Chinese TWhispers

25 Jan

Every now and then something happens which sets F1 twitterers all aflurry. Rumour and speculation swirl round timelines with retweets and misquoted comments galore. The original event that sparked this activity often ends up sounding completely different a few hours or even minutes later. It’s like chinese whispers on twitter – what I’ve started thinking of as “chinese twhispers”.

Today was a classic example. Pirelli unveiled their tyres for the 2012 season at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. Tyre unveiling events wouldn’t normally get me excited, but I’ve got such severe F1 withdrawal symptoms that even I was looking forward to hearing about them. However, it wasn’t the tyres that got everyone in aflutter this morning; it was the presence of a currently unsigned Russian F1 driver at the event.

Vitaly Petrov’s future has been a significant talking point in recent weeks due to speculation about him signing for Caterham F1. Nobody was expecting him to pop up at this event. An unemployed driver at a press conference…..oooooh that must mean he’s signed to be a test driver for Pirelli!!!!!!!!!!! Wait no….not a dickie bird was announced about that in the press conference… so is he or isn’t he??????? He’s there so it’s got to be true, right????

F1 journalists at the event were tweeting that he was there, speculating what that might mean. This was like lighting a touch paper – my timeline went crazy with speculative comments about Petrov being signed by Pirelli. Pretty impressive activity for 7am on a weekday! At that precise moment I had to leave the house and walk for a mere 8 minutes to catch my train to work.

By the time I’d sat down on the train & pulled up twitter on my phone my timeline was filling with some stating that Petrov had indeed been signed by Pirelli, yet there was still no official confirmation by the end of the press conference. Pictures of him at that press conference showed him wearing mufti rather than an official Pirelli uniform. I’m no expert on press conferences, but the absence of an announcement that he’d been signed & his choice of attire left me extremely dubious about such a signing.

It’s (sadly) an all-too-common part of our lives for someone to hear a rumour and pass it on to someone else with a more factual tone. It doesn’t take many people before that rumour is being reported as 100% fact. This pattern happens so many times on twitter when it comes to F1 rumour-mongering and it is a real shame that nobody seems to learn from it.

No driver signing in the F1 world is truth until it has come from the official source. I want to see that driver in official team clothes in a picture on that team or company’s website, or being tweeted from their official account before I’ll consider it to be fact. For me, rumours have no credibility until they’ve been tweeted by a credible source like Jon Noble (Autosport), Andrew Benson (BBC) or Kevin Eason (The Times). A journalist’s professional reputation is at stake if they report things inaccurately, so they pick their words carefully and don’t comment on speculation until it’s looking extremely likely to be true.

We’re still in the dark about Petrov’s future, but we do at least know now that he is doing some informal work with Pirelli in Abu Dhabi this week, as well as further work in St. Petersburg. His comments today indicated that nothing is finalised for him yet, even though the jungle drums are beating ever louder about a signing with Caterham F1.

As much as I want that to be true for Vitaly, I still won’t believe it until I’ve seen him in that lovely ‘racing green’.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: