If it’s so funny, how come I’m not laughing?
You may have noticed Red Bull Racing’s old stager, David Coulthard, hit the big four-zero in Australia. And being a sentimental bunch (with a sweet tooth) a cake was made and duly presented. David seemed extremely touched by the gesture, there may even have been a tear forming in the corner of one eye. We’ll never know as Sebastian Vettel, high on victory and obeying a primitive urge that is another RBR tradition, took the cake and mashed it into DC’s face.
Now, you may also have noticed our David is a bit of a clothes horse and definitely more haute couture than come-as-you-are and moving into TV hasn’t exactly dimmed the sartorial urge. So wearing a fetching chocolate, nut and fresh cream ensemble didn’t exactly do it for him.
Of course, paddock humour tends to be a little on the… robust side, so if DC has genuinely annoyed with his former tea-boy, he’d be in good company. Here’s a few more examples of when jokes aren’t completely appreciated by the victim…
Mansell, Piquet and Montezuma’s Revenge
Saying Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet didn’t get on is a massive understatement. So when talking about practical jokes played by the Williams pair, you know that it was never good, harmless fun and always intended to wreak maximum psychological carnage. Possibly the most famous is the 1987 Mexican Grand Prix story. Nigel had got what’s politely referred to as an ‘upset tummy’ and was making frequent visits to the lavatory. Mansell’s gut-churning stomach cramps weren’t helped by Nelson nipping into the loos beforehand and removing all of the toilet paper.
Ron, Eddie and The Snip
When it comes to particularly cruel practical jokes, Ron Dennis has what The Sweeney refer to as ‘previous’. His latest stroke of genius was caught on camera, last year at the British Grand Prix, though the BBC aren’t exactly thrilled to have the footage. Eddie Jordan was interviewing Red Bull Racing's own Christian Horner, with DC and BBC anchor Jake Humphrey in close attendance. Ron appeared in the background, sidled up behind Eddie, waved his hands and disappeared smirking. It transpired Ron had snipped the wires going into Eddie’s earpiece, cutting him off – during a live broadcast to the world – from the show’s director and producer and leaving him floundering on air for the rest of the segment. Ron thinks it’s hilarious, though Martin Whitmarsh had the good grace to appear a little embarrassed by his chairman’s antics.
Scott Speed and the kidnapping of Barbara
Ron’s not the only one who's a bit handy with the shears. Back when Red Bull Racing was young and Scott Speed even younger, the American had a toy sheep called Barbara attached to his drinks bottle. Much consternation at the USGP when Barbara went missing, presumed kidnapped. Scotty wigged-out until the sheep was returned, though when owner and lamb were reunited, Babs was wearing an unfamiliar collar tag. Up pops the ever-helpful Tonio Liuzzi with a pair of scissors, offering to emancipate Barbara. Before Scott can yelp ‘Stay the hell away from my lamb’, Tonio’s flashing blades cut through the tag and also take off Barbara’s head. Scott goes so completely thermo-nuclear at this point he probably doesn’t see Tonio pull the real Barbara from his pocket…
Johnny, Mika and the bathtub of shame
In the early 1990s Lotus were struggling. The car wasn’t up to much and the team were sinking financially. Their biggest assets, in fact, were two young and hugely talented drivers: one, a chirpy streetwise Englishman called Johnny Herbert and one a youthful, and shy Finn called Mika Hakkinen. Johnny was a great believer in getting the better of his team-mate psychologically and saw his opportunity when the team decided to save money by having their drivers room together. The legend (which at least Johnny admits to having happened) is that Mika walks into the bathroom to find Johnny in the tub, au naturel, offering to scrub Mika’s back. Mika squeaks and disappears faster than Lotus’s cash flow. Johnny dines out on the story for many years to come.
Frank, BMW and the Battle of Britain
There has been the odd suggestion over the years that Williams, that most British of racing teams, don’t particularly get on with non-Anglo-Saxons. It’s a rumour the team likes to dispel; pointing to the enormous pile of trophies and championships they’ve racked up with drivers and engine suppliers from every corner of the globe, not to mention Sir Frank’s membership of the Légion D'Honneur. That said, Williams’ relationship with BMW never reached the level of integration that happened with McLaren and Mercedes. In fact by the end in 2005, things had got so bad there was practically barbed wire between the two wings of the motorhome. Perhaps the omens were already there from the beginning. The partnership began with a big launch at the Williams factory and Frank got things off to a flier by having a Spitfire barrel-roll over the event seconds after the deal was struck.
Berger, Senna and, oh where to start?
In the pantheon of practical jokes the whole Gerhard Berger/Ayrton Senna bromance could fill a book by itself. They were definitely mates, albeit mates with a strong competitive edge. There’s the story of Senna’s carbon fibre briefcase, which the Brazilian boasted was almost indestructible – a claim Berger tested by dropping it out of their helicopter as they were flying above Monza. Berger is also accused of filling Senna’s hotel room in Adelaide with frogs (or possibly toads), when the Brazilian confronted his team-mate and angrily announced he’d spent the whole night removing frogs (or possibly toads) from his room, Berger asked “Did you find the snake?” Senna is alleged to have retaliated by putting a rather pungent French cheese in the air conditioning vent of Berger’s room. Berger also had to go to a formal dinner wearing DJ and trainers, when his dress shoes were filled with shaving foam. Berger later doctored Senna’s passport, exchanging the mugshot for a photograph of something masculine and anatomical. Senna’s fame meant his passport rarely got checked, but it did result in Ayrton spending 24 hours in an Argentinian airport lock-up. Freed from incarceration, Senna retaliated by gluing (or possibly bolting) all of Berger’s credit cards together.
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