Stewards and Race Control


Points Scorer
After an interesting discussion yesterday, I ran into some more information about the relationship between stewards and race control.

First of all, who are the stewards? Article 12.1 of the Sporting Regulations states From among holders of an FIA Super Licence the following officials will be nominated by the FIA......three stewards one of whom will be permanent and appointed the non-voting chairman [Article 12.2 provides that the third voting steward is nominated by the ASN].

The non voting chairman is Alan Donnely. But his role is not really defined. What I can find is this article
Max Mosley describes the role here as being an interface between the stewards and race control. So it seems Donnely chairs the stewards' meeting, is a facilitator and asks the questions. In view of his role, this seems normal procedure to me.

So it seems the procedure is:
Charlie Whiting reports an incident to Alan Donnely. Makes complete sense in Donnely's role as interface between stewards and race control.
Then, in order to create momentum, its safe to say it would be Alan Donnely who does the questioning during any stewards' meeting called to discuss an incident.

This seems to be standard practice and it has been going on already the whole season. So I see no reason for any suspicions Donnely did anything he hadn't been doing already all season. He is the spokesperson and he arranges meetings as is his role. There is no evidence anywhere suggesting he would push the stewards towards one decision or another. This surely would have been mentioned somewhere during the season with other decisions made by the stewards which one can safely say must have gone through the same procedure mentioned above. The fact it was not mentioned or protested against by any team at all shows to me there is no issue with this procedure in view of the stewards decisions made so far in this season.

When you take this into account and go back to what people write about the incident, then it suddenly becomes clear some of the remarks made are really nonsensical. Well, to me at least.

The idea some people seem to have about the events in Spa being special are clearly not true. This situation with Donnely has happened before and has been happening already all season. Even McLaren most likely are fully aware of Donnely and his role and do not mention him in their protest. Why some fans do question his role, seems a bit too far to me.

Also, the idea some people seem to have that its odd the Donnelly's name does not appear on the stewards decision sheet. He didnt vote so this makes complete sense. Also the idea that Donnely's acts are different from what the FIA claims. Again, the evidence to me shows he did his job and he did exactly what his job is according to FIA. So what he did in France was his job, like he did at all previous races this season.

The fact that Donnely did the questioning, might sound odd. But this has apparently already been the case all season at all stewards' meetings. I do notice that so far no one has complained about this. Also, the word 'interrogation' instead of questioning as used in some of the discussions seems odd to me. I don't see Lewis Hamilton using this qualification at all.

In regards with FIA being a client of Alan Donnely. I have noticed on several occasions autosport is a small world and it seems to me extremely hard to find anyone with knowledge of the sport who is not in one way or another linked to a team or organization. The autosport world is simply too small for that. And again I notice, there has been no mentioning of the role Donnely performs so I think its safe to conclude the teams themselves have no issues with his role and/or the way he does his job in view with his work in this company. Then who are we, as fans, to take that step?

I rest my case :)
Nobody complained publicly about how Stalin was running the Soviet Union, did they?

We have an individual here who has great power in directing the stewards' decision-making, simply by asking certain questions and not asking others. Yet this individual is not accountable for the decisions that are taken.

I've never heard of a facilitator or liaison person conducting an interrogation before, in any walk of life. It is odd.

The fact it has been happening all season doesn't make me any more comfortable with it I'm afraid boga. The old system, with Tony Scott-Andrews as lead steward, was fair enough because he voted and was accountable. He was always willing to talk to the media off the record and clarify the reasoning behind decisions made to improve the overall understanding. It seems that in this area, as so many others, F1 has taken a step backwards.

And now Mosley threatens to stand again in a year's time. God help us all.
Actually, GM, I was surprised this Donnely even excisted cos I knew nothing about him. So when all this stuff started I was like, who is he and what does he do?

Sure he seems to have power and all that stuff, but I think its a bit cynical to descibe him like some ogre making his own decisions. Neither me or you have ever been at a stewards' meeting so thats all pretty much "wishful thinking". And again, if he indeed does such a bad job by making a mess of things then for sure we would have heard of the dude and what he does before. Point is we did not and so far this year the stewards' decisions do not seem that bad. Plus I cannot for the life of me believe someone like Ron Dennis would accept anyone to make decisions if he would not accept their integrity. The guy surely is vocal enough.

To me, the fact we haven't heard of this guy before shows he's actually doing a good job. Cos he seems to have avoided certain situations so far.

I agree that Donnely could improve an his communication skills. But that doesn't make him a person who does a job badly, plus, don't forget! He does not take any decisions. So why should someone commentate on something he was no part of? I'm sorry but to me it would actually be odd if Donnelly did comment on anything.
It seems we're having this discussion simultaneously on both forums.

I suppose it's my political background, but I'm highly suspicious of eminences grises in any form. We need these people to get out of the shadows, we need to know what they're doing and why. It would also be good to know why the old system was changed.

You might not have heard of him so far this season boga, but I have. Absence of complaints doesn't equal doing a good job. But you seem determined to find the best in him.

Do you honestly think this is the best structure F1 could have for the stewarding?
I am not interested in finding the best in this guy, but so far I have seen no reason to suspect anything else. And I would like to see some clear cut evidence before I doubt someone.

Of course this is not the best situation re stewards, we agree on that as well. But at the same time, just cos a guy has worked for someone to immediately descfribe him as an alley does seem to cut a few corners.

I don't think there has ever been more scrutiny on the stewards and their decisions as there is this season. So even the slightest faux pas would have resulted in a mess, like we witness now. Your conclusion that this does not mean good decisions, makes sense but at the same time, I don't hink there is any room right now at all for the stewards to do anything iffy cos the teams will destroy them in this climate of distrust. I mean, look what happens the minute they do seem to make a whoopie.

And thats to me the big thing. Although I can fully comprehend it, at the same time I see no reason for it. Cos right now we seem to discuss the qualifications of someone not on the quality of his work but on the fact he had a certain former employer. or we discuss the work of a steward not because of what he does but because he gave a penalty to a certain driver.

I just have a problem with that.
We're agreed on that. I don't believe there is any bias involved. Obviously he is a close friend of Max, but I don't accept all this pro-Ferrari business (as I'm sure you know).

I just think that the previous system was much better, more consistent and more transparent. And until I understand why it was changed I'm likely to remain confused as to the motives.
One thing I'm puzzled about regarding the incident at Spa is the fact that their was questioning at all...

The "chicane-cutting" incident was a racing incident which must have qualified for a drive-thru or stop-go penalty or 25 seconds would not have been added. In this case there should not be any questioning in order to be fair to anyone who gets a drive-thru/stop-go before the last 5 laps of the race who don't have a chance to defend themselves (unless they do it over radio.)

And am I alone in thinking that the 25 second penalty should not cover both drive-thru and stop-go penalties? Surely a stop-go should cost more time than a drive-thru. I would suggest that if the incident was going to be a drive-thru, only 15 seconds would be added to race time, as this would cut out the 10 seconds stationary.
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