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Celebrity guest attends Barcelona test

NEWS STORY
18/02/2007

Bernie Ecclestone makes no secret of the fact that he welcomes the sight of celebrities in the Formula One paddock and on the grid. The bigger the star, the bigger the smile on the F1 supremo's face.

Last year we saw Superman at Monaco, whilst previously Arnold 'The Terminator' Schwarzenegger graced the grid at Silverstone. Teams are actively encouraged to invite 'A-listers' to events, Ecclestone delighted to see his sport on the front pages of the world's press for all the right reasons.

Therefore, Bernie is sure to be delighted to hear that the recent Barcelona test was attended by TV sensation of the 50s, 60s, 70s and early 80s, Sweep, who brought his own unique charm (and mischief) to the pitlane.

Since the retirement of Matthew Corbett in 1998, Sweep, along with co-star Sooty, has kept out of the media spotlight, concentrating on his charity work and his much anticipated autobiography, in which he threatens to dish the dirt on other members of the cast of his long-running TV show.

However, in Barcelona for a Stuffed Toy conference, Sweep took time out of his hectic schedule to attend the second day of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

A lifelong fan of Formula One, like many celebrities, this was the first time that Sweep actually got to see the sport 'in the flesh'. During the course of the day he met up with a number of drivers, including Robert Kubica, Franck Montagny, Christijan Albers, Adrian Sutil, Christian Klien and Nico Rosberg, who, for reasons known only to himself attempted to crush the poor little devil.

Although warmly greeted at Spyker, Sweep made a hasty exit when he heard that Mike 'The Rottweiler' Gascoyne was on his way, though in all honesty the Englishman was in a fairly good mood, actually smiling when Pitpass editor Chris Balfe took his picture later in the day.

Things were also going well at BMW, where Sweep talked F1 history with PR legend Anne Bradshaw, before being somewhat alarmed when the crew held up a pitboard being the word 'Vet', a word that has most animals running for cover.

Although he hung out with several McLaren crew members, Sweep was refused access to the team's garage, his blue dungarees being regarded as unpleasing on a corporate aesthetic level. Furthermore, it was suggested that his ears were too long and his fur a little too unkempt for the Woking outfit.

Bridgestone pulled out all the stops, allowing the canine celebrity to measure the track temperature, while although Williams was unable to provide a bone for lunch it did lay on a nice supply of fruit.

Sweep's permanent look of melancholia didn't look at all out of place in the Honda garage, indeed for much of the time the little dog's doleful expression perfectly summed up the mood within the Japanese team.

Coming from a big litter, Sweep was keen to see the Toro Rosso, however the Italian team opted to hold off the track debut of its 'new' car until the following day. Sweep opted to give Red Bull a miss for fear of being blamed for the RM3's lack of pace, though he was delighted to hear that David Coulthard topped the timesheets on the final day.

The former TV star was a big hit with the ladies, and fellow TV veteran, ITV's Louise Goodman took the little scamp to her heart, a real highlight of Sweep's F1 experience.

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