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GP Week : Issue 153
BRIEFLY » Formula One’s return to Europe also means a return of the paddock parties, as teams try to eke as much value as possible out of their pricey motorhomes. Ferrari kicked off the celebrations with a cocktail party on Thursday evening, while Sauber, Red Bull, and Santander all held competing parties on Friday night. Saturday evening saw the paddock come together to celebrate the belated 70th birthday of Formula One legend Sir Frank Williams, founder of the eponymous race team. Towards the end of the function, the news that Lewis Hamilton had been demoted and Pastor Maldonado was on pole position reached the motorhome (their best result since Nico Hulkenberg’s pole at the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix). Frank probably wished for that when he blew the candles out on his cake ... » A key element in the rise of social media has been the way in which it allows fans to interact directly with their heroes. Celebrities have been using a variety of platforms to change the way they are perceived by the public, and in the F1 world one of the most successful has been Fernando Alonso. Initially banned by Ferrari from taking part in the social media revolution, Alonso has used his Twitter feed to display a wry sense of humour not often captured by the paddock film crews. But for a real insight into the Spanish driver, the smart thing to do is to follow Alonso on Instagram (alo_official), where the Asturian’s photo feed shows a talented photographer with a great eye for composition and a tongue-in-cheek approach to the F1 life. Sometimes the best publicity is your own publicity. McLaren are normally a byword for perfectionism in Formula One. But – like all perfectionists – they play an all or nothing game. The British race team either do well, or mess up spectacularly, a familiar trait to those similarly-afflicted. In a season that saw McLaren arrive in Australia with a car that was quick out of the box for the first time in years, the team have now become a byword for botched pitstops and tactical errors. Lewis Hamilton, who put in a barnstorming lap to take pole, was excluded from the qualifying results after it was established that his car did not contain enough fuel to return to the pits as per FIA regulations. While that error was the grossest of the season thus far, it followed hot on the heels of a series of pit-astop problems that have dogged both Hamilton and team-mate Jenson Button at nearly every race this year. During last month’s Bahrain Grand Prix, both Hamilton and Button lost places thanks to a series of pit-stop errors, while Button saw his chance of a win in China slip away with a 9.7s stop. The problems have led to a restructuring of the McLaren pit crew, but the team are now in the unenviable position of being under so much pressure to perform well that it’s nearly impossible not to fumble. Indeed, during Sunday’s race Hamilton was impeded by a replaced wheel left too close to the left rear quarter of his car, costing a couple of seconds. Lewis radioed in later, concerned that he might have run over someone’s foot. On Saturday evening, Hamilton was exiting the lift in the Hilton with his entourage, all of whom were discussing the British driver’s exclusion. Hamilton’s comment? “F***ing unbelievable!” Hamilton’s McLaren contract expires at the end of this season, and the 2008 world champion has yet to negotiate a new deal with the team that have supported his racing career since he was a 12-year-old in karts. More errors of this ilk could persuade the British driver to start looking elsewhere ... – THROWING AWAY ANOTHER CHAMPIONSHIP? Lewis Hamilton's McLaren MP4-27 is bought back to the pits after running out of fuel at the end of Q3 McLAREN 5 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> NEWS