Monday 15 September 2008 | Formula One feed | All feeds


Sir Jackie Stewart wants full-time stewards after Lewis Hamilton penalty

Sir Jackie Stewart has called for changes in the way Formula One is governed after officials stripped Lewis Hamilton of victory in Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.

Pushing on: Lewis Hamilton drives past Kimi Raikkonen after the Ferrari driver was forced to retire in Belgium
Sir Jackie Stewart wants full-time stewards in F1 Photo: PA

The McLaren driver won the race on the track, but was later given a 25-second penalty. He was judged to have gained an unfair advantage by cutting a chicane while disputing the lead with Kimi Raikkonen. That dropped Hamilton to third place and gifted victory to his closest title rival, Ferrari driver Felipe Massa.

Stewart, a three-times F1 world champion and former grand prix team owner, believes the race stewards made a mistake. “I was more than surprised by what happened,” he said, “and I really don’t think Hamilton did anything wrong.

“Raikkonen behaved very robustly to defend his position and left Hamilton with no option but to miss the chicane.

“He was simply doing all he could to avoid an accident. Yes, he gained a position, but he slowed immediately and handed it back, as the rules require, then passed [Raikkonen] subsequently.

“We saw earlier in the year, at Silverstone, that Raikkonen isn’t comfortable driving his Ferrari in the wet and it was the same on Sunday. Hamilton was clearly much faster and was going to pass him sooner or later. The stewards should have taken that into account.

“This decision raises questions about their ability and, indeed, about the sport’s very governance.”

Motor racing’s controlling body, the FIA, have a roster of stewards and appoint three to each grand prix, though the line-up alters from race to race. They work with a permanent adviser, Alan Donnelly, and F1 race director Charlie Whiting.

“F1 attracts the largest capital investment in sport,” Stewart said, “but it’s being overseen by people who are not doing it full-time and we get inconsistent decisions.

“In football, rugby, tennis or cricket you have professional referees and umpires who do their jobs day in, day out and you have accountability. We need that in motorsport.”

McLaren have announced their intention to lodge an appeal against Hamilton’s penalty. Their data shows he was travelling 3.7mph slower than Raikkonen as the two cars crossed the start-finish line immediately after the incident, with the Finn ahead, and they believe this proves their driver had conformed to the rules. It is not yet known whether the sport’s judiciary will allow a penalty of this kind to be contested.

“It’s inconceivable that you shouldn’t be able to appeal in a situation like this,” Stewart said. “It could affect the world championship’s outcome.”

Other leading motorsport figures have also condemned the penalty. Niki Lauda, another triple world champion who raced for both Ferrari and McLaren, called it F1’s “biggest mess ever”, while British racing icon Sir Stirling Moss said: “I thought it was an absolutely appalling decision.”

Race winner Massa’s engine will have a routine eligibility inspection this week and the result should be known before Sunday’s Italian GP at Monza.

Former F1 driver Riccardo Patrese is to make a guest return to the cockpit at Jerez, Spain, next week, when he tests for Honda. The 54-year-old Italian, who last contested a grand prix in 1993, held the record for world championship starts (256) before Honda driver Rubens Barrichello surpassed that this season.

Comments: 47

  • Who talks of conspiracy now? You called us Spaniards whingeing paranoids last year. If last year's decisions by the FIA in favour of LH were correct, they are correct this year too.

    Ana, Asturias (Spain)
    on September 09, 2008
    at 06:51 PM
  • Kimi was also let off for overtaking LH under a yellow flag on Sunday, which just adds insult to the fans I feel.

    Bob Reed
    on September 09, 2008
    at 03:23 PM
  • The HSE [Health & Safety Executive] should now sponser F1. That way there would be no reacing, no skill, no fun and of course no accidents. Or perhaps the stewards are already achieving this.

    Les McLaren
    on September 09, 2008
    at 02:27 PM
  • The FIA should all resign, F1 is about racing, if the drivers decide that they want to have a go at overtaking then let them make the desicision, after all its them that loose out if it all goes wrong, and we as spectators all gain, by seeing entertainment, take the entertainment value out of F1 and what do you have, a mere procession of advertisng hoardings. Let them race and let the consiquences be what ever they shall be, no one has the right to take decisions for the drivers who are all there on Merit.

    any one wish to do a part excange, Ferrari for a mercedes CLS!

    on September 09, 2008
    at 02:10 PM
  • Yet again the stewards are doing their masters bidding!

    Hamilton killed his momentum after he let the Farrari back into the lead. LH then caught Kimmi out in a superb overtaking manouvre; it was racing at it's best.

    When Schmaker made the move on Hill and took him out denying Hill the second World Championship, the Stewards sat on their hands; any other dubious moves by Sch were totally ignored by the stewards and officials.
    Hamilton in my book is World Champion; he should have been last year but was destabilised by the Sport Officials. They are going on like spoilt children if their favourite doesn't win.
    I hope LH wins; but he will have to beat not only the other drivers but small minded mean little men called stewards.

    william stuart
    on September 09, 2008
    at 02:04 PM
  • Wsan't it Jacques Villeneuve who suggested that the F1 Championship should be awarded to Ferrari on the opening day of the season so that the rest of the teams could then go racing?
    Sunday's decision showed about as much credibility as the penalty against Alonso last season for being 200 metres in front of a Ferrari and thus apparently interfering with his qualifying lap. Muppetry advanced to an art form.

    on September 09, 2008
    at 01:47 PM
  • The sooner control of the sport is taken away from Ferrari the better. Then teams might be able to compete on a level race track.
    It is incredible how decisions always favour Ferrari, Mc Claren always lose out.

    I suppose Formula 1 is now all about money as all sport is. Football, cricket etc money is the god, athletics win at any price taking any`performance enhancing drug .

    Think I will watch marbles, conkers etc hopefully they have not been tainted by money, yet.....

    Peter George
    on September 09, 2008
    at 01:30 PM
  • Before the chicane incident Hamilton was taking chunks out of Raikkonen's lead. There is no doubt that he would have passed him eventually. At the chicane, Hamilton had a stark choice - crash into Raikkonen, thus taking them both out of the race or cut the corner. He rightly choose to do the latter. Having passed Raikkonen he then played by the rules and slowed to allow Raikkonen to regain the lead. There is nothing in the rules that says how long or how far behind Hamilton had to remain. With the faster car, Hamilton was then able to repasss Raikkonen at the end of the start/finish straight with a classic overtaking move. Raikkonen briefly regained the lead when Hamilton was baulked by a back marker and then, under no pressure from Hamilton, spun out of the race handing the lead back to Hamilton. How the stewards coukld have concluded that Hamilton won the race unfairly defys reality. If the FIA allow Hamilton's penalty to stand, they will lose all credibility.

    Malcolm Ward
    on September 09, 2008
    at 01:26 PM
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    on September 09, 2008
    at 01:24 PM
  • i stopped watching formula 1 a few years ago because it was so b***** boring,i hadnt intended to watch the belguim gp,but after flicking through the channels i decided to stay tuned and was truly excited at watching some great racing for a change it was great entertainment,now i am far from an expert on racing rules but if what hamilton did deserves a penalty then its about time the meat heads in charge realised that racing is what most poeple want to see.forget your half assed decisions you should be handing out medals for that type of racing because at the end of the day thats what surely racing is all about.

    on September 09, 2008
    at 01:12 PM
  • What does the FIA do with all of the many millions of pounds that it receivs from motorsport? Such incidents as brought about on Sunday are a clear indication that fairness and 'challenging' motor racing are a very long way down the list of the likes of Mosely and co. I think it is time for the manufacturers and teams to get rid of the old guard and put something in place that is worthy of overseeing what is supposed to be the pinacle of motorsport.

    Colin C
    on September 09, 2008
    at 01:07 PM
  • Did the stewards receive phone calls from Max Mosley just before the investigation was announced and again during their deliberations?

    It's very difficult to make or receive a call without leaving a record.

    J A Levis
    on September 09, 2008
    at 12:58 PM
  • Why not take a leaf out of other sports and have retired professionals in charge of rules decisions? In my own game of golf, a significant proportion of referees are ex-players who understand the situation and apply the Rules exactly, expertly and equitably. Not only that, but those who are not former playing professionals are still trained to the same high standard and apply the Rules in a consistent manner. Also, the decisions are given immediately rather than 3 weeks after the event!

    Albert Gribble
    on September 09, 2008
    at 12:51 PM
  • This is getting like the Football Pools Panel when a load of old buffers decide on what the result of a match should have been based on their "experience".
    Why bother with the racing at all, lets just have the cars parading round like they did in Valencia last month and the stweards can pick a winner (any colour as long as its red)at the end.

    fraser george macbeth
    on September 09, 2008
    at 12:35 PM
  • Hamilton had no need to cut the chicane as he was behind the Ferrari when he cut across. Having overcooked the corner he would have been nowhere near Raikkonen at the start/finish line. He was unable to get close on any previous laps. He is a racer and pushes the rules, just like Schumacher did. He should have waited until after the next corner. Imagine you are in a running race and some one cuts a corner and then lets you pass, but then instantly passes you again, you would say he had broke the rules?
    Ron should have told him to hang back, he would have complained if it happened to them.

    on September 09, 2008
    at 12:21 PM
  • no surprise that Massa should come out against Lewis. He benefitted from this fiasco after all,but if he thinks he can win the championship he is in for a shock.He can never beat Lewis unless the temperature is very high, and there is no chance of Rain. Kimmi is the only match for lewis. To think of it the situation is not as bad as I thought, Lewis is way ahead of Kimmi who is in reality is his rival.Massa is not championship material period.

    thenjiwe nhliziyo
    on September 09, 2008
    at 12:17 PM
  • The issue isn't that Hamilton wasn't allowed to race Raikkonen at the next corner. It was whether Hamilton had sufficiently yielded the advantage he had gained by cutting the chicane. Question the stewards had to ask was whether Hamilton would have been in the position to take Raikkonen at La Source if he had not cut the chicane. Clearly Hamilton wouldn't have been as close had he backed off and taken the chicane, or went over the kerbs.

    �We saw earlier in the year, at Silverstone, that Raikkonen isn�t comfortable driving his Ferrari in the wet and it was the same on Sunday. Hamilton was clearly much faster and was going to pass him sooner or later"

    Exactly, Hamilton should have waited as clearly the Ferrari has not worked as well as the Mclaren in wet/damp conditions all year. Rush of blood to the head.

    Paul Ramsay
    on September 09, 2008
    at 12:07 PM

  • I notice the FIA website cunningly omits any email address. Anyone know of any way we can register our disapproval with the FIA about this ridiculously amateurish situation - maybe cause them some inconvenience for a change?

    on September 09, 2008
    at 12:02 PM
  • Whether or not the FIA is biased in favour of Ferrari, it certainly gives that impression over and over again. I'm not a Hamilton fan - but he won the race fair and square, as far as I'm concerned.

    on September 09, 2008
    at 11:59 AM
  • All drivers have experienced it. Somebody sitting on your tail stopping you from changing lanes. That's what Hamilton did - he eased off slightly but he deliberately stopped Raikkonen from taking the racing line.

    As for Jackie Stewart - he's a serial whinger. If you need a negative 'rent-a-quote' then Stewart's your man.

    No, the stewards got it right - it was a fair decision.

    on September 09, 2008
    at 11:59 AM
  • I, like many others I assume, had not realised that the stewards are different for every race. Taking three from a pool of an unknown size is bound to lead to inconsistencies in penalising drivers for infringements. As has been stated in other posts, Michael Schumacher got away without penalty on many occasions. As Mark Blundell has stated in another article elsewhere on the Telegraph site, if there is a stewards' inquiry involving the leading drivers in progress when the chequered flag drops then the podium ceremony should be delayed until the result of that inquiry is known.

    There is also a case for the FIA to speed up the appeals procedure - any appeal should be heard and the result made public before the next race. If that is in seven days time instead of three weeks due to the calendar of races, so be it. It is unfair on all involved, including the public, to have to wait some weeks for the outcome of an appeal.

    Jim B
    on September 09, 2008
    at 11:45 AM
  • As an Italian and Ferrari supporter I would have liked to see Kimi win. However when we finally have a race after the boring procession in Valencia it is a shame that a worthy winner in Hamilton is penalised for giving us racing and entertainment. I won't be watching F1 again, and look forward to the next Motobike GP.

    Marco Saluzzo
    on September 09, 2008
    at 11:45 AM
  • I have followed Motor racing since the heroic days of Fangio, Gonzalez,the young Moss , Collins and Hawthorn( I even saw Nuvolari drive in practice for a Jag only 'Race of the Champions' at Silverston-No I'm not 100 , I was a schoolboy then!). I know that they too would side with Stewart, Moss and Lauda's comments and agree that this decision shames the sport and its systems.
    Time for a change. . The proposed change to stewarding etc is a change which is definately wanted.
    Do it fast, or fans will start staying away and watch competitive ping-pong or knitting competitions instead,
    N Weston.

    Dr Neville Weston
    on September 09, 2008
    at 11:32 AM
  • In addition to all the comments about the terrible behaviour of the FIA, it is worth taking into account the impact of this dreadful decision on us, the public. After years of tolerating my spending hours watching F1 on television, last year my wife finally became an avid fan of F1 (and Lewis Hamilton)herself. After this dreadful decision she says the upset it causes her over the injustice of it all leaves her unlikely ever to bother with F1 again. How many others feel the same way? What is the point of racing if, at the end, the result can be overturned by a small group of faceless, unaccountable people in such an arbitrary fashion? Why allow the FIA to destroy a sport this way? They are a source of endless controversy and Sir Jackie Stewart was almost prophetic in his warnings earlier this year of the dangers of allowing Mosley to continue as the head of the FIA. Isn't it possible for Formula One and the Manufacturers to abandon the FIA and create a new governing body that is more representative of the sport and properly accountable?

    David Forder
    on September 09, 2008
    at 11:24 AM
  • I too watched my last F1 race on Sunday. Racing has not only become largely boring, but racing is obviously not even allowed.

    on September 09, 2008
    at 11:22 AM
  • In my judgement, this decision is as unfair as the ones Alonso suffered last year. Of course, being Hamilton british you lose all objectivity of what happened last year but that is truly the case. I say this empty of prejudices against Hamiltion who I think is the 2nd best driver on the track.
    Formula 1 is about business.
    for rating reasons, formula 1 wants the most thrilling and exciting championship and the most competitive classification and to promote certain earlier-depressed mkts .- last year they wanted to promote Hamilton to boost uk ratings at the expense of alonso who had aldy won 2 titles and make the final a close tie.
    This year they dont want hamilton to become champion now and lose the excitement for the remaining 5 GP.
    that is my conclusion personal preferences aside

    on September 09, 2008
    at 11:21 AM
  • Mosely must be influencing the decision from somewhere.

    on September 09, 2008
    at 11:17 AM
  • This farce just goes to show that there is one rulebook for ferrari, and a different one for everybody else. I have just watched my last GP motor race. So far as I am concerned, Eccelstone, FIA, and the whole rotten administration, can take their sport; and shove it some place the sun don't shine.

    Fawsten Gayle
    on September 09, 2008
    at 11:11 AM
  • Lewis Hamilton broke the rules.
    He had the audacity to overtake a Ferrari. It seems to be the case that Ferrari can do no wrong, including unsafe release into pit lane, lose exhaust wich flew off during race and other instances. Ferrari must not be upset and win at all costs.

    Eddie of Buntingford
    on September 09, 2008
    at 11:06 AM
  • The stewards do ssem to be a little inconsistant. Having watched the GP2 racing in Valencia a couple of weeks ago and seen a penalty drive through given for releasing a car into the path of another, I automaticlly assumed that Massa would get one too, therefore handing the win to Maclaren and LH. Not to be, a small fine was all that was given for a potentially very dangerous move. Yet now we have some propper racing fair and square from both parties and we end it like this?! Where is the justice!

    I also feel for Kimi as Rosberg should not have been pulling back on to the track infront of any traffic let alone the two leaders and that is what caused the spin in to the wall, trying to get round him!!

    Where is his penalty for that?

    Bob Reed
    on September 09, 2008
    at 11:01 AM
  • It would be just the same if he entered the Eurovision Song Contest

    Rod Gray
    on September 09, 2008
    at 10:29 AM
  • I totally agree with Sir Jackie Stewart wanting full-time stewards in F1, and hope they will have real F1 racing experience.

    We all know that good judgment comes from experience, yet
    experience comes from bad judgment, and learning on the job is simply not on.

    The FIA must understand that our anger has nothing to do with
    Lewis Hamilton, but its everything to do with the bad judgment of the three race rookies acting as Stewards !!

    Sam / Woodford
    on September 09, 2008
    at 10:11 AM
  • Who talks of conspiracy now? You called us Spaniards whingeing paranoids last year. If last year's decisions by the FIA in favour of LH were correct, they are correct this year too.

    Ana, Asturias (Spain)
    on September 09, 2008
    at 09:58 AM
  • If these part time officials can't get it right, dismiss them.

    John EVANS
    on September 09, 2008
    at 09:57 AM
  • Yet another decision favouring Ferrari.

    The stewards should be ashamed of themselves. If ever there was an argument for full time professionalism and accountability, this is it.

    Hamilton clearly had to go off the track to avoid an accident with the Ferrari and subsequently cut the corner. However he gave back the advantage straight away. He was behind the Ferrari and slower when they both crossed the line. He then used his ability and the car's better traction and balance to overtake fairly. He would have passed the Ferrari anyway.
    He did nothing wrong.
    So either the 3 part time stewards were able to see something that millions of viewers and full time commentators couldn't, or they decided to be controversial, or maybe they were just influenced to do it to create a bit of hype and publicity. Either way it is a sad indictment of the state of Formula 1s rulemakers and decisionmakers who clearly can't stop themselves from interfering with the close racing we all want to see and they say they want to create.

    Nick Craig-Tyler
    on September 09, 2008
    at 09:50 AM
  • What a sham!
    You have to remember Lewis did beat a Ferrari fair & square, not something that goes down well with ferrari or 'Max' and the like.
    Its a car race not an political election!

    David F Barnes
    on September 09, 2008
    at 09:39 AM
  • The decision was wrong and should be rescinded. There are no ground for not alowing an appeal. The penalty was awarded retrospectively so logic would dictate that it could be reversed retrospectively as well. It is not like a football referee allowing/disallowing a goal during the course of a game.

    on September 09, 2008
    at 09:26 AM
  • Yes there should be a review of standards applied... not just for L. Hamilton but to have a consistant application of rules. We have seen many drivers over the F1 years having to take a safer route as L.Hamilton did without any penalty applied...

    Tom Murray
    on September 09, 2008
    at 09:20 AM
  • Overall it is difficult not to agree with Sir Jackie. This cannot be a good result for the sport. However I would suggest that we ignore the "might have been" element when coming to our conclusions because irrespective of whether we could see Hamilton was quicker and think that he would have passed Kimi anyway, he still had to make that pass and as a racer he would do that at the earliest possible moment.

    This is possibly what the stewards ignored when making their decision. So, Hmilton tried at the chicane, was thwarted, avoided a major accident and gave the place he incorrectly gained, in avoiding that accident, back again, then nailed the Ferrari at La Source. He did everything right and nothing wrong in anyone's sporting language.

    Peter Mallett
    on September 09, 2008
    at 09:14 AM
  • What a terrible and sad conclusion to what was one of the best endings to a GP I have seen.
    Everybody knew that Hamilton would catch the Ferrari if it started to rain, and that he is a racer who takes his chances. Is'nt this the very thing MM & the FIA are trying to encourage with the rule changes next year? We it is if it's a Ferrari that's doing the business, not if it's that arrogant upstart and his equally distasteful British team according to the FIA. Charlie Whiting should be ashamed of himself. No doubt he is as scared of upsetting the FIA as most of the teams are. I am sure if Hamilton had backed off completely and given Raikonen a couple of lengths lead, and not raced him into La Source then he would have been left alone. The facts are plain for everyone to see except the FIA - the driver did not gain any advantage by missing the corner as he would have been in the same position behind the Ferrari had he actually managed to keep his line. Where in the ruls does it state that, having allowed the car back past you are not allowed to race it again in the next corner? This decision is utterly stupid, and the FIA should step in and rectify this now rather than wait for some stupid appeal hearing. Then again, thats how the FIA works is'nt it? Nothing gets done without an appeal meeting, or an extraordinary meeting, or a meeting about how much money they can make in fines next year....

    Barnaby George
    on September 09, 2008
    at 09:12 AM




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