Here we go! PerryScope has a late season start, the Formula One World Championship title race is now between Michael and Kimi and rumours about who's driving for who next year are flying faster than Superman on acid. Yup, you might have thought that the top teams have actually signed their boys for 2004 but my friends in the paddock tell me things may not be as they appear. Welcome to what we call the silly season. Actually, welcome to my silly column!

Here's a brief summary of the current gossip:

Michael Schumacher will retire after the Japanese Grand Prix and Giancarlo Fisichella, currently under contact to the Ferrari-supplied Sauber team, will replace him. But, if not, then maybe Fernando Alonso could dress in red and in turn be replaced at Renault by Mark Webber from Jaguar, or even sign Jacques Villeneuve or someone else, maybe Sylvester Stallone.

If Fisichella gets the Ferrari decision, the Sauber team could apply to run just one car equipped with two engines thus making it twice as quick, although slightly slow in the corners due to a three hundred litre fuel tank.

I've heard that Juan Pablo Montoya could soon move alongside Kimi Raikkonen with McLaren paying off David Coulthard and also having to pay Williams for the final year of Montoya's existing deal and then of course having to pay Montoya. This of course could be helped by the all new McLaren money press they have allegedly developed which is currently scheduled to print $100 bills, 24 hours a day, for the next six months.

Still with me?...

Williams could then try to sign Mark Webber as a replacement to Montoya, (so long as he doesn't leave Jaguar and go to Renault) and Jaguar would receive a much-needed cash injection that Williams could fund from their Montoya pay-off. Jaguar then signs Coulthard as its number one, who doesn't cost much because he already has his McLaren pay off, even though both he and Williams could be concerned that any ink mixing problems could deliver their new McLaren money all in orange.

Hmmmmm... Or maybe not!

If my paddock pals want to go really large on theories then why are they only thinking about the current crop of drivers? If existing contracts can be bypassed then ... think big! Think global! Think markets! Yeah, markets, that's a key term nowadays. The engine manufacturers and team sponsors all have products to sell so why not link grand prix races to future markets? Then, thinking of nationalities, they could choose the drivers from these countries... even if they're not currently in Formula One. Even if they're not in motor racing!

Try this. How about the Grand Prix of Azerbaijan? Perfect. They're rich in oil and that could be a good trade for BMW. As an example, they dump all their new 7 series cars that nobody wants in exchange for 5 trillion gallons of black stuff and, just to keep the deal sweet, they insert a local boy into the Williams F1 cockpit and then film one of those stupid documentaries that begins with ''We had seventeen hours to turn illiterate sheep farmer Mustava Flock into a Formula One winner''.

Don't scoff! This could be the future. Think viewers, think airtime, think income. Just dial 0800 Mustava if you think he can make it (calls cost $38 per minute or two Lamas). Or if you like the look of the Russian water sport expert Ivor Jetski then dial... yeah yeah... you've got the point!

But for added entertainment what about integrating a small piece of the host nation's culture into a race? Maybe in a Grand Prix of Columbia the car could find a performance boost by following the white line all the way round the track. I guess it'd make them faster but the telemetry might keep downloading 'they're after me, they're after me!' Or we could have the Grand Prix of Angola where if the drivers slid too far over a kerb, they hit a landmine that blows the front wheels off. The possibilities are endless...

What about a whole Formula One World Championship just for women? It could be sponsored by a cosmetics company who would understand why it takes the drivers seven hours to get ready for a photo call. Street circuits though would have to be banned as we expect the girls would stop the car after three laps and start looking around the shops. But listen to me! There's a market here! If the cosmetic companies didn't want to invest then women's' sanitary products could sponsor the series; I doubt it'd be as aggressive as the current championship but there'd sure be some tough negotiations once every 28 days.

Or, just perhaps, we could totally ignore the silly season rumours and some of the dumb proposals for making the spectacle more popular and instead relish the fact that Formula One is back in a big way. 2003 has been a great season and in my opinion Grand Prix is once again the sport to watch.

I'll be back in two weeks with some more thoughts. In the meantime though, please wish me luck in my negotiations with Ferrari to replace Rubens Barrichello if as rumoured the Brazilian coffee market takes a downturn and all their sports stars are recalled home to join the military and defend the economy! will be operational from October 1st.




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