Welcome to Podium or Pits (or POP for short), you’re weekly F1 news good week/bad week.  This week POP reveals a potential comeback for 2011, Virgin Racing are in the ‘Pits’ (again), and POP tries out the art of subliminal F1 messaging…

Button enjoying tax-free heaven in Monaco

PITS.  Jenson Button –

When Lewis Hamilton moved to Switzerland, he made a thinly-veiled attempt to argue that it was not prompted by tax considerations.  POP, and the rest of the world, obviously saw straight through all such twaddle.  But then again, many other drivers seemingly have an allergic reaction to the taxman, and over the years have all de-camped to Monaco (a tax haven).  Jenson Button was one such resident, but this week it has been announced that he is moving to… no, not back to Frome (Somerset) where the driver was born and grew up, but yet another tax haven… Guernsey, an island belonging to the UK.  After visiting the island to do some filming for ‘one of his sponsors’, Button fell in love with the place.  His agent also lives there.  Cliché, what cliché?

PODIUM.  Comebacks –

Michael Schumacher made his comeback to Formula 1 this year, and now … KERS is set to return!  After a massive *ahem* 1-year absence from the sport, KERS simply couldn’t stand being away from the racing atmosphere and has found a way to return.  Now that the teams have had the chance to develop the technology, it’s going to be cheaper, and more powerful.  The systems will be F1 ‘pocket money’ at €1 million.  POP isn’t sure that anything affixed with ‘million’ can be classed as ‘cheap’, but hey, this is Formula 1 after all.  Renault are prepared to offer the system to anyone willing.  However, in true Ferrari style, the Maranello-based squad have refused to offer their KERS systems to anyone who doesn’t use a Ferrari engine.  Cuddly bunch, aren’t they?

Virgin Racing send in the heavies (aka drivers) to 'sort out' whoever mis-designed the engine

PITS.  Virgin Racing –

POP put Virgin Racing in the pits some time ago after the team were forced to reveal that they had designed a car without a big enough fuel-tank to finish a race.  Clever stuff.  The team were hoping to have the ‘minor problem’ fixed by this weekend’s Spanish grand prix, but sadly that will not be the case.  Who is to blame I hear you ask?  The Icelandic volcano.  Yeah right, and a big angry dog ate POP’s homework this week.  On the upside, the Virgin cars have been so utterly unreliable so far this season that their small fuel-tank has barely been a problem!

PODIUM.  Michael Schumacher –

This week Flavio Briatore told Italian press that he had ‘written off’ Schumacher this year, and that things will only get ‘harder and harder’ for the 7 times world champion.  You may think that this is a bad thing, but last year Flavio called Jenson Button a ‘concrete post’ (translated from Italian) and derided his chances in the championship.  Given that Button in fact went on to win the 2009 championship, and Flavio Briatore was controversially banned from the sport, this recent criticism of Schumacher by Flavio actually bodes rather well for the German’s prospects.

When you look at this image, does it remind you of Ferrari at all?

PODIUM.  Subliminal advertising –

This week the national newspapers were raving about the ‘subliminal’ advertising on the Ferrari cars.  They take issue with the barcodes which have been residing on the Ferraris and overalls for some years now due to tobacco advertising bans across the world.  Apparently, when you look at the barcode on a Ferrari, you automatically associate it with Marlboro, their sponsors.  Well, now we all do!  If you didn’t know before what the large barcodes were for, you sure do now thanks to all the press exposure.  POP applauds those who can pull of the feat of subliminal messaging.  POP’s idea of subliminal is to simply stand on top of a roof and shout “Oi! You! You’re all coming to watch the Monaco grand prix at the Sports Cafe on the 16th May!  Monaco!  Sports Cafe!  You!  Yes!  … no I will NOT be quiet, I’m trying to convey a subliminal message here, can’t you see?!”