the Brazilian. Seeing how these children deal with their suffering is yet another reminder of what life is really about. All of us who work in Formula One need to remain aware of how lucky we are. I wish to congratulate all the doctors who work here, because their commitment is extraordinary.
It was a special weekend for Massa, as the Interlagos race was his 100th for Ferrari and he completed his tenth year in Formula One during his home Grand Prix. To celebrate, helmet manufacturer Schuberth equipped him with a very special lid designed by artist Jens Munser, who adapted the prancing horse of Ferrari in the airbrush artwork. One hundred additional horses were placed in its outline and the helmet body was painted in Brazilian national colours, complete with some special reflective effects.
The helmet design is a real eye-catcher and holds a fantastic memorable value for me, said Massa. It will have a very special place in my collection since this race is one of the highlights of my career.
There were also celebrations for Massas landmark in the pit lane on Saturday evening, with friends, family, colleagues and fellow drivers gathering at the Ferrari garage to congratulate him on his achievement, helped by a rather special red and white cake, complete with race car decorations.
On Friday Red Bulls Mark Webber was presented with a trophy to commemorate his overall 2011 victory in the DHL Fastest Lap Award which is presented at each race by the worlds leading express and logistics company and Global Partner of Formula 1. Even before Sao Paulo, Webber had set six fastest laps this season - twice that of his nearest rivals.
Saubers Kamui Kobayashi was another driver sporting a special helmet design for the duration of the weekend. Designed by Joe Hahn, a member of the Linkin Park rock band, the helmet will be auctioned to raise money for victims of this years earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Ive long been a fan of Linkin Park, said Kobayashi. I love their music and Im impressed by the bands social commitment. I was thrilled to meet the musicians personally in the paddock when they were giving a concert at the Singapore Grand Prix. Weve been in touch since then and Im really pleased that Joe Hahn has designed a helmet for me. I hope that we will be able to raise a lot of money for Music for Relief to help rebuild my country.
There were other new helmets on show. McLarens Lewis Hamilton sported a design inspired by the late, great Brazilian Ayrton Senna, with the blessing of the Senna family, which we will be auctioned post-race for the Senna Foundation. HRTs Vitantonio Liuzzi, meanwhile, wore a helmet called K-Writeme covered in a material similar to that of a blackboard meaning that Liuzzi could write and erase as he pleased on the surface.
When (the designer) Lucky told me his idea for this last special edition I loved it, said the Italian. The possibility of customizing your helmet how you want is something that has never been seen before in Formula One and something that I thought was quite fun to finish the season off. I had no idea what it would look like. When I saw the base for the first time and I loved it. I just feel bad about ruining it with my drawings!
Fittingly for party capital Sao Paulo, there was music too courtesy of F1 Rocks. Headliner Jessie J made her first ever appearance in Brazil and sang the hits that have propelled her to the forefront of the UK music scene, including Do It Like A Dude and Price Tag. Soul diva Macy Gray, also performed during the event which was held at the citys Via Funchal.
What fitting way to end the F1 Rocks season, said Robert Montague, CEO of F1 Rocks. Once again we were able to deliver top class entertainment in Sao Paulo for the second year running. Together with Pirelli, our associate partners, we have been able to create two great events to celebrate the final Formula 1 race weekend and look forward to our ultimate 2011 event - the star studded F1 Rocks The Afterparty on Sunday night. We look forward to returning again to São Paulo next year.
As usual for Brazil the paddock was also teeming with familiar faces from motor racings past, present and future. The countrys first world champion, Emerson Fittipaldi, was joined by his sucessor Nelson Piquet Snr and the latters son Nelsinho, together with regular visitors and fellow titles winners Sir Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda, Jacques Villeneuve, Carlos Reutemann (visiting a Grand Prix for the first time since Argentina in 1995), former Benetton racer Roberto Moreno, former Prost driver Luciano Burti, former BAR man Ricardo Zonta, former Sauber racer Karl Wendlinger, IndyCar ace Gil de Ferran, ex-Minardi F1 and IndyCar racer Christian Fittipaldi, current IndyCar driver EJ Viso, and ex-Formula Three star Maurizio Sandro Sala. They were joined by F1 hopefuls Jean-Eric Vergne, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg, Luiz Razia and Jan Charouz who took part in FP1, and Giedo van der Garde and Esteban Gutierrez.
Ron Dennis made another appearance at McLaren, fresh from British Prime Minister David Camerons recent opening of the McLaren Production Centre the previous week, while the teams former operations director Davy Ryan, who runs the new McLaren MP4-12C sportscar in GT3 racing via his Von Ryan Racing team made, his first trip to a Grand Prix since Silverstone.
Like Fittipaldi in his Lotus 72 last year, Piquet Snr stirred up some great memories when he did some demonstration laps on Sunday morning in the beautiful Brabham BT49C with which he won the title in 1981.
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