The problem with a live interview is, you get what you get whether you wanted it or not. That was the case at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix when Kimi Raikkonen unleashed the “S” word only to be bested by Sebastian Vettel when he dropped the F-bomb on an unsuspecting public. According to AUTOSPORT, the FIA sent a letter to both teams asking them to please watch their language.
The use of the F-bomb even caused 22 people to call the BBC to complain and Vettel to release an apology:
“I’m terribly sorry for using the wrong word on the podium today and I’m sorry if I have offended anyone who was watching,” said Vettel.
“In the heat of the moment, I didn’t use the right words and I apologise. I’ll do better next time.”
An interesting tie-in was made by AUTOSPORT’s Edd Straw concerning the United States Grand Prix coming up next week in Austin Texas:
“One F1 paddock regular with great experience of working in the USA, pointed out that to have drivers swearing on the podium in Austin would be headline news there. After all, it’s a country with a very low tolerance even for mild bad language on television.”
“This is not about drivers being rendered as nothing more than wooden corporate caricatures, it’s about the sport conducting itself in the right way for mass consumption.”
I like Edd a lot and he’s right, having some integrity is never a bad thing as drivers are representing the sport and sponsors to the masses and you have to be sensitive to all those watching. While he believes drivers should be careful, he failed to mention what possibly is the biggest reason for the warning from the FIA. Edd says that foul language “seems to attract disproportionate opprobrium”. Really?
Does the US have a lower tolerance for dropping F-bomb’s on TV? You bet. The fact is, it’s not because Americans haven’t heard the words, it is simply this…I was watching the race with my two young daughters and they like Seb. They didn’t need to hear him drop the F-bomb. If your child is encouraged to use that language and you are outraged for the lack of it in post-race interviews, then add your own commentary. Children do watch F1, that’s how I became a fan when I was 6 years-old and while Mario and Emerson may have used the words privately, they didn’t do it on TV and I never heard it in post-race interviews…much to the appreciation of my father.
Part of growing the sport of Formula One is teaching a new, young generation about the series just as my father did. If we have to hear foul language on every interview, it makes it difficult to include children in the fun that F1 can be. It’s not “opprobrium”, it’s simple logic. If F1 wants to attract new, young viewers who are watching with their parents and will grow to love and support the sport for the next 20-30 years, then it needs to be sensitive to its audience.