Jason Statham flashes a smile as he arrives at the Formula One Grand Prix practice in Monte Carlo on Saturday in Monaco.The 43-year-old English actor put his home in the Hollywood Hills up for saleearlier in the week.Jason’s place has three bedrooms and three bathrooms and is on the market for $2,749,000. The home features floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking a shallow pool and seating area out back.
Geri Halliwell and Jason Statham were among the celebs soaking up the French sunshine ahead of the Monaco Grand Prix.Wearing a green romper suit and pink heels, the fomer Spice Girl was spotted walking with F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone, who at one point larked about with a sombrero.
Jason Statham was also among the celebs in attendance that included Sir Richard Branson and Welsh rugby international Jamie Roberts.Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Mika Hakkinen, who arrived in the paddock with an unidentified partner, were also snapped ahead of the big race.
For Monaco, I reckon we had the best view in the house. Our hotel is located bang in front of the most famous hairpin in Formula One, and watching 24 cars try not to trip over themselves – and failing once or twice – was a real thrill. I gotta admit though, after about a dozen laps of peering over the edge of the Fairmont’s roof, I kinda felt I’d done it. But what an amazing atmosphere, noise that’ll wake the dead, and the kind of excess that befits the perfect Gumball stop-over.
Today was a day off, and blimey did we need it. We’ve done 2,500 miles now, driving between 10 and 15 hours a day. I’m doing all the driving. Costas Mandylor is a bit scared of the stick shift and his task is to feed me.
You need to be of fit body and mind to drive this rally, it’s a long old way and there’s still Venice, Zagreb, Belgrade, Sofia and Istanbul to come. If you’re disciplined you go to bed. But how can you go to bed when you’ve got great DJs? That’s why we’re racing to the checkpoints, because you don’t want to miss Maximillion Cooper’s outrageous parties. You don’t want to miss out, so you put your foot down, hit the town, get two hours sleep and then you’re back in the game. If you’re not tired you haven’t been trying and I am absolutely cream crackered.
Sometimes I sit there gripping the Lotus’ bright red steering wheel, shaking my head, thinking I can’t go on. But Costas is there to say Get it together, son. The human body is only designed to consume three cans of Red Bull a day, and I’m doing eight. See, everything in excess. This is world record stuff.
Last night, once we arrived in Monaco at 11pm, and we headed to the Billionaire Club with the rest of the Gumball boys. I met up with my old mate Jason Statham who’s in town for a couple of days to soak up grand prix fever.
As well as the nightlife, what pushes us on to each checkpoint is the reception the Lotus gets. Especially in Monaco, where the car looks perfectly at home in its back and gold F1 paintwork. People go mad for it. All the cars look pimped-out with their stickers and everything, but they’re generally all cars people have seen before. The Evora is getting more attention than any of them because for most people it’s the first time they’ve seen it. The car was swarmed outside the hotel and everyone was chanting “Lotus! Lotus Lotus!”
And it looks sensational. What a machine, and what a joy to drive. When you want it to respond you hit the throttle, it whistles and Woomph! It’s gone. But it is also so comfortable; the seats, the ride. Me and Costas have bad lower backs and I reckon we’re now cured.
We had a bit of drama at the start of the rally because someone misplaced the ignition key, and that cost us two hours. And then there was a seat issue. I’m a big bloke, and Costa is shorter but wider than me. There was no way either of us could do 15 hours in the little bucket seats the car came with. Lotus said Ok, we’ll change them. What a difference that made.
We come out of Covent Garden, do a left, do a right onto Exeter Street and there’s a speed ramp. The car’s so low we couldn’t get over it. So the Lotus boys had to come and help us get over the ramp. It was a bad start. But we made it to the Eurotunnel, made it over to France, and now we’re back in the game. By the time we got to Barcelona we were in the first ten of the 250 cars in the rally.
Got pulled over five times, not because we were actually speeding but because the Gumball is a millionaire’s playground and is willing to pay the entire GDP of France to keep out of Chokey. I remember on the rally back in 2007, in Germany, the cops impounded every car and took 67,000 Euros off us. Yet not a single ticket was written.
This time, I collared the youngest French gendarme I could find and gave him 200 notes in return for my licence and the Lotus’ paperwork. I got back in and bolted – everyone else got nicked.
You’re constantly thinking: Am I going to get to this checkpoint and will the police be waiting at the next toll? There’s a lot of anxiety.
My nerves are pretty frayed already and there’s a long way to go, but we are having such a good time and I’m really looking forward to Turkey. Monaco has reinvigorated us. I was an F1 virgin until today and I had a bloody good time. To come here with this car and with the Gumball was perfect. This is the most rock n’ roll rally in the world, and Monaco GP weekend is its spiritual home