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Square balls and round pitches // A new setup for Formula One stewarding

Published by Mr. C

If the FIA ran football, so the saying goes, we'd have square balls and round pitches.

Yesterday's announcement regarding the FIA's revised plans for Formula One race stewards didn't come as much of a surprise, given that grandprix.com highlighted the expected change over a week ago.

The new plan is to bring three random stewards to each race, plus Max's right hand man, Alan Donnelly. Last year's permanent steward Tony Scott Andrews has stepped down from his role, so the consistency that a regular face brought to the table has now been nullified.

Strangely this new structure is supposed to speed up the decision making process, although one fails to see how it could? A cynic might suggest that the introduction of Donnelly is just another way for Max to exert yet more control over the sport.

As grandprix.com points out, Donnelly isn't exactly a model of impartiality either. His company Sovereign Strategy currently list Formula One Management Ltd as a client. It's not hard to imagine the sport's commercial interests being taken into consideration when looking at future rule infringements. Would last year's embarrassing 'cool fuel' episode have gone as far as it did if Donnelly had any say in the matter?

Of further interest a quick perusal through the Internet Archive, sees Sovereign Strategy at one time listing Ferrari as a previous client:

Screenshot of Sovereign Strategy website listing Ferrari as a client

It's not clear when the Italian manufacturer was removed from the client list (the archive displays the page as recently as June 2007), but one could speculate it was probably very recently. One also wonders whether the Scuderia have completely severed ties with Sovereign, and what bearing that may have on future 'difficult' decisions?

Ollie rightly wonders how any of this speeds up the process? The fact is, a problem any F1 steward faces, is that Formula 1 rules are not properly documented and are therefore open to all manner of interpretation by all manner of individuals.

Until that situation is rectified, everything else will just be a band aid over an ever expanding wound.

Square balls indeed.




  • Great digging, Detective "me". Pleased I'm not the only one scratching my head over this change of policy.

  • Now the phrase 'conflict of interest' is even more appropriate than the day rumours began to circulate that Fabio Capello quite fancied taking on some consultancy work for HM Revenue and Customs.

    The grandprix.com article is dated 14th January, and states: "According to the Sovereign Strategy website its clients include the FIA, Formula One Management Ltd and Ferrari." Why the need to remove the Ferrari reference so quickly?

    Anyway, I'm off to B&Q for a can of emulsion. There are some nasty cracks in my walls that need covering up.

  • I cannot understand the logic in this. Everything I have read or heard before or after Tony Scott-Andrew's appointment suggested that everyone wanted permanent stewards. The other twist in the tail is that the stewards cannot be of the same nationality as any driver on the grid. This presumably includes the nationalities of nominated reserve drivers.

    I haven't compiled a list of acceptable and non-acceptable nationalities but I am curious where all these suitably qualified people are going to come from if the majority of the major motor sport nations are ruled out.

    I can see inexperienced stewards form minor countries all of a sudden being given the 5 star treatment at half a dozen GPs. Maybe I am too cynical at times. Maybe. But I don't see the above as a recipe to provide strong people who will stand up to Max, Bernie, Donnelly etc.

    For me the ideal people to be stewards would be Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda etc. Strong willed, fiercely independent people with a strong sense of fairness. I know this type of person will have history and associations with a number of teams but they will not be swayed by them. I cannot see either of them arguing black is white to keep their friends happy. In the past both have done exactly the opposite.

  • For me the ideal people to be stewards would be Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda etc. Strong willed, fiercely independent people with a strong sense of fairness.

    i dunno, jackie is very well compensated for his work with williams.

  • Bear in mind though he had a load of commercial contracts when he took on the BRDC job. What I hadn't realised until I read his book was that the outgoing president of the BRDC was allowed to choose his successor. JYS was literally asked to take the job by Ken Tyrrell on his death bed.

  • Now it could just be the fact that I'm up very early this morning, but I fail to see how Ferrari being a client of this company can play into the teams advantage.

    Suppose Ferrari are caught on cheating everyone else, do you really think Donnelly, due to Ferrari being a client of his company, will clear them?

  • Suppose Ferrari are caught on cheating everyone else, do you really think Donnelly, due to Ferrari being a client of his company, will clear them?

    yes. absolutely.

    keep in mind ferrari are already paid extra money, over and above every other team, just so they remain in the sport.

    for whatever reason, f1's head honcho's have always been very keen to see them stick around and to do whatever is necessary to keep them happy.

  • keep in mind ferrari are already paid extra money, over and above every other team, just so they remain in the sport.

    I didn't even know that :x

    You've got a point indeed though, as on the one hand you could argue that Ferrari are of big commercial interest to the sport and therefor might be let off with irregularities whereas other teams might not be. It has happened before. (The 1999 Malaysian GP springs to mind, the barge board incident)

    But on the other hand both the FIA and FOM are also on the list of clients, so I suppose you could argue that Donnelly has a responsibility towards them as well, as in making sure F1 fans remain F1 fans and keep watching the sport.

    F1 is bigger than Ferrari and I do think that, in case of Ferrari cheating, the abscence of serious repercussions isn't going to do the sports popularity, and therefor the sport itself, any good.

    Although overall, I can see why one might think Donnelly's presence is playing in Ferrari's advantage and even as a Ferrari fan (during the Schumi era) I don't think this is a good idea and prefer it discarted, just because of the fact this is time-bomb as you've indicated in your latest podcast.

    Greetz,

    Michael

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