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April 22, 2016 @ 1:45 pm

China 2016

The Chinese Grand Prix proved almost too exciting for the Pitpass team as they gather once again in the studio to dissect the race. Chris Balfe, Max Noble and Mat Coch can't hide their after what they suggest was easily the best race of the season.

A mixed up race caused by a combination of safety cars, grid penalties and incidents give the trio plenty of fodder. Between them they quickly lay the blame for Sebastian Vettel's first corner collision firmly at the German's feet, not that they really minded since the post-race banter with Daniil Kvyat and the Ferrari driver's recovery energised the race.

If the trio was happy with Vettel's outburst and performance they were also impressed by his countryman, Nico Rosberg. Three wins in a row to start the season gets the guys saying positive things, and when you remember the three wins at the end of 2015 suggest there's a new Nico at Mercedes.

For a Formula One podcast there is a lot of talk about football, but it as a point aside from Balfe's support of Tottenham. There are parallels between F1 and the English Premier League, Coch suggests, though his claim that Leeds United is a powerhouse is optimistic.

With a surprising focus on the race weekend itself the Chinese marshals get a mention, as does the oversize hairdryer with which they tried to (pointlessly in Coch's opinion) dry the track. Still, it made for a varied tyre strategy come the race, which made Noble especially happy.

There weren't so kind words for Valtteri Bottas though. The flying Finn, once rated as a future world champion, has lost his spark according to Balfe, while Coch puts Noble on the spot and asks if he'd hire Bottas if he was at the helm at Williams. It makes for an awkward silence.

Sauber's continuing plight gets the team talking about Alfa Romeo and just what it would mean to have the Italian name back on the grid. Balfe though questions the logic of such a connection, and whether Sauber would be the best target, not to mention the importance of getting the branding right.

That's a trap others have fallen into, including the team which now calls itself Renault. Having bought out the Enstone squad at the end of 2015 its woes at the back end of the grid are self-inflicted says Balfe in a compelling argument.

April 7, 2016 @ 2:47 am

Bahrain 2016

The Pitpass crew returns to discuss the Bahrain Grand Prix, and for once they actually just about manage it.

Chris Balfe, Max Noble and Mat Coch return and touch on topics such as Lewis' dress sense and where Max keeps his money.

The nearly 50-minute show gets into every nook and cranny of the sport, analysing Ferrari's seemingly fast but fragile 2016 contender, just who was at fault in the Valtteri Bottas versus Lewis Hamilton clash and the future of Carlos Sainz.

An impressive show from Stoffel Vandoorne gets the team excited while there are raised eyebrows and confused banter over Fernando Alonso, Ron Dennis and the person booking Vandoorne's flight from Japan.

There remains an undercurrent of suspicion too as the trio suggest that the way the sport is being dragged through the mud is no accident, and while it doesn't point fingers there's a certain amount of gesticulating in one general direction.

Williams' bad race didn't escape their ire while there are concerns for Sauber - a team which seems a shadow of its former self.
March 23, 2016 @ 2:00 am

Australia 2016

Fresh off the back of the opening round of the 2016 Formula One championship, the Pitpass trio of Chris Balfe, Mat Coch and Max Noble are back in the studio.

It was a weekend which provided the team with plenty to talk about, from the weather to tyre rules, qualifying to safety structures.

One of the key talking points was the all-new qualifying format, which was universally panned not only by the Pitpass crew but those within the Formula One paddock. The drama, the anticipation and the hero lap were all missing, Balfe, Noble and Coch agree. Instead it's replaced with a confusing system that lends itself to over-exciting commentators yelling their way through the broadcast before realising just how silly it all is.

Predictably, Fernando Alonso's crash was discussed at length with both positive and negative outcomes as a result. While pleased to see the Spaniard walk away there were concerns over how easily the crash happened, and how fortunate it was not to have been bigger. That naturally sees the conversation turn to the revised head protection the sport is looking to introduce as the trio analyse whether a halo-style devise would have helped or hindered Alonso.

There are positive words for Haas and Ferrari, and a collective sigh of relief that Mercedes hasn't run away with it - yet - as was feared it might. There's even a special mention for Sebastian Vettel's sense of humour following the banter with former team-mate Mark Webber on the podium post-race.
March 13, 2016 @ 8:32 am

2016 Season Preview

After a long winter, the  Pitpass trio of Chris Balfe, Mat Coch and Max Noble are back to preview the opening round of the 2016 Formula One season.

The first Pitpass podcast of the year looks back at pre-season testing as the crew share their thoughts on the state of affairs within the sport and look forward to the Australian Grand Prix.

For Balfe, testing presented a worrying state of affairs as the status quo from last year looks to have remained. Mercedes' bullet-proof reliability has him most concerned, though there are hopes others have caught up to make a truly competitive season for all.

There are hopes from Noble that Fernando Alonso will need directions to the podium at some point this season as a reinvigorated McLaren challenges in the midfield, a battle Coch is hoping proves as close as it looks.

However there is universal concern over the all-new qualifying format which sees drivers eliminated every ninety seconds. The complicated new system is of course just one of two revisions designed with the express purpose of alienating and confusing fans as tyre regulations also get an overhaul. Though details of the new tyre rules have been published everybody in the Pitpass office now boasts a bald patch where they've been scratching their heads.

Ferrari's debut of the proposed halo system, designed to give drivers better protection, also gets a mention as do ways for the sport to better connect with fans. It's a topic of conversation that sends Balfe off on a rose-tinted stroll down memory lane as he recalls Jim Clark's overalls, Chris Amon's affinity for ice cream and Ronnie Petersen's underpants.

December 8, 2015 @ 6:39 pm

2015 Pitpass Gala Awards

The Pitpass Gala Awards marked the culmination of a year's toil for the Formula One fraternity, which shows its support by staying at home. Instead the event was celebrated in a private room at one of the world's leading restaurants as Chris Balfe, Max Noble and Mat Coch descended on Singapore to dish out the awards for 2015.

In a sparkling ceremony, which saw Noble proudly show off his self-tied bow tied (shame he didn't know how to tie it), the brightest and best are celebrated following a long an arduous Formula One season.

No fewer than eleven awards are given, which is awkward given there 26 winners leaving the team to concoct a trophy share arrangement, though Balfe has Views on who should be doing the deliveries.

From the very first award of the night, the Biggest Let Down Of The Year, the team is on fire as they successfully manage to fail to agree and Coch goes off script to the bemusement and confusion of everyone else.

There are some moments of clarity, and as many as four awards receive unanimous support from the trio. By Manor's maths, that's a perfect record and makes it one of the most reliable awards ceremonies around.

Aside from Biggest Let Down Of The Year, awards were also handed out to biggest lie of the year, biggest piece of PR shiiiii….spin of the year, screw up of the year and team of the year. Not leaving it there three separate team bosses are crowned team boss of the year, which made for an awkward moment when it came to posting the award, while Max Verstappen will be forced to empty the school books out of his rucksack after he takes home a number of trophies in which he beats himself to victory.

There's the family favourites too with race of the year, overtake of the year, rookie of the year (oops, we might have just given that one away. Err, spoiler alert?), car of the year and of course driver of the year.

December 2, 2015 @ 4:10 pm

Abu Dhabi 2015

Nico Rosberg might have won, but it was Sergio Perez who the team was waxing lyrical about following the season ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Chris Balfe, Max Noble and Mat Coch are back in the Pitpass studio dissecting the race and not getting distracted by the prospect of driverless motor racing in future at all. Okay, maybe for a bit, but barely more than five minutes as they salivate as the prospect of engineers with thick glasses and laptops slaving away over line after line of computer code.

Kicking off the show, the trio look at the situation at Mercedes as tension mounts between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg before moving seamlessly onto the impressive Sebastian Vettel as Ferrari goes from strength to strength. Just a shame the season is over.

With little to talk about on track, attention instead turns to the 2017 regulations and the fears over where it's taking the sport. It might not be Formula Robert, as Noble brands the driverless racing series that will support Formula E next season, but it may as well be. Mechanical grip is the key, they decide, in a move that will almost certainly be voted against at the next meeting of the F1 commission.

After a season of honourable mentions, Max Verstappen ends the year with a dishonourable mentioned after a calamitous weekend. Still, it's more than Nico Hulkenberg receives as the German sits quietly in the shadow of his teammate. Even Coch has to finally accept that fact.

November 18, 2015 @ 3:47 pm

Brazil 2015

Nico Rosberg needs to do a lot more than just win the Brazilian Grand Prix to impress Mat Coch it seems as he's joined in the Pitpass studio once again by Chris Balfe and Max Noble.

The trio are on deck to navigate the flat water that was the Brazilian Grand Prix. For Noble and Balfe it was a race Rosberg should be proud of, a lights to flag victory which he steered home without a hint of chop to the ride. Coch is less impressed and suggests Lewis Hamilton was the better of the two Mercedes drivers. He even tries to defend his stance, though Balfe and Noble are having none of that nonsense.

Somehow the team manages to talk for a full nine minutes about the race itself. What makes that remarkable is that in reality the race only lasted about nine seconds. Still the trio found things to amuse themselves with, which this week seems to be trying to subtly slot in nautical themes throughout the show.

That almost did the trick of distracting them from mentioning the war. They mentioned it once, but we're pretty sure they got away with it as the subject of engines for next season is glossed over with the same speed as Pastor Maldonado's finishing record when it's time to cash the cheque.

Poor Pastor cops a bit of a pasting this week with Balfe suggesting Lotus hasn't done itself any favours next season by retaining him. It's done even less for Jolyon Palmer who is set to be take Throwing Expensive Automobiles at the Scenery 101 from Professor Maldonado, or Professor Mal as he's known to the cool kids.

There's also talk about the reshuffle at Manor and the problems in Austin, there's even a three thumbs up for Carlos Sainz, who has to be the unluckiest driver in Formula One this season. Felipe Massa's disqualification gets the crew frothing at the mouth while for light relief Balfe seems on the verge of suggesting Fernando Alonso quit F1 and forge a new career in comedy.

November 4, 2015 @ 3:17 pm

Mexico 2015

There's a party in the Pitpass studio and much to Chris Balfe's disdain it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Editor Balfe is joined once again by Max Noble and Mat Coch as the trio dissects the latest round of Bernie's Scalextric World Championship, though they've lost the track invader piece that actually makes the racing interesting.

So instead they focus on other events, laying into Lewis Hamilton like a Mexican wrestler. Indeed the triple world champion gets body slammed by all three of the guys who take turns to brand him things like unprofessional, childish and Lewis. Coch suggests he needs to learn how to lose, or more to the point, understand the fact that he can't win every race while the team all agrees the mentoring role Nigel Mansell took on over the weekend was wildly successful. Not since the mustachioed maestro ruled the Peraltada has the sport seen whining of such epic proportions.

Speaking of whining, there is a brief and terse discussion about engines. Balfe was busy during the week pulling all the price tags off the engines at Brackley, which had what looked like a telephone number on them while those at Woking simply said "free to good home." Coch though isn't buying the bluff and provides irrefutable evidence that, while the Honda may as well be a Vespa, the McLaren is hardly any better.

Missing this week is Max Noble's now trademark conspiracy theory but instead he got to talk about Aston Martin, Pirelli's tyres and how nobody whined about them other than Lewis.

And of course no podcast this week would be complete without touching on the biggest story of the year; Susie Wolff's retirement from competitive motorsport. And yes, the guys really do ask THAT question… You know the one; about at which point she actually started competitive motorsport.

October 28, 2015 @ 2:19 pm

2015 United States Grand Prix

Subaru is on the verge of entering Formula One. Okay, it's not, but we bet that got your attention… It's just one of the wild fancies the Pitpass trio throw about in the latest podcast instead of dissecting what was a hugely entertaining race.

To be fair Chris Balfe, Max Noble and Mat Coch do touch on the topic but much prefer to talk about the important matters, like how many clowns could fit in Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari, or why Coch has suddenly gone all Forrest Gump.

As an extra incentive this week Balfe came armed, launching second place caps at either Noble or Coch when the said something particularly silly. Noble earned one for branding himself an excellent Number 2 speaker, a point neither Balfe nor Coch argued with.

There are serious moments too as they question whether democracy really is the answer and whether installing sprinklers around the world's circuits is actually feasible. It probably isn't, though Balfe doesn't seem too upset by that.

He is upset at Ferrari after Maurizio Arrivabene criticised the sideshow put on by rival teams on Saturday afternoon during the (exceedingly) long rain delay. He was probably just upset Daniel Ricciardo agreed to dance with team-mate Daniil Kvyat and not him.

Fourth placed Max Verstappen gets a wrap, which almost certainly means he'll stick it in the hedge at the first corner in Mexico, but the trio universally urge caution over his future. It's so bright you can only look at it while wearing a welding mask, but the concern is he'll be rushed into a leading team before he's ready and not be afforded the time he needs to develop.

Like the race itself, the podcast has more twists and turns than Pastor Maldonado (and Coch has a theory there…) in a bumper car and covers more ground than the carnage left in its wake.

October 14, 2015 @ 1:59 pm

2015 Russian Grand Prix

Anyone would think we've let Basil Fawlty into the Pitpass studio this week as Chris Balfe, Max Noble and Mat Coch do their best not to mention the war. Instead the trio actually manages to do the rarest of things in the Russian Grand Prix podcast, which is actually talk about the Russian Grand Prix.

Mostly it's admiration of the local officials who seemed capable of fixing anything with a bit of duct tape, though someone the foolishly brave chap who played chicken with Sebastian Vettel mid-race escaped their attention. That's because they were too busy trying to remember who the head of the FIA was, before agreeing it was a short Frenchman which almost certainly meant it must be Alain Prost.

There were serious moments though, notably as the team discussed Carlos Sainz's practice crash while the Spaniard won fans with his single minded determination to get straight back on the horse after being bucked off. For Balfe the whole weekend had an eerie overtone with just hints of a weekend in May 21 years ago. Coch though wasn't so concerned, suggesting crashing is just part of the game and while Sainz and Romain Grosjean both had big'uns it wasn't really cause for alarm – though perhaps a rethink over how barriers are installed.

At one point the usual calm and reasonable Noble transforms into Mad Max as he goes on a rant about the current engine formula and even suggests Bernie is playing games with the media on the sale of the sport. It's his third conspiracy theory in a row, which is a better strike rate than Glen 'Conspiracy Theory' Crompton could ever manage.

It makes for a lively discussion between the trio who vent their frustration, anger and spleens all the while working really hard not to mention the war. Balfe mentioned it once, but we think he got away with it.

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