This week Podium or Pits is dedicated to the sheer stupidity of the Virgin Racing team. There’s a reason why you don’t develop an F1 car solely using CFD (computational fluid dynamics), and before you ask, no, POP does not know what that means. Apparently the Virgin team don’t know either.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. This week it was revealed that the Virgin team’s car has been designed with a hilariously fatal flaw: the fuel tank is not big enough to hold enough fuel for an entire grand prix. Due to a whole host of other technical problems, Virgin are yet to actually finish a race, so the fuel tank is yet to be a real issue for the team. Here is how POP imagines the conversation went at Virgin HQ on 22nd June 2009…
John Booth (Team Principal): So, Nick, I’ve just had a look at the plans for the car. Looks great! Love the paint design, really swirly and cool. We’re going to look the business in Bahrain. Err, but don’t you think the tank looks a little, well, on the small side?
Nick Wirth (Technical Director): Chill out John… just relax. We’ve got it all under control. I’ve run tests on the computer, and I’m fairly sure, well, I suppose I’m really sure, that it’ll maybe probably make it to the end of the race, I guess. Erm. Yeah.
[9 months later]
Nick: Err, John? Umm, well, I don’t really know how to break this to you, but, well…
John: What is it Nick? Spit it out man!
Nick: Well, see the thing is, well, umm… it turns out the tank isn’t big enough to finish a whole race.
Update: Nick Wirth’s company Wirth Research, Virgin’s chassis supplier, will foot the bill to have the problems rectified. But that won’t be before Malaysia, or Spain, so Virgin will remain F1 Virgins for some time yet.
Lewis did NOT have a good weekend down under. First, he nearly got arrested for pulling a boy racer-style stunt on the streets of Melbourne, and then he blamed the team strategy for his poor performance in the race on Sunday. Is it any coincidence, then, that all this happened in only the 2nd race Lewis had without a manager? Last week POP reported that Bernie Ecclestone had been turned down for the role, and Lewis even admitted he was in “no hurry” to find a replacement for his manager-father Anthony. Arrogant little wotsit… ahem… what was POP saying? Anyway, so Lewis probably will be in a hurry to find himself a manager in the wake of his disastrous weekend in Australia. David Coulthard threw his hat into the ring of debate with this comment in his Telegraph column: “But the folly of not appointing a replacement showed over the weekend […] Lewis needs to appoint a replacement soon so he can concentrate on his day job.” Aside from the faux-English country gentleman manner of Coulthard’s comment, the man makes a point.
Hats off to Christian Horner this week. He has the fastest bestest car on the grid, and yet his Red Bull team have only managed to take home a measley 18 points, putting them 5th place in the Constructors’ championship so far. So when POP heard his no-nonsense reaction to the team’s misfortunes, it couldn’t help but have a new found sense of admiration for the bloke:
“Starting first and second on the grid, the whole team is pretty pissed off to have only come away with two points. But we will brush ourselves down. We take away from here the confidence that again we have a very fast car, and we will work hard on whatever the problem is that caused this issue. We will be stronger in a week’s time.”
Legend. Utter legend.
POP read the Financial Times the other day. It’s that pretentious salmon-pink newspaper you see City types reading on the train/tube/plane pretending they’re sooo interested in the business drivel on its pages. Numbers… blah… margins, profits, blah, blah, capital reserves, blah, accruals, dividends, audits, taxes, blah… and other dull financial things. That is, until POP saw a picture of the brand new McLaren MP4-12C on the cover, and suddenly the salmony-pink pages became incredibly interesting! Attempting not to drool too much over the pinstriped commuter’s FT paper (which POP was surrepticiously reading over his shoulder), POP discovered the wonder that is the new player in the high-end sports car market. Watch out Ferrari! It won’t be available until next year, but you can have it customised with the McLaren 60s or 70s racing colours, or you can opt for the ‘Ron Dennis’ model. Now all POP needs is a few hundred thousand pounds and we’re away…!
In another display of what to do when times are tough (see Christian Horner’s podium), Bernie Ecclestone this week revealed his ‘coping mechanism’ in the wake of his £1 billion divorce from wife of 24 years, Slavica (POP didn’t mistype, it does say £1 BILLION!) “Oh well, I’ll be all right. I shop at Waitrose.” Wise words indeed Bernard. Can POP recommend the Waitrose fois gras soaked in champagne and dusted with a sprinkling of caviar and wild truffle shavings? Always a winner. POP hasn’t set foot in another supermarket since 1994, which admittedly has been tricky, but well worth it. He also revealed that he’s thinking about his own mortality: “I’d be happy to die on the job. For me, that’s the only way to go. If I died halfway through a grand prix, no problem. Although I’d prefer that it happened after the race was finished.” POP nearly died of boredom during the Bahrain race; does that count?