The San Marino pit lane has been full of famous names this weekend. Many of
them were present to celebrate the return of sponsors Martini to Formula One
racing with Ferrari, after an absence of 27 years. Among the well known faces
were double World Rally Champion Miki Biasion and his former Lancia team mate
Markku Alen, plus former Brabham Alfa driver Hans Stuck.
Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa were at Friday’s party to help Martini
promote its message of responsible drinking. “These days the young generation
don’t always think before they drive. Alcohol is an issue, and I think it’s very
responsible for a partner like Martini to act in this direction,” Schumacher
Former Brabham team boss Bernie Ecclestone was clearly pleased to see his
old sponsor back. “It’s super, it really, really is,” he said. “They shouldn’t
have stayed out this long! I had fun in those days. Things have changed quite a
lot. In those days the teams were all together, and if we were in trouble,
someone else would help us, and vice versa. It was a whole different
On Saturday, the Midland team’s Johnny Herbert celebrated his first pole
position since his fated Formula 3000 campaign in 1988 by taking premiere
starting slot for the Mini Challenge clash on Sunday morning. Herbert went on
the lead the race for nine of its ten laps, under pressure from Thomas Jaeger
and Christian Danner, but then slowed on the pit straight going into the final
tour and retired with mechanical problems. Jaeger headed Danner home.
Meanwhile, McLaren protege Lewis Hamilton, had a mixed run in the first of
the weekend’s GP2 races. Despite incurring a drive-through penalty for a jump
start, Hamilton was leading by a country mile when he inadvertently overtook the
safety car. Gianmaria Bruni won the race from Michael Ammermueller and Nicolas
Lapierre. Sunday's second race brought a maiden win for Ernesto Viso.
There is an air of change in the Imola paddock, as this is the last year of
the current format. Next year there will be a totally new pits and paddock
complex and media room, located where the GP2 paddock currently is, as part of
the circuit’s ongoing development.