international running-and-jumping festival Olympics finally came to a close over the weekend. As a sporting event it’s not really to my taste as there aren’t any racing cars involved, and apparently never will be. Oh well.
What I find just as disappointing is the organisers take the same dim view of victory celebrations as Formula 1′s governing body does.
F1 drivers aren’t allowed to celebrate their win with a doughnut, or wave their national flag on the slow-down lap. Why on earth not? It’s time they were cut some slack.
During the Olympics the IOC president Jacques Rogge had a go at Jamaica’s sprinter Usain Bolt for daring to slow down in celebration at the end of one of his races:
That’s not the way we perceive being a champion. I’ve no problem with him doing a show. But I think he should show more respect and shake hands after the finish.
Predictably Bolt’s rivals did not seem to share this view he had been disrespectful towards them. This was a case of stuffy old men in suits acting like stuffy old men in suits.
I have no problem with triumphant sportsmen and women showing off a bit. It adds to the spectacle, it gives their fans something to cheer, and it gives the other guys’ fans something to relish when they get beaten. In short: it does no harm, so let’s not be so uptight about it.
I watched the Indy Racing League round from Sonoma last weekend and Helio Castroneves’ celebration was fantastic. Normally known for climbing to the top of the high crash barriers that surround ovals after winning, Castroneves found no such fence nearby after winning at Sonoma. So he jumped into the crowd instead:
Alessandro Zanardi used to celebrate his CART triumphs with tyre-boiling doughnuts (oh, alright, ‘donuts’). But woe betide any F1 driver who dares to do the same. The FIA Sporting Regulations article 43.3 states:
After receiving the end-of-race signal all cars must proceed on the circuit directly to the post race parc fermé without any unnecessary delay, without receiving any object whatsoever.
The drivers clearly would love the chance to celebrate if they were allowed it. Felipe Massa managed to get hold of a Brazilian flag on the slowing down lap after winning his home race in 2006:
Happily no one punished this infringement of the rules (can’t say I feel the same way about the latest such example of this, however).
Kimi Raikkonen snuck in a cheeky half-donut at Spa last year. There is no slow lap back to the pits after a race at Spa because the track is so long – the drivers instead turn into the support race pits immediately after the La Source hairpin.
Raikkonen spun up his rear wheels to give the crowd a treat as he did the necessary U-turn. I hope whoever wins a week on Sunday does the same – perhaps the instigation of a new tradition might persuade the F1 organisers that a little crowd-pleasing isn’t such a bad thing.
On second thoughts, no, it probably won’t.