Olympians, like F1 drivers, told to keep their celebrations under control

Felipe Massa broke the rules by picking up a Brazil flag in 2006. Stupid rules

Felipe Massa broke the rules by picking up a Brazil flag in 2006. Stupid rules

The 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 ferm?? 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 ?ǣ 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.

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44 comments on Olympians, like F1 drivers, told to keep their celebrations under control

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  1. Chalky said on 27th August 2008, 15:23

    If it’s not the FIA telling them no donuts it might end up being the team. With engines needing to last 2 GPs you’ll probably find that the team don’t want to have any unnecessary stress on the car for the next GP.
    That’s why I assumed they didn’t. I had no idea the FIA had a rule on it.

  2. Rob R. said on 27th August 2008, 15:46

    Bolt doesn’t slow down to just celebrate or show off. He also does it because he gets paid a bonus by his sponsors every time he sets a new world record. So he doesn’t want to break the record “by too much”. So much for the “Olympic spirit”…

  3. Kevin Queally said on 27th August 2008, 15:47

    I agree 100%, those guys in suits are way way to formal. I mean in moto gp i’m always watching to see what Valentino does after a win it adds to the show and it shows they are human. People are always saying that F1 drivers are like robots with no personalities but bans like this only add to this persona which is unfair. Just remember the little after race celebrations that Alonso used to do in 2005-2006 while standing on the nose of his renault. We need more of that. I also think that allowing the drivers to pick up their flag after a race is fitting especially in the case of Felipe in Brazil in 2006.

  4. They should be allowed to celebrate however they want after the race, whether it is doughnuts or waving flags or whatever.

  5. Alex Cooper said on 27th August 2008, 16:10

    I believe the picking-up-a-flag rule came in during 1994 when Damon Hill had to explain to the FIA why he’d collected one from a supporter after winning at Silverstone (as if he had to explain why!). The logic was that a driver could take on something heavier and be weighed in at the correct weight having run light during the grand prix.

    Ayrton Senna used to keep a flag in the cockpit (famously he had the Austrian flag during Imola 1994 to pay respects to Roland Ratzenberger who died the day before the race) but this was discouraged by the teams because in the following day’s newspapers the victor was hiding sponsor’s logos behind his national flag.

    I don’t know how come I know all this. And I agree with Keith – it is a pity that drivers can’t celebrate.

  6. Dan M said on 27th August 2008, 16:56

    “Alessandro Zanardi used to celebrate his CART triumphs with tyre-boiling doughnuts (oh, alright, ‘donuts’).”

    You cant only half “Americanize” it: “tire-boiling donuts”

    You’re right about Helio, you can not question his desire to race and win. I’m sure many drivers in, or aspiring to be in F1 would be just has jubilant given the ability.

    We view them as cocky and expecting of success, but they may be painted in an unfair light because they are NEVER allowed to express themselves, we might as well have machines driving and winning races.

  7. WTF!??! The drivers & teams work so hard to win and when they finally do some fool tells them they can’t celebrate??!?! What is that all about? It’s ridiculous. Half the reason I watch MotoGP (ok, less than half) is to watch Valentino Rossi’s celebrations (some are super funny!).

  8. As if F1 wasn’t processional enough.

  9. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th August 2008, 17:34

    Loki – I don’t understand what you mean?

  10. verasaki said on 27th August 2008, 17:36

    happy to hear i’m not alone in not going gaga over the olympics…actually, until some of the men’s diving i was sort of put out and close to demanding that the men’s volleyball and runners be required to wear some of the same gear as the women’s teams–completely off track there, sorry.

    re: heli- champ car did actually try and enforce a ban on him climbing the fence at one of the races. the fans were so put out that the officials retracted their decree. there was some concern also when zanardi began the do(ugh)nut tradition but it was such a hit with everyone no one actually tried to stop it. one thing you have to say about american racing-the reason it succeeds is because the governing bodies actually realize who is buying the tickets, t’s, flags et al. the fia refuses to acknowledge that.

    ditto on vale. but, i find moto gp alot more riveting than auto racing anyway. even if it’s a boring race (rare) i find myself open mouthed at the strength and balance and sheer guts riding one of those things takes.

  11. Trevor said on 27th August 2008, 17:43

    As Loki says Moto GP is fantastic at celebrations,shaking hands on the slow down lap,Flags and of course Rossi is the King.Moto GP is much more exciting anyway!

  12. What about the good old days, when the drivers who broke down, hitched rides on the side pods of cars, ie Mika in Barcelona…I loved that!???

    I reckon, like Moto GP, there should be a celebration by the winning driver, can you imagine, Massa stopping on track, letting a fan keep the engine running while he gets out and kisses the track..unrealistic I know!!

    I would love to see a few wee donuts….even in a specially marked out area! Good job Coulthard leaving F1 though, he kept stalling while doing donuts at ROC ’07.

    I distinctly remember watching LH doing donuts at Monza when he won the GP2 championship!!! It was right in front of me!

    I think we should start a campaign…..and bring the human element back into F1….personally I miss Michael Schumachers victory jump…..still love that man!

  13. Robert McKay said on 27th August 2008, 19:01

    As others have said, Moto GP does the celebration thing much better. Pity it’s losing it’s way with the rest of the sport, in my opinion.

    I can just about understand the “not picking things up” rule, but the “must process directly to jail (parc ferme), do not pass go and do not collect £200″ attitude is very stuffy in the extreme. Is it basically to keep to TV schedules, or do the powers that be just not like fun?

  14. Robert McKay said on 27th August 2008, 19:02

    “proceed”, not “process”, d’oh :-D

  15. Shahriar Ahsan said on 27th August 2008, 19:12

    cudnt agree to u more Keith… cudnt agree to u more… but do i remember schumi celebrating with a german flag? was is permitted, then? or is it my non-existent deja-vu.

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