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Paddock Postcard from Monza 11 Sep 2011

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing at a Pirelli painting event. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 8 September 2011 Monza atmosphere. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 10 September 2011 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP signs autographs for the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 8 September 2011 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) HRT Formula One Team celebrates his 75th GP and 150 years of Italian unity with a special helmet designed by 'Lucky' Gianluca Croci (ITA) (Kaos Design) and prominent Italians from the past: Leonardo da Vinci; Michelangelo Buonarroti; Galileo Galilei; Julius Caesar and Dante Alghieri. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Preparations, Monza, Italy, Thursday, 8 September 2011 (R to L): Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) CEO Formula One Group (FOM) presents Rainer Schlegelmilch (GER) Photographer with an Honorary F1 Pass for covering 50 years of F1 and attending 568 Grands Prix.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 9 September 2011 Jamiroquai perform on stage at F1 Rocks in Monza Manager of the England football team Fabio Capello with Formula One group CEO Bernie Ecclestone Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari leaves the circuit. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 10 September 2011 The podium (L to R): Charles Pic (FRA) Barwa Addax Team, second; Luca Filippi (ITA) Scuderia Coloni, race winner; Roman Grosjean (FRA) DAMS, third. GP2 Series, Rd 9, Race 1, Monza, Italy, Saturday 10 September 2011. Race winner and Series Champion Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Lotus ART GP3 Series, Rd 8, Race 1, Monza, Italy, Saturday 10 September 2011. Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi

After a wet and wild ride at Spa, everyone was pleased to bask in the sunshine at Monza this weekend. And unsurprisingly for Italy, cultural escapades topped the bill before the on-track action began, courtesy of Pirelli.

The Italian tyre manufacturer joined forces with renowned F1 artist Mark Dickens in a special, fine art collaboration. Pirelli’s P Zero Formula One tyres - distinguished by brightly coloured markings in order to differentiate between compounds - became giant paintbrushes in the Formula One paddock on Thursday evening to form an eye-catching new artwork.

Some of Pirelli’s wet and intermediate tyres were ‘inked’ and used as rollers on a 10-metre sheet of heavy paper in the paddock. Five drivers - Rubens Barrichello, Timo Glock, Kamui Kobayashi, Jarno Trulli and Mark Webber - were invited to hand-roll the Formula One tyres over the ‘blank canvas’, under Dickens’ supervision. The painting will be auctioned for charity at the end of the year by Pirelli, in conjunction with Formula One Management.

Ferrari duo Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa may get the most attention in Italy, but Monza is the home race for Lotus’s Jarno Trulli and HRT’s Vitantonio Liuzzi too. And Liuzzi celebrated his return home - and his 75th career Grand Prix - with a unique helmet design paying tribute to some of his nation’s most famous cultural icons - Julius Caesar, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo and Dante.

"Monza is really the place to please all my fans,” said Liuzzi. “I want to thank my designer ‘Lucky’ and his company Kaos Design to have had so much inspiration to prepare this very special helmet. Lucky and I go back a long way. I welcomed Lucky's idea for my helmet because I have always thought that F1 racing is more than a life style.

“Along with the artist who designed my helmet we decided to create a special edition for this weekend to reflect the exceptional creativity of the team members and their dedication to the world of Formula One. Like Leonardo Da Vinci in the past, our engineers and team members have both style and versatility in their disciplines, just like Michelangelo and Galileo were both hugely influential in their world, or Italy's major poet Dante.”

Renault’s Vitaly Petrov also sported a new helmet for the weekend, but for far more sombre reasons. Petrov’s all-black helmet was a mark of respect for the victims of the Russian plane crash earlier this week which claimed the lives of 43 people.

There was plenty of music on offer in Monza courtesy of F1 Rocks™ and Jamiroquai who put on a stunning concert at a packed Stadio Brianteo on Friday. “Another fantastic show from another exceptional F1 Rocks™ headliner,” said F1 Rocks™’ Robert Montague. “We are very proud to count F1 Rocks™ in Monza as one of our annual events and will be back next year with another major international artist.”

After the concert Jamiroquai headed to Milan for the F1 Rocks™ The Afterparty held at the stunning Just Cavalli cafe, owned by Italian designer Roberto Cavalli. Jamiroquai mingled with fellow celebrities and VIP guests and partied the night away.

Back at the circuit and motorsport’s cathedral of speed once again hummed with paddock activity this year. England football manager Fabio Capello made his annual visit, together with fellow footballing legend Javier ‘Pupi’ Zanetti of Argentina and Jamiroquai frontman Jay Kay.

Famous motor racing faces included world champions Sir Jackie Stewart, Keke Rosberg and Damon Hill plus the late Phil Hill’s son Derek and 2006 MotoGP champ Nicky Hayden; steward Derek Daly; Luca di Montezemolo and Piero Lardi from Ferrari together with potential president-elect Lapo Elkann and former team manager Cesare Fiorio; reportedly Indy 500-bound Jean Alesi; Ron Dennis; Maria Teresa de Fillipis; Luciano Burti; Eric van de Poele; Christian Danner; Mika Salo; Rupert Keegan; Markku Alen; Jonathan Palmer; Giancarlo Minardi; Tyler Alexander; Robin Herd; Enrique Scalabroni; and Rory Byrne.

Several of those were present in the Ferrari motorhome on Friday evening as tribute was paid to legendary German Formula One photographer Rainer Schlegelmilch, who was celebrating an incredible 50 years in the sport and his 568th Grand Prix - an achievement which earned him an honorary paddock pass from Formula One Group CEO Bernie Ecclestone.

On track, Luca Filippi scored a great GP2 victory for Coloni on Saturday afternoon and jumped into contention for runner-up slot behind champion Romain Grosjean. The Brazilian took the lead from poleman Charles Pic at the start and never looked back as the Barwa Addax held on to second ahead of DAMS’ Grosjean. Briton Sam Bird clawed his way through to take fourth for iSport with Adam Carroll fifth for Super Nova. Four drivers can now finish second overall if they do well in Sunday’s finale. Pic is a point ahead of Filippi, with Addax’s Giedo van der Garde and ART’s Jules Bianchi also in the fight.

The GP3 race produced a traditional Monza slipstreamer which was won in dramatic style by Valtteri Bottas for ART from team mate James Calado and Marussia Manor’s Rio Haryanto.

Bottas moved quickly from fifth to third at the start, as the race developed into a battle between the Finn, Haryanto, Calado, polesitter Adrian Quaife-Hobbs (Manor) and Jenzer’s Nico Muller. Things got broken up when Quaife-Hobbs spun at Ascari, bringing out the safety car, and thereafter it was a straight fight for the win between Bottas and Calado as Haryanto and Muller switched positions five times in the last three laps with the verdict finally going to the Indonesian.

Simon Trummer took fifth for MW Arden, with Carlin’s Conor Daly, Status’s Antonio Felix da and Trummer’s team mate Mitch Evans securing the remaining points-scoring positions. Bottas’ victory cemented for him the GP3 title, and almost certainly a ride with ART in GP2 next season.

After Sunday’s Grand Prix Virgin test driver and talented DJ, Sakon Yamamoto held court at F1 Rocks™ The Afterparty’s second high octane event at the Just Cavalli cafe in Milan. Yamamoto impressed on the decks, keeping VIP guests including Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, Force India’s Adrian Sutil, Sauber team mates Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez, Virgin’s Jerome D’Ambrosio, HRT’s Vitantonio Liuzzi, veteran Giancarlo Fisichella, 2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden and Pirelli’s Paul Hembery entertained in to the small hours.

For more pictures, check out our Paddock Postcard gallery.

For tickets and travel to 2011 Formula One races, click here.