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Gillett “disappointed” by Donington failure

Castle Donington, Friday: Donington Ventures head honcho Simon Gillett has admitted his disappointment that he was unable to secure the British Grand Prix at Donington Park from 2010 onwards, after Bernie Ecclestone confirmed that his latest payment to the F1 supremo would be rejected as it was made beyond an established deadline.

Disappointed: Donington chief Simon Gillett

“Obviously it’s a huge disappointment,” Gillett explained. “I was really looking forward to having lots of photos taken of me standing around in a hard hat, pretending to look like I was contributing something to this whole scheme while a bunch of contractors did the real work.”

The minimal work that has been done at Donington so far, such as dismantling its iconic Dunlop Bridge, has been deemed insufficient to meet the standards necessary for Formula One, and so the British Grand Prix is without a home for 2010 – although there is still hope that a deal will be struck between Ecclestone and Silverstone, where the race has been held numerous times throughout the sport’s history.

“Oh damn, it was a bit of a mistake taking down that bridge, wasn’t it?” Gillett asked, slapping his hand to his head theatrically. “What a shame.”

A quick Internet search reveals that a user named “gilly2010” is currently selling something that looks suspiciously like the Dunlop Bridge on eBay. Gillett denied all knowledge of this transaction.

Meanwhile, British Racing Drivers’ Club boss Damon Hill has confirmed that he and his team have drawn up plans for a £25 million revamp of Silverstone. “Would you just look at these brilliant plans,” Hill beamed yesterday.

When asked precisely what work was going to be done in the coming months, Hill said: “Work? But we’ve done all the work. Here’s the result,” again proffering the plans.

Reporters then asked Hill how long the improvements would take to be made. “What improvements?” Hill responded. “These are just plans. I don’t think we need to actually implement them.”

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Glock “walked into door”

Cologne, Wednesday: Toyota F1 driver Timo Glock has revealed the full extent of the injury that has prevented him from participating in the Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grands Prix. According to the German, he suffered an unfortunate accident in the team’s motorhome at Suzuka, which has ruled him out of the last two races of the 2009 season.

"Careless": Injured driver Timo Glock

“It was really very silly of me,” Glock confessed as his team prepared to fly out to the last race of the year. “I was just walking through the motorhome, minding my own business, and I walked into a door. Just wasn’t looking where I was going.”

Some journalists expressed scepticism that Glock could have fractured a vertebra from a simple collision with a door, but the Toyota driver was quick to add: “Well, after I hit the door, I stumbled backwards and fell down a flight of stairs. Honestly, that’s exactly what happened.”

Toyota’s team doctor would not confirm the precise nature of the accident that curtailed Glock’s season, but confirmed that it was “an incident in the team motorhome,” leading some to speculate that Glock may not be telling the truth, and that the injury may have been inflicted by an abusive team boss.

Sadly, team principals lashing out physically at their drivers is an increasingly common phenomenon in F1 today, with Scuderia Toro Rosso chief Franz Tost high on the list of repeat offenders. Toyota’s John Howett had previously been seen to be one of the more peaceful paddock figures, but recent questions over Glock’s injury have ignited rumours that he may not be all that he seems.

The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association denied that they had received any reports of driver-beating, with director Mark Webber claiming, “We are aware of the situation, but until Timo says something we can’t act.”

Ecclestone opts for literal Med GP

Malaga, Sunday: Formula One Management head Bernie Ecclestone has announced that his proposed “Mediterranean Grand Prix” will be rather more literal than had previously been supposed.

The Mediterranean Grand Prix was a placeholder name used for the race at Valencia, in case the “European Grand Prix” moniker needed to be applied to another race. However, Ecclestone has today revealed plans for a third race in Spain from 2011 onwards, which will use the Mediterranean title.

The race will take place on a Hermann Tilke-designed circuit, which will be unique from all previous Grands Prix in that it will be built under the sea just off the Spanish port city of Malaga.

Damp: F1s newest venue (left)

Damp: F1's newest venue (left)

“We’ve had races on the streets, and in the desert, and even in the dark, so obviously the next step is to have one underwater,” Ecclestone explained to incredulous journalists. “It will represent the ever-increasing expansion of F1’s global appeal. Simply focusing on Grands Prix on land is a backward and blinkered way of thinking.”

The 3.2-mile track will feature state-of-the-art pit and paddock facilities, a top-notch hospitality suite and the usual array of slow-to-medium switchback corners.

“Imagine the spectacle of F1 drivers blasting through shoals of surprised fish and pulling off amazing overtakes in between the occasional unfortunate dolphin,” Ecclestone continued. “This is truly the beginning of a new era for Formula One.”

F1 teams have expressed concerns about the technical aspects of getting their cars to run underwater, as well as providing fail-safe systems to ensure that drivers, mechanics and marshals can breathe in the aquatic environment, but the F1 supremo waved away these criticisms as “trifling insignificances.” He did, however, admit that the traditional champagne shower on the podium may have to be “compromised” due to the unusual local conditions.

Champion Button “really annoying”

Brackley, Friday: Jenson Button has been Formula One world champion for less than a week, but already colleagues at the Brawn GP team are complaining that he has become unbearable in his constant glee since last weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

Irritant: Tired of saying it, Button gets a sign to remind everyone hes world champion

Irritant: Tired of saying it, Button gets a sign to remind everyone he's world champion

The problems started after Button crossed the line to finish fifth at Interlagos, which was enough to hand him the world title. He immediately came over the team radio, proclaiming, “I’m the world champion baby!” and singing a rendition of “We Are The Champions” even worse than Fernando Alonso’s god-awful effort after the 2005 Chinese Grand Prix.

“On its own, that would have been fine,” a Brawn mechanic pointed out. “The boy’s just won the title, he’s bound to be happy. But Jenson just wouldn’t shut up.”

Reports are that Button has been reminding everyone within a two-mile radius that he is the world champion since he achieved the feat in Brazil. One passenger on Button’s flight from Sao Paulo back to the UK had to be physically restrained as he attempted to jump out of the plane mid-flight rather than listen to the driver’s constant crowing.

Online fans of Button’s exploits have not been immune to his inflated self-importance either. “I’M WORLD CHAMPION YAHOO” he tweeted on Monday night, obviously having got the wrong website.

F1 journalist Martin Brundle reported that “I had to take cover behind a nearby car. Jenson’s efforts to irritate and condescend those around him for the past week have surpassed any level of annoyance I have ever encountered before emanating from anyone. And I spent seven years standing next to James Allen.”

It is now believed that the only person in the world still unaware of Button’s world championship success is a Tibetan hermit, sitting in a Himalayan cave, who has been out of contact with the world for over thirty years and thus still believes that Niki Lauda is world champion.

Kim criticises “undemocratic” FIA

Pyongyang, Wednesday: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il has criticised the FIA for its “undemocratic” procedures ahead of this week’s presidential elections, in which former Ferrari team principal Jean Todt will face ex-rally driver and MEP Ari Vatanen in a bid to succeed the outgoing Max Mosley.

Critic: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il

Critic: North Korean leader Kim Jong-il

Amid a complaint by Vatanen to the French justice system over the impartiality of the election, and the revelation that several senior FIA officials have been utilising the organisation’s time and money to campaign for Todt, Mr. Kim has informed the North Korean press that he “abhors” the lack of democracy and transparency exhibited by the world’s motorsport governing body.

“This is a disgraceful and abhorrent subversion of democracy,” the leader, who is technically not the president of the country – that title belongs to his father Kim Il-sung, even though he died in 1994 – told reporters today. “Corruption, voter intimidation, perhaps even ballot-box stuffing; all of this done on a scale even I wouldn’t contemplate. I am very disappointed in the FIA today.”

North Korea is ranked by the United Nations as the world’s least democratic country, but political scientists have already pointed out that the Stalinist state actually compares favourably to the FIA.

“I mean, North Korea don’t even pretend to adhere to things like the rule of law or the fairness and impartiality of the democratic procedure,” one commentator pointed out. “The FIA are trying, and failing, to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes.”

North Korea is not represented at the FIA, but Mr. Kim pledged his support to Ari Vatanen anyway, in the hope that somebody was listening.

Nakajima loses gloves

Sao Paulo, Monday: A panicked Kazuki Nakajima has asked F1 fans to help him find his racing gloves, which he apparently mislaid after this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

Worried: Glove-loser Kazuki Nakajima

Worried: Glove-loser Kazuki Nakajima

The Williams driver attempted to recruit the assistance of the world’s Formula One audience via his Twitter feed, where he explained that his gloves had gone missing, and he couldn’t remember where he’d last seen them. Nakajima encouraged the world to suggest where he might have left them.

Fans were initially suspicious that this was a publicity stunt – Williams sponsors Phillips launched an unconvincing Twitter feed in Nico Rosberg’s name in the run-up to the Brazilian race, claiming that the German had lost his helmet and required the help of Brazilian fans to find it. This was, of course, merely a marketing campaign, with the competition’s winner being awarded paddock passes to Interlagos.

Nakajima, however, insists that this is not the case with his gloves: “Seriously, guys,” he tweeted yesterday evening, “They’ve actually gone missing. Patrick’s going to kill me.”

Already helpful suggestions have led the Japanese driver to look down the back of his hotel bed, amongst piles of tyres in the Interlagos paddock and even to angrily accost McLaren mechanics, accusing them of stealing and photocopying his gloves in order to gain confidential information about the operation of the Williams team.

Nakajima is said to be offering a reward of two Abu Dhabi grandstand tickets for the safe return of the gloves, but reiterated that this is not a publicity stunt: “Pretty soon I’m going to have to get back in that car. If I haven’t got my gloves back by then, I’m just going to have to paint my hands blue and white, and hope for the best.”

USF1 “may consider aliens”

Charlotte, Friday: New-for-2010 team USF1 have confessed that they may be forced to recruit space aliens to drive their cars in their inaugural season, despite their original intention to field a team composed entirely of Earthlings.

Searching: USF1s driver hunt continues

Searching: USF1's driver hunt continues

The U-turn, team principal Ken Anderson insists, comes with great regret at the culmination of a search for suitable drivers. “We have been forced to widen our horizons a little bit,” Anderson stated in a press conference today. “It appears that, at this late stage, we may not be able to find any drivers for our team who are strictly from Earth. Therefore we must consider the possibility of recruiting an alien for the job, providing, of course, that he can bring to the team the necessary qualities of experience and skill.”

While no alien has ever officially participated in the Formula One world championship, there were some suspicious looks exchanged when David Coulthard first arrived on the F1 scene.

Anderson explained that USF1 had teamed up with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) to scan the skies for potential future world champions. SETI picked up an interesting signal earlier in the year from the furthest reaches of space, which on closer examination appeared to be a radio conversation between two individuals, one of whom was known, bizarrely, as “Felipebaby.”

“We’re confident that widening our search for drivers will be a positive move for USF1,” Anderson continued. “As far as I know no other team has tried to sign an alien, so we have a potentially untapped market just waiting to be exploited. In the future, we may look with hindsight on the general unavailability of Earth-based F1 drivers as a good thing.”

As The Runoff Area went to press, reports had surfaced that former GP2 champion Giorgio Pantano had been spotted purchasing a Little Green Man costume from a local fancy dress shop, but USF1 have already stated that they “won’t be falling for that.”