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Steward: "The Italians love me"

NEWS STORY
10/09/2008

There are times when one should really bite one's lip.

While Bernie Ecclestone is a master of the throwaway quip he often finds himself in trouble, like the time, when asked about the possibility of a woman racing in F1 he replied; "women should be dressed in white like all the other domestic appliances", a comment that went down like a lead balloon in certain circles, particularly at a time when Danica Patrick was on the ascendant.

More recently, Ecclestone was lucky to avoid a media backlash for a quip he made about the 2012 Olympics, due to take place in London.

At a time when many were wondering how the London organisers are going to match the spectacle of Beijing, Ecclestone was asked if he had any advice for them: "I suppose pray there's an earthquake or something so it doesn't happen," was the response.

Considering the fact that more than 50,000 people lost their lives in south-west China just a couple of months earlier, after an earthquake wreaked havoc leaving almost a million homeless, it was a crass remark, to say nothing of the fact that most Londoners remember that the very day after the announcement that London had got the Olympics, 55 people were killed in a series of terrorist bombings.

The point is, as we have said, there is a time to joke and there is a time to bite one's lip.

Strange therefore that Surinder Thathi, one of the three Race Stewards involved in Sunday's controversial decision, has made a similar gaffe.

Whilst he defended the decision, and refuted claims of bias, he told Reuters: "I know I am a very unpopular person in the United Kingdom now, but then I was doing my job and I know I acted professionally."

However, at a time when sensitivity is still running at fever pitch, he told Kenya's Daily Nation: "The British Press hates me but I can walk into any Italian restaurant... Italians love me."

Whatever one's opinion of Sunday's incident and the subsequent decision, it was a stupid thing to say, even if it was meant in jest.

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