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Famous names flock to Spanish race 08 May 2005

Roberto Carlos (BRA).
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, 8 May 2005 Eddie Irvine (GBR).
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, 7 May 2005 Carlos Sainz (ESP) Former World Rally Champion.
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Barcelona, Spain, 7 May 2005 King Juan Carlos of Spain
Formula One World Championship, Rd5, Spanish Grand Prix, Race Day, Barcelona, Spain, 8 May 2005

James Caan, star of legendary film The Godfather, paid his first visit to the Formula One paddock this weekend, as a guest of Alex Shnaider, head of Jordan owners Midland. Caan, who now hosts his own TV show in Las Vegas, was thrilled by the experience.

“I’m a Formula One first timer and, hey, you sure can say that this experience turned me into a believer,” he enthused. “I had no idea that it is that immense. One almost can physically feel the huge investments to keep this incredible show running. And believe me, living in Las Vegas I know what a great show is.

“All these stylish motorhomes, the hospitality that can take on the best restaurants in the world, people who live on the edge - I have to say that I regret not having strolled the paddock before. But watch out for me - I’m sure to be around in the coming months.”

Other famous faces in the Barcelona Paddock included Eddie Irvine, the former bad boy of Formula One racing making a rare visit to the pit lane. The ex-Ferrari star admitted he is no fan of the current qualifying format, but insisted the sport remains a great spectacle: “The overall show is still one of the best in the world and the punters are now getting something worthy of their attention. Let's hope it continues.”

And what is Irvine doing now? “Loads of things, almost anything that makes a buck. I spend a good deal of time in Miami and I'm in to a wide range of projects including real estate.”

As always the Formula One paddock featured some of the most gorgeous women in the world, including supermodel Naomi Campbell, a guest of Flavio Briatore. “I have so many incredible experiences with Formula One that once in a while I have to attend a race - just to get the feeling back,” she said “It is such an incredible show. And as I have never been at Barcelona before this was my choice of the season to get a first hand feeling of the “Fernandomania”. It is was worth coming.”

International soccer stars are regularly to be seen in the Formula One pit lane and this weekend it was the turn of Roberto Carlos. “I am a huge fan of Fernando Alonso so I simply hade to come to pay my respect to the leader in the championship,” he explained.

And it wasn’t just soccer players falling the charms of Formula One racing in Spain. Two of the world’s best ice hockey players were also to be seen strolling the Barcelona paddock. Toronto Maple Leaf captain Mats Sundin and his team mate Tie Domi where overwhelmed by their first race experience. “I have never imagined that it is that huge - all these trucks lined up - all the technology wherever you look,” said Sundin. “I am almost sorry not having been at races before - but from now on this will change.” Domi added: “It sure is one of the best sport shows on this globe - and as we have a Canadian now who owns a team (Midland’s Alex Shnaider) - we will drop in once in a while to support him.”

Lending Alonso more celebrity home support was former world rally champion Carlos Sainz, who was thrilled by Formula One racing’s newfound popularity in Spain: “Look what is happening here in Barcelona. This race some years ago was almost a private event for worshippers - now the whole country is taken hostage by the glamour of the sport. Fernando has all the attributes to make him a national hero - and this is great for the whole motorsport development here.”

Aranxta Sanchez Vicario, Spain’s multiple Grand Slam tennis victor, was another star firmly in the Alonso camp: “It is great to see young Spaniards going for the top in so many sports and it is fantastic to see Fernando grap for the crown in the pinnacle of motorsport - this will help many youngster to get a better start when trying to follow his example. With Fernando, motorsport has really found an ambassador for going for your dreams and not lose it on the way when there are tough times.”