FIA deliver Guenther Steiner verdict after scathing steward criticism

Thomas Maher
Haas' Guenther Steiner at the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023.

Haas' Guenther Steiner at the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023.

The stewards at the Spanish Grand Prix have reached a verdict on what to do about Guenther Steiner’s comments in a press conference on Friday.

Guenther Steiner has been given a reprimand for his comments made during a press session on Friday afternoon in Spain.

The Haas team boss has been found to have committed a breach of Article 12.2.1.k of the International Sporting Code, namely being the “use of language….which might reasonably be expected or be perceived to…cause offence, humiliation or to be inappropriate.”

Steiner had been summoned on two further alleged breaches, both of which have resulted in no further action.

What had Guenther Steiner done?

Steiner had been called before the stewards due to comments he made during a media session on Friday.

Steiner had lashed out at how the stewards apply punishments, following Nico Hulkenberg being given a 5-second time penalty last weekend in Monaco. The German driver had been found to have caused a collision on the first lap of the race while overtaking Logan Sargeant at Mirabeau.

While first-lap incidents are usually overlooked, the stewards instead chose to give Hulkenberg a penalty – this being despite the drivers making the corner and no clear footage of actual contact between the cars.

“We need a different system for stewards,” Steiner said on Friday.

“Because every professional sport has professionals being referees and stuff like this. F1 is one of the biggest sports in the world, and we still have laymen deciding on the fate of people who invest millions into their careers. recommends

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“And it’s always a discussion because there’s no consistency. And again, I don’t want to blame any particular person on this, but if you’re not all there all the time, it’s just like a job every… it’s not even a job. In a job, you can get sacked! Because you get paid and, if you do a bad job, you get sacked.

“You cannot get sacked, because you don’t get paid. I think we need to step it up. I think that’s now time. We’re discussing this for years and years. And we always go back to this.

“And every other sport has professional referees. American racing – NASCAR, IndyCar – how many times do you hear problems with the stewards or with the race director’s decision? Very rarely. Very rarely.”

The FIA media delegate referred the matter to the stewards, who called Steiner up before them ahead of qualifying on Saturday.

The situation also resulted in one of the Spanish GP stewards having to recuse himself from the hearing due to a potential conflict of interest.

Felix Holter was replaced by Matthew Selley for the hearing, as Holter was a steward at last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix. He will now be reinstated following the hearing and any associated deliberations and decisions.

Guenther Steiner did ’cause offence’ with stewards’ comments

According to the FIA verdict, Steiner’s use of the word ‘laymen’ and his reference to other sports using ‘professional’ personnel were perceived as having caused offence – not only to the stewards in Monaco, but also to other FIA personnel and other motorsport volunteers.

The stewards accepted Steiner’s explanation that his reference to professionalism was intended to refer to people who work in a role as a profession, and not that the stewards were acting unprofessionally.

Steiner also explained that his use of the word ‘laymen’ was meant to refer to people who work occasionally, and was not intended to refer to a lack of qualifications of specialisation, with the team boss also apologised unprompted for having caused any hurt.

Amusingly, the verdict also said that, if Steiner had intended to insult or offend anyone, he would have used much different wording. “The stewards do not dispute this,” said the statement.

Steiner has since publicly apologised, saying: “I expressed to the stewards my disappointment and disagreement with the decision taken by the Monaco stewards last weekend. The stewards informed me that they had no issue with people disagreeing with decisions but were more concerned about the interpretation that had been placed on some of my comments.

“I explained to the stewards that I had not intended to offend anyone and that my use of certain words could have been open to misinterpretation or misunderstood by some people.

 “I told the stewards that I apologised if my statements were misunderstood or caused hurt to anyone as that was not my intention. I repeat that apology here.”