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

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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 ferme 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 – 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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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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

  1. 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. 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
    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. 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. “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. Loki – I don’t understand what you mean?

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

  15. Shahriar Ahsan
    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.

  16. I agree with you totally Keith it seems as though there is no passion allowed in F1 sometimes. I think its the reason i am liking Massa this year his determination and passion are really coming out. I would be first to join the campaign to get some more passion and human element back.

    I have to say Rob R, that is difficult to do in sprinting (unlike high jump and vaults and I’ve seen it proposed by one journalist already) but I would suggest another reason is that Bolt (along with half of the English-speaking Caribbean ;)) wanted Johnson’s 200 record more. Same reason most sprinters shutdown in heats keeping back the big race performance or trying not to peak too early. Sorry for the off-topic

  17. steve thompson
    27th August 2008, 19:31

    Of course its not allowed,………because that would make it entertaining….. doh!

  18. I like Steve Thompson’s view! :P That’s probably their way of thinking!

    Seriously though, celebrating after the race does no harm whatsoever – so why in the hell is it banned? Are the people that run F1 stupid? – they take no advantages of the internet technology, and instead they ban all videos on sharing sites (when their own internet service is awful!)

    Parc ferme conditions are completely sterile, with driver and car being completely cut off from the team – so its impossible to them to celebrate together.

    And celebrations inside the car are banned too…honestly, are they intentionally trying to keep a stuffy image?

    Kimi, Massa or any other driver that wins today…do the post-race doughnuts, celebrate, because you’ve won! To hell with the fine they will probably give you – this is one rule which has got to go, because it serves no meaningful purpose!!

    [Rant over]

  19. The race isn’t today, but you get my point

  20. William Wilgus
    27th August 2008, 20:16

    It seems to me that the drivers do, in fact get to celebrate after the race. What else can spraying champagne be considered? If not celebration, what is raising the trophy up for all to see?

    I can’t think of anything more childish than doughnuts / donuts. What a waste; what a stupid source of pollution!

  21. Concerning KB comment. You wouldn’t be able to hitch a ride on a car’s sidepod anymore because of the vast amount of winglets covering it! Ha! :P I agree with your opinion, though. Why punish this celebrating?

  22. No passion allowed in F1 and no personality allowed in F1. Again the FIA are making F1 stand out for the bad reasons not for the good reasons.

    Anyway a doughnut would only result in a fine so c’mon, if you’ve won kimi or lewis do a doughnut or celebrate with the fans.


  24. Michael Oakey
    27th August 2008, 21:09

    When Damon Hill was given the Union Jack to wave in his car after he won the 1994 British Grand Prix. He had to turn up to a hearing to explain his actions.

  25. Why can’t ITV play some fantastically cheesy music when Hamilton wins, like the Brazilians that was great…

    Its pretty much the same in football a player cannot lift his shirt over his head if he scores,
    Just watching them trundle round the track one last time is a bit dull its almost like the drivers have gone to auto-pilot

  26. “I can’t think of anything more childish than doughnuts / donuts. What a waste; what a stupid source of pollution!”

    They can go through 3 sets of tires and two tanks of gas at around 4mpg but god forbid they put a little white smoke in the air!

    The computer you used to type that statement uses electricity, so unless there is a massive wind turbine attached to the top of it, that statement
    was a “stupid source of pollution.

  27. Right on Dan M- That’s a good one on your part, along with the “half- Americanizing” comment- I never knew the word “tire” was spelled differently acorss the pond until I followed F1, so cheers for learning something from sports!

    Oddly enough, I just saw a photo of Damon Hill and his Union Jack (or Union Flag- whatever is appropriate) and wondered why I don’t see this in today’s races. Indeed, the FIA putting a damper on such celebrations is a bad thing for the sport- it kills the spirit that drives the many fans of F1 around the world, particurally at races where a home driver wins.

    I don’t mean to open up the NASCAR showcase again, but from what I see of the sport, celebrations are permitted and abudant. Donuts and spin-outs on the infields happen after most every race, and many drivers even have their own personal means of celebrating, such as Tony Stewart climbing the barriers in a manner similar to Helio, and the well-known back flip off the car from Carl Edwards after a win. Not only do these driver celebrations make it fun for the fans, but they also wind up on the NASCAR highlights of the mainstream sports networks, helping to promote the sport among potential fans in a manner that the FIA would, foolishly, never dream of.

  28. Now, if you want to see some REAL post-race celebrations, check out the link of Edwards and his tema below:


  29. Gman – One of my favourite things about EA’s NASCAR 09 game is that, if you win, you can do a ‘celebration’ afterwards in your. My inner five-year-old loved that!

  30. Keith, I meant sometimes F1 races can be processional,as it is often criticized as, and to keep drivers under control on the victory lap just enforces that.

    The older days have been brought up, flag bearing, stranded driver collecting a lift from another driver/team. . . hell, even such excitement as Nigel Mansell winning Silverstone and the crowd spilling onto the track (OK, it may be deemed unsafe nowadsay) – if this is lost from F1 forever, along with a lot of other things, then you wonder in which direction is F1 heading.

    When someone wins, you want them to celebrate, you want to see how much it means for them to bring it home beating everyone else. You want that emotion, that passion – it’s part of every sport, and F1 should still represent the pinnacle of motor sport. The best of the best – how can you not let someone celebrate their victory as such richly deserved?

    You can’t even hug your own team after park ferme in case someone slips a pen in your pocket. It’s ridiculous.

  31. I loved the banner: “Schumacher who?”

    That was a cool celebration…

  32. The real reason there isn’t a slow lap after Spa: so Brazilian TV doesn’t have to play that song on repeat for 10 minutes.

    Really though, that song is great. Wonder if they played a sad one after Massa’s con-rod blew.

  33. I have always thought it was purely a safety issue (sad but true), I suppose the regulation:
    ‘After receiving the end-of-race signal all cars must proceed on the circuit directly to the post race parc fermé without any unnecessary delay, without receiving any object whatsoever.’
    applies to picking up stranded drivers, flags etc. I wonder why the cars are allowed to pick up the ‘debris’ on the slow-down lap then?
    From what I have seen however, the drivers and teams get to celebrate quite a bit in the motorhomes after the race, and in the good old days the Brits used to celebrate with a rock concert…..

  34. Jonesracing82
    28th August 2008, 9:30

    i remember senna used to pick up a Brazilian flag when he could!
    Prost did it after winning the title at estoril ’93!
    Kimi’s half donut was the highlight of a dull race that day!
    after Zanardi’s accident in champcar isnt it now a tradition to do it when Champcar still existed?
    the fans certainly rnt complainign when the driver decides to put on a show!

  35. Haha “Felipe! Felipe! Felipe! Felipe Massa from Brasil!”

  36. I demand more doughnuts!!! need to spice-up F1!

  37. William Wilgus
    28th August 2008, 21:49


    Certainly pollution: exhaust emissions & tire smoke / dust:

    “. . . about 60% of tire fragments (tire dust) are so small that they can enter the deep portions of the human lung where the latex rubber in the tire dust may cause allergic reactions ranging in severity from rhinitis (runny nose), conjunctivitis (tearful eyes), to hives (urticaria), bronchial asthma, and occasionally even a life-threatening condition called anaphylactic shock. [3] Asthma, and asthma deaths, have increased dramatically during the past 20 years, especially among children, and specialists have been searching in vain for causes. ”

    I’m sure there are other sources of info on this, but here’s the one I quoted:


  38. I think the drivers should be allowed to collect flags, do a dance, hug a fan – whatever to celebrate after winning a race.

    What harm if they do? Why do they need to be automatons devoid of personality and character?

    I remember Alonso on the front of his car after winning the 2006 Oz GP, pretending to be a Kangaroo. It was funny to watch – showed a playful side to him we don’t often see.

    Let’s have more of it, I say. And if any F1 driver is looking for a fan to hug and/or celebrate with after a race, let the record show that I am prepared to take one for the team, and be that fan :D

  39. Winning is supposed to feel good, and we as fans want the drivers to look like they feel good after winning. For the FIA to stop just about any action that could be construed as such makes F1 look staider than it should.

  40. William Wilgus:

    The additional pollution caused by a celebratory smoke-up or 2 would be marginal and would not register a blip on the total emissions of a race weekend, rendering this a weak argument. I watched Spa last year and Kimi’s celebration made an otherwise processional event worth watching. We can watch Stoner/ Lorenzo/ Rossi et al do this sort of thing every weekend on the GP bikes but not the F1 boys…shame, because it would definitely add to the spectacle.

  41. William Wilgus
    29th August 2008, 19:00


    Certainly, the amount of additional pollution is small compared that caused by the entire event. While I can’t fault those who think doing donuts adds to the event—beauty is in the eyes of the beholder—it comes across to me as childish. Further: although the probability is no doubt small, donuts are just one more opportunity for something to wrong—including causing injury to someone.

  42. They are called “celebrations” for a reason – you’re supposed to celebrate!
    Usain Bolt ploughed across the finish line in the 100m punching his chest and waving his arms. One man from the IOC says “That’s bad”. Everyone else says “Wow, Bolt’s cool, what a great personality, it’s people like him that make kids want to do athletics”.
    It’s pretty obvious who’s right, huh?

  43. The international running-and-jumping festival Olympics finally came to a close over the weekend.

    I don’t think its ever been called that before. :D

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