- The Inside Line
Liegate, Spygate, Crashgate, Dog-gate?Kate Walker October 26, 2013
The problem with trying to sweep things under the carpet is that eventually you trip over the bump you've created in the middle. As any readers of The Purloined Letter will know, the best place to hide something is often the last place anyone would expect to look - in plain sight.
Formula One is full of funny little dramas and intrigues, some of them not even remotely serious. Such was the case this weekend in India, when an innocuous chat about dogs blew up into something of a paddock scandal.
Three journalists had been given an interview with Sebastian Vettel that was more about the man than it was the racing driver. All sorts of subjects were covered in the twenty minutes, from handbags to chainsaws (yes, really!). As the interview was drawing to a close, one of the journalists asked SebVet if he had a dog. As the journo in question had a dog of the same breed, there was a little bit of banter about sex, colour, and temperament.
No one present thought anything of it, and all three came back to the press room waxing lyrical about how Seb had been in superb form, very relaxed and chatty, and that it was a super interview.
Until the emails came through from Sebastian's PR telling all three journalists that there was a ban on mentioning the fact that Sebastian Vettel owns a dog. At which point all anyone in the press room could talk about was the ridiculousness of the situation, and all and sundry vowed to write about the dog.
Conspiracy theories about the cause of the ban abounded. What was behind the dog block? Was it the dog's name (unknown, but presumed to be something deeply offensive)? Was the dog really a euphemism for nuclear launch codes? Is Sebastian afraid of alienating those of his fans who prefer felines to canines? Nobody knows.
What we do know is that by asking the press not to write about the innocuous existence of man's best friend, Red Bull only guaranteed coverage of the dog. Perhaps that was their master plan…