Who's who headed for F1 charity lunch

Royalty, Hollywood celebrities, international sports stars, a reigning Miss Universe and, of course, some very well-paid Formula One drivers could be among those attending an uncharacteristic F1 charity lunch at the Istana hosted by President SR Nathan.

The guest list will not be the only interesting aspect of the President's Challenge F1 Charity Luncheon on Sept 26. The lunch itself will be a groundbreaking affair as this is the first time that an F1 race will not have a gala charity ball.

This is because it will not be possible to hold a social event in the evening with Singapore hosting F1's first night race - practice, qualifying and race days take place on Sept 26, 27 and 28 respectively. Across the Causeway, for example, a Malaysian Grand Prix Gala dinner is traditionally organised each year.

And unlike the usual black tie for a gala ball, the dress code for the Singapore function will be smart casual.

The charity luncheon is the only official F1 event for the inaugural 2008 Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix, according to race organiser Singapore GP. And Singapore GP chairman Teo Hock Seng says that as the event is sanctioned by F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, drivers and team managers from the 10 F1 teams will be present on the Istana grounds too.

But even the likes of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who is leading the drivers' championship, and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen, may be overshadowed by some of the more glamorous guests expected to turn up for lunch on that day. Mr Teo declined to name them as some are in the process of confirming their attendance. However, it is understood that local personalities will include stockbroker Ronald Oei and hotelier Elizabeth Khoo while Miss Universe 2008 Dayana Mendoza from Venezuela could also be present.

Race promoter and property tycoon Ong Beng Seng, Mr Ecclestone and other VIPs will also be at the lunch, to be held from noon to 2.30pm.

Mr Teo says that of the 30 tables available, 24 have been sold so far - 18 at $30,000 each and six at $50,000 each - with most going to motor-related companies. As a result, his target of donating $1 million to the President's Challenge has been achieved.

'To date, we have raised more than $1 million, thus exceeding our original target,' says Mr Teo.

During the lunch, guests will be entertained by jazz musician Jeremy Monteiro and a silent auction will be conducted by Christie's. On the block are a Chopard Tourbillon watch worth 'in excess of $250,000', according to Mr Teo, as well as various racing memorabilia to be donated by the drivers, such as helmets and racing jackets. Also available to the highest bidder is a trip worth 25,000 euros (S$51,971) for two people to German sports car maker Porsche's Leipzig factory. Along with two business class tickets, the package includes the opportunity to drive on the test track there.

'It is due to the generosity of Chopard, Porsche, Shell and other sponsors coming in that all these proceeds will go to the President's Challenge charity,' says Mr Teo.

Apart from the race itself, the luncheon is expected to be the only other event where all the F1 drivers can be seen gathered together in one place.

'This lunch will be the most prestigious F1 function,' says Mr Teo.   - 2008 August 30    SINGAPORE BUSINESS TIMES


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