Drivers instructed not to swear in interviews
8 November 2012 – Formula 1 drivers have received a collective telling off from the FIA after both Kimi Räikkönen and Sebastian Vettel swore during live podium interviews in Abu Dhabi. The sporting governing body has now sent out a letter to all teams.
Unlike in the many press calls and television interviews which are carried out over the course of a race weekend, the podium interviews – introduced from the British Grand Prix – are organised directly by the FIA and broadcast on the world feed. This means that all broadcasters, in all countries showing the ceremony, will receive them.
‘It is very much our collective responsibility to make sure drivers are aware such language has no place during media events,’ reads the letter, sent to the teams by Norman Howell, FIA Director of Communications, at the request of FIA President Jean Todt. ‘It shines an unwelcome beam of adverse publicity on their teams and sponsors, the sport and the FIA.
‘I understand that in the 'heat of battle' that 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.
Since it happened twice on the same weekend, I thought I'd send a friendly note. 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.’
In the United Kingdom alone, the BBC received 22 calls about the swearing and a subsequent 30 calls for the delay in posting the show on iPlayer, which allows fans to watch the race back online; the editing process was delayed as the expletives were edited out.
“Well, knowing Kimi, I do believe he just said it…but Sebastian as well!” said former driver David Coulthard, BBC F1 pundit who conducted the interviews.
“There was a gentleman who organises everything and I heard his voice in my ear with the talkback. I could hear him going, ‘Oh no, he didn’t just say it!’ and then he went, ‘Oh no, again!’ So that’s why I felt it was appropriate to apologise on his behalf because, of course, there were many people around the world listening to that and the use of profanity is not acceptable in the public podium interviews.”