This week POP is going Twitter mad, the Virgin racing car falls apart in 5 seconds flat, and there’s a secret in the paddock…

PODIUM.  Heikki Kovalainen –

This week Podium or Pits discovered that Heikki Kovalainen, formerly of McLaren and now driving for Lotus, is finally on Twitter!  He joins an illustrious ream of drivers to take to the virtual world of mini quips and updates … Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button, and a particularly amusing ‘fake’ Max Mosley.  However, POP isn’t entirely sure that Heikki has quite grasped the concept of short, sweet and succinct Twitter updates.  Yesterday he enlightened his ‘followers’ (Twitter speak for people who are signed up to get his updates) with “Morning from Jerez, everything is looking fine for a 9am start, Fairuz driving today. Looks like heavy showers around…”, then “Still no rain here so the track is drying well, but big clouds are still around”, then 2 hours later,”Now raining in Jerez…”  So if you like Heikki Kovalainen, and you have a minor interest in the weather patterns of southern Spain, then do by all means click here to check out Kovy’s Twitter page!  Or if you don’t fancy that, follow F1Badger’s riveting stream of consciousness here.

PITS.  Virgin Racing –

The new Virgin Racing team must have spent far too long beautifying their car.  After recently unveiling a stunner of a car, the team took it to Jerez for pre-season testing… only to find that within 11 laps the front wing ‘malfunctioned’, or rather, it fell clean off.  To add insult to injury, the car was over 7 seconds slower than its nearest rival in the 11 laps it did manage.  We know they’re on a budget, but ‘budget’ front wings aren’t really an option in Formula 1 unfortunately.

PITS.  Fuel weights –

Shhhhhh!!!  It’s a secret!  Starting this season the car fuel weights will be kept firmly under wraps.  With re-fuelling banned this year the FIA deemed it only appropriate to do-away with the requirement to publish fuel weights after qualifying.  You may be asking why POP cares about such things?  Well, if you know the fuel weight of a car, and know the fact that they have to go race-distance on said fuel weight, you can calculate the fuel-efficiency of each engine.

Clever, huh?  No prizes for guessing which engine will be marginally better than a recalled Toyota… Cosworth… ahem.

PODIUM.  Tony Fernandes –

Imagine the scene.  A proud father is watching his pride and joy go off into the big wide world to be successful and wealthy and illustrious… except, in this scene the father is Tony Fernandes, boss of Lotus, and his progeny is in fact the Lotus 2010 car.  Bless him.  Yesterday he Twittered, “Isn’t she a beauty. Out of the pits at Jerez.”  So the T127 (the Lotus model for this year) is a she?  POP is intrigued by the idea that F1 drivers and teams alike view their cars as women.

Sebastian Vettel unofficially named last year’s Red Bull ‘Kate’s Dirty Sister‘.  Brilliant, but why not take things a step further?  “And now Ferrari are pleased to announced the 2011 car… Brenda”, or “the new McLaren … Winifred.”  Ok, so maybe not those exact names, but you get the general idea.

PODIUM.  Michelin –

If you’ve been an F1 fan for a while now you should remember the days of Michelin v Bridgestone.  One particularly farcical element of the tale resulted in every Michelin tyre team sitting out the US grand prix in 2005 over safety fears, with only six cars racing for the entirety of the race at Indianapolis.  Since then we’ve moved to a single tyre manufacturer, but Bridgestone confirmed last year that they will only be supplying tyres for F1 until the end of 2010 and not beyond.  Step in … Michelin!

They are currently in formal talks with the FIA, and will likely be returning to the grid so long as their energy-efficiency criteria are met.  As long as they bring the Michelin man with them POP will be eternally happy.