Aston Martin have lifted the lid on what is key to a good relationship with the FIA over the course of a Formula 1 season.
As Aston Martin F1’s sporting director, Andy Stevenson will spend a lot of his time in communication with the FIA in order to ensure regulations are being adhered to and, when needed, present compelling evidence for protests and appeals that have a direct impact on the team during a race weekend.
The relationship between the FIA and the 10 teams is one of the most fascinating dynamics in the sport, and Aston Martin say the key to a good one is down to picking your battles wisely – like in Jeddah when Aston Martin successfully overturned the penalty which initially robbed Fernando Alonso of a well-deserved podium spot.
“You’ve got to pick your fights,” Stevenson said in a Q&A with the official Aston Martin F1 website.
“You can’t always be in the ear of the FIA. Sometimes decisions won’t go in your favour, but you’ve got to roll with it.
“When it’s fairly clear-cut or something that you’re going to gain from, that’s when you go in to fight your corner.
“You need to have every shred of information that will support your case ready to present to the FIA.
“You can never appeal a decision on a whim. If you start crying wolf, the FIA will never listen to you.
“I always feel that we, as a team, go in very well prepared and at the right times – and I think we’ve seen the fruits of that this season with the way some of the final decisions have played out, such as us regaining Fernando’s podium in Jeddah.”
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Stevenson also expressed some sympathy with the FIA for the very difficult job they have in governing and policing the sport, saying their position makes them regularly exposed to widespread scrutiny and criticism.
“The FIA can never win,” he added.
“When the race goes well it’s because everyone else was great and when it goes wrong it’s because the FIA got it wrong.
“I feel for them, but it goes with the territory – they take on that responsibility and they handle it very well.”
The FIA’s decision-making process was shoved back into the harsh glare of the spotlight at the Australian Grand Prix with a chaotic finish unfolding due to a reluctance to finish the race under the Safety Car.
Yet Stevenson believes the FIA made the right call in difficult circumstances.
“The Australian Grand Prix ended the only way it could have,” he said.
“It’s clearly written in the regulations. We had a conversation with Race Control before it all happened, to let them know what our understanding of the rules was, and they informed us of the decision they were going to make and that their interpretation of the rules was the same.
“There was a bit of uncertainty, but the FIA got it right. They’ve learned from things that have happened over the last few years, and they managed the Australian Grand Prix extremely well.
“They are the only ones with all the information and people need to remember that.
“None of the people who were disagreeing with the red flag in Australia had all information about the condition of the safety barriers, what was happening around the circuit, and where the safety vehicles and doctors were.
“No one did, except the FIA. We have to trust the FIA because they have all the information.”