F1 2024 Emilia Romagna GP: Hugh Grant among the celebrities in Imola

In the first European races on the 2024 F1 calendar, stars and influencers are heading to Imola for Sunday's Emilia Romagna GP

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Formula 1 might be known for its racing but a large part of the Grand Circus is the glamour and showbiz side that regularly attracts some of the biggest stars in the world to the paddocks and a big fish landed this weekend as Hugh Grant is one of the stars at the 2024 Emilia Romagna Grand Prix.

Actors, musicians, business tycoons, socialites and countless others appear trackside nowadays as F1 continues to boom following the purchase of the sport by Liberty Media back in 2017, whilst it enjoys the aftermath of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen‘s 2021 title fight too.

Another huge factor, especially in the United States, has been Netflix’s Drive To Survive series that offers an exclusive behind-closed-doors look at one of the world’s most popular competitions and has allowed many people to familiarise themselves with the personalities of the drivers, as well as some of the technical aspects.

So with every passing week, there are more and more new faces compared to the old guard of Bernie Ecclestone, Jackie Stewart or Eddie Jordan, but it will be refreshing to see a very known quantity like Grant there this weekend as he’s welcomed into the Ferrari garage.

Grant‘s starred in countless box office hits such as Bridget Jones’s Diary, Love Actually, Paddington 2 and most recently, Wonka, and his films have raked in almost three billion USD from fans willing to watch the 63-year-old perform.

He’s also known for being outspoken and willing to be controversial with how he broadcasts his views and political thoughts to the world, so he could offer up so golden lines if someone runs into him on the grid with a microphone in their hands.

Walter Villadei, astronaut

Someone who might be familiar with reaching the incredible speeds of a Formula 1 car is Walter Villadei, an Italian astronaut who was the pilot of the Axlom Mission 3 campaign.

The operation was a part of the Elon Musk-funded Space-X mission to the International Space Station where he worked with other European astronauts to conduct experiments in low orbit of Earth back in January 2024.

Also serving in the Italian Air Force as a colonel, he’s used to throwing a rapid engine around with the flick of his wrists so will he be giving any tips to the drivers he comes across on the grid?

Astronaut Walter Villadei in the RB Garage | Red Bull Content Pool
Astronaut Walter Villadei in the RB Garage | Red Bull Content Pool

Aryna Sabalenka

He will be joined on the grid by Aryna Sabalenka, who battled in the final of the Italian Open yesterday, but whilst Max Verstappen stood tall on the grid, the Belarussian failed to beat Iga Swiatek on the court.

The former world number one is also a two-time Grand Slam champion at the Australian Open and has made the final of the US Open, whilst also reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon twice and the French Open once. Will she be able to help the Haas crew serve an ace today?

Bologna FC and Andrea Barzagli

The whole Bologna FC team will also be at Imola, their most local track of the two in Italy. The club is also located in the Emilia Romagna region and they are in a celebratory mood today after successfully qualifying for the UEFA Champions League.

It comes after a highly successful season that’s seen them occupy third place with two games to go, including placing above gigantic Italian clubs steeped in heritage such as Juventus and Roma.

As guests of the race promoters, they’re not scheduled to visit any garage in particular but we’re sure they’ll have soft hearts towards the local teams, RB and Ferrari.

Football fans might also notice Andrea Barzagli hanging around in the paddock. The 2006 FIFA World Cup winner has legendary status in Italian football and with 18 major honours throughout his career, it’s hard to contest that either.

Barzagli is a guest of F1 and of one of their primary sponsors, Crypto.com.

There will also be a host of Italian celebrities and guests such as Elisabetta Franchi (fashion designer, guest of F1), Andrea Damante (DJ, guest of a promoter), Massimo Bottura (Michelin star chef, guest of promoters), Stefano Accorsi (actor, guest of the promoter), Cristiano Biraghi (footballer, guest of promoter), Elena Pietrini (Volleyball player, guest of promoter), Fabio Scozzoli (world champion swimmer, guest of promoter), Laura Chiatti (actress/singer, guest of MSC), Marco Bocci (actor, guest of MSC), Rosy Chin (Chef and TV personality, guest of MSC) and the Virtus Basketball Bologna Team (basketball players, guests of promoter).

Brandon Sutton
Brandon Sutton
Brandon is an alumni of an NCTJ and BJTC Liverpool John Moores University course, and has been with Total-Motorsport.com for over a year now. He enjoys covering all forms of motorsport but particularly focuses on Formula 1, and Brandon loves to debate various topics of the sport and other interests, especially if that topic doesn't have an open/shut answer such as the GOAT debate.
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