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Accrington Stanley to join Superleague

Accrington, Monday: English football club Accrington Stanley has confirmed that it will compete in next year’s Superleague Formula championship after its application to join was accepted last week.

Who Are They? New Superleague entrants Accrington Stanley

Who Are They? New Superleague entrants Accrington Stanley

The Lancashire team, currently playing in the fourth tier of English football (named League Two, for some reason), claimed that the global coverage given to Superleague Formula, as well as the chance to compete against established teams such as Liverpool, AC Milan and Olympiakos, would be a positive step for the club.

“We’re very focused on improving our image,” a Stanley spokesman said this morning. “Back in the 1980s, Scouse children didn’t even know who we were, but nowadays we are becoming more and more prominent every season. We’re not quite a household name yet, but we are confident that our participation in Superleague Formula will allow us to come closer to realising that ambition.”

It is not yet known who will drive for the team, but in keeping with Stanley’s image as a laughably useless football club it is strongly rumoured that Christian Klien will take up the seat. “I couldn’t possibly comment,” smirked the team’s spokesman.

The club believe that even a poor start to the season can easily be overcome: “That’s the beauty of it. It’s a game of two halves. Or three, actually.”

Superleague Formula has already been criticised for allowing a team of such small stature as Accrington Stanley to participate, given its usual emphasis on bigger teams, and the club has admitted that its application to compete was not immediately well-received: “But then we pointed out that Rangers are already in Superleague, and they conceded that we had a point.”

USF1 in rebrand shock

Charlotte, Saturday: The team currently known as USF1 has applied to the FIA for a name change ahead of the 2010 season, amid reports that it has been rebranded to represent the motorsports interests of a different country.

“Assuming we can get the paperwork done, we plan on entering F1 in 2010 as Team Turkmenistan F1,” team principal Ken Anderson told reporters today. “We have already purchased a small facility near Ashgabat and will be commencing operations shortly.”

Rebranded: Turkmenistan, the home of the relocated USF1 team

Rebranded: Turkmenistan, the home of the relocated USF1 team

Anderson revealed that abandoning the team’s “USA” branding had been unavoidable after a lack of national interest: “We surveyed the people of America and overwhelmingly found that nobody would care about the fortunes of the team unless we had Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. racing for us. We were prepared to pull out all the stops but frankly some things are too stupid even to consider,” Anderson revealed.

“Instead we have chosen to represent the motorsports interest of a country with a comparable heritage in European motorsports to the United States, and we are proud to announce that the glorious Democratic Party of Turkmenistan has given us their blessing to compete in Formula One under their flag from 2010.”

Anderson suggested that a desire to promote young Turkmen talent was also a reason for switching the team’s focus: “For some reason no Turkmen has ever driven in F1,” he said. “There is a wealth of young talent in this proud country and we are determined to exploit it to rise to the very pinnacle of motorsport.”

Hopes that the Central Asian state could eventually host a Grand Prix have been met with a mixed reception by existing Formula One teams; Turkmenistan is a market of little importance to the car manufacturers, with just twelve Fiat Unos being sold in the country in 2007. “Nonetheless this is an emerging market and a powerhouse of the future,” Anderson proclaimed, to barely concealed laughter from his audience.

New F1 game to feature post-race penalties

Warwick, Wednesday: Developers of the latest set of Formula One video games have today revealed that an element of realism will be added to their newest releases by introducing the concept of post-race penalties into their game.

Codemasters, who won the official FOM contract to produce F1 games in 2008, announced that F1 2009, scheduled for release in October, will feature a revolutionary algorithm in its programming to arbitrarily alter the results of races after they have finished, based on real or ficticious events that occurred during the race.

Real: Codemasters new F1 game

Real: Codemasters' new F1 game

“This is a great step forward in simulating the true F1 experience,” a Codemasters spokesman said. “In our game it will be perfectly possible to finish a race, save your game, return to it hours, days or even weeks later and discover that the results have been changed for no adequately explained reason. This feature will enable F1 2009 to simulate the real world of Formula One with greater realism than ever before.”

Codemasters have assured F1 fans who seek a game as realistic as possible that the program for giving out penalties is not completely random: “If a Ferrari finishes in ninth place, there is a massively increased chance that someone in the top eight will be found mysteriously underweight,” the spokesman continued. “And if you’re driving a McLaren, you’ll be allowed to get away with causing multiple-car pile-ups or illegally being push-started by the marshals, but if you slide off the track by mistake then the stewards will come down on you like a ton of bricks. Very realistic,” he added.

In keeping with the spirit of modern Formula One, the game will also place much more emphasis on off-track action than the actual racing, with an all-new “Courtroom Simulator” set to make arbitrary and inconsistent judgements throughout the game with the intention of causing immense frustration to the player.

STR to find driver through Reality TV

Faenza, Monday: Scuderia Toro Rosso have announced that they will decide their driver line-up for 2010 based on the results of a reality TV show, to be aired across Europe this autumn.

Reality: The STR, the prize for winning the show

Reality: The STR, the prize for winning the show

The show has yet to be named, with previous suggestion The F1 Factor having to be abandoned in the wake of the news that STR may not be competing in Formula One next year, instead participating in FOTA’s own series. But team principal Franz Tost, who will also act as one of the judges of the show, says that the opportunity of a lifetime still stands.

“We’re looking for a young, talented racing driver who can cope with the pressure of racing at the top level, and of course be physically attractive enough to receive the votes of thousands of European housewives and bored students,” Tost said. “And I would like to take this opportunity to categorically deny that the driver must be named Sebastien if they are to be considered.”

Tost himself is said to fit the profile of a harsh, outspoken judge in the mould of Simon Cowell or Sir Alan Sugar, with added assurances that he is prepared to physically assault any entrant who is not quite good enough to win the ultimate prize.

Competitors will have to face a number of challenges that will replicate actual situations encountered by Toro Rosso drivers, including being lapped, not crashing into more senior F1 drivers while under the safety car, and being shunned by your team who have decided to exercise blatant favouritism towards your younger and more talented teammate. “Anyone who can excel in these challenges will clearly be perfect for us,” Tost said.

The show is expected to tour Europe looking for hopefuls, who will be subjected to verbal abuse from the show’s judges before the field is narrowed to twelve potential F1 drivers, who will face a public vote each week until just one is left to drive the Toro Rosso in 2010.

Williams in quit threat over points

Silverstone, Saturday: F1 veterans Williams have added a further complication to the tensions currently escalating in the sport this weekend, by announcing their intention to leave Formula One at the end of 2009 if their demands for a reform of the points system are not met.

Pointless: Nico Rosberg, practice session dominator

Pointless: Nico Rosberg, practice session dominator

The team, which won nine Constructors’ world championships between 1980 and 1997, wants the FIA to introduce a “points-for-practice” system to the world championship, in which the fastest cars in each of the free practice sessions for a Grand Prix weekend receive world championship points.

“The free practice sessions are very important for the season,” team boss Frank Williams told reporters. “It only makes sense that the top runners in each session – say, the top six or eight cars – receive world championship points on a par with those given for the actual races. We have written to the FIA about this and are prepared to withdraw from F1 and start our own series if our demands are not met.”

Critics have pointed to the fact that Williams driver Nico Rosberg has topped more free practice sessions this season than any other driver, accusing the team of using the “integrity of the sport” as a cover for furthering their own interests. The team principal denied this, saying: “This is just a divisive tactic from the lunatics at the FIA designed to deny us support. We are only interested in serving the interests of fans worldwide, and not in any way concerned with making it easier for us to win the championship.”

Williams, who were expelled from the Formula One Teams’ Association for committing to racing in F1 next season, now insist that their participation is not a given: “Any agreements we have signed with the FIA can easily be retracted,” Williams insisted. “Patrick Head is revving up our lawyers as we speak.”

Ferrari hire Button for contract advice

Maranello, Thursday: The ongoing battle between the FIA and FOTA took another turn today when FOTA ringleaders Ferrari announced they had brought in “contract expert” Jenson Button to argue their case that they are not legally obliged to compete in Formula One in 2010.

Helpful: Ferraris new contract advisor

Ferrari have threatened to withdraw from the sport over the FIA’s budget cap regulations, prompting commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone to point to a contract signed in 2005, which committed the team to F1 until 2012. Ferrari believe that this agreement is invalid, and are prepared to go to court to prove it.

“In pursuit of our goal to cleanly break from Formula One at the end of the season if the FIA dare to try and stop us from causing our own financial collapse,” Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told reporters, “We have recruited the services of an expert on contractual matters to try and get us out of this troubling arrangement that we apparently have with Bernie Ecclestone.”

That expert is Jenson Button, who managed to spend much of 2004 and 2005 arguing over whether he should be allowed to drive for Williams or for BAR, changing his mind repeatedly in the process and eventually leaving with a BAR drive and “only” $20 million out of pocket.

“Getting out of contracts is something I’ve been particularly interested in ever since I accidentally signed for Frank,” the world championship leader revealed. “So I’d be more than happy to help Ferrari out, after all, they appear to be in a similar situation. Basically they’ve signed a contract that they don’t want to commit to any more, so why should they? All this talk of ‘legal obligations’ is just boring,” he added.

Button has reportedly been advising Ferrari that a good approach would be to sign up for another series for the same period, leaving the FIA to fight it out with somebody else over who deserves Ferrari’s services for 2010.

Brawn GP developing bigger bandwagon

Brackley, Tuesday: A rare look behind the scenes at championship-leading Brawn GP’s Brackley base reveals that the team is having to spend much of its budget for both 2009 and 2010 on developing a bigger bandwagon for all their newfound fans.

Inadequate: Brawn GPs current bandwagons

Inadequate: Brawn GP's current bandwagons

Chief Scapegoat Nick Fry, who oversaw the final few disastrous years of Honda’s tenure in F1 before inexplicably being retained at the new team, explained that the unprecedented numbers of fans who had suddenly stapled their colours to the Brawn GP mast had necessitated the development work.

“We didn’t think so many people would become Brawn fans so quickly,” Fry admitted. “I mean, they all say that they were Honda fans all along, and we’ve no reason at all to doubt that – honest – but when you see just how many people are supporting us now that we’re winning, it’s clear that our present bandwagon capacity is nowhere near sufficient.”

The designs are reported to have already gone over budget, largely because of the ever-increasing space requirements for the vehicle but also because Honda have never had to pay much attention to such matters before, given that they had no success as such and therefore no influx of glory-hunting fans.

One fan expressed his pleasure at the announcement: “Me, I’ve been a Brawn GP fan since 1992,” he said, somewhat impossibly. “It’s great to finally see so many people sharing my passion for Jenson and that other bloke. You know, the old one.” He also insisted that no one accuse him of following only the successful teams, despite the discovery that his Brawn GP cap had originally featured a familiar prancing horse design that had been scribbled out with crayon. “Or I’ll smash yer face in,” he added.

We were not able to access the designs for the new bandwagon, but it apparently features very low sides in order to enable fans to leap off again with ease in 2010.