SPORTS

It’s the Monaco Grand Prix, but not as we know it

Stars will take part in a virtual race while raising money for children's charity

The Monaco Grand Prix is unable to go ahead this year, but it will be happening virtually with drivers and other sports stars taking on the virtual Monaco circuit on Sky Sports this Sunday. To celebrate, virtual race host Natalie Pinkham and friends in the F1 community are coming together to support a special auction to help raise money for Starlight Children’s Foundation. The charity has been a part of the Monaco race weekend for the past decade, taking seriously ill children and their families to the iconic circuit for an unforgettable VIP experience to help escape the routine and reality of treatment.

This year, when the teams battle it out virtually there is also the chance to have your own Monaco moment by bidding on auction items. Memorabilia including an authentic Max Verstappen Aston Martin Red Bull racing suit from 2019 is available, as well as experiences including an exclusive opportunity to visit the home of Williams Racing: one of F1’s most successful teams and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to drive a real F1 car. All money raised will go to Starlight who continue to support families in and out of hospital. To bid or donate visit here.

There are usually many famous faces, drivers and cars around the pit lanes of Monaco each year, but another familiar sight are the Starlight families. Every year the families meet the drivers, visit the Red Bull Energy Station, tour the pit lanes and are even part of the Sky Sports weekend television coverage.

Starlight’s aim is to preserve childhood through serious illness and treatment. To find out more and to keep up to date follow Starlight on Twitter @starlight_uk, Instagram @starlight_uk and Facebook @StarlightUK.

Starlight Grand Prix Auction, available via bid_in – auction lots are as follows: 

  • Williams Race Day Experience for four people

Four guests have the opportunity to visit the home of one of the world’s most successful Formula One teams, Williams, in Grove, Oxfordshire. The private technology campus in Oxfordshire’s Horesepower Valley is home to more than 500 designers, engineers, aerodynamicists and other experts with world class skill and commitment to excellence. Hosted by a member of Williams, this experience allows you to enjoy the very best of race day hospitality at the Williams Conference Centre. You will receive an exclusive insight into a race weekend, from season updates through to qualifying and the race itself. With a live link up with a senior member of Williams and behind the scenes link to the control room, you will gain a rare and unrivalled understanding of how the team works together. You will also have the opportunity to browse the Williams Grand Prix Collection, as well as test your speed and co-ordination in their F1 Simulators.

  • Max Verstappen 2019 Authentic Aston Martin Red Bull Racing fireproof race suit

Own a piece of history by buying an authentic 2019 Aston Martin Red Bull Racing fireproof race suit.

  • 15 Minute Zoom meeting with Mark Blundell and Signed photograph from 1995 Monaco Grand Prix

Along with a signed and framed photo of Mark Blundell in the McLaren at the 1995 Monaco Grand Prix, you will have the opportunity to have a 15-minute Zoom chat with the ex-pro himself. The British racer still holds the record for the biggest time margin to take pole position at  the iconic LeMans race as well as being outright winner in 1992 and also achieved three podium finishes throughout his F1 career, along with multiple wins in Indycar. A once in a lifetime experience to speak with a driver who has raced the iconic Monaco circuit and own some memorabilia from that race.  

  • Once in a Lifetime Chance to Drive a Formula One Car!

Take the wheel of a real F1 car with more than 650HP and try to reach 300 km/h! You’ll get the chance to be an F1 driver for the day, with a team of mechanics and engineers, who will set up the Formula One car for you to test it to the limit. You will have at your disposal Alan Prost’s Benetton B198 and a Williams FW21 F1 car. The experience includes an initiation and seat time with a Formula Renault single seater, comprehensive instruction and a progressive based approach to learn the track. Once fully prepared, you’ll be handed the F1 car to take on the track! Nothing will prepare you for the power and G-Force of this car, an experience you’ll savour for the rest of your life. Your trip also includes two nights’ accommodation in a luxury hotel in France. Driving licence is required. Minimum age is 25. Maximum height is 6′, maximum weight is 16 stone.  Flights, evening meals and transfers are not included.

  • 2021 Monaco Grand Prix Superyacht Experience for Two

There is only one way to really experience the most glamorous sporting event in the world, the Monaco Grand Prix – on board a Superyacht moored in prime position in the trackside harbour. You and your guest will enjoy the Grand Prix Weekend onboard a 100ft Tradition Class Benetti tri-deck Superyacht for the best weekend of your life!

2018 Großer Preis von Monaco, picture – Steve Etherington
  • VIP tour of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team headquarters in Brackley, Northamptonshire, for four people including caps signed by Lewis Hamilton

This is a “money-can’t buy” opportunity for you and three guests to get inside the world of Formula One and see at first-hand how a six-time World Championship Winning Formula One car is designed and built. The tour will take you inside the factory, where you will meet the team and see the design, test & development, manufacturing and assembly processes behind the build of the F1 car.  As part of the prize, each guest will also receive a Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team cap signed by six-time World Champion, Lewis Hamilton. These will be presented on the day of the tour. The experience will last about 1.5 hours and will take place on a mutually convenient date in 2021, observing any government guidelines which may be place at that point for health or safety reasons.  Tour dates will be available between March and October 2021.

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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