PODIUM.  Jose Maria Lopez

Despite having a girl’s middle name, the Argentinean former GP2 driver has bagged himself a race seat at new team USF1.  Back in 2006 he was racing wheel to wheel with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Timo Glock, but somehow fell off the radar and has been racing for the last 3 years back in his home country.  Luckily he’s already got some testing time for Renault under his belt, but he’ll probably be jostling at the back of the enlarged 2010 grid for some time yet…

PITS.  Michael Schumacher –

If there’s one thing POP dislikes more than Eddie Jordan’s “taste” in clothes, then it’s immodesty.  This week, Michael Schumacher left everyone in no doubt as to where he’s aiming, “I think we have everything it takes to do it [win the world championship] … I’m sorry but there’s only one target”.  In the same press conference he displayed yet again POP’s hated personality trait, replying to a question about his fitness with, “I’m hot”.  Steady on Schuie!  This is Formula 1, not a beauty pageant or a world’s strongest man contest!  POP, on the other hand is the pinnacle of modesty, being practically perfect in every way.  Even the Times is emulating POP’s sheer brilliance with the recent addition of ‘Sports Watch‘ to its Sports coverage.  It’s a hard life being a genuis, but someone has to do it.*

PODIUM.  Jaime Alguersauri –

At last Jaime can breathe a huge sigh of relief!  The Toro Rosso team only officially confirmed the Spaniard for 2010 this week.  POP is immensely pleased.  POP spent literally hours practising the pronounciation of “Jaime Alguersuari”, and is very relieved that all that hard work was not in vain.  It also means that there will be three Spanish drivers on the grid for 2010:  Pedro de la Rosa, Jaime, and who could forget ‘Nando Alonso?  Add Spanish-speaking Lopez into the mix, plus the Spanish Campos Meta team, and you’ve practically got a Spanish Armada taking over F1!

PODIUM.  The 2010 tyre regulations –

It is not often that POP will award mere Regulations with a podium, but this week the Sporting Working Group announced proposals to “spice up” the tactical element to the races.  The top 10 qualifiers from Saturday’s final qualiying session will have to start on the same tyres they qualified on, thereby giving a marginal advantage to those in 11th, 12th, 13th etc.  With no refueling this season, tyre choice will be the crucial differentiator between strategies.  Choose a ‘quick’ compound tyre and you can qualify high, but risk compromising overall race strategy and tyre performance.  Conversely, choose a ‘slow’ compound tyre, qualify lower down but have a better tyre for the race itself.  It’s simple, but brilliant.  Certainly a lot better than Bonkers Bernie’s suggestion that drivers should be allowed to take ‘short-cuts‘.

PITS.  The FIA –

Ferrari International Assistance is getting sued again!  After winning an appeal in the French courts, F1-pariah Flavio Briatore is after some FIA blood in the Geneva courts (well, not literally, but in the legal sense).  Poor Jean Todt.  He’s only been in the job for about 7 minutes and already he’s embroiled in several bitter legal disputes left over from his predecessor.  Perhaps Max Mosley was in fact being rather canny when he resigned from his position as FIA Dictator President?  Flavio is claiming damages (aka money, cash, dough, whatever) for the financial losses to his driver management business when several drivers were forced to leave Flavio’s management when he was ‘banned’ from the sport.  Tune in a few months time and POP will fill you in on all the juicy courtroom drama and gossip!

* For the absence of any doubt, by “someone” POP does, of course, mean itself.