The F1 circus has been on its annual August month-long holiday, and so has your regular columnist, Tess Tarossa, while the very capable Ant Hot Wheels has been at the helm of Podium or Pits.  But fear not!  Tess is back, and so is F1.  And the best bit?  One word: Spa!

(c) Tag Heuer

PITS. Lewis ‘ASBO’ Hamilton –

All is not bonza in Lewis Hamilton’s PR-driven world.  First, POP found a little gem of a story this weekend about Hamilton’s school days, courtesy of the Sunday Times:

“In 2001, the reputation of the F1 hotshot … took a battering when he was expelled from school after another pupil had his fingers broken in the lavatories.  The exclusion, which lasted 2 months, couldn’t have come at a worse time:  Hamilton was 16, preparing for his GCSEs, and already signed up to McLaren’s development programme for young drivers.  In the end, however, Lewis’ reputation was restored after an inquiry established he was the victim of mistaken identity.”

Who knew Lewis could be such a ‘tough guy’?  Did the injured pupil slag off the legacy of Lewis’s idol Ayrton Senna?  “Yeah, like, cos Nigel Mansell was, like, err, way better than Senna”.  And anyway, 2 months?  That’s not a case of ‘mistaken identity’, that’s called a cover-up and a donation to the school’s sports fund courtesy of a certain ‘McLaren Ltd’.  So what have we learnt today everyone?  Never go to the toilets with Lewis Hamilton.

Secondly, in a bumper ‘Pits’ week for the McLaren driver and his PR team (sack them!), Lewis finally learnt the outcome of his reckless driving stunt in Australia this year.  For more, check out the badger report on the incident.  The fine came to a pitiful £288, which is about how much Lewis earns per second, maybe less.  However, it did cause untold damage to his reputation as the story climbed and climbed the BBC news ‘Most Read’ charts until it remained at No 1 for most of  Tuesday afternoon.  Even the normally anti-F1 Guardian, “we’re faaarrr to liberal to be interested in a sport such as Formula 1”, ran the story as it’s main homepage picture for most of the day.  You’re a hit, Lewis!  And yes, that is Santander on the phone, and yes, they do sound pretty mad.

Max demonstrates his punishment techniques

PODIUM.  Max Mosley –

Gosh!  Max Mosley thinks Ferrari and Fernando Alonso both need a good punishing!  POP agrees, but the form of punishment that Mosley has in mind may somewhat differ from POP’s ideas.  The race-fixing debacle from last month’s German Grand Prix is still rumbling on in the absence of any other juicily scandalous F1 story.

The WMSC, World Motor Sport Council, meet on September 8 to decide on the appropriate ‘punishment’ for Ferrari and its drivers.  In all seriousness, POP thinks it would be a good idea for the WMSC to get creative in their sanctions.  Why not ban Ferrari’s use of car radios for the rest of the season?  That way they can’t give team orders whatsoever!

PODIUM.  Nigel Mansell –

Nigel: facial hair legend

Good news for all Mansell fans!  He’ll be on the stewards panel for this weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix, with specific instructions to monitor Michael “Mental” Schumacher’s every move on the track on Sunday.  Sadly he won’t be sporting his famous moustache, which personally POP thinks is blasphemy.  Bring back the tache!!