Diary: Mercedes to run red Halo as Lauda tribute

Formula 1

The Formula One paddock is a busy place that hosts a lot of serious business over a race weekend, but this blog will aim to bring you some of the more colourful moments from the Monaco Grand Prix weekend.

Jump to: Vettel’s Lauda tribute | Mercedes paints Halo red | Sainz denied greatest goal of his career | Kimi doesn’t care about his 300th race | Leclerc reveals Bianchi tribute

Cristiano Ronaldo visits the Monaco GP, meets Hamilton

The Monaco Grand Prix is known for being the most lavish race of the F1 calendar, so it was only fitting that one of the sporting world’s biggest — and richest — names was there for the opening day of track action.

Five-time Ballon D’Or winner and five-time Champions League winner Cristiano Ronaldo was looking right at home as he walked the paddock on Thursday.

The Portuguese superstar was pictured meeting Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes garage, along with his son Cristiano Ronaldo Jr. The Juventus forward also had time to pose with a Williams technician.

Ronaldo’s visit to Monaco comes just a few weeks after PSG’s Neymar and Dani Alves showed face at the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, while David Beckham was seen at the Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this season.

We could have a decent little five-a-side team of footballing F1 fans before too long…

Mercedes and Vettel lead way with Lauda tributes

On Thursday we saw the first of the on-track tributes to Niki Lauda, the triple world champion and all-time F1 great who died on Monday at the age of 70.

Sebastian Vettel carried the Austrian’s name on his helmet during Thursday’s opening practice session and also changed the colour of his helmet from white to red. Lauda raced with a red helmet and famously wore red hats to hide the scars from his 1976 crash at the Nurburgring.

Elsewhere Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull were among the teams to carry tributes to Lauda on their car.

Lauda was non-executive chairman of the Mercedes team when he passed away, and their car displayed the message “Danke Niki” on its livery, as well as a single red star which the team announced will remain for the rest of the season.

On Friday, Mercedes revealed it will paint its Halo red for the rest of the weekend in tribute to its former non-executive chairman.

The greatest goal that never was?

Charles Leclerc and Mick Schumacher were among a number of racing drivers taking part in Monaco’s annual charity football match on Tuesday night. The team of drivers, known as Nazionale Piloti, also included Pierre Gasly, Antonio Giovinazzi and Carlos Sainz and took on a team captained by Prince Albert II of Monaco at Stade Louis II. French international William Gallas was among the ex-professional footballers on the Prince’s team, which ended up taking a 3-2 victory over the drivers.

The score could have been 3-3 but for a disallowed goal by Giovinazzi. “I scored a good goal but unfortunately it was offside,” he said. “But it was a good match and it was for charity, so that’s good.”

Another person left wondering about what might have been was McLaren driver Sainz, who was pictured mid-collision with a goalkeeper.

He said that moment prevented him capping off a move which had seen him out-skill Gallas, who appeared in the 2006 World Cup final with France and won two Premier League titles with Arsenal.

When asked what happened, he laughed and said: “I’m going to tell you the story about that. I actually did a nutmeg to Gallas and then put the ball through his legs.

“Just when I was about to shoot… the goalkeeper came out and I rolled over. It was about to be the best goal of my life!”

Sainz was known to be a good footballer in his youth, but chose to follow in the footsteps of his father, the rally legend of the same name, into motor racing. The elder Sainz had trials with Real Madrid when he was a teenager and unsuccessfully ran to be Vice-President of the Spanish club in 2007.

All proceeds from the event went to the Children’s Charities Associations in Europe.

Kimi’s 300th race

This weekend Kimi Raikkonen will join a select club of just five drivers who have taken part in 300 grand prix race weekends or more. He joins Michael Schumacher (308), Jenson Button (309), Fernando Alonso (314) and Rubens Barrichello (326). Cause for celebration, right? No according to the Finn…

“No, it’s no different from last week or the next race,” he said. “In the end this is just a number, for sure it’s different from the first race but after that, once you go on for a while, it doesn’t really change.

“I’m not here because I can be [the driver with] the most grands prix. It gives me absolutely zero pleasure. It’s purely a number. I’ve already told the team a while ago I don’t want [any attention], but people try to celebrate. It’s a number, what’s the difference?”

Better hide the cake, commemorative hats and special helmet livery, then.

Leclerc pays tribute to father and Jules Bianchi

Charles Leclerc’s helmet for the Monaco Grand Prix will feature the designs of his father, Herve, and his godfather Jules Bianchi, who both died in recent years. Bianchi died in 2015 after suffering severe head injuries racing at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix and Herve Leclerc died in June 2017. Leclerc posted a picture of the helmet on Instagram with the caption: “Half of this helmet is Jules’ one and the other part is my father’s one. Without these 2 I would not be here. Let’s give it all for this special week-end.”

Favourite quote from Wednesday’s media day: With clouds hanging over the Monaco harbour and a mixed forecast for the week ahead, there is already talk of a wet race on Sunday. But Kevin Magnussen had little interest in predicting how it would impact Haas’ performance as a journalist questioned him on the weather…

Journalist: “Would you prefer a wet race?”
Magnussen: “Depends how we qualify.”

Journalist: “Wet qualifying?”
Magnussen: “Depends how we practice?”

Journalist: “Wet practice?”
Magnussen: [laughing] “I don’t know.”

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