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F1, the movies and Monaco

NEWS STORY
09/05/2007

Despite a fan website which claims that she "provides hope for young people all over the US and the world", and that she "provides beauty and excitement to (most of) our otherwise mundane lives" it looks as though heiress Paris Hilton is heading to jail next month.

In the meantime, she is scheduled to appear at the forthcoming Monaco Grand Prix as a guest of Spyker sponsor Rich Prosecco, a fizzy white wine drink which Hilton describes as "yummy".

Ignoring the fact that when race commentators state that XYZ has pulled off at the Swimming Pool or Mirabeau it will be given a whole new meaning, the irony of Hilton talking up the pleasures of an alcoholic drink at a Grand Prix then heading off to jail without passing go, is somewhat ironic.

Thus far, Hilton is the only high profile celebrity being mentioned with regards the Monaco event, widely regarded as the jewel in Formula One's crown.

Some have admitted that they find it odd that Hilton is a guest of Spyker, when the hotel chain that her family owns is a sponsor (partner) of the McLaren team, then again, what with media darling Lewis Hamilton getting the British media all hot and sticky, Ron might have wisely decided that enough is enough.

The Monaco race has always attracted celebrities, and the Cannes Film Festival down the road ensures that there is usually a plentiful supply of movie actors in the vicinity.

Bernie Ecclestone makes no secret of the fact that he wants celebrities at his races - and not just Monaco - and actively encourages the teams to bring out the stars.

Fact is, Paris Hilton cruising the Monaco grid will result in more column inches (don't go there) than if Hamilton, Massa, Raikkonen and Alonso were to be eliminated at the first corner with the race ultimately being won by Takuma Sato in a Super Aguri with three wheels. not forgetting the chickens.

Naturally, Bernie won't dip into his own pockets, even though it is the sport as a whole that benefits when the stars fall from the sky and parade the garages. Instead he relies on the individual teams to provide the glamour.

Quite rightly, some teams argue that they are above such things, while others are unhappy that they are footing the bill to invite a celebrity that benefits the entire sport. Nonetheless, Bernie sits back knowing that some of the teams - especially those with a fondness for the limelight (no names) - will capitulate, and that come race day various actors and musicians will outshine the likes of Alonso and Raikkonen.

In recent years we have seen Schwarzenegger, Ozzy Osborne, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Sir Bono walking the grid, feigning interest (barely) as they are shown the inner workings of the cars. "I'm a great fan, I always watch the F1," they tell us, then, despite the billions in the bank, the private jet and Monaco apartment, they confess that this is the first race they've attended.

In recent years some great deals have been done whereby movies have used the Monaco Grand Prix to great effect, think Oceans 12 , Star Wars and Superman. Then there was that magnificent PR stunt involving the Steinmetz diamond embedded in the nose of Christian Klien's Jaguar, which 'apparently' went AWOL when the hapless Austrian stuffed the car into the barriers. No matter what the diamond cost, the resultant publicity was priceless, ask anyone in the business.

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