Grapevine: Farewell Parties Dominate China

Formula One said goodbye to four big team names in China this weekend as Sauber, BAR, Jordan and Minardi all bid their farewells before the takeovers of BMW, Honda, Midland and Red Bull respectively

Grapevine: Farewell Parties Dominate China

Sauber boss Peter Sauber made a typically quiet and dignified exit when Credit Suisse held a meal to celebrate his time in Formula One with many of the other team chiefs in attendance.

BAR did little to mark their passing, perhaps because it is still unclear whether their name will remain in any part when the takeover of Honda is completed next season.

Jordan held a small and well-attended gathering in the paddock, where new team figurehead Johnny Herbert presented a speech while key figures Colin Kolles and Alex Shnaider stayed out of the limelight.

The team lost its soul, to a certain extent, when Eddie Jordan sold up and left at the start of this year and the exuberant atmosphere that would typify the team's departure was clearly missing.

But they soon turned that around on race day when all the team members donned Burberry caps in deference to the 'Chav' cap worn by Kolles when he arrived in Formula One this year.

The Russian team boss joined in the classic Jordan humour by pulling on a shirt with 'RIP Jordan' on the front and 'Chavski' across the back and the rest of the team also had their nicknames on display.

But the departure of the weekend went, as expected, to minnows Minardi as Australian team boss Paul Stoddart threw his own style of party with an Aussie barbeque.

The event started mildly, with flowing Fosters and plenty of burgers on the Barbie and members of the paddock turned up in droves to say goodbye to the popular team in its current guise.

FIA president Max Mosley, with whom Stoddart has had a long-lasting feud, was not present but one team member positioned a shark with MadMax written on the side as a table centrepiece.

The party descended into a riot of hilarity as Stoddart announced the entries for the 'wet t-shirt competition' using a microphone plugged into a sound system apparently bought at the local knock-off market.

Few of the paddock's female contingent could be coaxed into entering, however, and the prize of a ride in the two-seater Minardi went to one of the team's larger mechanics, who danced with MadMax and pulled a moonie as part of his winning routine.

The mechanics, from Minardi and many other teams, then took to first ripping off each others' trouser pockets then ripping entire legs off their trousers.

It was a fitting end to Stoddart's time in Formula One and displayed in a unique and typical fashion not only his but also the long-running team's popularity throughout the pitlane.

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