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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?




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