It’s Thursday!  Which means it’s time for your weekly (fun) Formula 1 news round-up courtesy of Podium or Pits, or POP for short.  This week Richard Branson takes a nose-dive, the Korean grand prix is 79% ready for racing, and much more …

Branson shows off his brand new range of casual clothing

PITS.  Richard Branson –

It’s been a mixed week for the World’s Most Prolific Self-Promoter, and Virgin Racing sponsor, Richard Branson.  On Sunday he completed the London marathon in just over 5 hours … dressed as a butterfly.  Virgin Racing gives you wings?  Oh wait, that slogan is already taken by another (more successful) Formula 1 team.

Aside from the frankly ‘pits’ choice of running gear, Branson is now embroiled in a price-fixing scandal in relation to his Virgin Atlantic airline company.  It has been alleged that Branson ordered “secret talks” with rival British Airways to fix the prices for some long-distance flights.  Since the departure of dear Flavio Briatore from the paddock, Formula 1 has been lacking a character of both ridiculousness and (potential) corruption.  And in one week we have suddenly found our replacement!  Thank-you Mr Branson.

PODIUM.  The Korean Grand Prix –

No, not the North Korea of Kim Jong-Il fame, as immortalised in Team America – POP means South Korea!  The Korean grand prix is scheduled for 24th October, and according to officials the circuit is now 79% finished.

If you’re a regular reader of Podium or Pits, you’ll already be familiar with POP’s fondness for entirely random statistics.  POP is 92% sure that Flavio Briatore will be back in Formula 1 before long, 36% sure that having a beard is the key to F1 success, and 47% sure that all these statistics are in fact completely inaccurate and generally misleading.

PITS.  Michael Schumacher –

The Grandad of Formula 1 hasn’t exactly had the start to the season he would have hoped for (and that’s POP being kind about Schumacher’s first 4 races).  Before the 2010 season, the name “Schumacher” would likely strike fear into the hearts of rookies everywhere.  The prospect of having the 7 times world champion in your rear-view mirrors would be enough to send many a nervous rookie into a tail-spin.

But not so!  So far we have seen the likes of Alguersuari (only in his 2nd season) and Petrov (a rookie) hunting down and successfully nailing Schumacher on circuits where he once reigned supreme.  POP imagines Schumacher’s reaction to have been, “It’s not me, it’s the car!”.  As the saying goes, only poor workmen blame their tools.  But Mercedes have listened to Schumacher’s protestations, and have changed the chassis and its weight distribution for the next race.  POP doesn’t think Schumacher’s ego will be able to cope with anymore than a maximum 3 dismal races.  If the Spanish grand prix ends badly for Schuie in 9 days, POP expects you’ll be able to hear the faint sound of a champagne bottle being opened coming from the room of a certain Mr Heidfeld (Mercedes reserve driver) …

PITS.  Max Mosley –

This week Max Mosley proclaimed that the FIA, while under his dictatorship presidency, was not in fact Ferrari International Assistance.  Let’s look at the facts:  firstly, there’s a catchy slogan on our side, and secondly, Mosley seems to think that we’re all utter imbeciles. “If the fans really understood the issues, I don’t think they would be against me, because everything I’ve ever done has always been done with a view to keeping Formula 1 going and stopping it collapsing,” said Mosley.  Translated: “you’re all far too stupid to appreciate that in order to keep F1 going, the FIA must protect and help Ferrari at all costs, all of the time, forever, no questions asked, and if you repeat what I just said I’ll deny this conversation ever happened”.  Or something like that.  Aside from insulting F1 fans everywhere, Mosley also thought he’d take the opportunity to call Luca di Montezemolo (Ferrari boss) “a very weak character so he’s easily led”.  POP leaves you, the esteemed reader, to draw what conclusions you will from the above evidence.

I went to Serbia and all I got was this lousy Stefan GP T-shirt

PODIUM.  Stefan GP –

Will Stefan GP never give up?  The team almost managed to blag an entry for the 2010 season when USF1 pulled out, but the FIA denied them a place.  Now they’ve announced their entry for the 2011 season.

You’ve got to give them points for trying!  Not only that, but they’ve also announced plans to build the aptly-named ‘Stefan Technology Park’ near Belgrade in Serbia which will house the team’s HQ and a grand-prix ready 3.5 km circuit!  Madness.

But then again, you have to be insane to want to run a Formula 1 team – just look at Eddie Jordan.

PODIUM.  Ross Brawn –

Ross Brawn wins POP’s coveted Good Deed of the Week award!  The Mercedes boss has launched the Brawn Lifeboat Challenge with the RNLI (the main UK lifeboat charity) which aims to raise £350,000 for a new boat on the River Thames.  11 competing teams will take part to turn £1000 into the most amount of money using their wits and entrepreneurial skills.

It sounds all extremely innovative!  Brawn must be trying to atone for his speeding misdemeanor of last year.