Presidents and precedents

I have a question: Have there been any other F1 races that have been started by a politician or where politicians are allowed into the pre-podium room? I ask because I honestly cannot remember, but I don’t think it has happened apart from in Sochi last year.

This leads me to another question: What is the protocol for this happening? Let us assume, for example, that President Barack Obama happens to be in Austin, playing golf, next week. In between bunkers, he is suddenly struck by the thought that he could see a Grand Prix and get some nice propaganda shots hugging Lewis Hamilton, who is big with the youth of America because he likes hanging out with Twitter Royalty, such as Kim, Khloe, Kourtney, Kris, Kylie and, of course, Kendall. His staff are instructed to inform the F1 powers-that-be that he will do the driver-hugging and it would most helpful if the band played “Hail to the Chief”, the official Presidential Anthem of the United States, before he appeared on the podium itself. Can the Formula One group now turn him down? After all, Putin was allowed to do it and it would be a monstrous slur to refuse to allow that to happen. And then, of course, we have Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff and the UAE President His Royal Highness Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, all of whom might like the idea as well. I would imagine also that China’s President Xi Jinping would be pretty unimpressed if he were not allowed to do the same. And how would one decide at Silverstone whether the Queen of England would get to hug Sergio Perez or whether that role would go to Prime Minister David Cameron? And then, of course, we might have problems when a similar head of state is too busy playing golf with President Obama and so decides to appoint an official driver-hugger or button-presser?

Setting mighty precedents with mighty presidents is really not a very good idea… Before you know it, the FIA President will be demanding red carpets at airports, in exchange for the driver-hugging rights in Formula 1, because it is not defined in the commercial agreements who has the right to nominate the local dignitaries. I guess it would end up like the single supplier rules, which have the federation nominate the choices, the commercial rights holder agrees the terms and then the FIA makes the official announcement (not to be mistaken for the decision). I wonder too if Bernie Ecclestone would have the cojones to tell the monarchs of the world that the right to hug the drivers costs X million… and whether they would simply resort to that celebrated royal phrase from Alice in Wonderland: “Off with his head!”

147 thoughts on “Presidents and precedents

  1. Sad to see Lewis embracing it too.

    I doubt the lads where he is today for his intellect but I’d have thought it obvious embracing the situation as he did wasn’t the best thing to do. I doubt we’d of seen Mark Webber giving Putin a big hug and showing off his silly hat.

    1. if you think F1 drivers lack intellect you really don’t understand the mental demands put on them.

      Its easy to say that you wouldn’t do x and y but when you’re put in a situation where the Russian President is in what is effectively your chill out room I doubt 99.9% of people would just ignore him. The drivers did as they would be expected to do under the circumstances, the problem is those circumstances should have never been put in front of the drivers in the first place.

      On the actual podium fine but that room is supposed to be for the drivers to be able to relax slightly after the race and compare notes with each other, it sounded like there was good banter going on between Seb & Lewis but you couldn’t hear it properly as the cameras were blocked by Putin and his entourage which is ridiculous.

  2. Aha – so it’s true! You must have a name starting with K to be Twitter Royalty! I don’t think anyone else will be as foolish to do so mainly because there are still some free thinkers in the press. Russia is a different world in our imperfect world.

    As for tyres it was to be expected. It’s a rotten agreement for the FIA. Also, don’t think Todt cares if is or not. I think they’re all quite happy having a bunch of suits making all the decisions for them anyway.

  3. Well I guess it’s just another F1 lop-sided-behind-the-scenes deal.
    Some favour authorities and some favour teams.

      1. I read:
        ‘Only persons authorised by the master of ceremonies may make contact with the drivers before the end of the TV unilateral interviews’.
        I won’t dare to say where exactly is the pre-podium room in these protocols.

  4. I much prefer that largely anonymous people and, preferably, not politicians appear on podiums. After all, it should just be a celebration and parade for the victors.

    I think the British do this sort of thing rather well at events like Wimbledon with lesser members of the Royal Family. They’re significant enough, if you like, to add weight to the occasion but not enough to over-power it.

    With Putin, I feel that every time he’s in an F1 room or on the podium then there’s a huge elephant in the room. Acting all friendly with someone chucking missiles at Muslims isn’t the safest plan while F1 still visits the middle east!

    1. This is the problem. However F1 is to go to the States next week. Do you seriously believe the US are not chucking missiles on Muslims? If they do, what makes them different to Putin in that regard?

      1. Are you simply writing comments to be a pain in the backside? Are you going to deny that Russia took over the Crimea, or has inserted its own troops into Ukraine. Are you going to deny that a Malaysian aircraft was shot down by someone over the same region. If you have nothing constructive to say, say nothing.

          1. No, I don’t think he has any interest in the sport. This was shown last year when he turned up in the middle of the race. Fans don’t do that.

            1. Yep. He’s been deprived of hand-shaking with Foreigners during last year-and-a-half, no surprise he decided to proceed with huggy-huggy/kissy-kissy.

              Poor clown. He must be thinking “What a Day! What a Day! How cool is that?!” not realizing how ludicrous he is.

        1. No, I’m not denying anything of what You said. I know all of those things. That said, I also know that the US unmistakably shoot down Iran Air Flight 655 within the Iranian airspace killing 290 people. Ok, 8 people less than what allegedly the Russians did, but a big loss of innocent life nevertheless. I also know that the US together with the UK invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, forcing a bloody civil war on them that left both countries in a mess. I also know that the Chinese occupy Tibet against all international laws. Yet I have no problems with F1 visiting Austin, Silverstone and Shanghai. I don’t have a problem with F1 visiting Russia either. That’s the message I tried to give.

          Sorry if I hurt your feelings or hit your pride, that was not my aim and I apologise sincerely if I did.

          1. This discussion has nothing to do with who did what. It is about whether politicians should use the sport so overtly. Also, if you quote cases from the 1980s, why not also from the 1940s? At what point does history stop mattering? In addition, you should read the story of flight 655 some time. It is not as simple as the headlines. There is no hurt feeling and no pride to be hurt.

            1. Pleased that you brought up the past. I believe that Putin is an admirer of Adolf Hitler’s political strategies. The invasion of the Crimea was eerily similar to many of the manufactured “rescues” of native Germans that Hitler engaged in prior to WWII, i.e., the recovery of the Rheinland, the invasion of the Czechoslovakian Sudetenland, etc.

              And, compare the Sochi Winter Olympic games with Hitler’s staging of the 1936 Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, which the latter used as a promotional device for his National Socialist Party. Both politicians were also prominently featured in their respective Olympics.

              The totalitarian government playbook is obviously very thin.

              Your point about the risks involved when a sport is willing to prostitute itself to politicians of Putin’s ilk is well-placed. It seems as though Mr. Ecclestone literally has no shame if the money is right. His behavior is sad, terribly misguided, and unfortunately reflects badly on everyone involved.

        2. The BBC news website explained Crimea just once, then never mentioned or linked to their own article again.

          Russia gave Crimea to the Ukraine as recompense for something, but has a security agreement with twenty years left to run, that is similar to what the US has to the bit of Cuba it uses for Guantanomo.

          They used the example that saying the US were sending a thousand troops to Guantanomo, was different to saying they were sending a thousand into Cuba.

          If Russia did the same in eastern Ukraine, that would be an invasion, but Crimea was not.

  5. Yes it’s very strange for President to be in pre-podium room but this guy surprises us permanently so we got accustomed )))

    1. President Reagan gave the “start your engines” command for the 1984 Firecracker 400 race in July at Daytona via telephone from Air Force One. After the plane landed Reagan went to the press box which Petty later went to after he won. IIRC security measures were given as the reason why the starting command was done via phone..

  6. After last year I was convinced the BBC would choose Sochi as a highlights-only race for 2015. It’s crying out for someone to make it fit for broadcast by removing the extensive, offensive non-F1 content that FOM puts out.

    One more item on the list of reasons why F1 struggles to maintain its audience figures.

  7. Just say “YOU DONT LIKE PUTIN” why constructing a long story for nothing.
    The precedents with “Head of state” was done long time ago in the past in
    Monte Carlo at a point in time Putin was not even born

      1. Not really sure what the difference is between podium and “Dressing room”
        I am sure Putin does have the right connection in Russia so that he can get a BACKSTAGE pass for the “Dressing room”

        1. The difference is that one is not a public place, but is covered by TV cameras, and the other is a public place

        2. I’m sure Mr Putin can do whatever he likes in Russia… that doesn’t mean it’s not rude for him to barge in on the drivers when they have just a couple minutes to themselves to decompress before facing the crowd.

          On the other hand, he was fresh off his birthday hockey game in which he scored 7 (!!) goals vs. NHL players… so I suppose we should be thankful that he didn’t arrange to race the F1 drivers and finish several laps ahead of all of them…

            1. Vladimir Putin tested a Renault-branded F1 car on a track near St Petersburg. This was in fact an old Prost AP04, dating back to 2001, fitted with a Cosworth engine. Putin had been involved in the funding of Petrov’s deal with Renault. The President being old friends with Petrov’s father

  8. I was wondering about that as well. As far as I can remember, the pre-podium room belongs to the drivers and the drivers only. A place for them to wind down after the race for a few minutes before the podium ceremony.

    Vlad on the podium? That would have been perfectly fine. But the pre-podium now has local dignitaries?

  9. Fair play Joe, for saying what others don’t want to in this article and the previous. Good luck with your Sochi press pass application next year! 😉

  10. No Joe, if a Western leader does a meet and greet with the race winners is a welcoming gesture and nothing more than a photo op. It is only in Putin’s case that it’s considered propaganda. For, as we all know from years of Hollywood movies and news bites, anything Russia ever does is inherently evil, and the only thing holding them from nuking the world are the wholesome American boys and their NATO chums. God bless them.

    Yet more proof about that Russian propaganda and nationalism was those outrageous Pirelli Ushankas on the podium. I can’t possibly imagine other nations displaying such crass and thrash patriotism; what next? Gallon hats at Austin? Not in a million years.

    1. Read the article again and you will see the difference between appearing on the podium and appearing in the pre-podium room and having the deputy PM in the starting gantry. There is a difference.

      1. Perhaps it is you who should read my comment, as I make no mention of podium or pre-podium rooms. It is your standard response to all comments questioning your reasoning, as if shaking hands with drivers before the podium is evidence of propaganda and malevolence.

        I respect your reporting on F1 matters, on the grounds of being informed by being on the actual territory where it all happens. Extending beyond that, particularly brining MH17 in the argument, as you also did during the last Russian GP, constitutes opinions based on western propaganda, in my opinion.

          1. The truth should lie in the middle of both sides, in my opinion. I can’t *know* better, but I’d like to think that I am not biased.
            Furthermore, next week we are racing at a country that just killed doctors and patients, a move that MSF has deemed as a war crime. Where is the outrage over that, Joe? And why has the West a monopoly over bombing Syria? Should we feel uneasy about racing in Austin over these actions? Perhaps you can write a piece on that. And finally, after which I’ll put this unrelated to F1 conversation to rest, the whole issue about agents looking for the CIA wifi; do you really think their American counterparts wouldn’t be looking for a suspiciously named wifi network? But in their case, they would ignore a KGB themed one. But try to set up one named “Jihad, Allah is great”, and see how long you’ll remain unprobed.
            Best wishes

            1. I like to think that I am not biased, but you seem to want to be aggressive and make me look bad simply because I have asked questions. You are missing the subtleties that exist between the two cases. Firstly, there is no US President that I know about trying to use F1 to improve his image. Thus the US Grand Prix is not being used as a political statement. It is just a motor race. If Obama was doing all the things that Putin did in Sochi then yes, I probably would ask the same questions. As to the rest of your diatribe, I think that the question of bombing Syria relates to who you are bombing. If you condone the ISIS people and the things they do and think they should be allowed to do that without any fear of retribution then we have different opinions on these matters. The fact that you compare the CIA with Jihadists in the final point you make gives me a clear indication of your political views. I am not about to start defending the US in everything it does, but I do believe that it is a country that has basic freedoms that they cannot even imagine in Russia.

              1. I don’t believe Obama would lower himself to go to Texas (though Austin is reputed to be The Most Liberal (Leftist) city in Texas.

              2. Talking of Obama, I think the reason why he might not be at the race is that he is not footing the F1 bill in a similar way Putin is. I heard Putin even signed the contract or at least held some negotiations with Bernie.

            2. It’s good that you’re not biased and so open minded. Why do people believe that them feeling unbiased somehow changes the facts? What’s wrong with having a bias based on fact?

              “The truth should lie in the middle of both sides, in my opinion” No, perhaps the truth should lie where the facts dictate the truth is. What’s this middle bullshit, sounds like something a teacher tells young school children as an ideal. In reality there are good people in this world and absolute scum with everything else in between. Toward the scum side of the spectrum lay very dangerous people that have no difficulty doing terrible things to others without conscience, yes Russia does not have an exclusiveon them they are in every country.

              “Officially, Vladimir Putin’s net worth is thought to be around $70 billion according to Forbes, which makes the Russian the second-richest man in the world since Bill Gates’ net worth is $79.3 billion in 2015.”

              Maybe this western propaganda is off 10 or 20 billion, perhaps Old Vlad’s a shrewd investor, honest as they come. What did the ex-KGB man do invest in that fruit company Apple with Forest Gump and Lieutenant Dan? They pay well in Russia it seems.

              These dictators seem to need to sell themselves to their own public with high profile stunts and symbols of excess. A naive public can then buy into the myth that their man somehow embodies their Country bolstering their pride and falling in line. Meanwhile the rest of the world sees through these antics. Obliging Bernie is a little dictator in his own right, so he sees no harm in things and of course lines his pockets in the process. Fortunately, you probably live in a country where life isn’t as cheap as in dictatorships so you can express defiant opinions openly without penalty. That’s something to value and not take for granted, it was built and defended by others, it does not exist by accident and should be respected. They have enough Cheerleaders in the motherland they don’t need enlightened westerners joing the cause, it’s actually disrespectful to the men and women that have fought to defend counties where tolerance is actually present.

              Perhaps you’d be interested in a nice time share in Vladivostok to see how the other half lives?

              Politician with tens of billions of $ = big time crook, not admirable. megalomania even less so.

          2. Joe,

            Respectfully, your claiming that ” Russia took over the Crimea, or has inserted its own troops into Ukraine”, is not evidence based. As manolimoriaty correctly points out, this claim is purely western propaganda.

            You are correct that a “Malaysian aircraft was shot down by someone over the same region”, but your implication that this was directed by Putin is uncalled for. It has not been conclusively proven who shot down MH17.

            Enough Putin bashing please. Stick to F1, which you know much more about.

            1. And you have knowledge of what happened in Crimea and Ukraine from what source? Sounds like you are a victim of Putin propaganda…

            2. 1) your claiming that ” Russia took over the Crimea, or has inserted its own troops into Ukraine”, is not evidence based – wrong, it is evidence based. There is a whole interview of russian tank driver burned in his tank in the eastern ukraine while being a regular russian soldier. And there are tons of other evidences.

              2) your implication that this was directed by Putin is uncalled for – the shooting itself was (probably and hopefully) not directed by Putin in person. But he staged the whole situation, he provided the so-called “rebels” with the weapon so he has quite a bit of personal responsibility too.

    2. “…what next? Gallon hats at Austin? Not in a million years.”

      Er…you might want to have a look at podium photos from the first Austin GP

  11. I could not name them becaus they are totally irrelevant, but – tell me I’m wrong – I saw ministers of sports, ministers of transportation, etc giving out prizes on F1 podiums. Of course none of them was Putin, but I do not see anything new on the podium

    1. You may have missed the point. I am not talking about the podium, I am talking about the pre-podium room and the starting gantry. It is entirely normal for politicians to honour the winners of races on the podiums.

          1. /The pre-podium room is not the podium./

            It is not, of course, and I haven’t tried to say so! I just said that regs require some important politician to be on the podium (and that’s why there is always one), nothing more.

  12. I had great arguments around the time Bahrain had its “UniF1ed” scandal. People felt it was outrageous – quite rightly – but then in the greater context it didn’t really make sense to be so upset.

    For one, most people wouldn’t know there was a country called Bahrain if F1 wasn’t there, so it’s really hard to judge the situation from an armchair potentially tens of thousands of miles away.

    At the same time, F1 keeps returning to China each year. Now, if everything else escapes people’s memory, one might still recall reports of Tibetan monks setting themselves on fire during (well, not just during, but particularly during) the 2008 Summer Olympics and everyone seemed to forget about that by the time the “UniF1ED” campaign turned up.

    I was arguing with this person about the situation, trying to compare the two and he came back with the answer: “Yeah, but the Chinese don’t use the race to spread lies.” I’m terribly sorry, but what are we talking about? Do we care about the situation itself or just how the situation looks? Or rather: do these people care about the situation of the country or just F1’s? Also, NOT putting billboards around the Shanghai track saying “Tibet is happily part of the People’s Republic of China” made the situation to resolve, suddenly, or what?

    So when people thinking in a similar fashion try to campaign their beliefs of “F1 shouldn’t go there”, let me tell you this, as someone from Hungary (as I suggested in the other post):

    If I was old enough in 1986 to attend the Hungarian Grand Prix of my own money and would have been deprived of it because some people in other countries felt it wasn’t the “right thing” for F1 to come here, I would have massively been annoyed. Just try to put yourself in that situation. You are the paying customer and someone overseas says: “No, I don’t want you to have that, because your leaders are a-holes”.

    You could argue, though, that – in case of Russia – this could be a means of embargo, forcing out changes in society, but realistically it’s unlikely to happen with a pesky race at the great scale of things.

    What I probably try to suggest is that the bottom line is probably at the paying fans, turning up at the races. You might not like it, but then not everybody is fortunate enough to enjoy the freedom and liberty you have (which is also a highly subjective sensation).

  13. A Guys!

    I am no supporter of Putin, but every government official who has wanted to has been able to get on that stage, whether a Shiek or a Govenor or elected official, the “prince” of Monoco” is a tradition. Let’s not forget Turkey and Cypress.
    If F1 only went to democracies, it would have eliminate half of its races. If it only went to real democracies, it would have to eliminate more than that (gosh the schedule would look like the traditional schedule from 30 a 40 years ago, but there would be a lot less money in the paddock).

  14. He timed his bombing of Iran and Syria perfectly and F1 was happy to oblige. presumably Ilham Aliyev will be more than happy to present the cups at the Baku race after he picked up the 2012 Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project man of the year.

  15. Dare I ask, why is the pre-podium room off limits? What is so untoward about a celebrity politician chatting up celebrity drivers in a quiet setting? There’s a first time for everything, and just because it hasn’t happened before doesn’t make it a bad idea.

    I was more offended by the on podium posturing of Putin.

    When the Turks had their Cypress podium kerfluffle didn’t I read that FIA bylaw
    attempted to keep politics off the podium?

  16. The appearance of President P in the pre-podium room was, to me, about as distasteful as Sky F1 doing a pre-race interview with Flavio Briatore.

      1. I don’t recall reading about Pat Symond’s exoneration. Interviews with him seem to be okay. Is it because Briatore is a fat, greasy, rich, foreigner, and Symonds is a hardworking Brit who made a “mistake”? The tight knit F1 world seems to have forgiven Symonds. Not sure about many fans.

        1. That is not very polite about Briatore. I don’t believe for one minute that the Singapore scam was Pat Symonds’s idea. Yes, he went along with that (and that was weakness) but he got a penalty, he served it and came back to F1. Thus Symonds was not exonerated. Briatore could come back if he wants to, but the truth is that sport does not want him. However, I object to him being held up as some kind of arbiter of good and bad. He would not recognise the difference if it hit him on the head.

          1. Oh, I wouldn’t dream of being polite about Briatore. Thanks for your reply. That whole sorry tale is old now, of course. It’s still a topic for a good discussion in the pub, but probably best not on a blog or forum. Cheers.

  17. I see a precedent : at the end of the 1st Turkish GP, prices were handed over by the president of the Turkish federation… who also happened to be the president of the non-recognized Turkish-Cyprus republic…
    And if I remember well it didn’t go down too well with the FIA… but of course Turkey is far from being as powerful as Russia !

  18. I don’t know it is the same as the pre podium room but on youtube there is footage (in color!) of King George VI, Queen Mary, Princess Margaret and Lord & Lady Mountbatten greeting and shaking hands with the drivers standing in line before the race of the 1950 British Grand Prix.

  19. Well, the principal difference as I see it is that Putin, if indirectly, writes the $50 million check payable to FOM, whereas Obama regards the Austin F1 race; “he didn’t build that”

  20. I was thinking the same thing when I saw Putin in the pre-podium room chummy with Lewis. A little PR to soften his evil tyrant mage being portrayed in the West now.

    I wonder if Obama will respond by showing up in Austin?

    Of course not, just saying…

    1. Obama is a week guy, He isn’t even able to stop his own folk from buying as many weapons as they want in order to try to prevent mass shootings on high schools. Do you think Putin would tolerate such things as shootings on high schools?

      1. There’s that Pesky 2nd Amendment to our Constitution, you see. Many of our people live outside the big cities and see the need to be able to take care of themselves. They also hunt. There are wolves and large bears in the woods, and not all that far from small towns. (There was some kerfuffle in Portland, Oregon when a cougar (puma, mountain lion) was found in a tree near a large park.) Indeed, cougars have been spotted in my little town.

        1. the 2nd amendment isn’t there for hunting or to take care of yourself outside the cities.200 years ago, if you didn’t hunt or take care of yourself, you died. It’s there for a means for the populace to overthrow a tyrannical government, if the Federal government ever gets that bad. It’s corrupt as all hell, and has been really bad since Woodrow Wilson IMO.

          I’m armed to the teeth btw…

      2. Putin doesn’t have to deal with a Congress that’s bought and paid for… or with an NRA that has sane membership who favor moderate gun control but has leaders who are bought and paid for by gun manufacturers… or with mass media that hypes the 2nd Amendment as supposedly meaning something it has never, ever meant…

        In short, the US has lots of problems, but Obama isn’t close to the top of that list…

  21. To answer your question:

    “I have a question: Have there been any other F1 races that have been started by a politician or where politicians are allowed into the pre-podium room?”

    Yes. The 1950 Grand Prix of Europe (the first F1 race) held at Silverstone was only started after the King and Queen of England (and current Queen Elizabeth 2) had greeted the drivers. They also gave the garlands to the drivers – Farina et al on winning the race.

    Also, I am pretty sure this has happened in Bahrain too.

    Further and I am definitely being pedantic now, this happens in Monaco (due to the fact the cars stop outside the ACM viewing box and are immediately greeted by Prince Albert – (previously Rainier of course).

    In the modern era, where there are distinct zones (e.g. the pre-podium room) in the Parc Ferme scenario of the race, then I think only Bahrain.

    1. There is no pre-podium room nor a proper podium in Monaco. The cars stop in front of the royal box. I don’t remember anything like that in Bahrain. As to Silverstone 1950, I am not sure it was a propaganda exercise. It was just how things were done. It is 65 years ago…

  22. I can officially say, I actually did Laugh Out Loud reading this piece! Perhaps in another dimension there is a place for a stand up F1 comic?

  23. The old story of do politics and sport mix. I am old enough to remember the days of the Springbok protests and the sporting boycott of South Africa (which I seem to remember F1 largely ignored).

    In an ideal world F1 and sport would exist in a vacuum of Olympian purity, in reality I am reminded of the words of Vince Lombardy who described the NFL as sport once a week and business for six days a week.

  24. I doubt anyone thought much about Putin being in the pre-podium room if you hadn’t started beating your drum about it Joe. Presidents, dignitarieset al can show up wherever they want but if the media doesn’t report about it, can hardly consider their presence to be propaganda. Any propaganda for what exactly? What was Putin doing exactly that was so offensive to you?

    1. If you watch the TV coverage of a Grand Prix you will know that the pre-podium room is always featured. So I am not drawing attention to it. It is there. It was used in Russia for purposes other than allowing us to see the drivers up close and personal and relating to one another. It is good thing to have because it makes the drivers more human.

      1. I don’t think the lead story to come out of the pre-podium room is “Putin stands around quietly.” Rest of the world would have been focused on the gentle razzing between Seb and Lewis over fastest lap times.

        Whatever the motives are, it’s nice to see a race supported by its government.

  25. I think the more pertinent question is what is F1 doing giving a platform to a mass murdering war criminal who has just invaded a European neighbour and shot a passenger jet out the sky?

  26. Yes, by this precedent Queen Elizabeth II could be handing out water bottles in the pre-podium room at three GPs next year!!!

    Would be a comical response to Putin’s class-less posturing…

      1. Sure.

        But she’s got good manners, so she’d never let on about that… just as she’d never barge in on a couple of tired racing drivers who are just trying to catch their breath and get their pulse rate down… just as she’d never ask the owner of an NFL team to see his Super Bowl ring and then, after he takes it off his finger and hands it over, pocket the thing.. etc., etc., etc…

  27. I’m surprised there isn’t more discussion about the violation of Appendix 3 Section 5b of the 2015 F1 Sporting Regs

    “No police, bodyguards or persons not authorised by the master of ceremonies are allowed on the podium.”

    This annoyed me last year when it happened.

    Turkey got a very nasty penalty for a subtle violation of the Podium Regs. Guns and bodyguards on the Russian podium? No thanks.

  28. I’d like to see how the contracts between FOM and the race promotor are written… I wouldn’t like to be the bloke who has to tell Putin that there is somewhere in Russia where he is barred…

    On a serious point can anyone remember when the chill out room was introduced?

  29. Surely any person powerful enough to get Bernie to stay tell the end of a F1 race can go where they please…

    Does Bernie stay for the end of any other race, Monaco for example?

    1. I have no idea what Bernie does during races. I am busy reporting. I don’t have time to follow Mr E around. I can suggest the name of a journalist to ask that question to. He follows Mr E like a dog looking for biscuits…

        1. I laughed my head off reading that. Twitter is a fun place when money starts talking about ejector seat stories. ROFL

  30. Doesn’t one of the extended Windsor family already do the trophy presentation on behalf of the BRDC at Silverstone?

  31. I think that it would be interesting for some of the above commenters to read Luke Harding’s book entitled “the Mafia state” His experiences as the Guardian reporter living in Moscow with his family.
    Putin is no ordinary politician, he is far far more. A small but highly visible breach of normal rules is just a tiny hint at the unlimited power he wields, both above and below the line, to use an old advertising phrase.
    A man it is wise not to upset.

    1. I also recommend ‘Red Notice’ by Bill Browder. The book demonstrates how corruption in Russia goes right to the top.

  32. ….and just who is going to refuse Putin entry, lol! “Now, i have zis little button….!!” Lets face it, it has all become little bit political..? Prince Albert has been doing it for years..?
    Great debate stuff Jo..

  33. It can backfire – memories of George Osbourne presenting Paralympic medals to a chorus of boo’s spring to mind.

    Unlikely to be a problem for Vlad, the election results always show that he’s very popular there.

    1. Putin is incredibly popular in Russia. There is no doubting that. However, that is to be expected given the propaganda machine he has and the way in which the Russians live. Outside Russia there are questions about how he operates and I do not see it as being wrong to mention these things, indeed I think it is the duty of a journalist to ask difficult questions like this.

  34. Sniff Petrol nails it as usual:

    “‘F1 needs to sort this out,’ noted one fan on Twitter. ‘That power crazed despot shouldn’t be in the drivers’ room. And nor should Vladimir Putin.’”

  35. Thank you for asking these questions Joe. Can I ask you what the paddock reaction has been to President Putin’s annual presence at the GP? Last year Lewis said it was “very cool” to get the trophy from Putin. This year they shared a hug and some laughs. It’s surreal. Thank you.

  36. Well, it did seem quite strange and out of place seeing Putin stood there, but then, as someone else has already commented, he is effectively the guy who has written the cheque. This is what will happen if F1 continues to prostitute itself to anyone around the world who can stump up the cash. Putin was just getting his share of the TV exposure in the same way that all the other sponsors do, or would like to.

    Can’t blame Lewis for attempting to engage in some conversation. The whole thing was quite awkward .

    Anyone else notice how on the podium Putin only just got out of the way before the champagne started flying? I wonder if Seb would have dared to douse him with it…

    I’m not defending how Putin operates, but we need to remember that for most of us, everything we know about Russia, the USA, CIA, Isis, Bin Laden, weapons of mass destruction, etc is what we are spoon fed by the main stream media.

  37. Joe, I am upset with you now, because you have given Bernie another revenue line to go after. But the better half did laugh a hell of a lot.

    So in 2016, Bernie will now sell the rights for a nice fee of course, for “an official driver-hugger or button-presser?”

    1. I can think up loads more streams of revenue if paid by BE to be his consultant. The problem is that some people think if they pay you for one thing, they must own you. (Writes a former employee of BE)

  38. why would Obama want a pic with someone who hangs with famous people, when he can get a pic with the famous people themselves?
    Makes no sense

  39. I may well be wrong about this one, but I have a memory of a one Turkish GP where a political (Kurd related) theme was heavily present and if my memory serves me right there was a politician of some sort (Prime Minister I’d suppose) was present in pre-podium room.
    But as I said at the very beginning – I may be wrong.

      1. I know it’s not about the podium, and that’s why I wrote “pre-podium room”. Just as you did in your post.

    1. No. The unilateral room was the TV studio where drivers used to go after the race (before the podium interviews) in order to talk about the race and make comments in their own languages.

  40. Joe.

    Re. Obama. I read that Texas, that traditionally does not consider itself “part of the Union”, has specifically told the President that COTA is a Texas’ event, not a US’ one, and he would not be welcome.

  41. ” Lewis Hamilton, who is big with the youth of America ”

    Someone better tell the youth of America that Lewis Hamilton is big over here. Hamilton is pretty much an unknown over here.

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