It’s the new tradition in Formula One.
Who will it be this time, we ponder as the neutral sponsor hats and microphones are brought out to the driver and the voice on the tannoy system informs us which past driver, Sky Sports presenter or celebrity they’ve kidnapped from a garage is going to interview the podium.
Who will be getting booed?
Thats right, no longer is it reserved for when there’s a monumental fuck up like when only six cars out of twenty start a race.
Of course, there’s things to consider: what track are we at? What happened during the race on said track? Which driver or team is on a run of success and, of course, who has the British media (because, let’s be honest here, the British media could easily write pages upon pages about F1 even if trapped in the empty vacuum of space for over a year at this point) been drumming up drama over?
“They’re not real fans,” you’ll hear people insist, especially if others have accused them of sharing the same favourite driver as the boobirds.
“Real fans don’t boo.”
Here’s the thing though: they are real fans. If they’re not then we’re talking about a pretty large group of people that are willing to spend easily over two hundred pounds to waste a day at a sporting event they apparently don’t care all that much about just to rush to the podium and boo a driver they’ve all agreed on in advance.
Now I know people are weird, but really?
Last year it became a farce as it seemed Hamilton was booed because Rosberg was booed because Hamilton because Rosberg because Hamilton because, well, you get the idea. It was hard not to cringe constantly as one of them would be addressed and that low rumble of booing would begin.
There was a bit of me, hoping that, with Rosberg’s retirement, the booing would fade as quickly as it had arisen but no.
Mark Webber had barely opened his mouth to talk to Hamilton and the booing had already begun.
It frustrates me because the original idea behind the podium interviews was so good. It gave the fans a chance to hear how the drivers felt the race went while adrenaline was still pumping through their veins, before they calmed down and gave out the usual PR answers at the main press conference. It allowed the drivers to interact with the fans a little bit longer and see how much they’re appreciated in what they do.
My biggest problem with all the booing though is that nothing is really done to stop it. Fine, it might be asking too much of a random celebrity but the ones that are coming from the two British media outlets (as is done for the majority of races) should be held to a higher standard. I expect something more than a half hearted scolding before they try to proceed as if it didn’t happen. This goes doubly for Martin Brundle and Johnny Herbert as it felt like Sky Sports, along with much of the British media, were pulling at anything to up the rivalry between Rosberg and Hamilton, as if they tried to recreate something from a bygone era.
So what can be done?
At this point, I’d say there’s two options.
Option one is that a warning is given as the preparation for the interview is happening. Tell the fans that, if the booing happens then that’s it, the podium is done. Is it an extreme method and one that Liberty would probably want to avoid as it tries to make the series more fan friendly? Undoubtedly but it will send a message, the drivers and your fellow fans should be respected and that isn’t done with pantomime booing.
The second is that we get someone of the old guard, someone that, if they tell the fans to stop, they’d do it. Someone like Sir Jackie Stewart would probably have no qualms chiding the fans for being so rude.
Until then, the booing is here to stay and it’s not a good look.