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F1, Sky and BBC cleared over Vettel, Raikkonen swearing in interview

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Sky, the BBC and Formula One have been cleared over a post-race interview last year in which drivers Sebastien Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen turned the air blue.

After the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on November 4, 2012, presenter David Coulthard interviewed the drivers on the podium for the live broadcast feed provided by Formula One Management.

Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos race track in Sao Paulo, Brazil

© PA Images / Silvia Izquierdo/AP



Coulthard asked Vettel, whose podium finish edged him closer to his third straight world title, at 3.05pm UK time: "Well, your name is up there as a double world champion. Do you now feel that you've got your hand on one side of the cup for a third world title?"

Vettel responded: "Um, I think there's still two races to go so obviously we see how quickly things can change. Yesterday was a surprise for us. I think would we have started from third it would have been a different race but, yeah, it [today] was obviously a chance to f**k it up, but we didn't do that so we can be very proud today.

"We have the momentum still, the car is bloody quick, so looking forward to the next two races."

Earlier in the interview, Coulthard had asked race winner Kimi Raikkonen: "People want to know how amazing it is to win a Grand Prix. Delve deep, tell us."

The Finn replied: "Last time you guys were giving me s**t because I didn't really smile enough. Maybe this time again."

David Coulthard

David Coulthard

The interview was aired live on BBC One and also Sky Sports F1. Coulthard apologised on-air for Vettel's "choice of words", and the BBC's Jake Humphrey said sorry afterwards for the use of "colourful language". Sky host Simon Lazenby also apologised to viewers on Sky Sports F1.

In addition, a personal apology was published later on Vettel's website. It said: "I'm terribly sorry for using the wrong word on the podium and I'm sorry if I have offended anyone who was watching. In the heat of the moment, I didn't use the right words and I apologise."

The BBC and Sky both said that such moments were "one of the hazards of live broadcasting", and noted that they had been quick to respond with apologies. The section containing swearing was also later removed from the programme on BBC iPlayer.

The BBC told Ofcom that it had written to the International Automobile Federation (FIA), the governing body for motorsport as a whole, asking it to remind teams and drivers that they must be more responsible during live interviews.

"While recognising that emotions can run high in the adrenalin-fuelled atmosphere of Formula 1, such language has no place during media events," the FIA said in its own letter. The body will also consider potential disciplinary action in future.

Ofcom noted the highly offensive nature of the terms used, by Vettel in particular, but felt that the action taken by the broadcasters to apologise was sufficient.

"Taking all these factors into account, Ofcom considers the matter resolved," Ofcom said.

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