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September 23, 2016 @ 6:40 am

Singapore 2016

It's all tea and biscuits in the Pitpass podcast following the Singapore Grand Prix, an event that saw Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo's grandstand finish overshadowed by a lizard and a moustache.

Chris Balfe is once again joined in the studio by Mat Coch and Max Noble, the three probing and prodding at all of the fleshy bits from the Singapore weekend. There's of course talk about Nico Rosberg and Daniel Ricciardo's dash for cash at the end of the race, and a discussion on Balfe's innovative biscuit based race rating system. This year's Marina Bay encounter netted an eight butterscotch rating, though we've no idea if that's good or bad or if Chris just got hungry mid-race.

Never one to shy away from the big issues the team also tackles the difficult subject of people on race tracks, though at Singapore that doesn't seem a particular challenge given a lizard a drunk and a marshal have all enjoyed unique views of the event in recent times. There is though a serious side to their debate given there were severe safety problems over the weekend, some emanating from race control but others from the drivers themselves as they chose to believe those yellow flags marshals were waving were just their nostalgic support for the Jordan Grand Prix team. That causes Coch to lose his rag and brand the lot of them amateurs – clearly he wasn't a Jordan fan.

Ferrari and McLaren get a mention, as does Williams though Valtteri Bottas is politely asked to ensure his seatbelt is securely fastened throughout the duration of the show. It was a bumpy weekend for Haas too, with Romain Grosjean's moaning almost of Lewis Hamilton (who has been on the backfoot all season, even while winning six races in seven) proportions.

However there was on topic from which there was no escaping, and one which Nigel Mansell will perhaps be glad finally raised its head. For the first time in decades the Best Moustache in Formula One Award has left his mantelpiece and has been whisked across to the office of Chase Carey with minimal fanfare.

Carey was of course on a meet and greet mission and shook hands and had conversations all weekend. So too did Bernie, and one suspects that may be the first glimpse of Liberty Media's new commercial strategy for the sport; the ultimate in reality TV shows as it follows the sports powerbrokers to decide who has the best handshake and small talk.

Exactly what Liberty's involvement will be remains unclear of course, that's the way Bernie tends to try and keep things wherever possible, but Balfe in particular isn't sold on the idea. It's probably because he hasn't got any shares.

PS, Don't worry Nige, you've still got the best eyebrows.

September 7, 2016 @ 7:30 am

Italy 2016

There's just something special about Monza, home of the Italian Grand Prix, that gives the team goose bumps as they dissect the latest round of the championship.

Chris Balfe, Mat Coch and Max Noble can't hide their enthusiasm for the fabled Italian circuit, suggesting it goes a long way to make up for what tend to be fair predictable races. The question is however, for how much longer given the suggested fate of the parkland circuit.

The race, or moreover Nico Rosberg's performance, had Balfe thinking. Perhaps there really are two Nico's and the evil twin Max Noble has previously suggested does actually exist. Does that mean there are two Lewis' too, and the one who can start races well had the weekend off?

Nothing tough gets the team's motors running quite like Jenson Button's sabbatical, an announcement Balfe in particular takes great exception to. There's business sense there of course, and Balfe concedes that on McLaren's part, but doesn't hold back on voicing his opinion on how the situation was handled.

That however proves only to be the curtain raiser for discussion on Ferrari. While it may have nabbed third place on home ground there are confusing and concerning messages coming from the squad's top brass. For Balfe and Noble they fear a return to the dark ages – the period from 1980 to 1999.

The possible sale of the sport is also discussed briefly, with suggestions there is far more to any buy out than meets the eye. A date clash with Le Mans is considered a Bad Move while Balfe saves some late praise, and even more bad puns, for late on.

September 2, 2016 @ 7:44 am

Belgium 2016

As the Formula One season reconvened at Spa so too has the Pitpass team been busy discussing a Belgian Grand Prix that created more than one talking point.

It's a podcast with a bit of a difference, as the trio of Chris Balfe, Mat Coch and Max Noble discuss and analyse the impact of the race on the sport as a whole. There's much noshing and wailing of teeth over Max Verstappen, and the tactics the young Dutch (or Belgian, delete where appropriate) employs. More than that though Balfe traces the Red Bull driver's approach back to its genesis moment in the sport, and it's not quite where you might expect.

Of course Kevin Magnussen couldn't escape without a mention, and though the team stop short of awarding points for artistic merit do suggest that such incidents are a warning shot across the bows of the sport. Furthermore they ponder whether that such a crash has happened, and Magnussen escaped relatively uninjured, is perhaps one of the reasons drivers like Verstappen can employ the tactics they do.

Yes, it's a real chicken and the egg episode which inevitably leads the team to talk about whether the sport is a sport or if the sport isn't a sport and the sport has become not a sport because sport doesn't sell as well as sport used to. Sport. Then again maybe it's just all business and we should be happy we've got a show to watch, and that it's not been cancelled by fat cat television execs as audience numbers fall.

Somewhere in amongst it all there are discussions on Nico Rosberg as Coch and Noble try to work out exactly which one – Nico or his evil twin – turned up in Spa all the while trying to calculate exactly where Lewis Hamilton should have started from. Somewhere near Brussels, was Balfe's guess.

Unlike the team radio though it's not all moaning and negativity, though there is groaning about the moaning back to base. It's all a bit like the school yard out there with everyone running to tell teacher – in Verstappen's case, while holding scissors.

Still, Max Noble has the solution to all of F1's problems with a neat little rule change that could be enacted next week. It's a simple, elegant and fuss free way of managing penalties. So it'll never happen.

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