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Who wants to be a billionaire? Lifestyle of the rich and famous at Monaco GP

By Sarah Holt, CNN
May 26, 2014 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg celebrates victory at Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix the only way Formula One drivers know how, with lots and lots of champagne. Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg celebrates victory at Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix the only way Formula One drivers know how, with lots and lots of champagne.
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Who wants to be a billionaire?
Who wants to be a billionaire?
Who wants to be a billionaire?
Who wants to be a billionaire?
Who wants to be a billionaire?
Who wants to be a billionaire?
Who wants to be a billionaire?
Who wants to be a billionaire?
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Formula One's Monaco Grand Prix is a heady mix of racing and wealth
  • Former team owner Flavio Briatore presides over Monte Carlo's Billionaire Club
  • The club hosted an after party following Nico Rosberg's victory in Sunday's race
  • Many racegoers prefer to take a beer onto the famous track once the race has finished

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(CNN) -- Wealthy wannabes and 24-carat gold millionaires mingled at the Billionaire Club's Monaco Grand Prix after party, Sunday.

Mercedes race winner Nico Rosberg will have found his name top of the guest list for the post-race poolside soiree at the Fairmont Hotel, which overlooks the circuit's famous hairpin.

The club, presided over by former Benetton and Renault team boss Flavio Briatore, is designed to serve up a neat cocktail of all that the Monte Carlo race weekend has come to represent -- racing, glamor, hedonism and wealth.

"This is a dream for lots of people for one night," Briatore told CNN. "The moment you're in, you are a VIP for us.

"It makes no difference if you're the top actor in America or wherever, for us everybody is the same."

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Briatore's Billionaire Life brand is selling a luxury lifestyle and the historic race around the principality -- a playground for the rich and famous -- is the perfect backdrop for some of the world's estimated 1,645 billionaires to blow off steam.

"Billionaires and the ultra-wealthy cross the globe like migratory birds and Monaco is one of the key events," David Friedman, president of wealth intelligence firm Wealth-X, explained to CNN.

"There is a cultural template in racing. If you contrast Formula One with Nascar for example, where the origins really came from running moonshine across State lines during the Prohibition, the DNA of F1 is so different."

Briatore agreed: "Everybody wants to be at this race from the sponsors to the celebrities. The Billionaire Club is the center of this event, this party and all this celebrity.

"All the drivers are there Sunday night," he promised.

After attending Sunday's royal grand prix gala dinner, hosted by Monaco's Prince Albert II and Princess Charlene, Rosberg, who was raised in Monaco, might have opted to head home to his Monte Carlo pad for an early night.

For others the midnight to dawn party at the Billionaire Grand Prix Gala kept on swinging.

Read: Nico Rosberg wins Monaco Grand Prix

The evening promised world-famous DJs, special performances and inestimable bottles of champagne to quench the thirst of revelers.

The Billionaire Club, which stages a four-day fiesta in Monaco, aims to emulate a billionaire lifestyle, but that does not mean you have to have billions in the bank to get in.

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"If he's a billionaire but he's a billionaire that spends no money -- we are not interested!" Briatore quipped.

"The name was a kind of provocative name so everyone can remember. You don't need to be a billionaire.

"It is not a rip-off, it's the same price as everything else in Monaco, nothing dramatic."

The club may not be for billionaires per se but it does have a minimum spending policy. The price starts from $4,000 for a standard table.

The majority of tables at the Monaco event are reserved for Billionaire Club members and returning guests with 10% held back for what Briatore describes as "last-minute friends."

The club also has another reputation, also synonymous with F1, for attracting beautiful girls.

It employs 20 girls to act as ambassadors, welcoming guests and circulating on the dance floor.

The 64-year-old is almost as famous for dating supermodels -- he counts Heidi Klum and Naomi Campbell among his exes -- as he is for his motorsport career.

"Last year, the DJ told me that he'd never seen so many good-looking girls and good-looking guys in one club in his life!" Briatore proudly explained.

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But are looks really another prerequisite for the Billionaire Club's Monaco guests?

"I don't care about physically beautiful if people dress up elegant," said Briatore, who gained early success franchising Benetton clothing stores in the U.S.

"If somebody is tall, somebody is short, somebody is fat, somebody is skinny... the people try their best to look very, very good. People dress up."

The Monaco GP may be a honey pot for the beautiful and famous -- Star Wars creator George Lucas, actor Benedict Cumberbatch and pop sensation Justin Bieber all turned up for the race -- but it is wealth and influence that grease the wheels of F1.

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Powerful global brands such as Red Bull, Mercedes, Hugo Boss, Tag Heur and Shell are intrinsic to the millions and millions of dollars required to run an F1 team.

The 19 grands prix on the sport's globetrotting calendar can be as significant as boardrooms for striking business deals.

"So many of the sport's sponsors are high end brands," explains Friedman.

"F1 has created this whole ecosystem of luxury brands, investors, ultra-wealthy individuals and fast cars."

Most members of the Billionaire Club just want to have fun into the small hours but some will undoubtedly be mixing business with pleasure in Monaco.

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"We don't ask what their job is," says Briatore of the estimated 4,000 guests who attended his bash in Monte Carlo. "Sure it's a lot of business people and a lot of wealthy people.

"There are multiple languages spoken in the Billionaire Club with international people from China, America, Italy and Poland -- it's crazy."

Movers and shakers do not have it all their own way in Monaco. Believe it or not, it is possible to party in Monte Carlo on a budget.

When the race is run, partygoers can simply carry a bottle of beer and a fromage baguette straight on the circuit, raising a toast to the race winner at the Rascasse corner or along the rim of Hercule harbor.

Even high roller Briatore recognizes there is a market for the billionaire lifestyle on a budget.

For the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix, he launched Twiga Monte Carlo, a lounge bar, club and restaurant, with an open door policy and free entry to most of its events.

"Everybody wants to be a billionaire for one night," he declared. "Including me!"

Read: Is Monaco Formula One's most sensory race?

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