Todt warns Vettel to mind his language
Quadruple champion has his knuckles rapped by FIA president after a somewhat inelegant description of the new engines
FIA president Jean Todt has written to Sebastian Vettel, advising him not to use swear words in public appearances. The Red Bull driver caused controversy when he described the sound of the new engines as “shit” in a news conference at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Todt did not want to make too big an issue of the situation, but was keen to remind Vettel of his responsibilities as a high-prole ambassador for the sport. He had already issued a general warning to all drivers not to use bad language after Vettel and Räikkönen swore on the podium after the 2012 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
That earlier warning, which came in the form of letters written to the teams, said it was “very much our collective responsibility to make sure drivers are aware such language has no place during media events”.
It added that bad language “shines an unwelcome beam of adverse publicity on their teams and sponsors, the sport and the FIA”.
A spokesman warned at the time that further incidents could lead to disciplinary action. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner accepted that Vettel should not have sworn, but defended his right to speak his mind.
“He has just said what he thinks, and rather than others in the pitlane damning him for it, I think he should be applauded for saying what he thinks,” Horner said. “Unfortunately we live in quite a politically correct world, and part of Red Bull’s philosophy, even though sometimes uncomfortable for the team, is for the drivers to have freedom of speech and expression.
“All the drivers are allowed to express their own opinion. Sebastian has expressed his opinion and I don’t think anybody would condemn a driver for voicing an opinion.” But McLaren chairman Ron Dennis disagreed: “Being a world champion requires a dignied approach to everything, so, putting aside the language, even the sentiment is inappropriate. The fact is, if he were sitting in a Mercedes he’d be extremely happy. And I’m quite sure any four or ve-letter words would be more of joy.
“He should reect on the fact that he’s had a period of dominance. Just because that has been shaken by Mercedes-Benz, it doesn’t give him the licence to be disrespectful of the obligations placed on him as world champion.”