Unsurprisingly the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix attracted a plethora of celebrities to Saturday night’s event. A red carpet area was even set up just inside the paddock turnstiles, with entertainment TV crews in attendance, similar to the build-up to an awards ceremony or film premiere.
There was an exhaustive list of famous faces distributed prior to the race and while some kept a lower profile than others, the likes of Axl Rose, Brad Pitt, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, will.i.am, Gordon Ramsay, Usain Bolt, Paris Hilton, Rihanna, Terry Crews and Kylie Minogue took a trip to check out Vegas’ debut, while entertainment icon Donny Osmond sang the national anthem pre-race.
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Formula 1 set up a chapel in the Las Vegas paddock – fitting in with the aura of the city – and on Thursday evening there was a surprise ceremony in the ‘Race to the Altar’ building. 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve married his long-term partner Giulia, with his former race engineer Jock Clear—now employed by Ferrari—the best man.
The ceremony was a surprise for Villeneuve, who was kept in the dark about the entire service, and only informed around three hours beforehand. Those in attendance were also given a slice of cake along with a bottle of champagne.
Aston Martin has taken on fresh investment following the announcement that private equity firm Arctos Partners has taken a minority stake in the Formula 1 team. Exact figures and percentages were not confirmed but Reuters reported that the decision values Aston Martin’s team at $1.2 billion. Arctos is expected to take an active role in expanding Aston Martin’s brand across North America.
“I am delighted to welcome Arctos Partners as a new partner and minority shareholder,” said Aston Martin Chairman Lawrence Stroll. “As investors in several leading sports franchises, Arctos brings deep industry knowledge, and I am thrilled that Aston Martin will be joining such a prestigious portfolio. The team has enjoyed tremendous success this season with eight podium finishes and our biggest points haul as a team, but our collective ambition is greater.”
Thursday’s debacle regarding the loose drain cover, subsequent delays, and consequent eviction of spectators due to workers’ laws hitting hour limits meant the Las Vegas GP did not get off to the best start.
The communication in the aftermath was far from perfect and Formula 1 got an early lesson in the difficulties of being a grand prix promoter. There was no apology offered to spectators, or acknowledgment of culpability, an aspect that should be obvious in the land of litigation and lawyers.
Instead fans who only had one-day tickets for Thursday’s pair of practice sessions were given a $200 voucher for merchandise, which could be spent at the (dreadfully overpriced) official stores. It was hardly the biggest thanks for those unfortunate enough to see only eight of 120 planned minutes of track activity.
Williams had a race day to forget at the Las Vegas Grand Prix—falling from two third-row starts to a point-less result—but on the other side of the world one of its young drivers captured one of junior motorsport’s biggest prizes.
The Macau Grand Prix, previously won by the likes of Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, returned to its prestigious best with Formula 3 machinery featuring for the first time since 2019. Williams protégé Luke Browning was fastest in qualifying, won the qualifying race, and kept atop the pack during the 15-lap Grand Prix on Sunday.
“Words can’t describe this victory,” Browning said. “The standard here, these incredible drivers, I’m super grateful. Thank you to the organization, to the FIA, to Formula 3. For a young guy driving fast cars it’s a dream come true.”
Browning finished ahead of Formula 2 racer, the 2021 Formula 3 champion Dennis Hauger, and Alpine junior driver Gabriele Mini.
Elsewhere Lia Block, the 17-year-old daughter of the late gymkhana legend Ken, will represent Williams in next season’s F1 Academy championship.