FB said:A point well made Cosicave. The problem is Whiting appears to be the first port of call for all the teams when a contentious situation arises and if he is not empowered to make a decision you have to question why. Either the teams ask Whitings advice as race director and accept it or they stop asking him and wait for a decision from the stewards. Presumably Whitings role should simply be to communicate the stewards decisions to the teams (apart from all the other stuff a race director has to do)?
Yes FB. You ask a very good question. However, this is a different matter altogether.
You say "…Whiting appears to be the first port of call…"
Indeed, Whiting is the first port of call. But is it fair to require an instant decision on potentially everything, from just one person? Is it possible that in some circumstances, he would be unable to give a definitive answer without seeking advice? Every situation is unique, even when it has similarities with what may be termed 'precedents'. Could such a situation place unreasonable pressures and demands when things are not 'clear cut'?
This is why we have a team of Stewards, who, thankfully, are now led by an 'expert witness' (not Charlie, but an expert racing driver) who also forms part of the 'jury'. Interestingly, even his/her opinion is still just that. It is still not a decision taken by one person! Charlie Whiting has a lot more to do, than to stand as a god-like judge who's word is unquestionable; which would very quickly expose the weaknesses of such a system and be far more contentious than having a 'panel of judges' who make a collectively informed decision - in fact a self-moderating one.
You say: "Either the teams ask Whiting's advice as race director and accept it or they stop asking him and wait for a decision from the stewards." Yes! Exactly! He makes himself available as an advisor. They can choose to heed his advice or not. It is that simple.
Charlie is a good guy with no personal axe to grind. He is a man of true integrity. And if he has any favourites, he covers it better than most humans could. But he will not live forever: someone will eventually replace him. Let's consider for a moment, that Charlie (or his successor) actually has a favourite team - or personal monies invested in one (or more) of them - which of course is actually possible now! Is it possible that he might find himself with a conflict of interest, subject to no moderation from anybody at all?
I repeat: Charlie is a man of real integrity; a rare find amongst people. But is it fair to place such responsibility with one person, who is necessarily open to question about his motives on every occasion when extremely wealthy competitors disagree? Or would we prefer a system that requires some consultation and is less prone to an instantaneous error in the heat of the moment - such as we have at present?
No system of judgement is perfect…
Imagine it was me there instead of Whiting and the decision was entirely mine, to be made within seconds of being contacted? - I'm certain that it would not be long before I would make a decision that some people would find contentious; to be argued through fora such as this; the media on the larger scale; and amongst the passionate and powerful who may feel aggrieved; and those many who may influence National Governments; or the Flavio Briattores of this world! No. Placing such responsibility with one person would be a very dangerous route for any international sport to follow, and would be more likely perceived as inconsistent, as well as far less transparent - particularly since the Stewards are never the same team twice. (Bear in mind that they are now headed by a different expert every time).
And finally, you say: "Presumably Whiting's role should simply be to communicate the stewards decisions to the teams (apart from all the other stuff a race director has to do)? Well, if this is all he could do, he would be unable to offer the advice the teams may be seeking in the first place. And there would be nobody able to offer them any advice at all!
Nothing is perfect. There will always be disputes. Our present system has weaknesses. But it's pretty good and much better than it could be!