Laureus F1 Charity Night
Recap of a wonderful gala event for a very good cause organized by Laureus Italy, IWC, Mercedes-Benz & starring Lewis Hamilton
The Formula 1 ranking changed last week; Lewis Hamilton won the Italian Grand Prix by far and the Mercedes Team knocked down the Ferrari team that was racing at home (a defeat from which the Prancing Horse Team will have to bounce back as soon as possible). The English driver made history by surpassing Michael Schumacher as the F1 driver with the top amount of pole positions in history and by marking the 69th pole position start of his career. If you consider how young this driver is and how fast he is too, chances are that he will easily reach the 100-pole-position-target very soon. The English champion has talent and is capable of reaching such a speed during the qualification race that only a selected bunch of champions – among which is his very own idol, Ayrton Senna – was ever able to achieve.
The real Formula 1 weekend, however, started last Thursday evening, when a charity event that historically links together Mercedes-Benz, IWC, the Laureus Foundation and the English champion took place. I am talking about the F1 Charity Night held at the Vetra Theatre in Milan, which gathered together famous current and former sports personalities and the Foundation’s ambassadors; it was the perfect occasion to get an insight into the projects that the Laureus Italia Charity is currently working on in our country (hardship stories of social redemption in Milan, Rome and Naples).
Many of these inclusion projects have been successfully completed by Laureus Italia already, but many more are being carried out at the minute and they can only continue thanks to charity auctions, like the one that took place the night before the Monza Grand Prix weekend start. Among the auctioned items were extremely precious collector’s objects, timepieces like a unique sample of the Big Pilot’s Watch Perpetual Calendar fitted with a strap and a dial in the same tone of blue as Laureus’s.
It was during this event that Lewis Hamilton acted in his role as the Laureus ambassador (he is also a Unicef ambassador) and, before going on stage, he granted us a brief backstage interview. The interview gave him the chance to recall those years when he was allowed to drive the car of his hero (Ayrton Senna), you can find the original video at this address.
I also asked Hamilton if he would rather go back to an analogical F1 scenario, where the driver’s skills would overshadow the car’s features and capabilities, and he replied he would like it but that it is also clear that today’s F1 cars are not a world apart from series cars as it used to happen in the past, but they are rather the result of an exchange of know-how skills that, thanks to the strong hybridizing process of the Stella range, has seen the fundamental research contribution in the series production for the very first time. Like all real F1 drivers, Hamilton likes real driving; that type of driving that rhymes with the heel-and-toe technique that was made immortal by Ayrton Senna in that special video, where he can be seen driving the NSX Honda on the Japanese circuit of Suzuka.
The last question we asked Hamilton was a clear reference to his big passion for the 2-wheel-world and to his visit to Valentino Rossi’s Ranch (quite likely, this visit will be postponed following the latest events involving Rossi). This passion will only remain a source of enjoyment and, unlike in Michael’s case, it is not an attempt to join a world, where you are supposed to have lots of experience to succeed and also a driving technique that you should have acquired at a young age already.
The interview preceded an evening, where the chef Oldani cooked for the guests using the Smart Forfood car; a unique item that was auctioned during the gala night and that is equipped with a complete mini-kitchen designed for travelling. Some of IWC’s master watch-makers, meanwhile, were entertaining and keeping the guests busy during the aperitif banquet held before dinner.
It was an experience that really opened my eyes and showed me what Laureus is tangibly building in Italian society and how it is actually testing the social impact of its initiatives and projects (the measurement unity used is called SROI, which stands for “Social Return On Investment” and it is up to a pool of professors from the Bocconi University to assess this methodology). It was a gala night, where I was given the chance to meet a big champion and to get a bit closer to that type of F1 that I used to witness in my dad’s company from the stands. The world of watch-making played a major role during this unique event and I would like to thank IWC for inviting me over and for granting me the exclusive chance to meet the champion of the Silver Arrows.
(Photo credit: Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting by Karin Vettorel)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®