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Paddock Postcard from Kuala Lumpur

30 Mar 2014

Whether he was able to solve any of the many mysteries in Sepang without the aid of his faithful sidekick Watson, not the least being how to make the rear end of host Williams’ FW36 car stick better, Sherlock Holmes actor Benedict Cumberbatch was nonetheless a welcome visitor in the paddock.

He was one of several faces from outside racing, which included Ong Beng Seng, the man behind the Singapore Grand Prix, multiple motorbike world champion Giacomo Agostini and former Real Madrid star Michel Salgado who were guests at Ferrari, Dutch footballing legend Michael Laudrup, Nitro Circus and XGames star Travis Pastrana, and windsurfing’s Michael Naish.

On the racing side Jan Magnussen was back in the paddock for the first time since the Nineties to watch his son’s second outing for McLaren, as Emerson Fittipaldi and his wife Rosanna hung out at Williams. Former Brabham and BRM racer Teddy Pilette made a rare visit from Hong Kong, while former F1 star Martin Donnelly was the FIA’s driver steward.

Away from the track, Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg participated in events at various locations in the vicinity of the Petronas Twin Towers, as part of team sponsor Petronas’ 40th anniversary celebrations, meeting VIPs, employees, artists, competition winners and fans, speaking at conferences and Q&A sessions, launching the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class and soaking up the Malaysian culture with activities ranging from snorkelling to trishaw rides.

On a more sombre note, teams and drivers also carried graphics on their cars and helmets in tribute to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, with a minute’s silence also scheduled to be held just prior to Sunday’s race.