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“Bored” Schumi comes out of retirement

Kerpen, Thursday: After the shock news that seven-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher is to make his return to the sport at Valencia next month, the German has revealed that “boredom” with retirement was the main factor prompting him to unhang his racing helmet.

Listless: Returning superstar Michael Schumacher

Listless: Returning superstar Michael Schumacher

“Initially, being retired was really good fun,” Schumacher said in a statement on his website. “I could get up whenever I wanted, walk the dogs all day, do the crossword in the paper and sit down for a relaxing meal with my family, without any of the pressures and strains of everyday life as a motor racing legend.”

However, Schumacher says that listlessness and a desire to do something more productive with the rest of his life set in around mid-2008: “After a year and a half or so, I started looking for another challenge. The bed wasn’t as comfortable anymore as my joints aren’t what they used to be. I started to get frustrated with the dogs crapping everywhere. The crossword puzzles were too hard and I couldn’t read the clues any more without my glasses. And, eventually, I realised that I can’t cook.”

After Felipe Massa was injured last week, therefore, Schumacher jumped at the chance to rejoin the F1 fraternity: “And then Willi [Weber, Schumacher’s manager] tells me that they’re willing to pay me three million euros per race! So long, crosswords!”

Schumacher admitted that he had tried taking up several hobbies to ease his frustrations, but that evening dance classes, lawn bowls and writing directionless, angry tirades to his local newspaper on the youth of today and local planning laws failed to capture his imagination in the same way as motor racing did.

Willi Weber welcomed his client’s return to Formula One, adding that he was “678% sure” that the 40-year-old German would never retire from F1 again.

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Massive error brings Schumacher to Ferrari

Maranello, Tuesday: Top officials at Ferrari have expressed dismay today as it was revealed that the wrong Schumacher has been appointed to take the place of the injured Felipe Massa from next month’s European Grand Prix.

Wrong: Ferraris gigantic mistake

Wrong: Ferrari's gigantic mistake

As soon as it became evident that the Brazilian, hurt after being hit on the head by debris in qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix, would be unlikely to be fit enough to race in the next few Grands Prix, rumours surfaced about who would replace Massa.

The most popular candidate among fans was Fernando Alonso, but some suggested Michael Schumacher, the seven-time world champion who dominated with Ferrari earlier this century. Ferrari have now indicated that they were intending to make the latter choice.

“It was all very simple, I told a young secretary at the office to contact Mr. Schumacher and get his signature on a contract for the next few races,” Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told journalists. “She managed it with much greater ease than I had thought possible, so I was a little suspicious at the time.

“Then Ralf turns up to the factory and starts going on about how it’s always been his dream to drive for Ferrari, and suddenly I realised the terrible mistake our secretary had made.”

Ralf Schumacher enjoyed somewhat less success in Formula One than his elder brother, winning races with Williams but achieving little else prior to his retirement in 2007. Since then he has settled into the DTM – the German touring car championship – with alarming mediocrity.

“It’s a real surprise. I’m pleased I can finally show my undeniable talent and skill to Luca,” Ralf said, pointing to di Montezemolo, who was by this time sobbing in a corner and asking for the nearest television set.

The secretary was swiftly sacked from the Scuderia, though early reports say that she has now landed a job at the office of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Renault to sue for “book-related injuries”

Enstone, Monday: A representative from Renault’s Formula One team has revealed that he is to take legal action against the FIA after he suffered “bruising and lingering pain” after F1 race stewards threw the book at the team yesterday.

Thrown: Injury-inflicting book

Thrown: Injury-inflicting book

Steve Nielsen, team manager for the French outfit, was summoned to see the stewards after the race, following the team’s decision to release Fernando Alonso from his pit stop while one of his wheels was loose. The errant wheel worked its way off Alonso’s car during the following lap, eventually coming to rest against the crash barriers.

“When the stewards throw the book at you, I’d never realised before that it was an actual book,” Nielsen revealed after his meeting with Hungarian GP officials. “It’s a very big and heavy book too, which is quite painful when it hits you. You’d think, after the events of the past week, FIA-appointed representatives would be more careful about throwing heavy objects around.”

The stewards, however, defended their actions, releasing a statement which read: “Renault’s actions at the Hungarian Grand Prix were foolish and dangerous, potentially putting many lives unnecessarily at risk. We fully stand by our response to their rule violations. This is a wheel we’re talking about. It’s not a completely safe and reasonable object to have flying off your car at high speed, like a loose exhaust pipe or something.”

The book in question is said to be one of the many biographies of Lewis Hamilton that appeared on the shelves following his impressive debut season in 2007. “It’s not like we had any other use for it,” the stewards pointed out.

Nielsen is arguing that stewards should use less literal methods of dealing with rule violations. “I suppose it explains why Martin Whitmarsh’s wrist was a bit sore after McLaren were summoned to the Liegate hearing,” he admitted.

Two-seater Ferrari sparks rules debate

Maranello, Saturday: Controversial plans released by the Ferrari Formula One team this week have caused heated debate among the F1 fraternity, with several top figures protesting that Ferrari’s “two-seater” design for 2010 is outside of the technical regulations.

Controversial: The two-seater F1 design

Controversial: The two-seater F1 design

Ferrari have been courting double world champion Fernando Alonso ever since he left McLaren at the end of a difficult 2007 season, and rumours in the paddock have been rife that he would replace Kimi Raikkonen at the Italian team next year, pending a performance-related option in the Finn’s contract.

Rumours this week have suggested that Raikkonen has done enough to retain his seat, but rather than let Alonso wait for another year at a different team, Ferrari are now said to be considering putting Raikkonen and teammate Felipe Massa in a single, two-seater car next year, thus allowing three drivers to drive the two cars permitted by the sporting regulations.

“What Ferrari want to do is have Raikkonen control the pedals, because he’s good at that, and let Massa turn the wheel, which is something he has shown he can usually do without crashing,” an inside source told us. “Now all they have to do is work out how they can fit two drivers into the car without exceeding the dimensions laid out in the rule book.”

However, a rival team principal insisted that the plans were “a blatant violation of the rules,” and that several teams would be taking the issue to the World Motor Sport Council in protest. Our source, however, pointed out that on past evidence, getting the governing body to rule against Ferrari might be akin to “nailing jelly to a wall. With a hammer, also made of jelly.”

Alonso and Massa were unavailable for comment, though Raikkonen offered a bemused grunt by way of imparting his opinion on the situation.

The Runoff Area would like to draw your attention to the Good Causes page of our website, publicising a couple of noble pursuits to raise money for charity, including the chance to win a signed F1 annual.

N.Technology insist on 2010 entry

Paris, Wednesday: Rejected Formula One applicants N.Technology have insisted that they will be on the F1 grid in 2010, after resubmitting their application to the FIA and asking that the entry criteria be reviewed.

Sour: F1 hopefuls N.Technology

Sour: F1 hopefuls N.Technology

Since F1’s entry list for 2010 was announced, N.Technology have been questioning the way in which the entries were decided, claiming that the decision to leave out big names like Lola and Prodrive, while permitting the entry of relative unknowns Campos and Manor Motorsport, was politically motivated.

“With this in mind, we have constructed the perfect application and wish the FIA to reconsider their decision to leave us off the 2010 entry list. We now have an engine supply and a guaranteed source of funding from a major sponsor.”

That sponsor, Sour Grapes Inc., is said to “embody the spirit and vigour with which we approach our application to the sport.”

Sour Grapes Inc. has a long history in Formula One, having most recently been involved with McLaren in 2007 after they inexplicably lost the drivers’ championship at a late stage in the season, blaming the FIA for destabilising the team. Before that they had personally sponsored Nigel Mansell throughout his F1 career.

“Sour Grapes Inc. is very proud to announce its new association with N.Technology,” brand ambassador Jackie Stewart told reporters. “We only hope that the FIA can see sense and allow this well-funded and established team to compete in Formula One next year. Otherwise we might run off and start our own series. Then we’ll see how the FIA like that!”

The FIA, however, were sceptical about N.Technology’s apparent renewed enthusiasm to join Formula One: “Unfortunately it’s a bit late now,” Max Mosley said in a statement today. “Also we’re a bit concerned about their mentality so far. First they applied, then they withdrew, then they threw a tantrum, and now they’re applying again. It’s been a bit like dealing with Flavio Briatore.”

Vatanen asks for UN assistance

Paris, Sunday: FIA Presidential hopeful Ari Vatanen has asked the United Nations to observe the FIA elections in October, expressing his suspicions that the poll may be rigged in favour of his rival Jean Todt.

Request: FIA Presidential candidate Ari Vatanen

Request: FIA Presidential candidate Ari Vatanen

Todt is the preferred successor of incumbent Max Mosley, who believes that the Frenchman will continue his work in the FIA of dragging each and every category of motorsport to near-destruction with a combination of unworkable ideas, a dictatorial style of governance and embarrassing sex scandals.

The ex-Ferrari boss is disliked by many in the motorsport world, in spite of (or perhaps because of) his overwhelming successes with Peugeot’s rallying operation and Ferrari’s F1 team. However, in the democratic world of the FIA this counts for little, with strong backing from the prestigious motoring organisations of countries like Kyrgyzstan, Swaziland and The Lao People’s Democratic Republic all but guaranteeing Todt victory in October’s elections.

“I am very concerned about the validity of the October elections,” Vatanen said in a letter to the United Nations. “Mr. Mosley and his anointed successor, Mr. Todt seem intent on warping democratic process in order to install the preferred candidate as FIA President. I would urge the UN to strongly consider observing the FIA’s presidential elections of October 2009, to ensure that democracy is upheld and the right candidate elected to office.”

The UN has not yet commented on the request, though it is expected to turn it down on the basis that monitoring the convoluted internal workings of international sporting organisations is somewhat outside its jurisdiction. “Were the FIA a tinpot banana republic, the UN might be able to help,” one political analyst commented.

Todt is confident, however, that he can secure victory in October’s elections without the need for fraud, a preliminary poll among FIA members giving him a staggering 87% of the vote, with a record 126% turnout.

Red Bull install revolving door at Energy Station

Milton Keynes, Thursday: The Red Bull F1 teams have jointly announced that their groundbreaking “Energy Station” motorhome will feature a revolving front door from the Hungarian Grand Prix onwards, in order to cope with the rapid personnel changes the team has been undergoing recently.

Revolving: The Energy Stations new front entrance

Revolving: The Energy Station's new front entrance

Following the announcement that French driver Sebastien Bourdais is to be dropped from the STR team for the horrendous crime of “being the wrong Seb,” Red Bull have revealed that a desire for greater efficiency is behind the decision.

“Our team seems to see more and more individuals entering and leaving the team at ever-decreasing intervals,” Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz told journalists earlier today. “We have been plagued in the past with employees arriving and departing our motorhome, and ending up stuck in a queue as they try and filter through our previous door system. With a view to resolving this, we have decided to install a revolving door in the front of the Energy Station for the next Grand Prix and into the future.”

An added advantage of the new system, Mateschitz says, is that it will now be possible for new employees to walk into the motorhome and then walk straight out again, entering and leaving the team without ever having to move out of the doorway. “This will allow us to achieve even greater heights of employee turnover.”

A model of the new door was demonstrated in front of journalists by Jaime Alguersuari, who is expected to replace Bourdais at Toro Rosso in Hungary. “As you can see, Jaime enters the door,” Mateschitz explained, as Alguersuari performed the requisite actions, “gets fired by Franz Tost after a disappointing couple of races, then leaves again.”

STR have welcomed the news, team principal Franz Tost declaring that it “allowed us to focus on blaming our drivers for the shortcomings of a car we can’t be arsed to improve, which is clearly a positive step.”