It may be only eight days until Christmas (and 86 days until F1 returns), but Formula 1 doesn’t sleep, and neither does Badger. So here is Podium or Pits… your own handy little guide to what’s been happening this week in the crazy world of Formula 1…
PITS – Jenson Button/football – did you vote for Jenson on Sunday for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year? Didn’t think so. Well, it went to Ryan Giggs in the end. POP isn’t enamoured with football. Or footballers for that matter. Not only has a footballer stolen, stolen, yet another accolade and headline from Formula 1, but… wait for this folks, you may want to sit down for this one… FIFA has decided to hold the World Cup final next year on the SAME DAY as the British grand prix! It’s basically sacrilegious. Talk about stealing F1’s thunder. Shame on them.
PODIUM – Festive Ferrari – Ferrari got themselves in the festive mood this week, hosting a massive circus-themed event at their Fiorano Track in Italy. The Christmas extravaganza featured various santa’s little helper dancers, a hippo, Marc Gene and Luca Badoer dressed as santa, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo scaring little children, and in a blatant attempt to win brownie points with the team … Felipe Massa dressed up as Santa Claus as well! When asked how he felt about dressing up as Santa, Felipe replied, “It’s a bit strange for me but very nice”. Rumour has it he was gutted to have missed out on a starring role in Badger’s very own Christmas card. Fernando Alonso was nowhere to be seen over the course of the festivities. Not good enough Nando, not good enough.
PITS – Schumacher-Ferrari relations – Ferrari President and general loud-mouth Luca di Montezemolo has spoken out this week to say that 7 times world champion Michael Schumacher is “not a member of the team”. Ouch. He also inadvertently revealed that Schumacher will be heading to Mercedes for 2010, he “can’t continue working with us and for one of our competitors at the same time.” Exactly right Luca. Just look at what happened to Nigel Stepney, eh?*
PITS – Max Mosley – this week the former FIA Dictator, ahem.. President, wrote a truly heart-felt, sentimental sort of piece in the Telegraph about his ‘memories’ of the spygate scandal in 2007 (see below). But it isn’t really about Spygate at all. It is a thinly veiled attempt to regain his ‘reputation’ after his less-than-dignified exit from his position as FIA President. He portrays himself has the saviour of Formula 1, the virtuous one in everything, and how things have all been jolly rather unfair on him these last few years don’t you know? He wanted McLaren banned from the sport altogether, but he was outvoted by the World Motor Sport Council. According to Mosley this is concrete evidence to rebut “the accusations of dictatorship”. “I was too aggressive, too confrontational and perhaps even a bully” Mosley claims were the sorts of descriptions he was ‘labelled’ with. Well here’s another label for you, Max: deluded.
PODIUM – Lotus – they’ve got the name, and now they’ve got the drivers. Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli! Who knows… the Trulli-train and the lacklustre Kovalainen could make quite a brilliantly bland pair at Lotus. The team has backing from the Malaysian government, and sports minister Ahmad Shabery Cheek said this of Lotus, “I’m very happy to note that the team has achieved significant progress, with the car being fully built and tested and I believe they are on track to make an impact next season”. The cheek! To use such a blatantly obvious pun like “on track” in a press release. Cheeky Malaysians tsk tsk.
PODIUM – Virgin Racing – the good news is that they’ve got a pretty damn good logo. The bad news is that the catering budget will be limited to Tesco value baked beans, and road kill from Friday practice. Ok, so POP made that last bit up, but it is true however that Branson is making the team run on the smallest budget in Formula 1, and yet still expects them to deliver results. Are Timo Glock and Lucas di Grassi being paid exclusively in Virgin-branded products and Virgin flights? That’s the great thing about Formula 1, you just never know.
PODIUM – Renault – a large stake in the team was sold yesterday to Genii Capital. A capital idea? A genius plan?
* For those of you with memories of a large-ish goldfish or a gnat, Nigel Stepney was the Ferrari engineer ‘secretly’ passing information to his McLaren counterpart Mike Coughlan in 2007. Cheeky little Nando was probably involved, but then again he was probably in on the Singapore ’08 scandal too. McLaren got a WHOPPING fine from the FIA, and Nando left the team in a huff.