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Formula 1

Exclusive: How a friendship led to one of Formula 1's biggest party scenes

RacingNews365 recently spoke with Davide Palumbo in Milan. The Italian is one of former Formula 1 driver Vitantonio Liuzzi’s closest friends, and the two currently run the wonderful ‘Penelope a Casa’ restaurant in Milan. While Liuzzi’s days as a Formula 1 driver are done, he hasn’t stepped away from the sport entirely, acting as a race steward on grand prix weekends.

Davide Palumbo and Vitantonio Liuzzi met each other at a young age and set off into the world of Formula 1 together. The Italian drove for the likes of Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Force India and HRT during his career.

Although the two have been friends for several years, Palumbo admits his involvement in F1 wasn't planned.

“Thanks to Tonio I accidentally ended up in the world of Formula 1,” he told RacingNews365. “I’ve always been a big fan of the sport, so of course I was familiar with the ‘glitz and glamour’ that surrounded it. During the years I was on the paddock following Tonio, which I will always be grateful to him for, I had the chance to not only meet my favourite stars, but to also meet new and lovely people.

“One of them is Tara Ramos, who is now a long-time friend and business partner. Together we saw that there was an opportunity to set up special events within these circles,” he stated, having been to over 60 Formula 1 races.

These events eventually became known as 'THE GR1D CLUB', taking place at lavish venues to celebrate the end of select Formula 1 weekends. Since its founding in 2013, THE GR1D CLUB has been the go-to destination for F1 and party lovers looking to celebrate in full force on Sunday night.

Whether it be Barcelona, Monaco, Budapest, Monza, Sochi, Austin, Mexico City or Sao Paulo, international and local celebrities from the world of fashion, cinema, music and sport, along with past and present F1 stars, can be found at these events. Don’t be surprised if you see Formula 1 drivers taking control of the DJ booth with the talented Squire (aka Jaime Alguersuari), Giedo van der Garde and Kamui Kobayashi all showing their skills.

Growing support amongst F1 drivers

When asked how THE GR1D CLUB has managed to achieve the success it has in such a short period of time, Palumbo credited the drivers for regularly being in attendance, which gives the event ample notoriety.

“What makes a Formula 1 party special is having the drivers in attendance,” he added. “Luckily enough, along with some hard work and dedication, we have an amazing relationship with the drivers, many of whom have become good friends of ours through the years. They come to THE GR1D CLUB events because they are fun, upbeat and unique. They can be themselves in a safe environment without any sort of commitment or pressure.

“Lastly, we love to invite drivers by giving them a formal VIP along with a special or funny gift to make it one to remember. For example, during the 2018 Mexican Grand Prix we gave the drivers a skeleton mask given “El Dia de Los Muertos” was a few days away, so they could wear them to THE GR1D CLUB event. The drivers liked this so much that, for example, Lewis Hamilton even wore the mask during the driver parade while Max Verstappen wore it while celebrating his win. The Mexican fans loved it and of course we were honoured that both Lewis and Max embraced us so much.”

In terms of business, THE GR1D CLUB offers a unique opportunity for brands to get their name out there at fashionable, top class motorsports events by connecting them with VIPs and high-profile consumers. Heineken, Hublot and Pirelli are just a few of the global partners that have made their presence felt at these unique events that bring together the best of motorsport with the world of fashion and music.

Interview by Aaron Deckers

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