Grapevine: Paddock Fizz - Monaco

 Red Bull Stormed

Grapevine: Paddock Fizz - Monaco

The spectacular Red Bull Energy Centre was afloat this weekend after the team decided to moor it on a specially designed jetty just outside the paddock. It provided the perfect place for people to mix and mingle in the sunshine but also presented the team with a challenge as its entrance was no longer guarded by the gates of the paddock.

That proved little problem, however, thanks to their link-up with Star Wars this weekend and the imposing figures of white uniformed stormtroopers, complete with replica guns, was enough to ward away attempting interlopers.

Darth Vader paid the team a visit on Friday while team boss Christian Horner met the producer and key members of the cast as he chilled out on the decking. The stormtroopers' vulnerability was immediately apparent when they stepped away from their station, however, as the blackened eye sockets in their helmets meant they had to be guided by voice to avoid being left stumbling around the paddock as they headed for a photocall.

Bulletin In

Formula One entered a new era of on-track publishing on Saturday when they long-awaited Red Bulletin finally appeared. The publication, a 24-page magazine full of gossip, celebrity spotting and tongue-in-cheek humour, is produced by Red Bull Racing and was originally scheduled to appear at the start of the European season in San Marino but failed to get to print until this weekend in Monaco.

Not surprising though, considering the logistics of producing what is designed to be a daily newspaper throughout a Grand Prix weekend. The plan is to print a new edition on each day of the weekend and commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone praised it as a unique addition to the Grand Prix scene.

"I am aware that some think we have become too serious and self important and this may be true," said Ecclestone in the first issue. "Formula One is an innovative sport where new ideas and daring concepts are always welcome."

Gumball

Friday may have been a day off for the teams but it was a big day for another major event in Monaco when the Gumball Rally finally hit town. The event is run by Maximillion Cooper, who has been a guest of BAR-Honda at past races, and is an annual semi-legal street race with cars ranging from Zondas and Ferrari Enzos to stretched Hummers, an ice cream van and a tank, racing each other on public roads.

This year's race started in Trafalgar Square last Saturday and after a tour around Europe, including a trip to the Hungaroring in Budapest, it completed the last stage to finish on Friday in Monaco's famed Casino Square. The cars roared into town at around 6pm but the spectacular finish people had been expecting failed to materialise as the cars spread themselves around Monaco with the gumballers too thrilled at driving the Grand Prix circuit to stop.

Cash Dash

Nick Heidfeld's Monaco Grand Prix weekend suddenly became a bit more costly on Saturday when he was caught speeding in the pitlane. The Williams driver copped a massive fine of $2,750 (Dollars) when he was clocked driving at 70.2 down the red road, which was newly installed last year to make the Monaco pits a safer place.

Celebrity Hit Parade

Glitz and glamour was back in full force in Monaco as celebrities flocked into the stormtrooper-guarded paddock and, after the arrival of Darth Vader turned even Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone's head, a star-studded party on Saturday night, set out in the harbourside surroundings of the Grimaldi Forum, kick started the weekend in impressive style as George Lucas and his cast took to town.

Lucas, a big fan of Formula One, was thrilled to be involved and said: "I love the Formula One Grand Prix in Monaco, it is a very special thing, and it is great to be here promoting the movie."

He joked: "It is great to see what Michael Schumacher is doing, too. He is very friendly, because in previous years he won everything and it got too boring so he decided to step back a little bit and let the boys win a few races."

Hayden Christensen, who plays Anakin Skywalker, admitted: "It is great to be here and see Formula One for the first time, but I prefer my X-Wing because it is quicker, has more power and flies!"

Red Bull, of course, put on their finest Formula Una girls to welcome the Star Wars crew while England star David Beckham and his popstar wife Victoria were rumoured to be on the guest list as was The Streets singer Mike Skinner and former James Bond Roger Moore. But on the grid it was the Star Wars crew who took centre stage.

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Sunday's Selected Quotes - Monaco
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