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Coulthard: This will be my year

Monte Carlo, Friday: Ageing Scotsman David Coulthard has claimed that 2009 will be his year to finally win the Formula One world championship, dismissing the fact that he retired from the sport at the end of last year as “irrelevant.”

Coulthard first raced in F1 in 1994, and despite spending ten years in competitive Williams and McLaren machinery, was never able to claim the ultimate prize in Grand Prix racing. The lantern-jawed driver, however, told journalists at his Monaco hotel today that 2009 was going to be different.

Retired racer David Coulthard

Confident: Retired racer David Coulthard

“I feel very confident that this will be my year,” said David. “The fact that I don’t actually have a car to drive obviously makes this a bigger challenge than I have ever faced before, but certainly I have a lot of experience, which as everyone knows is clearly more important than actually being able to drive well.”

Coulthard is expected to spend the 2009 Formula One season working for the BBC, where he will pass hopefully informed comment on what is happening while someone else goes on to win the world championship. “Balancing my duties at the BBC with winning the world title is going to be difficult,” Coulthard confessed, “but I have what it takes to do it. I know I can.”

Critics of Coulthard’s overconfidence point to the history books, which show that every world champion so far has competed in at least one race in the season in which they won the title. The Scot is dismissive of such statistics, however: “Niki Lauda won the world title after retiring. So why can’t I?”

Coulthard’s replacement, four-month-old Sebastian Vettel, gurgled a little bit and then threw up on our reporter when asked to comment on the news.

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BBC refuse to show Honda appeal

London, Thursday: The British Parliament is currently debating a motion to “criticise and condemn” the BBC after the corporation refused to air an appeal asking for someone to buy the embattled Honda Formula One team.

With the end of January rapidly approaching, and hence the deadline for the team to find a buyer before the Japanese manufacturer ceases operations at its F1 outfit, no buyer has yet been found, though consistent rumours of a management buyout have been circulating without substantiation for some time.

Honda headquarters, Brackley

Embattled: Honda headquarters, Brackley

The BBC said that asking for money to help fund the F1 team for 2009 and beyond would compromise its long-held requirement for neutrality, particularly because they did not help the collapsing Super Aguri team in 2008, when Honda withdrew its support for the Japanese privateer team.

“It’s a disgrace,” said Reginald Scrotum, Conservative MP for the Cotswold constituency of Bigotry & Shouting. “This is not about taking sides in a long-running dispute between the F1 team and its Japanese backers. It is about safeguarding the jobs of hundreds of Honda employees, who are about to lose their livelihoods through no fault of their own.”

The BBC, however, has so far refused to back down, prompting whispers from some that a suspicious “pro-Japan lobby” has been involved in the decision-making processes of the national broadcasters.

The appeal is rumoured to show pictures of a destitute Jenson Button standing outside the Honda factory in Brackley with a battered “1st place” cap held out for loose change (although where he nicked that from is not yet known). A booming voiceover then asks viewers to donate “just £1” to save the Honda team, with “and a projected annual budget of £160 million” in very tiny lettering at the foot of the screen. The appeal ends with a tearful Nick Fry staring innocently into the camera, mouthing the word “Please.”

McLaren deny “ailing Ron” rumours

Woking, Monday: New McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has dismissed what he calls “scurrilous rumours” that his predecessor, Ron Dennis, is terminally ill, stating that his former superior is in perfect health and has transferred power at McLaren “to focus on other projects.”

Ill? McLaren CEO Ron Dennis

Ill? McLaren CEO Ron Dennis

“Ron is perfectly healthy,” Whitmarsh said today. “Simply put, he is too old and tired to be dealing with the day-to-day running of the team, so he has transferred that responsibility to me. However, we will still be consulting Ron on the most important McLaren matters, so important is he to the stability and well-being of the team.”

Rival team Ferrari has re-asserted its belief that Dennis is suffering from a terminal illness, pointing to the fact that he hasn’t been posting on his blog as much recently as evidence of his declining health.

Dennis rose to power at McLaren in 1981 after a “glorious revolution takeover,” deposing former shareholders Teddy Mayer and Tyler Alexander. Despite significant external pressure from Ferrari and the FIA, Dennis was able to consolidate his rule and build a competitive team. The outfit suffered in the mid-1990s following the collapse of close ally Brabham, but since then has built up a thriving headquarters and has now regained some of its lost pace.

Global rumours circulate continuously about McLaren having “the shiniest gravel in the known world,” though Ferrari have always denied these claims, citing their own investigations which apparently revealed that “though somewhat shiny, McLaren’s gravel pales in comparison to other teams, whose gravel washers are better qualified and better paid.”

Rumours that Ferrari may soon attempt a full-scale takeover of McLaren, “renaturalising” several former Woking employees who have defected to Maranello since Dennis took control of the team, have been denied by Ferrari but are considered to be a distinct possibility.

Dastardly plans to foil Hamilton revealed

Woking, Sunday: The McLaren Formula One team has today revealed details of a “complex and multi-layered” plan by the FIA to stop Lewis Hamilton from winning last year’s F1 world championship.

The plans, which were “given” to McLaren by an anonymous FIA employee (who has now been suspended), finally show what many McLaren fans had suspected all along – that the FIA were taking steps to fix the 2008 world championship in favour of Ferrari and Felipe Massa.

World champion Lewis Hamilton

Not foiled: World champion Lewis Hamilton

“Due to an FIA order, we were not able to release details of their plans until now,” a McLaren spokesman said today. “It turns out that the FIA tried to stop Hamilton from winning the championship, although the often-suspected bias of race stewards isn’t how they did it. Lewis just kept getting punished because he wouldn’t stop breaking the rules.

“What actually happened is that the World Motor Sport Council secretly ruled in August that Hamilton would have to contest the final few races of the season without an engine in his car. McLaren engineers therefore designed a car that would run on Lewis’ sense of self-importance, which explains why he was so fast towards the end of the year.

“The noise of a conventional F1 V8, coming from Hamilton’s car, was simulated by playing a recording of McLaren fans reacting to the revised result of the Belgian Grand Prix.”

The FIA has yet to comment on the allegations.

Glock refuses to drive “atheist-branded” Toyota

Cologne, Friday: Speculation has surrounded the security of Timo Glock’s seat at Toyota after the German reportedly refused to drive the team’s new car, carrying controversial sponsorship from a secularist organisation.

The slogan, placed on the team by the National Secular Society of the UK, reads “There’s probably no God – so stop worrying and get on with your life.” Devout believer Glock has apparently told bosses at Toyota that he will not drive a car that so blatantly promotes atheism, as it conflicts with his religious views.

Toyotas Timo Glock

Faithful: Toyota's Timo Glock

Insiders at the team’s German base have suggested that Glock objects to the phrasing because he found his faith relatively recently, after “Lewis Hamilton put the fear of God into him, before the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix. That’s why Timo let him through was passed by Lewis so late in the race – Timo attributed that to, um, divine intervention and has been a regular churchgoer ever since.”

When the prominent slogan was unveiled earlier this week along with Toyota’s new-for-2009 car, it immediately sparked controversy, with a consortium of British journalists filing a complaint to the FIA. “Such divisive and intolerant statements have no place in Formula One,” the complaint read. “British motorsport journalists reserve the right to worship Lewis Hamilton, and refuse to be bullied into believing otherwise by inflammatory assertions posted on rival cars.”

Even “reshuffled” McLaren boss Ron Dennis has weighed into the arguments, taking exception to the National Secular Society’s instruction for people to “stop worrying and get on with … life.”

“Life, especially in motor racing, is not to be enjoyed,” Dennis told reporters at the team’s Woking base. “We believe the slogan should be banned, because it totally contradicts the ethos of hard work and lack of fun we have spent decades cultivating here at McLaren. We can’t have other teams promoting some kind of ‘feel-good’ message when we are trying to discourage such inefficient and wasteful behaviour within our own ranks.”

Reports that McLaren are planning to respond to the campaign with their own slogan, stating “Stop worrying and GET ON WITH YOUR WORK!” appear to be wide of the mark.

Special thanks to Mrs Shrek for inspiration.

Green Williams “not an environment thing”

Grove, Wednesday: Frank Williams, the owner of the Formula One team of the same name, has denied that his team’s remarkable new colour scheme has anything to do with raising environmental awareness, upon revealing that the British team will run in a green livery for the 2009 season.

Frank Williams

Not green: Frank Williams

At the moment, Williams are operating with a dark blue colour scheme, which has often been used by the team in pre-season testing before reverting to a more traditional blue-and-white livery at the opening race of the season. Apart from a couple of regrettable years in the late 1990s, Williams have fielded blue and white cars for many years, thanks to associations with Rothmans cigarettes, BMW and most recently, the Royal Bank of Scotland.

“No, it’s nothing to do with the environment,” Mr. Williams told journalists outside the team’s factory in Grove. “There’s none of that Honda hippie stuff here; we’re trying to race very expensive and gas-guzzling cars at racetracks in far-off corners of the globe – how on earth is painting our car green going to make any difference to the environment? It’s not as if it’s going to be photosynthesising or anything.”

Williams then revealed that the green colour of the car – specifically, British racing green – was actually in deference to one of the team’s sponsors.

“Seeing as how RBS has been nationalised, we decided that as a token of goodwill to the British taxpayers – who are, essentially, funding our team for this season – we would paint our car in the national racing livery.”

The news has already created political tensions in Parliament: Conservative leader David Cameron branded RBS’s sponsorship of Williams “a scandalous waste of money” and got a bit red in the face. In keeping with the party line, however, he failed to outline any policies to deal with the situation should he come to power.

Tilke drafts discovery hailed as “momentous”

Olpe, Monday: The excavation of numerous early circuit designs by renowned (no, seriously) racing track designer Hermann Tilke have been proclaimed as “a momentous discovery” by archaeologists and motorsport experts alike, with excited commentators jumping up and down and exclaiming that we are now able to gain a crucial insight into the mind of one of motorsport’s most regrettably influential figures, learning more about his methods and inspirations.

Early work of Hermann Tilke

Momentous: Early work of Hermann Tilke

The notebook, entitled Rennenring-Drafts und Scheisse, is tentatively dated from around 2001, and includes designs for several new circuits – some of which are vaguely recognisable as now-existing Tilke-designed tracks – and some modifications to old classics such as Monza, Spa and Silverstone.

A German motorsport enthusiast, who discovered the file at Tilke’s old home in Nordrhein-Westphalien, commented that “What is most staggering is that all of the designs have been drawn in what appears to be wax crayon. The colour seems not to be significant, as most of the tracks are drawn in a variety of shades, but it appears that Hermann has been working almost exclusively in the medium of wax since he began designing circuits.”

Rumours that Herr Tilke wasn’t allowed to use proper crayons like his contemporaries because of the risk of poisoning have been flatly denied by sources close to the infamous architect, though some motorsport fans have already suggested that this information correlates with the long-held suspicion that Tilke suffers from a terminal lack of imagination and is, as one source put it, “a little bit dim.” Tilke’s close associates have also denied the significance of some of the pages of the notebook, which appear to be covered in what has been described as “indecipherable childish scribble.”

Some fans have expressed outrage at one of the drawings, which appears to show the fast straights and tight chicanes of Monza being replaced with a series of slow-to-medium switchback corners, though Tilke himself was unavailable for comment, having apparently “just popped off to W.H. Schmidt for a new box of crayons.”