Fittipaldi: F1 drivers being turned into robots
Formula 1 drivers are being turned into 'robots' because teams and sponsors try to stop them being themselves, claims former champion Emerson Fittipaldi.
As F1 chiefs make efforts to improve the image of drivers and make them heroes again, Fittipaldi suggests that how drivers come across in the media is not ideal.
In an exclusive interview with Motorsport.com, Fittipaldi said: "I think communication is a big part of this. If there's one word they should be allowed, it is 'freedom'.
"In the United States, everyone talks about 'freedom of speech'.
"If you drive for Ferrari, for example, before the press conference you will be told 'you cannot say this' or 'you should not say that'. That's shit!
"Am I a robot? Or am I a personality? That's what is missing."
In the recent GPDA Fan Survey, 86% of fans agreed that drivers needed to be more open and honest with fans.
Drivers not to blame
Fittipaldi thinks that it is wrong to blame the drivers for not being able to say what they really think any more, and the situation has been caused by others trying to control them.
"Rosberg should be allowed to say 'oh man, Mercedes ruined my race today with their decisions, these damn guys!' They should be allowed to say anything.
"Instead they sit up, and when asked 'how was the race?' and they just say 'Good'.
"Ugh! They need a personality. The system is wrong, it's not themselves that is wrong. It's not their fault.
"There should be better interaction between the public and drivers in my opinion."
Fittipaldi believes that change has to come from teams and sponsors, in being more relaxed about what drivers say.
"Formula 1, the PR guys, they should allow drivers to say more," he explained.
"In my time, I had a 20-year commercial relationship with Philip Morris, and I knew exactly what to say, but I could say anything. It still allowed my personality to come though. I had freedom of speech, and that means everything.
"Don't blame the drivers, because they're in a different environment from my time, but that should change. They cannot express themselves.
"This is sport, and the atmosphere of sport should never be damaged by what the athletes are allowed to say."
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