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Drivers to mind their language

2012-11-09 08:58

POST PODIUM FAUX PAS: Kimi Raikkonen (C), winner of the 2012 Abu Dhabi, and rival Sebastian Vettel will need to watch their post race celebrations as the FIA clamps down on foul language.

LONDON - Formula 1 drivers have been told to mind their language after world champion Sebastian Vettel and race winner Kimi Raikkonen's outbursts on the podium at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

A spokesman for the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said that a private and "friendly" letter had been sent to all teams' communications directors about bad language.

The letter reminded them that it was "very much our collective responsibility to make sure drivers are aware such language has no place during media events."


It added that swearing in broadcast interviews "shines an unwelcome beam of adverse publicity on their teams and sponsors, the sport and FIA."

Raikkonen, whose win for Lotus was the first of his comeback and first by the 2007 world champion since he was at Ferrari in 2009, is well known for his taciturn nature and much of what he says in English can be hard to follow.

He was perfectly intelligible on the Abu Dhabi podium, however, when interviewed by former McLaren team mate turned television pundit David Coulthard.

Raikkonen said: "Last time you guys was giving me sh*t because I didn't really smile enough."

Vettel, who finished third, said in the same podium session that starting from the pit lane was "obviously a chance to f**k it up and we didn't do that."

Both driver comments were retained in the official FIA transcript and were still to be found on the FIA website (www.fia.com).

Coulthard apologised to television viewers afterwards, reminding them that neither driver had been speaking in his mother tongue.

The FIA letter said the governing body understood that "in the 'heat of battle", adrenaline, elation and disappointment make for a dangerous and heady mix.

"But F1 drivers are not the only ones being interviewed in such conditions: I think of boxers, rugby and football players who are routinely interviewed live on television after a gruelling sporting effort. They manage to avoid inappropriate language."


The FIA introduced podium interviews, conducted by a former driver, in 2012 in an effort to give more to fans at the circuit.

Drivers had previously only waved and sprayed champagne after the race before being whisked off to talk to the media.

Ironically, teams have been known to encourage drivers to pepper their team radio chat with strong language during the race to ensure their comments will not be chosen for broadcast and heard by rivals.

All radio transmissions during the race are screened by F1 Management before being given clearance.

Red Bull's Mark Webber said in 2010 that he should have "put some colourful language either side of my radio transmission" after creating a controversy by saying as he crossed the line at Silverstone that the win was "not bad for a number two driver".


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