Paddock Postcard from Singapore 23 Sep 2012
With a stunning city skyline as a backdrop and its unique position as Formula One racings only night event, the Singapore round is one of the calendars glitziest Grands Prix. But there was also a sombre element this year, following the sad news of the death of FIA Institute Honorary President and renowned former FIA medical delegate, Professor Sid Watkins, last week.
On Sunday, ahead of the race start, Formula One group CEO Bernie Ecclestone has invited those on the grid to observe a minute's silence in Watkins' honour, and throughout the weekend a Book of Remembrance was available for the paddock to write messages of condolence. The book will eventually be presented to the Watkins family.
Shell, meanwhile, marked their 500th race with Ferrari. The longest collaboration in Formula One history dates back to 1920 when the oil company first collaborated with Enzo Ferrari, then still at driver, and continued when the team itself debuted in the 1950 Monaco Grand Prix.
The milestone has been celebrated by the special Shell 500 Races logo on the rear wings of both the F2012s, whilst Shell have commissioned a painting by artist Michael Turner that depicts the Ferrari 125 F1 that took part in their first Formula One Grand Prix in Monaco in 1950, alongside the F2012 that will compete in the 500th race on Sunday in Singapore.
"500 races is a magnificent achievement that is historical to Formula One, explained Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali. Ferrari and Shell share the same values which is fundamental in making the partnership so successful. We share a long-term vision in racing which is the best way to work in Formula One, we need to push Shell and Shell needs to push Ferrari.
The painting presented to us today is an excellent depiction on how far the partnership has come and we hope that it continues for many more races. I want to thank Shell for our many successes together and I am looking forward to hopefully many more."
Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel is well known for his ever-varying helmet designs, but in Singapore hes sporting an extra special lid. The unique helmet features LED lights laid out in the shape of his familys star sign constellations and powered by two tiny batteries hidden away in the neck roll. The lights, which are motion triggered, are on a super-thin mesh thats glued in place, with the paint job applied over the top.
Like team mate Vettel and many other drivers, Mark Webber also wore a new one-off design. Webber had held a public competition to come up with a new look for the Marina Bay race and from the 1,118 entries he chose a design by 17 year-old Croatian Zlatka Suboticanec, who won a trip to the race to see the Australian using her helmet.
Zlatkas design was full of energy and really caught my attention with the unique inclusion of the Australian flag into the colour scheme, said Webber. Im also pretty impressed with the cartoon version of me on the back, although he has a few less wrinkles than me
It wasnt just the Formula One race drivers who got a chance to show off their style sense. A number of F1 reserves swapped cockpit for catwalk on Saturday night as they served as models in the Amber Lounge Fashion Show. Among them were HRTs Dani Clos and Ma Qing Hua, Force Indias Jules Bianchi and Mercedes Sam Bird, with the music provided by Lemar.
There was in fact plenty of live music on offer throughout the weekend for race fans, with Noel Gallagher, Katy Perry, Maroon 5, Jay Chou, Bananarama, Pretenders and The Proclaimers forming a stellar line-up for the off-track entertainment.
Back in the paddock, Familiar faces included triple world champions Sir Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda, former Grand Prix-winning star Jacky Ickx, multiple Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, Monaco Grand Prix victor Olivier Panis and Minardi racer Alex Yoong, while Le Mans winner Allan McNish was the FIA driver steward.
On track, Briton Max Chilton - confirmed as a Marussia F1 reserve earlier this week - scored his second GP2 victory of the season in Saturdays feature race, as fourth place was sufficient to clinch the championship title for DAMSs Davide Valsecchi who followed the Carlin driver, Lotus GPs Esteban Gutierrez and Racing Engineerings Fabio Leimer home. Valsecchis only title rival, Arden Internationals Luiz Razia, finished fifth.
Chiltons success was sealed at the start as poleman Luca Filippi made a poor start, and fell behind him, Gutierrez, Leimer, Jolyon Palmer, Valsecchi and Johnny Cecotto. iSports Palmer was able pass Gutierrez and Leimer as they delayed one another in Turn Three before a safety-car intervention to retrieve the cars of Rene Binder and Victor Guerin, but later the Briton stopped with mechanical problems.
As the pit lane opened, Filippi was able to use good strategy from Coloni to jump up to third, but later slowed and crashed after resuming following contact with a wall. Behind Razia, DAMS Felipe Nasr made an early pit stop and climbed to sixth place, ahead of iSports Marcus Ericsson and Caterhams Giedo van der Garde. Rio Haryanto and Nathanael Berthon completed the point scorers.
Sundays sprint race saw Van der Garde take his second GP2 win of the year, leading from start to finish, ahead of Ericsson and Leimer, while Valsecchi and team mate Nasr took fifth and seventh respectively to secure DAMS their first teams' title in the series.
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