Verstappen: F1 stewards are like football refs

Jamie Woodhouse


Max Verstappen believes that just like referees in a football game, F1 stewards will always have different personal interpretations of the rules.

The steward panels for F1 races changes from one race weekend to the next, just like a referee changes for each football match.

And in 2019 Max Verstappen’s fierce battles with Charles Leclerc, namely at the Austrian and British GPs, inspired a move towards allowing harder racing from the stewards.

But since the people making the decisions changes, Verstappen says there will always be variation in how the F1 rulebook is enforced.

Speaking to, Verstappen said: “The thing is, it’s the same in football, isn’t it? You have different refs and some give a yellow card easier than others. It’s the same like that.

“Of course, you know, it’s a rulebook. But then still the stewards have a little bit of a say of what you’re actually going to apply.

“When you go into like a Champions League match or a Premier League match, the ref can be different.

“Sometimes you can get away with a yellow card and then the other ref gives you a red, and you’re like ‘What was going on?’. It’s exactly the same, I think, in Formula 1.”

FIA race director Michael Masi reintroduced the black and white warning flag to F1 in 2019 with it designed to act as a “yellow” warning card, though its only high-profile appearance came at the Italian GP after Charles Leclerc pushed Lewis Hamilton off the track in defence as race leader.

But such inconsistencies don’t concern Verstappen as he knows how hard the stewards’ jobs are.

“That’s also fine,” he said. “When you’re on the wrong side of the penalty it’s always bad, unless you really did something bad and you can accept it.

“But when it’s like 50/50 and you get the penalty, you’re always going to question.

“It’s very hard for them [the officials]. I mean, I’ve been in the room [at the Marrakech Formula E round as ‘community service’ punishment] and experienced them handing penalties out.

“It’s not easy for them. They also don’t want to give penalties. Sometimes they just have to, the way the rules are written as well.

“We can maybe look into easing some of the penalties, or just write them in a different way into the rulebook.”

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