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Drivers aren't allowed to be characters - Ecclestone

ESPN Staff
December 7, 2012 « European races must 'wake up' - Ecclestone | Red Bull must improve - Horner »
Bernie Ecclestone: "They're not allowed to be characters now" © Getty Images
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Bernie Ecclestone believes F1 drivers are no longer given the freedom to express their true character, adding that the furore over Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen swearing on the podium in Abu Dhabi was blown out of proportion.

Ecclestone recently told the German press that he felt the current generation of drivers - including triple world champion Vettel - lacked the character of F1's past heroes. But in an interview with Formula One's official website he clarified those remarks.

"Today Sebastian is the yardstick," he said. "Times are simply different today and that doesn't only go for drivers. The whole environment is different. We have many more dos and don'ts than back in the old days.

"Remember when Sebastian swore on the podium? He immediately got into trouble. If that had been James Hunt or Graham Hill, they wouldn't have cared - and nobody else would have cared. Look at the television culture today - the f-word has become part of normal conversation. I don't think that Sebastian's spontaneous expression was a big deal for a lot of people - just for a few people. Complete nonsense!

"So if you ask what the real difference is between past drivers and today's drivers, it's that they were characters before and they're not allowed to be characters now."

But Ecclestone believes Vettel's charisma will grow with his confidence over the coming years.

"He will be alright. He will grow into this. He is now super confident - because a large part of charisma is self-esteem and not ego as some might think. I say watch him next year."