FIA stewards come under fire from F1 drivers with intriguing solutions proposed

Henry Valantine
The FIA logo, as pictured on a motorhome.

The FIA logo visible on a motorhome in the F1 paddock.

Sergio Perez believes permanent FIA stewards would help to improve the consistency of decision-making during races.

Opinion among the drivers has been split after Fernando Alonso’s penalty from the Australian Grand Prix, with Perez believing 20-second penalty (converted from a post-race drive-through) was just, while others don’t think a penalty was called for at all.

FIA consistency questioned with permanent steward solution presented

With the stewards panel changing from race to race, Perez believes that the decisions that could come as a result change too, making the same incidents punishable with different penalties at different weekends.

But the Red Bull thinks there is a way forward.

When asked if having permanent stewards would be a solution moving forward, Perez told media in Suzuka: “Definitely, I think either permanent stewards or more communication within the FIA to keep improving race after race, to have this consistency.

“Because it cannot be that you have for example what I had last weekend, you know, I blocked Hulkenberg, he lost half a tenth, he went quicker the lap after and the damage was minimal, and then you have Bottas at 300kph, two cars in a very unsafe place, and no penalty. So we need that improvement and that regularity within the FIA.

“It feels like there is a lot of disconnection weekend to weekend when there is a change of stewards.

“It feels like there is no continuity of what has happened in the last 10 races for example, that’s my point of view – there is no regularity, there is no continuity of facts.

“It’s like with a car setup, if you are not learning race by race what works for your car, you’re never going to find the right setup – it’s the same with the stewards.

“If they’re not communicating weekend after weekend the incidents that have happened and so on, [they will] find it really hard to find the right compromise.”

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Valtteri Bottas agrees that a permanent stewarding team would be a viable solution for the sport moving forward.

While he said the consistency of decision-making has improved, there are still kinks to iron out.

“I feel like it has improved, the consistency, and there should be guidelines, but it’s still the issue that it’s not always the same people who decide,” Bottas said.

“There are different stewards in different races and different people might have different opinions, based on their experience, their background, whether they’ve been racing or not, etc.

“So I think, if they would be always the same people making the decisions, it probably would be more consistent.

“But I mean, they are trying their best and this is not an easy job – and I wouldn’t want to do their job, because they will also always be criticised.

“So it’s not easy, I think, changing the people weekend to weekend, that’s probably the biggest effect on sometimes not being consistent.”

When it was put to him that having recent retirees would be of benefit, he responded: “It would help definitely, but where can you find those who’s willing to do the job?

“The more recent drivers in this sport might be racing still in somewhere else, or busy enjoying their life, so it’s not easy to find the people but, yes, that would help.”

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