It’s Thursday, so it must be time for your weekly dose of fun F1 news and gossip courtesy of Podium or Pits!  This week POP has an EXCLUSIVE … the real reason behind the 2007 spying scandal!

Lewis Hamilton being obedient yesterday

‘Loyal Lewis’ – like a loyal little lap dog, McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton is now officially (well, statistically) the most loyal driver in Formula 1 … ever!  Before him, Jim Clark raced 72 races solely for Lotus.

Lewis hit 73 races (for only one team in a driver’s career) for McLaren at the Malaysian grand prix last weekend.

Mind you, Lewis will have to stay with the same team for his career for the ‘loyal’ tag to stick, but given that he’s been signed to McLaren since 13 he is hardly likely to go looking elsewhere.  Some might call that grooming, but in POP’s books that’s just good long-term strategic sense!

Luca di Montezemolo – POP hasn’t scanned its lens of scrutiny over Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo for a while.  It is easy to forget how impressive the man at the top of the Ferrari food chain really is:  he took over as team boss at Ferrari during the mid 1970s (at the precocious age of 25!), was MD at Cinzano (an Italian drink), managed an America’s Cup team, was manager of Italy’s hosting of the 1990 Soccer World Cup, and was basically given free reign of Ferrari in 1991.  Anyway, to add to the list of Luca’s many talents, he has a particular flair for humour…

“Me in politics? Yes, with Alonso as prime minister.  I would have him because he has the strongest character and is optimistic but also a realist.”

Cameron worrying about his job yesterday

Luca then goes on to name others in his imaginary government: Schumacher, Perez, Vettel, Rosberg, Hamilton, and “Lauda, who was able to never pay for anything, not even a drink”.  Umm, err, hmmm, … what about Massa?  POP prediction: Perez as a Ferrari driver in 2012.

What do you think?  Alonso for PM?  Doesn’t matter.  Alonso has declined the role: “I thank him [Montezemolo] for having thought of me for the role of premier, but I’d rather stick to racing!”

Personally, POP’s imaginary government would contain:

  • Murray Walker as Minister for Work & Pensions,
  • Mika Hakkinen as Foreign Secretary,
  • Max Mosley as Justice Minister,
  • Eddie Jordan as Minister for Women and Equality (don’t argue!),
  • Jake Humphrey as Minister for Children and Education (given his background in kid’s TV).

Sorted.

Espionage – ooh, spying!  Yay!  Renault’s Chief Operating Officer (the manufacturer, not the team), has been forced to step down following an industrial espionage scandal.  It probably won’t affect Lotus Renault whatsoever, but POP loves a good ol’ scandal.

This week POP also discovered some crucial evidence to add to the Ferrari/McLaren spying scandal of 2007.  Nigel Stepney, the Chief Mechanic for Ferrari, who was passing secret information over to McLaren, said the following of his first impressions of Ferrari:

“When I joined Ferrari at the beginning of 1993, it was like being thrown into the lion’s den.  I was in a non-position, regarded as John Barnard’s spy and not allowed to take any responsibility.”

Whoah, whoah, whoah… did someone say ‘spy’?  Clearly Ferrari should have trusted their gut – Stepney was clearly a bad apple/James Bond obsessive all along.  As an aside, John Barnard was a designer at Ferrari, and previously employed at McLaren.  Very telling indeed.

Johnny Herbert – POP’s childhood hero has finally joined the Twittersphere!  At the time of going to press, Johnny had managed to tweet a stonking … 5 tweets!  Wowzers.  Gems include:

  • “I am one of the tweeters…cool” – what a legendary way to start a Twittering career
  • “In the bar with all the guest’s” (at Goodwood)  – as every good ex-F1 driver should be
  • “I am impressed with myself….500 or so in five Minuites, is that good?” – POP, however, is not impressed with Johnny’s spelling abilities.  3 out of 10.
  • “@MBrundleF1 hey Martin, Billy has got me singed up now” – Johnny needs to work on his spelling homework.  2 out of 10.

Nick Heidfeld – firstly, huge, MASSIVE, BIIIGGG congratulations to Nick for setting a new Formula 1 record!!  In what, I hear you ask?  For the most number of podiums finishes … umm, without a win.  Woop!

Anyway, it’s not Nasty Nick, it’s Nice Nick Heidfeld!  The Lotus Renault driver sent a gushing open letter to the recovering Bobby K (Robert Kubica).  “During the race I had often been thinking of you. Crossing the finish line, happiness totally flooded my head” said Nick.  POP is pretty sure that thinking of Bobby K will not help when you’re racing at over 200mph.  “I printed your logo on the front of my helmet, and the Polish flag on the side” Nick went on to say.

Hell, why not go wholly Pole?  Forget letters, logos and flags … Nick should wear a Kubica mask throughout the next race, talk with his best impression of a Polish accent, and wear stilts on the podium to match Kubica’s tall stature!

Vitaly Petrov – And finally, Vitaly Petrov gets all touchy in a recent interview suggesting that he had an easy ride because of the truckloads of cash behind him on his way to F1.  “If someone says this, I say ‘Shut up! I don’t want to listen to this’ […] My father wanted to blow all the money the family has and the business, but after a few races in F1 you can see that I am not here just because of money.”

We learn a few things from this.  Firstly, we know that Vitaly is also in F1 for the wheel-breaking air jumps.  Secondly, he’s secretly from Queens, New York … ‘na-ah, YOU SHUT UP sister!’ And thirdly, he’s got serious father issues.  POP’s diagnosis:  6 sessions with the Lotus Renault psychiatrist.