Seidl: Permanent F1 stewards are not the answer

Jamie Woodhouse
Andreas Seidl on the McLaren pit wall. Qatar, November 2021.

McLaren boss Andreas Seidl does not believe appointing permanent stewards is appropriate for Formula 1.

This has been one of Formula 1’s greatest seasons on track, although some would argue it has not been one of the best overall displays from the various stewards.

It is understandable that the two teams going for the titles, Mercedes and Red Bull, have not often been satisfied with the verdicts handed out at various stages this season with the stakes so high. The same can be said for their respective Drivers’ Championship challengers, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Most recently in Brazil, the stewards did not punish Verstappen after he forced himself and Hamilton off track in defence of his lead.

However, several other drivers have had run-ins with the stewards this season including Fernando Alonso, who suggested a driver’s nationality influenced decisions, and also Lando Norris, who took issue with the Verstappen verdict from Brazil after he was punished for a similar incident back in Austria.

Max Verstappen pushes Lewis Hamilton wide. Brazil, November 2021.

In general, many drivers were left confused by the FIA’s stance on wheel-to-wheel battles after Brazil – confusion which several drivers say remains.

A suggestion had cropped up then for a move to permanent stewards, rather than a different group for each race.

F1 race director Michael Masi is not convinced, saying such a move could lead to perceived bias, and McLaren’s Seidl is also against the idea for that same reason.

 

Quoted by Motorsport.com, he said: “To be honest, my opinion hasn’t changed on this. I don’t think that not having permanent stewards is the issue, to be honest, because as far as I understand, whenever there’s a case popping up, the first thing stewards do is go back through the history of cases and see racing precedents and check if it is comparable or not, in order to try to be consistent.

“I understand after each race weekend there is a lot of exchange between stewards to make sure everyone is on the same level of information and to understand what has happened in detail.

“That’s why I don’t think this is the big issue, in my opinion.

“There’s a reason why many people were in favour in the past of a rotating system of driver stewards to make sure they didn’t build up negativity of, for example, to a certain team or driver and I think it is a good point. I don’t think it is the biggest issue.

“With modern technology there is a permanent exchange from everyone involved. I think this exchange is required to make sure it’s consistent between the stewards involved.”