Todt urges F1 stewards to focus on consistency

2012 F1 season

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FIA president Jean Todt praised the work of Formula One race stewards and urged them to ensure consistency in their decisions.

“Rather then always applying penalties you must analyse the consequences of the penalties,” Todt told a meeting led by F1 race director Charlier Whiting. “Consistency, for me, is crucial.”

Copies of notes produced by the stewards at each race weekend are now being supplied to other stewards who were not present at those races in a bid to improve consistency.

Todt told the stewards: “You have a very difficult job but you are now better supported by all the electronic facilities which help in analysing incidents.

“The only thing you should now concentrate on, other than the good job you are doing, is how to do it better. It would be good to speak to your partners, the teams and the drivers, who can give you good input.”

A total of 60 penalties were handed down to 22 of the 25 drivers who competed in 2012. The stewards backed a plan to introduce a points system under which a driver would automatically receive a ban for committing multiple transgressions.

2012 F1 season

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Keith Collantine
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38 comments on “Todt urges F1 stewards to focus on consistency”

  1. I’d tell them to focus on consistency and also to avoid investigating every single incident that happens on track…

    Drivers complain everytime something happens. And sometimes they should let it go… the consequences of some of the incidents are not great for one of the drivers (Hamilton vs Hulkenberg for instance), but that’s a racing incident. If they investigate everything, they are bond to make stupid decisions, penalizing drivers when it’s not necessary.

    Racing is about taking risks, that’s what peopel like. Trying to get a bit more than what’s possible, and making it work. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but that’s not a blatant mistake. Missing your braking point while trying to overtake someone, or lose the car because of the slippery track, with someone alongside, doesn’t compare with taking someone out of the track on purpose or a massive mistake like Grosjean’s start at Spa.

    1. Drivers complain everytime something happens

      Indeed, I think it was Derek Daly who said: “You can’t believe how kiddish these guys can be, like: He pushed me off the track, He overtook me outside the track, he stole my toys, etc” …

      1. Yes, the teams and drivers can give you good input – but they’ll also provide a load of misleading “evidence”, whining and crafty attempts to get one over the opposition. Particularly during qualifying, it seems. Not surprising, given how competitive all these guys are.

        I just hope we don’t see an increase in provisional results and investigations after the race.

    2. @fer-no65 I disagree that more investigations would automatically lead to “stupid penalties”. One could say that considering whether a certain incident is worth further analyzing is already an investigation. And it is my understanding that almost everytime a team complains about an incident the stewards will make the “incident between — is under investigation” announcement even if they’ll soon decide there’s no need to hand out penalties.

      Investigations won’t be a problem, if stewards are consistent. Quite the opposite – avoiding investigations could generate more inconsistency since some incidents that should result a penalty will never be investigated.

      1. @hotbottoms

        One could say that considering whether a certain incident is worth further analyzing is already an investigation. […] Investigations won’t be a problem, if stewards are consistent. Quite the opposite – avoiding investigations could generate more inconsistency since some incidents that should result a penalty will never be investigated.

        Those are a fair points. But investigating everything could lead to other real incidents worth of having a look being left behind a bit…

    3. If a driver tries an overtaking attempt which results in destroying another drivers race, he should be penalised.

      1. Drop Valencia!
        7th December 2012, 5:06

        I disagree, like if an overtaking driver is in complete control and rams the other guy, ending their race, there should be a penalty, but for me, if the overtaking guy loses control like the Hulk, it’s a sad racing incident. What does a penalty acheive if it is for an accident?

        1. it is not only that Hulk lost control, it is also that he tried to overtake P1 driver who wasa ready to overtake a backmarker… is not a racing incident….

        2. So basically that means you have a free pas to lunge up the inside with no repercussions. Great idea…………..

    4. It was not a racing incident as the accident was easily avoidable. It was without doubt entirely caused by Hulkenberg losing control. The track was very slippery granted but he gets paid millions to be able to control a car in these circumstances and he should take responsibility for the mistake. The rules state that if he causes an avoidable accident then he should be penalised. You cant change the rules at will.

      1. Hulk paid millions? Don’t think so….only 5-6 drivers are millionaires from the sport.

    5. I really think its perfectly OK if they investigate all incidents. Just have more of those investigations end as a “racing incident” instead of an investigation meaning a superfluous penalty in many cases.

  2. Being consistent is very difficult as the stewards are different every race, and therefore different groups of stewards will perceive certain incidents in different ways. If two separate incidents which are exactly the same happen, then the stewards for one race may feel a penalty is appropriate, but the stewards for the other race may believe it was a racing incident. For many incidents, there’s no concrete answer as to what should happen in terms of applying penalties, so it just comes down the opinion of the stewards and nothing more.

    Improved consistency would be great, but it will be very difficult to achieve. I don’t necessarily believe that stewards should always look for precedents when deciding on a verdict, because it might just be that the current precedent is wrong.

  3. Looks like Crashtor Maldonado will receive a few bans next year if he continues like has this year :-D

    1. Well, if he continues like he was in the first half of the year. Second half he’s been a ‘nice’ guy on track :) I hope he continues strong, him alongside Bottas should be thrilling to watch! :D

      1. Right. The second nice was he drove very well-behaved. I think he learned from the crashes in contrast to Grosjean. Grosjean didn’t really change his behaviour until he was suspended for one race

  4. Consistency would be great (I think there already is some, finally…), but I also do understand investigating every incident (although as we saw in Brazil, that’s not really the case). It’s just that they should rule more of them as racing incidents instead of the crash/accident being someone’s fault.

  5. Consistency is something that needs to improve but they should also have some “fixed-penalty” rules that say how certain things are punished.

    i.e. if you overtake someone with 4 wheels outside the white line, you have x corners to return the position or face a drive through
    If you push someone off the track and out of the race then it’s an immediate stop/go penalty and so on…

    F1 is about pushing the limits of development and driver skill and they will naturally push the rules where possible so some basic guidelines with fixed penalties would be a good thing.

    I also think it would be good to have a rule around what you can do if you pull the car out of parc ferme after qualifying. In Abu Dhabi Red Bull changed the set up of the car etc after Vettel’s quali lap was deleted for lacking in fuel which allowed him to start from the pit lane with a different car to what he qualified in. I think this should be prevented in the future. By all means allow repairs if the car is damaged or unsafe but to be allowed to completely change the setup because qualifying didn’t work out is wrong in my opinion.

    1. @mcgregski
      The point with Parc Ferme is that FIA controls what you can change and what you cannot. If you pull the car out of Parc Ferme then you can do whatever you want, it just has to pass the post race scruteneering but you will then have to start from the pitlane. Effectively you won’t have qualified the car and is therefore free to set the car up, just like all other teams are before qualifying.
      If you control what the teams can and cannot change outside Park Ferme, then there is no point in having Parc Ferme at all. As all cars will have to be in Park Ferme in one way or another, in the sense that the FIA scruteneers will have to look after work done on the cars outside Parc Ferme as well.
      And its not like its a problem that teams can change whatever they want. All teams can set their car up like they want to and qualify that car. It will never be an advantage to qualify, then pull the car out of Parc Ferme and change it all over again. Its just double work, and a huge risk in terms of setup as it means that the driver who starts from the pitlane will have exactly 0 laps done with the new setup, which limits the changes the teams can realistically make without risking both tyre wear, balance, fuel economy and so on.

      1. Though if a team plans it they could conceivably test that setup on Friday. Not as good a set of data as quali/FP3 laps perhaps, but if the change in bestsetup from quali to race is expected to be big it might be worth the risk for some, don’t you think @mads?

  6. OmarR-Pepper (@)
    6th December 2012, 16:17

    In a perfect world, stewards would se the race through a digitalized video which doesn’t show the actual car, just a “white”, livery-less car (not talking about Sauber ok?) so they could be able to analize the incident not knowing who produced it. Sometimes people have been saying, for example: Stewards are not fair with Alonso in Spain / Hamilton in Silverstone / Vettel in Germany etc etc. Stewards try to do their best but they are humans. And that kind of system would avoid any suspicion against them. I wonder if modern technology / telemetry could permit that kind of work

    1. @omarr-pepper Sky have some sort of virtual system which they use to analyse incidents – presumably it could neutralise the car liveries. I think that this would be a good idea – it also removes that silly notion that an incident is somehow worse, and more harshly punished, if a championship contender is affected.

    2. The stewards are of course humans as you’ve said: the primary reason we have them is so they can interpret the rules and decide if an incident merits a penalty. Not everything can be measured!

  7. “Rather then always applying penalties you must analyse the consequences of the penalties,” Todt told a meeting led by F1 race director Charlier Whiting. “Consistency, for me, is crucial.”

    Does anyone else find this contradictory? It seems Todt is suggesting that a penalty which would impact the Championship in the latter stages should have the Championship bid taken in to consideration? Isn’t that the opposite of consistency?

    1. @hwkii I assume Todt is refering to situations such as 2010 Monaco Grand Prix, in which Michael Schumacher was handed 20 second penalty for a small infringement and because of SC that meant losing five places and dropping out of points. In this case the fair penalty (even if it wasn’t possible at the time) would’ve been dropping Schumacher one place, back to P7.

    2. @hwkii – I agree something’s wrong there. Todt’s asking for consistency in the result of the penalty, rather than consistency in the application of the penalty. The penalties become subjective (where should this driver end up and how much do we need to penalize him to get him there?) rather than objective (speeding in pitlane => drive-through, end of story). If that’s what they want, they can have it, but it smells a little. What consequences will the stewards consider when handing out penalties? Would they downgrade a penalty at the end of the season if they don’t think the crime is worth losing the championship over? It’s sounded from some of the stewards releases this year like they punish taking out the race leader harder than taking out a backmarker. Why have they decided to unlevel the playing field?

      1. Well said @pelican, @hwkii, I hope he didn’t intend that, I doubt it would really work out better in the end. As you say, then stewards have to subjectively judge what outcome they want, rather than objectively judge an incident and give the appropriate penalty, that seems a tricky proposition to get right during a race.

    3. @hwkii @pelican I thought the same thing. It might be an “English as a second language” thing and not what he really meant. I hope he meant something more like “Rather then always applying penalties you must analyse the consequences of the incidents”

  8. what bugs me is that punish the lower order drivers but rarely punish the top drivers for the same offences, especially when it can affect the championship.

    1. When has this happen ?

  9. Attention should be diverted not upon consistency (although it is a very important aspect of stewarding) but on the consequences of on-track incidents. I get the impression that many collisions appear to result in penalties which could easily be defined as “racing incidents”. I feel there are many unnecessary penalties handed out during race weekends at the first sign of body contact (Hulkenberg’s collision with Hamilton for example) which could’ve been dealt with better by letting the racing continue uninterrupted.

    Sure, there are instances where a penalty is the only option (Grosjean’s infamous crash at Spa for example) which definitely merit severe implications and the notion that causing such a collision is unacceptable needs to be firmly in the drivers minds: F1 isn’t GP2 – the race is long and there is much time to make a recovery.

    If there is one way to teach a driver how to react in wheel-to-wheel combat look no further than Kimi Räikkönen. He has been fantastic this year in such situations (especially towards the end of the season) and a great way of improving close conduct would be to make an example of them.

  10. I’m still waiting for a reasonable explanation as to why Hulkenberg was penalized in Brazil whereas Maldonado got off with a reprimand in Silverstone after knocking Pérez out of the race. I mean, if the position of the drivers involved in an incident plays a heavy role in the outcome of the punishment, then it couldn’t get any more arbritary. If it doesn’t, then they haven’t been consistent when analysing Hulkenberg’s case.

    1. Exactly that @guilherme, its pretty frustrating to have such big differences without a good explanation. To add to that, I think it would be greatly helped if more materials (including footage and pictures and conclusions from telemetry) were published with a Explanatory verdict instead of the current 3 liners normally produced by the FIA

  11. If only Vettel was penalised for crashing into Bruno Senna in Brazilian GP then Alonso could well win the title with the same amount of points as this year. Do you remember 2002 Malaysian GP when Montoya collided with Michael Schumacher? Montoya received a drive through penalty. Now, compare that collision with this years Vettel-Senna collision in Brazil and you see there is no difference apart from that Montoya got the penalty but Vettel received nothing. Shame that FIA stewards decisions are so inconsistent!

  12. I understand what Jean Todt is suggesting, ultimately he feels that the stewarts have improved to a reasonable level that he considers to be of a base standard.

    He now wants them to continue to improve, personally I don’t think consistency is great because each incident, no matter how similar it is, will always be on a different type of corner, in a different set of circumstances, so it is difficult to maintain “consistency”.

    For me, I would like to stamp out penalties for drivers that demonstrate a level of cautiousness but for whatever reason get unstuck and cause a collision. I know that many on this site love Hamilton and will disagree with me, but I think Hulkenberg’s attempt on Hamilton was “reckless”, I think it was measured, but he just ran out of grip and the back stepped away from him. I don’t see this as an incident that warrants a penalty.

    What should warrant penalties are all or nothing manouvres, that will only ever result in contact, like Grosjean in Spa, where he didn’t display any caution, and was trying to take advantage of the start and went into a gap that was quick to close.

    Its not a perfect concept, but I do think guidelines can be setup around the degree of caution vs the chance of success. That would be much easier than to govern “consistency” in an incident on a different track, with different drivers, and other factors at play.

    1. I had a typo:

      I know that many on this site love Hamilton and will disagree with me, but I think Hulkenberg’s attempt on Hamilton wasn’t “reckless”. I think it was measured, but he just ran out of grip in tricky conditions and the back stepped away from him.

  13. @drago II –

    It was reckless because it was a pass that wasn’t guaranteed to stick – based on the conditions. He knew that as a racing driver. Ultimately, he was making a gamble. Whilst no one knows the outcome of any overtaking manouver in any conditions at the begining, the onus is on the overtaking driver to make sure the odds are better than a throw of the dice. This is what made it reckless.
    In slippery conditions, you MUST take more care than you would in normal conditions. Lewis had already moved all the way over to the right; to the point where he was almost on top of the backmarker – giving Hulk more space than he would have in normal conditions.
    Many other drivers had duelled wheel to wheel in the same race with no incidents. Lewis and his teamate had even done it in much worse conditions….and they made it because they were far more cautious than normal.
    I put it down to recklessness caused by over-exuburance caused by limited experience. No excuses.

  14. I think as some said before that many penalties were rubbish. Hulk-Ham for example. I think Hulk didn’t want to crash Ham out. In soccer matches the referee can give a yellow card for complaining about decisions. To say it in soccer language; I think some of the F1 drivers are “divers”. I don’t want to name these drivers.

    To the consistency, I would say it is almost impossible to give consistent penalties as long as they change the stewards every race. I would give this task to a group of former F1 drivers. (Senna jr., Piquet jr, Villeneuve, Schumacher (joke)). But I will really give that task to a group containing 9 former F1 drivers, which vote about the incidents. I think this would make the decisions more consistent if there are allways the same people in this group. I hope you get what I wanna say

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