Friday at Monaco is traditionally a day off for the F1 community, with the engines falling silent and some serious hobnobbing with the stars getting underway. But just because there are no cars on track doesn’t mean there’s nothing to talk about- get up to speed with goings on in Monaco with Badger’s news roundup.

Monaco wouldn’t be the same without some totally over the top promotional efforts from the teams, and this year McLaren have upped the ante in terms of razzmatazz by adding diamonds- Steinmetz diamonds to be precise- to their cars’ steering wheels. Jenson has ’09’ and Lewis ’08’, in tribute to the fact that both drivers won the Monaco Grand Prix and the world championship in those years respectively.

If one of the McLaren boys crashes out on Sunday they'd better not throw their steering wheel away in frustration. © Sutton/Autosport

“They look absolutely incredible and add a real bit of bling to the cars”, Hamilton said of the addition, clearly yet to realise that ‘bling’ is no longer acceptable youth speak. The drivers also have their title winning years written in diamonds on their helmets, whilst Hamilton has added a roulette wheel motif to the top of his yellow lid in homage to Monaco’s gambling heritage. Who’d gamble on a Lewis victory this weekend? Quite a few people, actually.

Sticking with the ‘new addition’ theme Mercedes have unveiled their brand new motorhome to the world, having (naturally) waited until Monaco to show off the shiny new circuit H.Q. A three-storied, glass fronted structure, it may not be the fanciest pad in the paddock but it is cost effective- at just 2 million Euros it’s a bargain, particularly compared to Red Bull’s €15 million ‘Energy Station’. Hopefully they saved enough to supply Michael and Nico with some post-race cushions to sit on- the Monaco bumps will leave them feeling pretty sore on Sunday afternoon.

Mercedes' new motorhome, a snip at just €2 million © Sutton/Autosport

Some people just can’t resist a party; even if they’ve been banned from the sport that is holding the aforementioned shindig they’ll still turn up, possibly wearing a sarong, and try to enjoy the festivities from a safe distance. So it is with Flavio Briatore, who has been spotted enjoying the Monaco sun this week from the comfort of Vijay Mallya’s yacht. However under the terms of his ban Flav isn’t allowed in to the paddock, so he’s likely to have to spend the whole weekend enjoying the hospitality of the billionaire Force India boss whilst sunning himself and watching the F1 cars glide by. Talk about punishment.

Badger hopes that Karun Chandhok can get himself in a decent car in the near future, but if he doesn’t he’s already found himself some less glamorous- but more dangerous- alternative employment: fireman. The Indian racer- who recently had a bit of a chinwag with Badger– has hooked up with the Monaco fire brigade this weekend to undertake some intense training and to get some tips on putting out a blaze. Teammate Bruno Senna and Hispania test drivers Christian Klien and Sakon Yamamoto all joined Chandhok for the fire fighting lessons.

He's always on the scene- Fireman Chan! (please tell us if you get that reference). © Sutton/Autosport

Worryingly for these guys future employment might actually be something they need to think about. Bernie Ecclestone has told Britain’s Telegraph newspaper that, “HRT have got problems. I’d like to see 12 teams finish the season because they have made the commitment to come in. We might lose one of them, but I’m doing my bit to make sure it doesn’t happen”. We know Hispania had a massive struggle to even make the grid, so it’s no real surprise that they’re having some difficulty staying there. Still, worrying times for the team’s two very likable- and highly marketable- drivers.

From drivers fighting to remain in F1 to drivers trying to get there. Whilst today is a day off for the F1 teams the Formula One stars of tomorrow were in action this morning, with the Monaco GP2 race keeping the locals fully entertained. Victory went to 20 year-old Mexican Sergio Perez, who survived pressure from Pastor Maldonado in the final laps to win by just half a second. With results like this, and his substantial financial support from Mexican telecommunications company Telmex, young Perez is making a strong case for an F1 drive in 2011.

Sergio Perez - Monaco success in GP2 is a handy addition to his C.V. © LAT/Autosport

Finally, worries over problems arising from the number of cars running in the first qualifying session- or Q1 Chaos as we’re calling it- continue to rumble on today. Force India boss Vijay Mallya has predicted it will be a “lottery”, Lewis Hamilton reckons “a lot of people will have laps messed up”, whilst Lotus’ Jarno Trulli has said he will be “very upset if after qualifying someone comes and starts complaining”. Badger sympathises with Jarno. He’s a bit of a megastar at this circuit, claiming victory here in 2004, but could well get an earful if he finds himself in someone’s way in Q1. That would be hard to take, especially as he’s probably a better driver on the streets than three-quarters of the grid.

Of course we won’t know just how Q1 will play out until tomorrow afternoon, when qualifying for the 68th Monaco Grand Prix gets underway. As ever, Badger will be keeping you up to date with all the action.

And on Sunday it’s the race itself, for which Badger is having a bit of a get together. In conjunction with our friends at the Sports Cafe, we’re putting on the first ‘Badger:LIVE’ event where you, your family, friends and neighbours can come along and enjoy the most prestigious grand prix on the calendar with us and other F1 fans here in London. Find out all about that here, and hopefully we’ll see you on Sunday for the big race.