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I, you, he / she / it, we, you, they // The difficulty of personal pronouns in F1 drivers' speech

Published by Christine Blachford

I don't know about anybody else, but I don't find personal pronouns that difficult. If you're talking about yourself you say I, if you're talking to someone, it's you. If you didn't learn this from speaking out loud your whole life, then you'll probably have learnt it practicing some verb tables.

Whilst the action at Valencia kept us all talking about what happened in the pit lane, I was more interested in what those in the pit lane were talking about.

I've found something slightly fascinating about the personal pronouns the drivers used over the weekend. For the longest time, we have had to listen to the corporate line from teams and drivers. Sharing in the joy and the pain in equal measures.

Now it seems things are changing, and as the competition hots up, all this "It's not you, it's me" business seems to be over. My first example is Räikkönen, who is still bemoaning his lack of pace going into a Grand Prix.

We need to get things sorted in qualifying...

Yes, you do, Kimi. Okay, perhaps this can be excused because it may just be a mechanical problem that means he hasn't qualified on pole since France. I think perhaps he knows that it is something he needs to sort out himself though. The team certainly believe that Räikkönen has his own issues to sort out.

He isn't happy with the way the car enters corners. He would like it more aggressive, and this influences him. It's up to us to carry on giving him a hand.

Clearly, Ferrari are sure they're giving him the best they can and it's not them underperforming. Which is fine if it's true, but it's very unusual to hear blame being apportioned quite so obviously. Normally you would find carefully constructed sentences that avoid pointing the finger, and share the burden.

As a team sport, you could argue it's the right thing to do, but perhaps this is the way forward - honesty. Bourdais has another take:

I am still having my problem of not finding grip on the "option" tyre, so we need to work on that.

A little bit of both worlds there. He's recognising the problem as his own, but is looking for help from the team for that. This seems a little fairer on everybody.

My favourite example from Valencia, however, is from Button. After bombing out of the early stages of qualfiying, ITV caught up with him for a quick chat. Here's an audio clip:

This is the one that is most telling. It's almost as if he suddenly realised he was blaming the team for the setup choices, and had to suddenly back track. Then he tries to bring it back, but starts to stumble, and the personal pronouns go wrong.

I'm not trying to cast aspersions on any of the drivers with the above, but having read many quotes recently, I wanted to share these thoughts with you. Should the drivers be taking a vocal responsibility for their performances, should there be more team spirit or is apportioning blame the right way to go?




  • In case you can't play the audio, here's a transcript of Button's words:

    "And the option tyre when we put it on the morning, we made some setup changes which is obviously the wrong thing to do. And because the lap was slow, and I put it down to the changes that were made, sorry, we put it down to the changes that I, we made. And the prime run was good in quali but the option run was slower..."

  • I get confused about "ME. Is he using first person or third person and how can you tell?

  • The use of 'we' by drivers when they mean 'I' is a long term thing and if anything is not as bad as it used to be. Nigel Mansell is by far the most prolific proponent of this abuse of the language. If you hear him speak at anytime on any subject and you don't slash your wrists because he is so damned boring you will find that he seems to have been genetically modified to be unable to say 'I'. I half expect someone who asks what he was doing before the interview get told that his wife was washing the dishes and we were drying them.

    I think I was probably subjected to so much of this particular racing driver linguistic foible during his career that I rarely notice it now. For maximum effect of course any driver you prefix the word 'we' at the start of any comment with Emerson Fittipaldi's contribution to the motor sport lexicon - 'For sure'. That also seems to be dying out as drivers learn English in their karting career and rarely arrive in F1 with 18 months knowledge of the language.

    I think Kimi's problem is entirely the handling characteristics of the Ferrari and nothing to do with his performance as a driver. He needs a car where the nose sticks and will never be able to drive one that understeers like a pig. I have expounded my theory at length on Ollie's blog and was gratified to find Domenicali making a statement today that showed 'we' were correct. Anyone wishing to read the thoughts Ollie, Ali, me and others can find them at blogf1.co.uk/2008…gs-in-one-basket/

  • i am baffled by the button thing.

    he's clearly caught off guard at being out so early, but it's almost as if he's suggesting he's drawn his own conclusions about the problems.

    sounds like he's completely lost faith in his team. might have to listen to that again.

  • even correcting himself, he still drops in an "i". am thinking button is changing for the better :)

  • I have just found out via the link below that 1961 world champion Phil Hill died today at the age of 81. There is an appreciation of his career at the link below.

    http://www.grandprix.com/ns/ns20700.html

  • One of his fellow salesmen was Bernard Cahier

    i had no idea!

  • i had no idea!

    Neither had I or that Ritchi Ginther the first man to win a GP in a Honda was a mechanic. Imagine Honda winning a GP.

  • me said:

    i am baffled by the button thing.

    he’s clearly caught off guard at being out so early, but it’s almost as if he’s suggesting he’s drawn his own conclusions about the problems.

    sounds like he’s completely lost faith in his team. might have to listen to that again.

    Maybe he thinks he let Lou down one too many times and now has lost faith in himself. I mean Bourdais is breathing down his neck and everyone thinks he stinks. There only three points difference between himself and either one of the Force India drivers.

    The flip side of the coin is that given some poor weather at Spa you think he is going to do well, so maybe Button should move over for Sato.

    I mean, it is not like his absense is going to be noticed by ITV or anything.....

  • I mean, it is not like his absense is going to be noticed by ITV or anything…..

    maybe he was caught unawares by the fact they actually took the time to speak to him.

  • August 28th, 2008 at 10:21 pmSteven Roy said:

    i had no idea!

    Neither had I or that Ritchi Ginther the first man to win a GP in a Honda was a mechanic. Imagine Honda winning a GP.

    The fourth time Honda won a Grand prix was at the ending Monza race of the movie "Grand Prix", driven by James Garner !!!!

    But Seriously folks, if you watch the moive "Grand Prix", I am pretty sure that Phil Hill actually has a speaking part as the driver "Tim Randolph".

  • RIP Phil.

    :(

  • RIP Phil. you will be missed :(

  • david croft throws one more kimi pitstop theory into ring:

    "Was he being spoken to via his radio? Something that never used to happen during a pit stop whilst Ross Brawn was with the team. Did that distract him at a tense time? "

    hadn't thought of that one. more thoughts from the other DC here:

    http://www.thecomet.net/content/herts24/f1/story.aspx

  • It sounds like Croft is chucking out possibilities hoping that one of them is correct.

  • Sad to hear about Phil Hill's death :(

  • It sounds like Croft is chucking out possibilities hoping that one of them is correct. {Steven Roy - 2 comments ago}

    Wishful hypothesis/bored journalist theory ahoy...

  • Wishful hypothesis/bored journalist theory ahoy…

    see, it sounded to me like he'd had a word with brawn.

  • From the BBC Sport website, Quotes of the week.

    "Chris Hoy thinks that the day Chris Hoy refers to Chris Hoy in the third person is the day that Chris Hoy disappears up his own ****."

    Chris Hoy, obviously, after being asked: 'What does Chris Hoy think of Chris Hoy?'

  • Wow, that's a quote and a half! :)

  • Wishful hypothesis/bored journalist theory ahoy…

    Well, he was watching the Valencia GP....

    Must be bored journo. :)

  • well thinking about that, we have seen so many different versions of Kimi in all those years, may be there really are more of them. and the one talking is obliged to use "we" in order to speak on behalf of all :-)

  • I would have thought that the only driver who should say we is Kovalainen because Flavio said his brother drove in one race :)

  • By the way my openid (claimid) provider seems to be dead which has stopped me logging in to identi.ca :(

  • “Chris Hoy thinks that the day Chris Hoy refers to Chris Hoy in the third person is the day that Chris Hoy disappears up his own ****.”

    Chris Hoy, obviously, after being asked: ‘What does Chris Hoy think of Chris Hoy?’ {Magmount - 7 comments ago}

    That's hilarious!

  • By the way my openid (claimid) provider seems to be dead which has stopped me logging in to identi.ca

    can't say i've used openid, that's a bit of a problem. is it temporary?

  • can’t say i’ve used openid, that’s a bit of a problem. is it temporary?

    Well I needed an openid for something else that I signed up for on the same day so I thought "hey why not". But yeah now it seems to be a bit of a problem...

  • I M P O R T A N T A N N O U N C E M E N T

    Tomorrow, yes Saturday Franck is racing in the ALMS at Detroit. The race is being shown live on Speed so anyone wanting to see it can watch it on TVU. According to the ALMS site it startes at 14:25 EDT which 19:25 UK. This is a short sportscar race and will only last 2 hours 45 minutes. Live commenting anyone?

    www.americanleman…asonSchedule.aspx

  • Speed have a programme starting at 19:30 tommorow night and finishing at 22:30.

  • Speed have a programme starting at 19:30 tommorow night and finishing at 22:30.

    For those with access to Motors TV, they'll also be broadcasting the race, between the same times.

  • I M P O R T A N T A N N O U N C E M E N T

    Tomorrow, yes Saturday Franck is racing in the ALMS at Detroit. The race is being shown live on Speed so anyone wanting to see it can watch it on TVU. According to the ALMS site it startes at 14:25 EDT which 19:25 UK. This is a short sportscar race and will only last 2 hours 45 minutes. Live commenting anyone?

    perhaps we need a seperate live commenting logo for franck :P

  • So. As you may all know I very much embarrassed Christine the other day with my comments about Sidepodcast Episode 1.

    I felt very bad about that. And have been trying to think of a way to make it up to her ever since.

    The only thing that I could think of is to deeply embarrass myself in exchange in the hope that we are even.

    Last year before I heard of Sidepodcast, and before I knew what real video podcasting looked like I made two F1 videos.

    They are a) terrible and b) even worse than you imagine.

    Things I would do differently given the chance again:

    1) Not do them

    2) Record them properly so that you can hear what I was saying

    3) Not put music with swearing in them (like on the second one)

    4) Not, be nice to ITV so that they wouldn't take down my videos from youtube. Bernie took them down so it makes my crawling look really stupid. (I don't actually like James honest!)

    5) Not do them.

    Luckily I have little or no shame so I can do this.

    But I do think that this proves, beyond doubt, that the Sidepodcast guys are really really talented. Because if you aren't talented this is what can happen.

    Don't worry. I'm expecting you to laugh at me :)

    Roll VT...

    France 2007

    Britain 2007

    I love you guys! Keep up the good work. Because of you two making a great podcast. I don't have to make my terrible one any more :)

    If this doesn't work. I do have some baby photos... :)

  • Wow. I wasn't that embarrassed Alex. ;)

  • I felt very bad about that. And have been trying to think of a way to make it up to her ever since.

    that is very sweet.

    you're a natural in front of the camera and there's nothing to be embarrassed about in either show. our next job is to get skype video working inside the streaming viewer so people can see you too :)

    nb: for some reason drop.io encoded them oddly, but when downloaded they worked fine. also, if you're setting up a sofaf1.com drop, let us know and we'll try and get you an upgrade code.

  • Tomorrow, yes Saturday Franck is racing in the ALMS at Detroit. The race is being shown live on Speed so anyone wanting to see it can watch it on TVU. According to the ALMS site it startes at 14:25 EDT which 19:25 UK. This is a short sportscar race and will only last 2 hours 45 minutes. Live commenting anyone?

    happy to set up a thread, but i'm not sure we'll be back from sorting out ikea (that's ikea btw) stools for the show.

    should be back by the end of the race though.

  • I have just found out that qualifying starts in 5 minutes @ 2205 but only lasts for 20 minutes. I can't find video but you can get audio and live timing at www.americanleman…media/racehub.htm

    They have a odd qualifying system. The slower classes on the grid have just completed their session with Jan Magnussen fastest.

  • ikea

    Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo....

    Watch out Me. They draw you in with talk of one specific item to purchase and then.... 7 million hours later you have an entire bedroom suite :)

  • My last post evaporated. ALMS qualifying now

  • you’re a natural in front of the camera and there’s nothing to be embarrassed about in either show.

    Thank you, you are very very kind. Tsk!

  • ALMS quali video at http://gms.speedtv.com/Online/?SID=*3

  • Watch out Me. They draw you in with talk of one specific item to purchase and then…. 7 million hours later you have an entire bedroom suite :)

    See, I usually go in there wanting everything, and come out with just the one thing. The man must have good willpower.

  • Franck qualified 5th. David Brabham got pole.

  • Franck qualified 5th. David Brabham got pole.

    it's over already?

  • it’s over already?

    They only do 20 minutes. Doesn't seem long considering the complexity of the cars and the size of the budget but there wasn't a second without cars on track. I must remember in future that Speed show video coverage of events on their website that they don't show on their TV channel. I will check it for the next F1 FP3 if I remember.

  • I hate to bring the chat room down, but it was just announced that Phil Hill just died.

    This just brought my day down today. I never meet the man but heard and saw him a few times both in person, read some of his occasional writings, and on TV.

    If I could encapsulate the guy, he was a plain but well spoken gent who loved racing and automobiles in general. He had a very pleasant "American" way about him; confident but not cocky, always warm to anyone who recognized him, knew who he was or what he accomplished in his amazing career.

    On a personal note, I always wanted to do a book or wish someone would do a book on the American drivers like Hill, Shelby, and Dan Gurney who were prevalent in F1 and international racing in the 1960's. Sadly, with Hill's passing; one of those figures have left us and their stories, antidotes, jokes, and personality are now gone to the ages.

    Prayers around to all that had the honor of knowing him and being in his family.

  • We picked up on that story last night Dan. Sad to see another great driver go but I guess for a driver of his era to make it to 81 is some achievement.

  • Sadly, with Hill’s passing; one of those figures have left us and their stories, antidotes, jokes, and personality are now gone to the ages.

    tis a great shame. i didn't know a huge amount about him until this week, but it seems like f1 has lost a great.

  • So tomorrow is d-day for me. i'm quite excited actually :P

  • D-Day? Have I missed something, Scott?

  • D-Day? Have I missed something, Scott?

    my live skype interview tomorrow on the show :P

  • my live skype interview tomorrow on the show :P

    Did you get my email Scott?

  • Search results that have ended up at sofaf1.com this month include "god what f1 car do you want me to drive" - I wonder which driver this might be?

    Alonso?

  • Alonso?

    almost certainly.

    i think he's asking the wrong question though. it should be:

    "god, do you still want me to drive?"

  • Franck won. He put in a great drive driving 2 hours of the 2 hours 45 minute race.

  • Franck won. He put in a great drive driving 2 hours of the 2 hours 45 minute race.

    oh no! I forgot to watch the race! I knew there was something I meant to do. Oh well. Congrats to Franck! :D

  • Franck won. He put in a great drive driving 2 hours of the 2 hours 45 minute race.

    wow! that's gonna make someone's day.

    thanks you :)

  • btw: why so much driving?

  • AHHHHHHHH!

  • Did you get my email Scott?

    did you get my reply? :)

  • did you get my reply? :)

    Yes, cheers.

  • There is a rule that says the longest time any driver can be in the car is 2 hours. There was an incident where the pace car was out as the 2 hours to go mark was approaching so the team decided to make the driver change then rather than risk doing it under racing conditions later. There was some speculation that he left the pits with 2 hours and 20 seconds to go but the matter was never mentioned again so I guess he was OK.

    He also came very close to passing the pace car as it was pulling into the pits after another full course yellow which would have given him a penalty but it looks like he is OK on that score too. The commentators love him and think he is fab. Don't tell Christine because she will be annoyed at missing it but we even got a proper interview with him after the race.

  • After the online IRL mag from last week the guys at GPWizard found a similar one for Moto GP. Tonight on the ALMS coverage they were asking fans to post their own videos of races on www.americanlemansseries.com So it looks like Bernie is the only person running a major championship who doesn't get the internet.

    The next ALMS is the big one. The Petit LeMans. The meeting as listed as starting on Oct 1st with the race on Saturday Oct4th at 11:15am EDT live on Speed. The race lasts for ten hours.

  • The next ALMS is the big one. The Petit LeMans. The meeting as listed as starting on Oct 1st with the race on Saturday Oct4th at 11:15am EDT live on Speed. The race lasts for ten hours.

    I will try to catch that one. :) I wonder if we could live comment like we did with Le Mans...

  • i watched some of the ALMS race on Motors TV. there were a couple of times where Franck and Timo Bernhard in the Penske Porsche were side-by-side, muscling with each other. There was also doubt at the last restart whether he'd maybe passed the safety car before it was in the pit lane but it looks like he managed to get away with it

    I think I speak for everyone when I say - BLOODY GOOD JOB, FRANCK! WELL DONE! :D

    Now watching NASCAR Nationwide qualifying at Fontana :P

  • I wonder if we could live comment like we did with Le Mans…

    I will miss the firs 3 or 4 hours of that race but I will watch the rest. Only too happy to chuck in some comments if people live commenting.

  • Steven,

    Your link didn't work for me, but googling found me this:

    http://americanlemans.com

    Make sure you click the Poll advert (or go direct - http://americanlemans.com/poll/poll.aspx )

    I voted for Franck. I started to think they really wanted an Andretti to win it by listing him first, but then I realised it wasn't a conspiracy, it's just in alphabetical order...

    You can only vote once, so choose carefully!

  • The link didn't work because I got it wompletely wrong. It should have been as Jeremy has it. I didn't know about the poll though.

  • nice one, have voted. there's no f1 race the weekend of october 4th, so i'm up for live commenting then :)

  • i mentioned recently that i haven't bought the weekly autosport mag in a while, but mark smith has just pointed something out on the facebook group:

    "I've just been flicking through this week's Autosport and come across a new feature. They look at the week's motorsport news and categorise the stories according to who has had a good week and who has had a bad week. They're calling it Good Week/Bad Week".

    ha! watch out for a new section in tomorrow's podcast entitled quotes of the week, where we'll address the funny one liners that drivers have come out with in the past 7 days!!

    :D

  • nice one, have voted. there’s no f1 race the weekend of october 4th, so i’m up for live commenting then

    i'd go for it to :) plus tvu can supply the feed via speed channel :D

  • ha! watch out for a new section in tomorrow’s podcast entitled quotes of the week, where we’ll address the funny one liners that drivers have come out with in the past 7 days!! {me - 2 comments ago}

    Funny coincidence - I've just accepted a blogging challenge for next month on a theme entitled "HA!" (i.e. humourous stuff). It's like everyone seems to have decided life is too serious at the same time and is trying to do something about it :)

  • morning

    i'm stuck deciding what to watch today. there's IRL @ Detroit, World Touring Cars in Germany, DTM @ Brands, BTCC @ Silverstone, NASCAR @ California, WRC coverage from New Zealand AND MotoGP @ Misano.

    Hmm.... :P

  • @Scott W:

    I hate you so much right now :-)

    After going to the movies for Wall•E this morning, I did get to watch the WRC Finland round wrap up on SBS for an hour this afternoon (Sydney).

    Yippee for me!

  • @Scott W:

    I hate you so much right now

    i'll be watching most of them online since at home we don't have sky. so BTCC, DTM and WTCC will most likely be somewhere on justin.tv, WRC will be as well, and MotoGP on justin.tv is showing the 250s right now. IRL will probably be on the Indycar site, they do live streaming from the track cameras.

    Oh yeah and I just remembered - Speed Channel has the Rolex Grand-Am race from New Jersey as well! :D

  • just a question - will i be with you guys for the majority of the show on skype, like for good week/bad week etc. or will it just be a seperate interview? :)

  • I hate you so much right now

    Spoken like a true Kelis fan :)

  • will i be with you guys for the majority of the show on skype, like for good week/bad week etc. or will it just be a seperate interview?

    i think it'll be the same format as we did with keith, so first bit of the show and then an interview, then we'll wrap up the rest.

  • http://www.justin.tv/bluesking40 BTCC live

  • http://www.justin.tv/bluesking40 BTCC live

    For people who have itv4 it can be watched there too :)

  • Is the live show supposed to 3 o'clock as normal or is it not running late yet? :)

  • I was wondering the same thing, Steven. Still, if it takes a bit longer to get everything set up properly, I don't mind waiting a while (watching Christine and listening to me is a good way to pass a rainy Sunday afternoon!)

  • Apparenly today was the first race in the football motor racing tie up that is super league formula. The race is now over but if Scott's list of available motor sport entertainment is not enough for you the remaining races are streamed via their own website at superleagueformul…line-broadcasting

  • Just had a comment go AWOL

  • Is the live show supposed to 3 o’clock as normal or is it not running late yet?

    damn, sorry. post on it's way, we've had to move the show back a little bit in order to make sure we're not rushing around like last weekend.

  • Take your time. I am sure it will be worth waiting.

  • Thanks for the link, Steven. And I'm pleased to see Fisi's junior team came second :)

  • Take your time. I am sure it will be worth waiting.

    hope so, post is up now :)

  • The super league formula site has live video, live timing and live text commentary all availble on their site. Brand new formula and it is already making Bernie look like an amateur. They have two races per weekend and the second has just finished.

    Their next meeting is September 20/21 at the Nurburgring

  • Their next meeting is September 20/21 at the Nurburgring

    out of any interest. was the racing any good?

  • out of any interest. was the racing any good?

    I didn't see it I was watching Moto Gp. I didn't even realise they were racing this year I assumed all te stuff in Autosport was to drum up interest for next season. Going by the text commentary there were a few incidents but Donington in the wet will do that.

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