ITV Sport's pit lane reporter Ted Kravitz brings you the inside track from the Chinese Grand Prix weekend in his latest notebook.
This story about the FIA assigning a scrutineer to ensure no sabotage comes to Fernando Alonsoās car in Brazil is the most ridiculous turn in whatās already been a strange yearās events.
McLaren is genuinely fair in what equipment they give their drivers, often to their own detriment. And given Fernandoās engineers and mechanics really want to beat the other side of the garage to the world championship, why would they deliberately slow down their own car?
I have to admit, I love a good conspiracy theory, and Iām even willing to believe those who say the result of the Chinese GP was fixed to ensure a three-way showdown at the last race ā but to sabotage Alonso would only serve to help Kimi Raikkonen through to take the title off both McLaren drivers, and no one in the team wants that.
Fernandoās still out of McLaren at the end of the year, though. His departure is now spoken of in the paddock as a done deal, and the latest rumoured replacement is Heikki Kovalainen.
It would be a straight swap with Renault. Both teams would release their drivers to work for the other and the harmonious Alonso-Fisichella pairing would be reunited. Perfect!
The overriding feeling from Lewis Hamiltonās race in China is that the team got so bogged down in the detail of finding a gap in the weather and, crucially, covering what team-mate Alonso was doing, that they lost sight of the big picture.
Lewis didnāt need to win the race ā he just needed enough points to make Brazil a formality. Instead he goes to Sao Paolo needing a massive result, and knowing he could easily lose the championship lead when it really matters.
Nigel Stepney himself would be proud of the new development Ferrariās pit crew introduced in the Far East: Theyāve done away with the lollipop man and replaced him with a small set of traffic lights.
The lights hang down from the tyre gun booms and are connected to the fuel system. So the driver can see the red, amber and green lights that the fuel man gets to denote that the stop is about to begin, is in progress, or finished.
The chief mechanic stands nearby with an override switch that he can use to keep the lights on red if it is not safe to release the driver. If it is safe, the driver just reacts to the green āall the fuel is inā light, and leaves the pit.
Firstly, this cuts down on time. The lollipop system is inherently slow as it relies on two human reactions ā the lollipop man reacting to the fuel nozzle coming off and then the driver reacting to the lollipop.
Given that the average human reaction time is about two-tenths of a second, that time is now saved by cutting out one personās reaction time.
Secondly, the new system will prevent the phenomenon of āchief mechanicsā twitchā, whereby the driver thinks he sees the lollipop go up or the mechanic raises it too soon, as demonstrated by Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone and Christijan Albers in France.
So itās a nice idea, albeit slightly complicated. Will it make the difference to Raikkonen or Massa possibly overtaking someone in the pits? I doubt it, but the system is likely to be copied by everyone else in the pit lane anyway.
Robert Kubica was looking pretty good for a podium before he retired. A pit stop on lap 25 saw him on dry tyres, leading the race, with but one stop to make before the end.
For him to suffer the same hydraulic problem that BMW had experienced three times already that weekend was gutting, if not particularly surprising.
Once they rinsed off the hydraulic fluid, the engineers packed up the faulty parts in a few suitcases and flew them back to BMW HQ in Munich, presumably to dump them ceremonially on their hydraulics designerās desk with stern instructions to come up with something that works.
The cars are flown directly from Shanghai to Brazil, so it looks like Lufthansa will be raking in the excess baggage charges when BMW check in with re-worked hydraulic systems for their flight to Sao Paolo next week.
So, farewell then, Alexander Wurz. Even at the point of retirement, youāve got to hand it to him ā heās a class act.
Unlike Ralf Schumacher (who also lost interest several months ago), as soon as Alex decided heād had enough, he quit on the spot, rather than waste his and the teamās time ā and possibly his life ā driving in one more race for no purpose.
Iāve said it before and Iāll say it again, Wurz is, by some margin, one of the most intelligent drivers Iāve encountered in 10 years of F1, and Iām sure heāll pick up a testing job with another team if he wants it, and surely has what it takes to be a successful team boss in the future.
In the meantime, we wish Alex, Julia and sons Felix, Charlie and Oscar all the best.
Williams dropped a bit of a clanger when they gave Nico Rosberg the wrong (wet) tyres after he pitted with a puncture on lap 28, necessitating another stop for slicks four laps later.
But that was nothing compared to the obvious hint that Patrick Head dropped as to the identity of Wurzās replacement next year when he congratulated āthe Toro Rosso driversā (of whom only Tonio Liuzzi is unsigned for ā08) on their race drive in the last line of the teamās press release.
Shanghai International Circuit
Iām indebted to reader Emma Jones who made the excellent point in the comments section of last weekās notebook that the Fuji circuit could learn a thing or two from Silverstone about where to place grandstands.
Sheās right, of course, but Silverstone still felt it had something to learn from F1ās Asian leg as the trackās MD Richard Phillips made the trip out to Shanghai.
If he came to see Bernie Ecclestone, he would have been disappointed, as Bernie was not present in China, but Phillips would have seen whatās possible when money is no object.
The Shanghai circuit was built in a couple of years by 6,000 workers on day and night shift ā something you couldnāt imagine happening in Northamptonshire.
Indeed Iām not sure Silverstone could relate anything they saw in China to the job they have to do in the UK, but it was notable to see them there nonetheless.
There were also a few interesting celebrities hanging around the Shanghai circuit.
Keanu Reeves was on the grid, and got his photo taken with a load of Honda mechanics (theyāre building quite a collection after Posh and Becks at Silverstone).
Keanuās presence attracted much female attention, with verdicts varying from āhe looks oldā (Reeves recently turned 43) to āhe hasnāt rubbed his sun cream in properlyā to āhe looks chubbier than he did in Point Breakā.
All of which may or may not be accurate, but heās still a massive star and it was most excellent to see him in China.
On that note, Iāll leave you with a quotation from one of Keanuās finest works: Bill and Tedās Excellent Adventure.
itv.com/f1 - Ted's Shanghai notebook