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Titanic joke Schumi cover branded sick

Titanic issues sarcastic apology over Lauda spoof

German satire magazine Titanic which caused a storm of protest by pretending injured F1 driver Michael Schumacher now looked like badly burned Niki Lauda has refused to apologise over the prank.

A front page picture of the Austrian Formula One Legend Lauda had the title 'Exclusive - First Photo After The Accident - This is how badly it affected Schumi'.

Despite the fact that the spoof cover was criticised worldwide - the magazines management preferred instead to wind up the critics by issuing a fake apology.

The press release issued today claimed: "We understand the concern but we want to assure our fans that we sent an investigative reporter dressed as a nurse into the clinic in Grenoble. If we have made a tragic mix up with another prominent F1 driver that may have been involved in a crash - then we regret it, at least a little bit!"

Titanic claimed in their report that Michael Schuhmacher, who is in a coma after his skiing accident, now looks like Niki Lauder - the Austrian former Formula One Champion who was seriously injured in a crash at the 1976 German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring.

During the crash, his Ferrari burst into flames and he came close to death after inhaling hot toxic fumes and suffering severe burns leaving him disfigured with severe scaring.

Lauda said of the Titanic cover: "It is an absolute barefaced cheek and is completely impious. I ask myself, 'who would print such a load of rubbish'?"

The article inside explained to parents how they can explain Schuhmacher's accident with 'Fun and Games'.

The tasteless mag has in the past been responsible for such actions as a double page spread suggesting Maddie McCann's parents sell her pics for advertising products like a bleach brand that was "guaranteed to wipe away DNA evidence".

In its Schumi special, it goes on to offer an 'Extra' to keep the readers 'entertained' - a puzzle of seriously injured Schuhmacher in a helmet.

There is also a spot the difference Schuhmacher puzzle, as well as a labyrinth where taking the wrong route down the mountain puts you in hospital.

Lauda said he is considering legal steps but he may not get far. When told that Maddie's parents were planning legal action over the use of their daughter's image, they welcomed the move, saying it would give their rag great publicity - and help to raise sales.

The ad features numerous products with Maddie's face on them, each offered at half price.

The cleaning fluid that promises to remove all DNA traces and an ad for a children's chocolate bar promises that one percent of all sales will be donated to Interpol, the international police cooperation organisation.

"Here comes Maddie. She is the best known face in the world, if not in the entire universe," the fake ad claimed. "You will find her image on selected products in our store. If you find her, simply take her - and pay only half price."

Maddie's image was also emblazoned on a package of crackers in the ad and a bottle of Maggi soup flavouring has been turned into Maddie flavouring.

Thomas Gsella, editor in chief of Titanic, said anyone famous was fair game for spoofs and added: "The reaction of the British media is hypocritical. They're just upset because the idea was taken out from under their noses."

The magazine - also infamously did a spoof airport-style bodyscan of the Duchess of Cornwall revealing her as a horse.

Under the headline 'Bad News for Camilla' it shows a scanned image of a braying horse.

It claims that the new planned body scanners are bad news for England as it will reveal that polo mad Prince Charles is really married to a horse.

Titanic has had 35 editions banned since it was founded in 1979.

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