The fractious relationship between the F1 drivers and FIA Officials

David Coulthard FIA

As F1 moves to the south of France for its annual French Grand Prix, the relationship between drivers and officials has hit a new low.

The British Grand Prix was muddled with tension and confusion on the interpretation of close racing rules. This has resulted in growing calls from drivers for more consistency and a single race director – the role that has been alternating between Eduardo Freitas or Niels Wittich since Michael Masi’s exit – and the tensions grew to a point that Sebastian Vettel stormed out of the driver’s briefing.

Sebastian Vettel and fellow compatriot Lewis Hamilton have been very vocal against the FIA. Lewis Hamilton was locked in a war of words against FIA’s jewelry clampdown. It does not look good for the sport when the two of its most decorated drivers are going against the sport’s governing body.

Writer Opinions

Professional stewards the need of the hour Edd Straw

According to Straw, F1 and FIA has to change their outdated way of stewarding. Other sports have full-time professional referees while F1 sticks to a rotating panel of stewards.

Straw argues that a permanent panel of professional stewards will not only increase the consistency of the decisions but will also help in the clear communication between the drivers and stewards,

Permanent stewards will not only build upon the knowledge of F1 laws but will also play an active role in framing regulations and improving consistency.

The self-policing of drivers should be better Gary Anderson

Anderson is of the opinion that F1 should not rely heavily on stewards rather teams and drivers should take more responsibility.

He puts the onus on teams and drivers. Teams should police themselves and take appropriate actions. If a team doesn’t take any action then the stewards can intervene. The teams and drivers should be aware of the rules and must act accordingly.

Trying to make an example out of Vettel backfired Scott Mitchell

Mitchell argues there are clear flaws in the FIA when it comes to stewarding. The rotating set of stewards has makes the sport looks like it has amateur referees. This has also resulted in inconsistent implementation of the rules.

The drivers are really fed up with this and are calling out the FIA’s incompetencies more often than not. The FIA are also are not happy being called out like that by the drivers and having their flaws laid bare. It has resulted in tension between the two groups. The tension has grown to a point that the FIA wants to send a message across to the drivers.

FIA tried to make a point by aggressively punishing Vettel for walking out of the driver’s briefing. They took a jibe at Vettel saying that he was not a good role model. That is an absurd dig to make on one of the sport’s most successful and revered drivers.

According to Mitchell, this has now escalated into a clash of egos.

There is no ‘perfect solution’ Matt Beer

Matt Beer explains why there will be no perfect solution to the driver vs stewards problem.

The drivers are not wrong to be frustrated. Last year, the standards of stewarding were not at the level expected from a professional sport. The penalties were inconsistent, the rules were unclear, and stewarding as a whole was average at best.

However, even if there are permanent & professional stewards and the rules were well defined along with clear communication, there would still be disputes and discords. For example, football even with the best referees has multiple instances of disputes over rules and incidents.

Make no mistakes, there is still room for improvement in the current F1 officiating system but even with the best of improvements, there will still be disputes.

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