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Famous faces at the Nurburgring 08 May 2006

Arturio Merzario (ITA).
Formula One World Championship, Rd 5, European Grand Prix, Race Day, Nurburgring, Germany, 7 May 2006

Formula1.com caught up with just a handful of the interesting names in attendance at this weekend’s European Grand Prix in Germany.

One of the more bizarre ‘celebrations’ at the Nurburgring was that marking this year’s 30th anniversary of Niki Lauda’s horrific crash at the circuit. Former Ferrari driver Arturo Merzario - one of the men who helped haul Lauda from his burning car - came back to the Bergwerk corner where it all happened, with a small group of Nordschleife veterans including Lauda and Bernie Ecclestone. A genuinely touched Merzario, now 63, commented: “It was so good to see that many of the folks from then are still around. Even if the memory still makes me shake it was good having been here again.”

Although no longer involved in day-to-day politics, former German Foreign Minister, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, still keeps very much abreast of global events. Hence it was no surprise to see him in the Nurburgring paddock. Asked if he would be taking to the grid, Genscher promptly quipped: “I don’t think so - I was not fast enough and did not qualify! But seriously, I always enjoy the atmosphere of Formula One, so when I was asked to come here this weekend, I naturally agreed.”

Among Red Bull’s guests in Germany was Maxi Jazz (real name Max Frazer). The front man with dance supergroup Faithless is a huge Formula One fan and clearly enjoyed his weekend. “I like the sound,” he said. “There is nothing like it. It is the beat of the technology age and it is a great stimulant for me.”

Lukas Podolski, the man tipped to be Germany’s next soccer superstar, took time out to visit the European Grand Prix as part of his build-up to this summer’s football world cup competition. “I was flattered when asked to come to Nurburgring,” said the Polish-born FC Cologne player. “I am a huge fan of Formula One and to be here and get a hands-on feeling of this great sporting show as a warm-up for the soccer world championship is fantastic. I have no preferences to which driver wins as they are all stars in their own right!”