Grapevine: Paddock Fizz - Nurburgring

Vitantonio Liuzzi is quite the ladies' man and he proved he is an old-school racer ahead of Red Bull Racing's test next week at Silverstone. Asked to test on the Wednesday next week, he called team boss Christian Horner to complain. The reason? He was having a new bed delivered to the Red Bull funhouse, where he lives with teammate Christian Klien, and had to be in to check it was to his satisfaction. The team duly obliged, allowing him to test on Friday instead, and he later confessed: "I actually get the bed delivered on Tuesday, but I wanted to be able to test it out..."


A select group of lucky Formula One fans were given the unique opportunity of being driven around the Nurburgring by their Grand Prix heroes this weekend when drivers were called to run high-speed 'taxi rides' around the circuit at the end of each day. The squeals of the wheels were clear to hear as each driver pushed the road car they were given to its limits but for one unfortunate 'cabbie', Sauber driver Felipe Massa, it was all a little bit tough to handle. The Brazilian racer lost control of the Suzuki car he was driving on Saturday night and hit the barriers, but Sauber spokesman confirmed nobody was injured and little damage was done. Except to Massa's pride, of course. Team boss Peter Sauber said: "It wasn't expensive - it cost less than if he'd knocked a front wing off (his Formula One car)."

 Mighty Fine

David Coulthard claims to be racing for nothing and being paid purely for his PR work in Formula One with Red Bull Racing this season, with points bonuses topping up his already healthy coffers. But he will be hoping to score in order to make this weekend a profitable one after copping a fine of $5,250 (USD) when he was caught speeding in the pitlane at 81.2km/h in the second practice session on Friday. He was not the only one. Ralf Schumacher was also punished for speeding right at the end of the first session, but he escaped with a $750 (Dollars) fine having only been clocked at 63km/h.

 Birthday Boys

Minardi boss Paul Stoddart had a unique birthday present when his cars were emblazoned with a 'Happy Birthday Paul' livery on Friday. The sticker, which would undoubtedly have been pricey to an outsider, ran along the rear flick-up and the Australian celebrated his big day by spraying champagne in the pitlane, quite possible for the first time since Mark Webber scored fifth for the team in Australia on his debut. Stoddart's was not the only birthday celebrated at the Nurburgring as Bridgestone boss Hisao Suganuma clocked up another year, celebrating it on Saturday with a dinner in the Bridgestone motorhome.

 Triangle Talk

With the admission from Mario Theissen that he "drove through Switzerland" on the way back from the Monaco Grand Prix, the paddock boomed with rumours of the latest move in the Sauber-Williams-BMW triangle. Eager speculation suggested BMW will buy Sauber, which now seems to be accepted as almost a given, and that Williams will end their relationship with the German company at the end of the season to link up with one of the Japanese manufacturers. But with Honda and Toyota both committed to long-term programmes of their own, the new spin was that Toyota would promote their Lexus brand by supplying Williams in the same way that Ford supplied Jordan while racing as Jaguar. The claims, which had little substance other than appearing in the Red Bulletin, also puts Jenson Button in at Williams alongside Mark Webber, with Nick Heidfeld moving to join Jacques Villeneuve at Sauber, or BMW, or whatever it will be. Aah, the early season rumour mill...

 Slow Mo Yawn

Saturday morning practice is bad at the best of times. Not only does it force everyone out of bed early but it does so for a brief spell of limited action. This weekend at the Nurburgring the television coverage said it all. As cars trundled round setting relatively meaningless lap times in preparation for the later qualifying session, the camera focussed on Felipe Massa, sitting patiently in the Sauber garage and trying to stifle a yawn. Not only was the action on track so dull the editor decided to show the yawn in the first place, he thought it so appropriate that he replayed it again, this time in slow motion. To prove that the session was not dull, however, he later cut back to a slow motion replay of Massa growing a smile.

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