#F1 Features: Booing and Boo Punishment

Brought to you by Adam Macdonald (@adamac39)

Now four races on from the eruption of boos that resonated from fans at Spa-Francorchamps on 24th August.  The first lap collision was a shift in the tectonic plates between the pair, with the resulting tsunami drenching the media around Europe and further afield.  The subsequent waves that followed, as with a seismic wave, were smaller and less potent but still posed a threat to harmony.

Nico Rosberg, a racing driver programmed as all others are – to race without sentiment to others – firmly believed he had done nothing wrong.  As Lewis had clearly forced him to brake to avoid collision earlier in the season in Bahrain and had pushed him wide in Hungary, he believed enough was enough.  Rightly or wrongly by Nico, the onlooking spectators, who had shelled out their hard earned cash to watch the Grand Prix, vented their displeasure by booing the German.

They had been denied what could have been an epic battle between the title contenders, at a circuit where the Mercedes car was in a class of its own.  Furthermore, the higher proportion of British fans there naturally aligned their support towards British driver meaning Nico was made out to be the bad guy in the very British film that Formula One is.

As far as I’m concerned, there is no problem with people showing their unhappiness at a scenario like this, providing it is not pre-meditated. Be it a rugby, football or cricket match, the fans have a right to voice their opinion in just the same way as the accredited media do – although, one group does not have a publication behind them, as they are limited to that moment in time or on social media later.

Personally, I would not have booed as the Rosberg-Hamilton collision was a racing incident and nothing more.  Of course, I was disappointed that the show was cut-short, but that is just the luck of the draw.

The part that I could not excuse was that of Rosberg as he felt the need to group those deep tones ringing from below that podium.  Defining those who made noise as “British fans” frustrated and disappointed me.

The Mercedes duel in Bahrain which has proven to be pivotal

The Mercedes duel in Bahrain which has proven to be pivotal

I came, I booed, I conquered

Two weeks later it was the turn of Monza to host the next scene of the ‘film’.  I was fortunate to experience this first hand, watching from a grandstand on the pit straight for the race day.  As is customary with many races, Monza not excepted, fans flood down onto the tarmac when the race has finished to view what is a very unique podium.

I watched as the drivers emerged onto the post above. Of course, Massa was greeted by a chorus of cheers at what was in effect his former home, however, the same cannot be said for Rosberg.  It’s important at this point to mention that what you saw on TV was not representative of what those present witnessed.  The boos echoed much louder live than the FOM sound mix fed to the world.

When Nico emerged above I booed.

To group all fans together in such way was ridiculous and most importantly, unjust. With one utterance of “They are British fans, so I do understand”, I was thrown in with those who showed their dismay in Spa. For this reason, and this reason alone, I booed him.

Jean Alesi, as others have in the past, tried to silence the crowd, but to little avail – and to what good reason did he have for doing so? I wanted to show my frustration at those comments and did so at the only opportunity I had.

The Monza 2014 podium, where Rosberg was met by boos once more

The Monza 2014 podium, where Rosberg was met by boos once more

Boo Punishment

It was only at the weekend of the Japanese Grand Prix that Rosberg talked publicly about how it had affected him. If there was any vindication needed for fans booing this was it.  It was a sign that the fans did make a difference to the drivers who circulate the various tracks around the world.

Had I been in Singapore as well and had Rosberg been on the podium I would not have booed, as ‘boo punishment’ had been served as far as I saw it.  Not for a moment am I condoning those who accused Rosberg of cheating or brought up some outdated nationalistic stereotype to support this argument, but when Rosberg grouped those booing with others who were not, I was too included.

It is a great shame that we did not get to see the reception for Rosberg on the podium in Singapore.  A nation with a stronghold of expat support, Vettel had heard the boos to receive him just 12 months previously.  He famously made the joke saying “They’re on a tour, they go around on a bus”, mocking them to the point of ridicule.

He said away from the heat of the moment that he was “hurt” by the reaction of the crowd, as one would expect.  However, he held his tongue from retaliating at the time.

“The only source of knowledge is experience” – Albert Einstein

As a fan of the sport, I hold no grudge towards Rosberg as everyone says and does things they regret after. He is only human.  It’s important to remember that this is the first time in his career that he has been presented with the opportunity to win a World Championship – something that Hamilton did not take at the first time of asking, even though he had been both literally and metaphorically in the driving seat. It was Lewis who beached that car in China and nobody else.

I’m pleased that Nico has not been booed since. He has been a protagonist in an incredible year of racing that has provided me with hour upon hour of excitement. Formula One crowds have shown themselves to be forgiving as is the case for Vettel, who has recovered his reputation somewhat, ironically by not winning.

Should Rosberg ever find himself in this situation again he will hopefully have learned that it does you no favours to tongue lash those beneath you. Take the boo punishment with humility and give the fans something to cheer about next time instead.

In the same vein of making ridiculous statements, Hamilton’s “I’m the hungriest” punchline from prior to the Monaco weekend brought a wry smile to many in the F1 world.  Rosberg scoffed at the claims that Hamilton could break him down mentally, although it appears from Rosberg’s recent demeanour that the fans have – at least to some extent.

So while the claim of being hungriest due to their respective upbringings carries little weight, I would go as far to say that in the heat of the moment transmitting on the world feed it prepares Hamilton better for not saying something that may alienate himself to a large cohort of F1 fans.

Rosberg will be richer for these experiences next season, so providing the two are still teammates, I am relishing the battle between the two in what will most likely still be the strongest car and powertrain package.  There may still be three races to go this year, but those aside, roll on 2015!

34 responses to “#F1 Features: Booing and Boo Punishment

  1. When I was little I went to the heizel with my dad. And there was this one athlete that I did not like very much. So i started booing him, and my dad said why would you do that? I said I don’t like him. So my dad says just because you don’t like him you have to belittle all the effort that he makes? He’s giving all he has. Not only now by putting up a show for us. But in his countless hours of training. it’s not because he’s famous that his feeling won’t get hurt by something like that… I’ve never bood anyone after that… I think it’s disrespectful. Be it at a football game or f1 or anywhere else.. Especially the one in spa this year. Booing for a racing incident? Cmon

  2. I’m not so sure the booing as stopped completely, because he was booed in qualifying at Singapore and there was more at Sochi.

    Didn’t he say before that he wasn’t affected by the booing? So interesting to now hear him say that it has.

    “In the same vein of making ridiculous statements, Hamilton’s “I’m the hungriest”….

    Why is that a ridiculous statement? Is that not a phrase we hear on a regular from all sports men in different sporting arenas?

    • Someone should just give Hamilton a good hearty bacon butty!

      That said I always thought Nico was the hungriest as he’s a bigger guy than Hamilton so has to starve himself more? 😜

    • He mocked his own team mate as a spolied rich kid. As a stement it IS ridiculouis, because just because your dad had a few more coins of currenncy, doesn’t mean you are a lesser driver or less hungr< for success. He embarrassed himself that day

      • Ok hell, what’s the world coming to when you start speaking sense and I find myself agreeing with you 🙂

        • It means you probably spent way more time at the pub/bar than you should have…. 🙂

      • Read formula’s comment below, that should explain it to you.

        He embarrassed himself to those who misunderstood the context in which the statement was used. But what you can’t deny is that, your dad having way more coins of currency, surely does make things a whole lot easier for you. You know like say, daddy forms his own racing team with a few of those coins of currency and puts his son in one of the seats.

        • I can’t imagine that from 12 years old and onwards that Hamilton’s surrogate Uncle Ron didn’t provide some unbelievable opportunity, sponsorship and great racing teams to nurture his protege on to F1?
          Of course the upbringing is very different, but Hammy had plenty of funding behind him from early on.

          • The point is that your argument is utterly invalid, fortis. Rosberg may have had the support of his father, Hamilton had the support of a world championship winning team since he was 13. If anything, in racing terms, it was Lewis who had the rich upbringing.

          • I think you need to rethink that again hippo my good man.

            Son of a former F1 world champion who has the capacity to form and run his own team with his son as the lead driver in the F3 Euro Series, so clearly the focus was on getting him to the top. And lets not try and make it look like doors weren’t open up to him due to who his father was.

            Ron Dennis took a risk that he had no idea would pay off. You know that same backing you’re talking about? Let’s also remember Lewis was nearly dropped from the programme because of poor performance. How many driver went through that programme before Lewis?

            Mclaren’s driver programme was based on performance and if you didn’t perform, you’d be out and replaced by someone else. So he had to work twice as hard as anyone else so as to keep that backing. Rosberg was always going to make it to F1, that was a cert, we couldn’t say for a certain that Lewis wouldve made or even if he did, would’ve been able to achieve the success he as garnered.

            You know that cocky self privileged attitude most knock him for? Well it was that cocky attitude that made a 8-9 yr old kid walk up to one of the most influential man in the sport and utter those now famous words.

          • I think there is potential for this to be an article Fortis. There are some parallels with Alex Lynn here (of GP3).

            Where do you stand on Kevin Magnussen here?

          • I can’t believe I’m going to say this but here goes: the difference wasn’t in funding or support, but in what happens if failure occurs. For Rosberg, another season with dad, for Hamilton game over and not just for him, but all of his relatives and hangers on that he had to be aware of were counting on him to drag themselves upwards as well.

            From age 12.

            No pressure.

          • @Matt…

            Thank you! You said what I exactly what I was eluding to.

            Nico had little or no pressure to deal with, because he was the son of the man who owns the team.

            I don’t know if you watch Motogp, but in the Moto3 category, there’s a guy call Niki Ajo whose dad runs the Redbull KTM Ajo racing team. This kid is dubbed ‘crash kid’. As the name suggest, he rarely finishes a race because he’s always on the floor, but somehow he’s still in the sport and riding for one of the best teams in the sport and that’s because his dad runs the team he rides for. Now if that was any other rider, they would’ve been out of the sport after one season.

            So whether Rosberg was a success or failure, he was always going to get more opportunities because of who his dad was. So he had no pressure, so in the context in which the statement was used made perfect sense.

            Ron took a gamble and luckily for both, it paid off.

          • @adam…..

            I’m divided when it comes to Kmag. I think he has the potential to be a very good driver, but his inconsistency at present needs to be better. I think if he gets another year in the sport, it will tell me more, but I’m however worried that he won’t be able to do so if Alonso signs. I really don’t see Alonso as the type to help nurture another young buck especially after 07, because at his age and like he was at Ferrari, he’s only focused on getting himself his 3rd title at all cost.

      • @FH

        I disagree somewhat. The way both grew up does matter as it ultimately defines someone. But if this was Hamilton’s first title run I would believe Hamilton in being hungrier. If he had fought in the midfield in a midfield for years I would have believed him. But as it happens he already has a title, plenty of race wins, poles and a big pile o’ money. And he has always been with a topteam unlike Rosberg. If anything Rosberg is hungrier.

        • I never understand why people throw the “omg, the guy has so much money” line in there as a way of trying to convince others that somehow the pile of money these guys have will in some way go towards dampening their hunger for a title and compensate in the event they don’t win a world title….

          You can quite clearly see that the guy is living and breathing for that second world title and money does not make one bit of difference. Hell, the way Lewis has been talking about his first title recently, it would seem that he still feels as if this is his first title as he didn’t really have time to savour his first. If anything, he’s more hungrier than when he was going for his first title…

  3. Good article Adam.

    In regards to the hungry comment – Lewis never actually said he was hungrier than rosberg, rather the hunger is “different”.

    Anyway, these guys have to believe they are hungrier than one another – if for one moment they do not, then mentally they’re finished….

  4. Adam. how would you like it if you were a millionaire who could have anything you wanted but who sometimes had people make noise at you?!?! Put yourself in his shoes.

    Do I win £5?

  5. I think we should be glad Merc has let this theatre okay out. Both drivers are trying to gain any advantage they can, but the reality is Nico is better with the mind games and Lewis better at going quicker.

    And Alonso, can do both, bollox to being his team mate.

  6. seriously man let it go. i will note that from my point of view here in the US of A, where extracurricular F1 content is zero, the few times we see Rosberg on TV he is a very uninspiring bland cup of vanilla ice cream. He is also very German and his mannerisms are just very annoying hearing him squirm around questions and trying to look good “for the cameras” without understanding how to really go about winning over the hearts of the general populous. So when you see someone acting a little german dick, obviously trying too hard like a bad actor to be cool and personable, of course people are going to boo him for being a deceitful, entitled little rich boy.

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