Who’s had a ‘Podium’ week, and who’s had a ‘Pits’ week on this crazy rollercoaster of Formula 1?  Oh, and did you know that it is a mere 50 days until the first practice session of the 2010 season in Bahrain?

PODIUM.  Flavio Briatore –

Everyone’s favourite loud-mouthed Italian announced this week that he would NEVER return to Formula 1…. as a team owner.  Cryptic, eh?  So that means one of three things:  one, that he is secretly in training to make his debut as a grand prix driver (odds – 1 million:1); two, that he wants the FIA Presidency from the recently elected Jean Todt (odds – 20:1); and three, he is preparing himself to be the successor of the aging Bernie Ecclestone (odds – 2:1).  Are you calling POP crazy?  Bernie is already way past the life expectancy for the average British male, and is coming out with increasingly bizarre ideas for F1 (see last week’s POP for his plan to introduce ‘short cuts’).  Not only that, but Flavio and Bernie are good mates, and co-own the football team QPR.  Ok, so POP is a little crazy, but then again this is the crazy world of Formula 1.  A year ago you would have laughed at the notion of Michael Schumacher returning to F1.  POP rests its case.

Flavio looks up ... er, I mean, down on Bernie Ecclestone

PITS.  Nelson Piquet Jr –

This week Piquet revealed that he could have been in F1 this season, having had a firm offer from a team to compete.  So why didn’t he jump at the opportunity to prove himself and recover some dregs of reputation?  Piquet says he chose not to return because he was “sick and tired of all of the stuff over there”.  Well yes, thank-you Piquet for explaining that so lucidly.  POP yearns for the days when Piquet would just say whatever he thought.  In his prime he was actually rather entertaining, and POP rightly awarded him with quote of the year for his little gem:

“A manager is supposed to encourage you, support you, and provide you with opportunities. In my case it was the opposite, Flavio Briatore was my executioner.”

PODIUM.  Martin Whitmarsh –

The reports that McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh has been elected the new FOTA president are utterly untrue according to Whitmarsh.  He maintains that he wasn’t elected at all.  Shock horror!  In fact, he claims that he only took on the role because no-one else would do it.  Sounds like FOTA is going to be one awesomely fearsome organisation in 2010.  With Stefano ‘wouldn’t say boo to a goose’ Domenicali as his second in command, what can go wrong?

PODIUM.  Pedro de la Rosa

Pedro's on the Podium!

Welcome back Pedro!  What on earth happened to the Spaniard who started out in Formula 1 over a decade ago?  He was hampered for 2 years in Arrows (Top Tip: never paint your car orange), before moving over to Jaguar alongside Eddie Irvine.  There he struggled for another 2 years, and was picked up as a McLaren test driver from 2003.  He raced only one race in 2005 at Bahrain, when Juan Pablo Montoya was injured, and managed to set the fastest lap of the race and come a respectable 5th.  When Montoya left suddenly for NASCAR in the summer of 2006, Pedro was rewarded with the race seat for the rest of the season.  And he didn’t disappoint.  He finished 11th in the championship overall, despite only racing in 8 out of 18 races!  It’s great to see that Pedro has been recognised at last with a race seat for 2010 at Sauber, and it certainly marks a new trend – Formula 1 is finally growing up.  Button turned 30 this week, Pedro is 38, Barrichello is 37, and Schumacher is a grand old 41!