The shamed captain of the Costa Concordia is set to sign a lucrative million dollar Formula One deal – should he avoid a possible 15 years in jail on multiple manslaughter charges.
Francesco Schettino, 52, abandoned the now-infamous 290m cruise liner off the Italian coast while dozens of passengers were still aboard. The death toll has hit 11 after divers located five more bodies in the rear of the ship near an emergency evacuation point, according to Italian Coast Guard Commander Cosimo Nicastro.
Prosecutors have since alleged that Schettino was showing off by sailing past the Tuscan island of Giglio when he crashed the ship some 150m offshore; meanwhile, one Dutch survivor has claimed the captain was drinking with a woman on his arm at the ship’s bar prior to the crash.
“He was too exuberant. He’s a braggart. More than once I had to put him in his place,” Mario Palombo, his former captain, told La Repubblica newspaper.
But this brash, cavalier attitude has reportedly piqued the interest of several racing teams, with cashed-up rivals Williams and Red Bull locked in a battle for the cocky Italian’s signature for the upcoming 2012 Formula One season.
“He’d be a real asset to Red Bull, certainly, if we are lucky enough to have him onboard. He’s get exactly the kind of ticker that Mark Webber lacks,” Red Bull manager Christian Horner told The Public Apology.
“He’s already got the perfect temperament for Formula One racing – he’s an arrogant, heavy-drinking Italian womaniser who knows to point the finger elsewhere when things go astray.”
“You know, when you crash a Formula One car you just jump out, shrug your shoulders and let the crew douse the violent flames while you puff away on a tightly coiled cigarette. Which is basically more or less what he did when he smashed the Costa Concordia.”
Horner said that the evidence given by one survivor – that Schettino was busily tuning a young attractive woman just moments before the crash – was not a negative reflection on his professionalism, but “a real positive.”
“It shows a high level of testosterone – and testosterone is exactly what you need in F1, fuckloads of it. Did you know that [Formula One legend] James Hunt once slept with 33 British Airways hostesses and a ton of Japanese fans on a two-week tour of Tokyo in the ’70s? And then he went out and won the 1976 World Championship. They say he used to have sex just minutes before jumping in the cockpit – and that only made him a better driver.”
“That’s the kind of swagger we need at Red Bull. Fuck, we’re an energy drink company too, you know – we’ve got to appeal to the kids!”
Williams founder Frank Williams also confirmed his team’s interest in Schettino, but added that he was more than happy with his current roster of drivers should the deal fall through.
“We just signed Ayrton Senna’s nephew, Bruno, and if he’s anything like his uncle then, shit, we’ll have all the bravado we’ll ever need,” he said.
However, Williams said Schettino would have no problems adjusting to the rampantly hedonistic Formula One racing culture.
“I’m not sure on the stats, but I’d take a punt that cruise ship captains get just as much – if not more – pussy than Formula One racing drivers,” he said.
“Plus we get to drink champagne out of trophies – that’s pretty fucking sweet, too.”
By Dave Edwards