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Drivers told to STFU

NEWS STORY
09/11/2012

In a "polite" letter from the FIA, following comments made on the podium in Abu Dhabi, drivers have been warned to mind their language in future, especially during interviews.

The letter follows comments made by (race winner) Kimi Raikkonen and (third placed) Sebastian Vettel during the podium interview with David Coulthard last weekend, the Scot subsequently apologising and claiming that English was not their first language.

Asked how amazing it was to have won his first Grand Prix since his return to F1, Raikkonen replied: "Last time you guys was giving me s**t because I didn't really smile enough."

However, Vettel went one step further. Talking about a driver which saw him start from the pitlane and finish third, the German said: "I think would we have started from third it would have been a different race. But yeah, it was obviously a chance to f**k it up and we didn't do that."

As Coulthard blushed, children cried and burly dockers kicked in their TV screens outraged by the comments, Bernie was no doubt on the phone to (FIA president) Jean Todt and the team bosses demanding to know WTF was going on. Ironically, the offensive words can be found in the transcript of the press conference on the FIA website.

Anyway, ignoring the fact that the expletives uttered by Messrs. Alonso, Hamilton, Webber, Rosberg and Hulkenberg would have been far worse than anything uttered on the podium, the FIA has issued a gentle warning.

In the letter sent to all the teams, the FIA's director of communications Norman Howell advised that it i; "very much our collective responsibility to make sure drivers are aware such language has no place during media events".

Bad language "shines an unwelcome beam of adverse publicity on their teams and sponsors, the sport and the FIA" he added.

"I understand 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."

According to Howell, the letter, which has been received "positively" by the teams, followed complaints from members of the public, sections of the media and even some people within the FIA itself.

"Since it happened twice on the same weekend, I thought I'd send a friendly note," wrote Howell. "We need to remind the drivers they are professionals. If you're a racing driver at that level you have to realise that part of your job description is to talk to the media, and to do so in a way that is acceptable."

According to the BBC it received 22 calls (21 complaints and one comment) about the swearing, though it received 30 calls (28 complaints and two comments) about the delay in making the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix available on its iPlayer on-demand service in order that the swearing could be removed.

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