Bernie Ecclestone says F1 drivers aren't able to be characters any more as they were in the past, stating that the discussions that followed the Abu Dhabi podium wouldn't have taken place in years gone by.
Vettel and race winner Kimi Raikkonen were both criticised for using foul language during podium interviews with David Coulthard after the race at Yas Marina, with Vettel apologising afterwards for any offence caused when he said a qualifying penalty had given Red Bull the chance to 'f**k it up'.
Speaking to the official F1 website, commercial rights holder Ecclestone said the reaction to the podium incident was an indication of the way in which drivers are no longer allowed to be characters – arguing it was the main difference between the current crop of racers and those from years gone by.
“Today Sebastian is the yardstick,” he said. “Times are simply different today and that doesn't only go for drivers. The whole environment is different. We have many more do's and don'ts than back in the old days.
“Remember when Sebastian swore on the podium? He immediately got into trouble. If that had been James Hunt or Graham Hill, they wouldn't have cared - and nobody else would have cared. Look at the television culture today - the f-word has become part of normal conversation. I don't think that Sebastian's spontaneous expression was a big deal for a lot of people - just for a few people. Complete nonsense!
“So if you ask what the real difference is between past drivers and today's drivers, it's that they were characters before and they're not allowed to be characters now.”