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Paddock Postcard from Spa-Francorchamps 02 Sep 2012

Stefano Domenicali (ITA) Ferrari General Director and Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Practice, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Friday, 31 August 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing signs autographs for the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Thursday, 30 August 2012 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari with aspiring F1 Engineers at the Shell Media Event.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Thursday, 30 August 2012 (L to R): Shell Technology Manager for Ferrari Cara Tredget and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari at the Shell media event.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Thursday, 30 August 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03 is presented with a Mercedes front wing in recognition of his 300th Grand Prix by Ross Brawn (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 Team Principal and Bernie Ecclestone (GBR) CEO Formula One Group (FOM).
Formula One World Champ Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Grid girl.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 1 September 2012 Rio Haryanto (IND) Carlin at the start of race 1. GP2 Series, Rd10, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, 31 August - 2 September 2012. 1st Marcus Ericsson (SWE) iSport International, centre. 2nd James Calado (GBR) Lotus GP, left. 3rd Davide Valsecchi (ITA) DAMS, right. GP2 Series, Rd10, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, 31 August - 2 September 2012. Fans and atmosphere.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Belgian Grand Prix, Preparations, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Sunday, 2 September 2012

After a month’s break, there were more than a few anecdotes in the air at Spa as everybody swapped holiday tales. Whilst some had opted for the obvious and relaxed on a beach, others were a little more lively, with Ferrari’s Felipe Massa enjoying a practice ride in Brazil’s Copa Fiat series at Interlagos and McLaren’s Jenson Button taking part in his own triathlon.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was possibly the most adventurous, with his cameo in a video for R&B artist Melanie Fiona’s track ‘Watch Me Work’ coming to light during the break. Set in downtown New York, the promo - filmed in June - sees Vettel play a modern day James Dean character searching to find an underground location for Fiona and her band to perform.

“It was a great experience to shoot a music video, and certainly very different to what I’m used to,” said the German. “But music is without question an inspiration to many and I’m very proud to have been part of this. I think the lyrics are quite fitting to what we can all do if we put our mind to it.”

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, went back to school on Thursday, visiting the Campus Francorchamps to meet with young local automotive engineering students. As part of Shell’s commitment to promote the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects in schools, Alonso was joined by Shell’s Formula One Technology Manager, Cara Tredget, and together the pair discussed F1 racing and the routes they had both taken to reach the top level in motorsport.

“Meeting some of the local students today is a good reminder of how many people work behind the scenes to get a racing car onto the grid,” said Alonso. “Establishing a career in Formula One is not easy, for an engineer or a driver and Cara and I both saw today how keen the students were to learn more - in Formula One determination is one of the most important things you need to succeed.”

There were celebrations afoot too in the paddock with Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher marking his 300th Grand Prix appearance. As well as receiving a special cake and nosecone to note the occasion, the seven-time world champion was also sporting a special platinum-coloured helmet design, a gift from his helmet manufacturer, Schuberth.

“It's fantastic that Schuberth has once again come up with a special helmet design to mark this special day,” said Schumacher. “I'm delighted - it’s a very precious piece of equipment. It marks a real milestone in my career and will have pride of place in my personal collection. Many, many thanks.”

Caterham also had cause for celebration, as they announced that EADS, the aerospace and defence group, has joined the team as an official partner. The EADS Group comprises commercial and military aircraft maker Airbus, the European leader in space programmes Astrium, defence and security systems provider Cassidian and helicopter maker Eurocopter.

“I am absolutely delighted that EADS has joined our team and I want to welcome them into our F1 family as Official Partner,” said team principal Tony Fernandes. “EADS joins not only our F1 team but the whole Caterham Group as we evolve from an F1 team into the wider automotive and specialist consultancy service that the various arms of Caterham Group represent.

"The partnership with EADS and Caterham F1 Team is the first of a number of exciting announcements we will be making about projects that various arms of the Caterham Group are working with EADS on. Right now Caterham Composites and Caterham Technology and Innovation are involved in programs that utilise the specialist skills that both companies have in composite design and manufacturing, including a revolutionary lightweight aircraft seat and an in-flight entertainment system that will showcase the benefits composite materials provide on a global scale.

"This is a very exciting announcement and one that shows that world leading companies like EADS see the value that can be created from a partnership with Caterham Group and its various arms.”

At McLaren, Faithless’s Maxi Jazz visited Lewis Hamilton, while other familiar racing faces in the paddock included former team owner Serge Saulnier, now the boss of Magny-Cours, former F1 racers Philippe Alliot and Eric van de Poele, ex-Goodyear racing manager Tony Shakespeare, former Sauber team manager Max Welti and race promoter and former European Commission member Etienne Davignon.

On-track, Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson dominated a dramatic Saturday GP2 race which saw the Dutch driver Nigel Melker hospitalised with heavy bruising after a race-stopping crash at Eau Rouge. After the race was eventually restarted, Ericsson kept his iSport International Dallara out of trouble to head home Lotus GP’s James Calado and DAMS’ Davide Valsecchi.

After Ericsson made a fast getaway, Calado initially battled team mate Esteban Gutierrez as polesitter Rio Haryanto led early on for Carlin before being deposed by Ericcson.

After Melker’s accident everyone bar Caterham’s Giedo van der Garde, Trident’s Stephane Richelmi, Arden’s Simon Trummer and Coloni’s Stefano Coletti made pit stops. They all lost out once the race began to take shape, leaving Ericcson to lead Calado home by 11.5s. Thus Barwa Addax’s Josef Kral came through to a solid fourth ahead of van der Garde, while title contender Luiz Razia brought his Arden car up to sixth after starting only 18th. Julian Leal was seventh for Trident from Felipe Nasr, who overtook Richelmi and Haryanto at the last corner, thus giving him pole for Sunday’s sprint race for DAMS.

That race resulted in a maiden GP2 win for Kral, with Nasr edging out Calado for second after outdragging him to the flag as the pair duelled out of the final chicane on the very last lap.

The real drama came on lap one, however, as Razia spun after tangling with Calado, collecting Valsecchi in the process. Both of the points leaders managed to continue, though neither ultimately scored and they remain locked together on 204 points, with Calado 44 adrift.

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