Congratulations on a clean sweep, Infiniti Red Bull Racing
Moulin Rouge dancers, Kavinsky and a Luc Besson short… The FIA Gala was a dynamic affair, taking place in the governing body’s home city of Paris for the first time in many years.
The venue was way on the outskirts of town, but worth the trip. Besson’s impressive Cité du Cinéma studio complex lent the proceedings a movie theme, which kicked off with a short film called Heist of the Century, directed by the French film idol. Taking a nod from the Billy Crystal Oscars openers, some of the greatest champions of modern motorsport were placed in a series of iconic pictures. Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost are recruited by Don Corleone to put a mob together. We then see Allan McNish, Yvan Muller, Sebastien Ogier, Sebastien Loeb, and Sebastian Vettel all get the call as they move through movies including Bullet, Besson’s own The Fifth Element, Goldfinger, Star Wars, The Fast & The Furious and, finally, a Blues Brothers’ sequence with Loeb triggering the biggest police pile-up of all time.
The champions arrived on the red carpet in the Blue’s Brothers’ car dressed appropriately in black and white.
As the man with the most titles, ‘Elwood’ Loeb got to drive
We were also treated to a performance by the dancers of the Moulin Rouge. On a Friday night I can’t imagine the Pigalle theatre was shut just so we could get a private performance in Saint Denis, so there must be some kind of A and B team thing going on. Maybe we got the troupe they use for ‘friendlies’. Still, a very glamorous bench I think you’ll agree.
I was on the GH Mumm table, meaning we had a monopoly on the fizz. I was sat between the most useful man to know in the biz, Mr Champagne Hughes Trevennec and Tarja Visan, the vivacious founder of the global Buddha Bar brand.
Hughes Trevennec and F1-SD
Tarja Visan and F1-SD
The menu was thus: Crab meat in a remoulade and curry dressing, served in a tin which, at first glance, made it look like we were being served shoe polish. I know from previous FIA dos that they don’t scrimp on the vino, and the white which came with the first course was particularly tasty: 2011 Chateau de Davenay, Montagny 1er cru.
Not shoe polish
Then, roasted veal loin with butternut gnocchi and white truffle emulsion, washed down with a 2009 Chateauneuf du Pape.
And finally a pine-shaped Mont-Blanc with meringue, whipped chesnut cream and blueberries served with my host’s Mumm Cordon Rouge. Santé.
In between courses we were interrupted by various awards, a rather pesky state of affairs but nonetheless it was great to see the special and inaugural prize of personality of the year, which was voted for by the media, go to Robert Kubica following his World Rally 2 title victory. Robert came up to me later to say hello, and it’s great to see him doing so well.
The finale was, of course, for Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt to present the F1 trophies to Christian Horner and Sebastian Vettel, who earned himself a special watch from event sponsors Rolex to boot. Perhaps inadvisably he then delivered his infamous Jean Todt impersonation in front of the FIA president.
While most of the delegates cleared out and headed back to Paris following the awards, postmodern electro superstar Kavinsky (himself no stranger to cinema and fast cars – see Drive) played the afterparty for which Kubica and a lot of the sportscar and rally gang stayed.
Here’s a selection of photos from the night:
The Moulin Rouge girls
F1 championship runner-up Fernando Alonso and girlfriend Dasha Kapustina
Third place in the F1 championship, the outgoing Mark Webber
Double world champion Emerson Fittipaldi
Sebastian Vettel and Jean Todt
Film auteur Luc Besson
‘Personality Of The Year’ Robert Kubica
Sebastian Vettel receives the F1 championship trophy for the fourth time
F1-SD and Kavinsky