FIA told drivers to expect ‘different decisions with different stewards’ – Hamilton

2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Formula One drivers were told to expect that different decisions may be given for similar incidents in a meeting yesterday, which centred on the events of last week’s São Paulo Grand Prix.

An incident between Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, which the stewards decided not to investigate, became a focal point of attention following the race. Verstappen was accused of forcing Hamilton wide, which several drivers and teams claim they have been penalised for previously.

Mercedes’ request to have the stewards review their decision not to investigate the incident was refused yesterday. The question whether a new precedent had been established for how such incidents will be handled in future came up in the subsequent drivers’ briefing with FIA F1 race director Michael Masi yesterday.

Speaking in the FIA press conference after qualifying, Hamilton said the meeting failed to clarify whether moves of the type Verstappen performed in Brazil would attract penalties in future. He said that the FIA indicated that as different stewards are used from race to race, decisions may not always be consistent.

“It’s not clear,” said Hamilton. “They said it’s going to be different with different stewards. It could be different with different stewards is what they said.”

Hamilton made his comments when asked whether drivers had been told the stewards would not necessarily make the same decision in the same set of circumstances as what occured in Brazil. Following that, Verstappen – who was asked the same question – complained his fellow drivers had described was was discussed in the meeting.

“For me, the thing I don’t like, we discuss these kinds of things and they don’t need to go to the media,” he said.

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“You talk to the experts, and I think it’s more important that we discuss these things with the experts and not just throw things around on social media for nothing.

“I don’t know really what to comment on that, I prefer to talk to the people in charge and just discuss with them about future things in general, not only like an incident or whatever.”

Bottas said it “would be a bit weird” if the stewards handled similar cases differently in future.

According to Hamilton, the majority of drivers present at the meeting requested a clarification on the handling of the Brazil incident.

“Every driver – I think, except for Max – was asking for clarity but it wasn’t very clear,” he said. “It’s still not clear what the limits of that track are. It’s clearly not the white line any more, when overtaking.

“So we just go for it and we just ask for consistency. So if it’s the same as the last race, then that should be the same for all of us in those scenarios and it’s fine.”

However, Verstappen said the meeting gave a clear impression of how stewards will treat incidents in the future.

“Everyone is different and everyone has their own of racing and defending and overtaking,” he said. “And of course it’s very hard for the FIA as well to get everyone one the same line. Of course they decide but every driver has a different opinion.

“I think yesterday it was all about sharing their opinions and then the FIA explaining their process of talk behind it. So I think we came a long way, and it was a very long briefing. So I think it was, at the end, pretty clear.”

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2021 Qatar Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
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69 comments on “FIA told drivers to expect ‘different decisions with different stewards’ – Hamilton”

  1. Max is criticising Lewis for commenting on the meeting, but given the nature of what he’s saying surely that should be out in the open. Different decisions for different stewards is not acceptable, sorry. We need consistent stewards that travel with the F1 circus.

    1. I do t think Max comes out well at all. It comes across as every other driver thought he was wrong at Brazil and he doesn’t want it discussed. Every driver is concerned about the precedent that has been set. I’m genuinely loving this years title fight. I honestly don’t have a horse in the race. But Max was clearly out of line in Brazil. It’s not just social media, pundits and ex drivers alike, have pretty much come to a consensus that something should have been done, even if it was just a black or white flag.

  2. Same stewards for the entire year! Or at the bare minimum, one set pre-summer break, and one set post-summer break.

    FIA are a joke… typical governing body

    1. But then they would need to employed and paid properly … and given free travel and accommodation to each venue. Not that F1 can’t afford it. At least their gross income would suggest they can afford to employ the same Stewards for the whole season.

      1. The stewards spend their working hours in a room looking at tv monitors, this could be done easily by the same stewards all season long from Biggin Hill.

      2. That money from the Saudis should cover it.

  3. Well, this is expected. Just like with teachers at schools.

  4. One rule for Verstappen, Another rule for everybody else?

    1. I guess it’s out with the tape measure and dispense justice based on your dimension. The medical industry does that already. Isn’t it lovely having to guess what the lottery numer is before you overtake or defend.

  5. This is MY race weekend and I say the rules are like THIS!

  6. This is the very first time that we hear something like this. Masi never talked about different interpretations, ever, when asked about inconsistencies. When Fernando said that decisions were driver based, no one replied to him “different decisions from different stewards”.

    This is FIA admitting they got it wrong, and are trying to justify it in every way possible.

  7. That’s extraordinary.
    But also makes sense, in a way. No different in real judges.

  8. im sorry but this is unacceptable

  9. If I were HAM, after Silverstone, I’d keep my mouth shut the entire season. In the end, the consequences are the only ones that matter… and fact is HAM did not lose anything after Interlagos, while VER lost everything after Silverstone… highly possible the WDC because of that!!!

    1. But you not LH and will never be him. So LH will do and say what’s right for him. You liking it or not is irrelevant.

    2. VER’s attitude is the same. If he’s leading, he will be aggressive — outside or inside. VER was leading HAM by 33 pointsh. He was expecting both of them to be out in Silverstone. That did not happen. But it happened in Monza.

      HAM has no chance overtaking VER in a corner on the inside, if VER is leading. If HAM is on the outside, he can go wide to avoid an incident and live to fight another lap. No such possibility on the inside.

      1. Ham passed him on the outside later in the race at turn 4.

    3. I wouldn’t blaim the messenger.

      ‘Hamilton made his comments when asked whether drivers had been told the stewards would not necessarily make the same decision in the same set of circumstances as what occured in Brazil. ‘

      The point is he gave an honest answer to the questions asked of him. My guess is the interviewer already had the answer when they asked him to comment. It seems to me the FIA should have come clean to the public rather than leave this to leaked answers to interview questions.

    4. It also could be due to Monza, or thanks to FIA for awarding points in Belgium.

    5. Lewis was skilled/experienced enough to go off the Sao Paulo circuit rather than try what Max tried at Silverstone.

    6. Silverstone was up to Versteppan, he could avoid it just by driving 10-20cm wider. Now you can see based on Brasil whats the difference between him and Hamilton. Lewis avoided the collision, even if he had to go 6 cars wide off the track. Max in Silverstone instead choose to turn in a bit more, while even there Lewis tried to back off from it.

      1. Yes, you’re right on that, hamilton takes less risks in similar situations, I think in both situations verstappen was further ahead in the championship, so we could say by taking risks he risked to end up losing more points than letting hamilton past.

    7. If I were HAM

      You’re not.

  10. Verstappen was accused of forcing Hamilton wide, which several drivers and teams claim they have been penalised for previously.

    Just look to the effort that British media is doing on behalf of Hamilton of portraying previous incidents as similar to that one (when they clearly weren’t) and to pretend that all other drivers than Max are on their side. They were there OBVIOUSLY – to use his favourite word – for a clarification on the rules, which are a little obscure, granted, they’re undobtedly convoluted, but it doesn’t mean they share this Mercedes petty fight at all. Some drivers, rightfully or not, see this as an opportunity to prove the point that they were wronged by the stewards. But the consistency in most of the stewarding decisions is still there. They only care about consistency now because they see it as a free pass to claim they were disfavoured in some stances, a cheap opportunistic move. But not all the drivers who questioned the verdicts before are singing the same tune now, despite Hamilton’s efforts in keeping up appearances.

    1. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
      21st November 2021, 7:51

      @rodewulf Conspiracy theories, meh. Drivers just want to know what is and isn’t allowed. My guess is that’s something they all want to know, even Max Verstappen.

      1. @slightlycrusty

        Conspiracy theories, meh. Drivers just want to know what is and isn’t allowed. My guess is that’s something they all want to know, even Max Verstappen.

        Fallacy. My statement was only that all drivers want to know, but not all of them, prossibly not most of them as well, necessarily agree with Mercedes. But they scream that at loud without proof and media blindly echoes it.

  11. So they admit that, while there may be some written rules somewhere, in reality decisions are completely arbitrary? Only because it was legal yesterday, don’t expect it to be today, because we may feel that way. We may not though, we will see… It depends (on nothing but our current mood). This is FIA? God, I wish they would all apply for a job somewhere in the real market where some meritocracy does exist. I bet no one would be hired, except maybe for some shady reasons (they know which pocket to grease etc.).

  12. Starting to think F1 is no longer the pinnacle of motorsport…

    1. It’s not. MotoGP is

  13. Max sense of reality is as distorted as his rear wing. Flapping away for all to see.

    1. I do t think he’s come out well of this whole saga at all. I feel him not wanting the meeting discussed publicly is more to cover his pride, and the fact other drivers are concerned by his move being deemed legal, than anything else.

  14. Oh dear. Can’t wait for drivers to check who are the stewards at certain race meeting and race/crash accordingly.

  15. With all the same people in the paddock every weekend it really shouldn’t be difficult to nail down 4 or 5 to do it at every race.

    Then change every season for slightly different interpretations to keep things fresh and avoid stewards and drivers getting complacent.

  16. And this, boys and girls is why – after last weekends spectacular failure of the stewards to apply the rules of the sport fairly, not just during the ridiculous manoeuvre by Max but also during the Mercedes wing problem (allowing RBR to repeatedly repair their wings in Parc Ferme but disqualification for Mercedes over a broken mounting that meant a 0.2mm issue) – I have decided that F1 will never see another penny of my money, either by attending races or paying to watch them live. I may still watch highlights if the race looks interesting when I read the results. This is after more than 30 years of never missing one live in one way or another.
    I’m very sad about it,
    But.
    I’m done until they sort the mess that the application of the rules has become… when they cant even make up their minds about track limits I won’t hold my breath.

    I am sure no one cares, but it’s my little way of registering my distaste at what the sport I love has become.

    1. For sure other fans won’t care, but this is exactly the correct response to anything you’re spending money on that does things you disagree with.

      Your money (collectively) is actually what makes F1 work. If no one is attending races, buying merch, or paying to watch on TV, the whole thing will capitulate so very, very quickly.

    2. RandomMallard (@)
      20th November 2021, 17:58

      @sham

      Mercedes wing problem (allowing RBR to repeatedly repair their wings in Parc Ferme but disqualification for Mercedes over a broken mounting that meant a 0.2mm issue)

      The rules were followed as close to the book as possible in that situation. You are allowed to repair your wing in parc ferme, that’s allowed if the technical delegate gives permission (or if on the grid or during qualifying, if you have a reasonable belief that it would be granted – people have repaired rear wings in parc ferme many times before, so there is probably reasonable belief here). The difference is Mercedes then sent the car (by default by finishing Quali on track) straight to the scrutineering area, at which point it failed the test. The stewards’ noted that if Mercedes had noticed the damage during Quali, the technical delegate would have allowed them to repair it:

      The final point of the Competitor regarding the assembly itself is that it is regular practice for the FIA Technical Department to allow teams to fix minor problems that they find with their cars, even during the Parc Fermé conditions of qualifying. Had the Competitor recognized this problem during qualifying they surely would have sought,
      and the FIA Technical Department confirmed, they would have received permission to fix the parts or tighten bolts if needed.

      The key difference being you can make changes or repairs during a session, and after scrutineering, but the car you sent out for your final run in Quali must be the one that is scruntinered, likely to prevent something like a driver setting their final lap time at the end of the session with an illegal car (for example a super light front wing, not realistic but just go with it), returning to pits with ‘minor damage’ which they need to repair (aka add a lighter front wing/add some ballast elsewhere) to meet the minimum weight.

      I completely agree that the rules aren’t perfect, but the alternative is likely even worse and Mercedes just happened to be extremely unlucky that they worked against them this time. And yes I agree Max’s move was ridiculous.

  17. Who runs the FIA now? Who sets the policies and rules. Its suited them to put up ‘figure heads’ but last recent series of inconsistent decision, Charlie Whiting was a man of his word. As during eras before there was a bit of review on decision making and penalties.
    Generally transparency and consistency.

    Has Masi made the ruling to reverse the calender? Although only The Top ranks see the ‘Stewards Handbook. Is it now thrown away.

    I think we’ve given Masi a chance, but this inconsistency in rules is going to result in reckless incidents and injuries.

    He has a few Stewards behind him to let them race but that;s not the same as deliberate collisions

  18. “Every driver – I think, except for Max – was asking for clarity but it wasn’t very clear,” he said. “It’s still not clear what the limits of that track are. It’s clearly not the white line any more, when overtaking.“

    Bottas throwing that shade lol.

  19. “FIA told drivers to expect ‘different decisions with different stewards’ ” – If you are Max Verstappen you can expect to get away scot free; Lewis Hamilton, expect a severe penalty.

    1. Hamilton was the one who was never penalised the last few years, so that’s a big thing to say.

      1. Really? Monza 2020, Russia 2020, the first driver to receive to 5 second penalties before a race even started. Brazil 2020 5 second penalty, Austria 2020 5 grid drop after qualifying. But sure the fia never punish Hamilton

  20. I understand that compared with relic Bernie American owners of F1 Liberty media are hugely successful modernizing F1 broadening its appeal to reddit, netflix, youtube casuals drawing in a younger more diverse demo into F1 BUT this should not be done at the expense of nascar style drama and artificially making the championship close.

    Liberty know that controversy and “going viral” helps widen F1s appeal, Liberty was aware that Grosjeans fireball drawn millions of extra eyes on F1, the most crash filled lottery races with random midfield winners races get the most views on youtube so i feel like they are pushing things to the limit trying to make the WDC as close as possible until the last race. That’s why I feel like they are allowing Max to get away without punishment

  21. Stewarding is just like refereeing in other sports, subjective for each race / match etc. Maybe we should just accept that we won’t have a consistent experience and move on.

    Although something that shouldn’t be different in my view is things like track limits as having different rules at different tracks adds in more issue to the stewarding where they have less defined rules to be working on.

    1. RandomMallard (@)
      20th November 2021, 18:01

      @captainpie Agree with you. No refereeing or umpiring etc will ever be flawless. In the same way in an actual court one judge/jury may decide differently to another.

      Although something that shouldn’t be different in my view is things like track limits as having different rules at different tracks

      But this. This is what makes me angry. Why should the penalty for pushing someone off the track depend on whether there’s gravel there or not? It just makes no sense to me

  22. It would be poetic justice if RB’s wings failed the new tests. After all Mr Newey is famed for his bendy wings. He may not have designed the current ones but bendy always seems to be on RB’s mind.
    If this did happen no doubt we would get another Ferrari type “Does not comply but we are not telling you how”

    The FIA are loosing credibility rapidly. Masi needs to ensure consistency not excuse the current inconsistency.

  23. Vera Slappy complaining about the meeting’s discussion being made public? Goodness me.
    The Race Director & every single steward are GUILTY. Guilty of bringing the sport of F1 into disrepute.
    Anyone care to explain how both the technical rules & the sporting regulations. which are now inches thick.
    Are open to individual interpretation?
    SCAM to promote the LibFlix artificial “spectacle & totally bs “hype.”
    For the mainly American, excitable potential viewers.
    Charlie Whiting had very very few disputed rulings.
    A despicable stain on the legacy of all that was F1.

  24. So in other words,the FIA will make their own rules up as they go along.
    Doing that leads to bias and corruption.

  25. inconsistency is not bug its a feature of the system so they can favor who they want when they want and punish Lewis as usual rules

  26. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

  27. Max sounds like the entitled spoiled brat he was raised to be. Typical. Complains about the driving of others, yet when he consistently weaves, blocks, and pushes other drivers off the track it’s never his fault, there is always an excuse. The steward punish others, but never the crybaby Max. He will inevitably end up injuring himself or another driver in a collision but of course it won’t be his fault. Bum.

    And Masi is a cowardly, incompetent buffoon. F1 has turned into a complete clown show.

  28. I thought F1, the FIA, the race director, the stewards….they are all very quick to run to the rule book and cite chapter and verse for whatever decision they choose to make….but now it’s arbitrary, eh? Now the drivers must guess based on the incompetence of the particular stewards of the weekend what may or may not be a penalty? Makes perfect sense for F1.

    No wonder despite all the technical changes to the cars year after year meant to improve the racing the world’s best drivers still struggle to pass on most circuits and a race is often decided at the start, barring a random safety car or wet conditions changing the event. If you want something irrevocably broken, hand it to the FIA and leave them to it. It will be in ruins in no time flat.

  29. Incredible.

  30. The rules are very clear, there were drivers given penalties this season for far less serious breaches of the rules and protocols of racing. Those Stewards blundered. As I think about it, maybe it is time we got to hear their deliberations on events. Then we will see what logic was used in the decisions they make. Their decision to not make a decision has threatened the credibility of the World Drivers’ Championship.

  31. So a sport that measures and regulates the car parts down to the millimetre irrespective of who is doing the measuring is saying that the edge of the track is somewhere about here but it may depend on who is looking.
    If I’m interpreting Mr Masi correctly in his explanation of the rules.

  32. Mad Max Beyond Brazil – Who runs Barter Town?
    Break the deal, spin the wheel, justice is how the stewards are running it.

  33. FIA told drivers to expect ‘different decisions for different drivers’

    Fixed it for you.

  34. I think it’s now official – FIA ar Cheats!
    I am looking forward to quit watching F1. This is the end.

  35. Wonder if the game makers will put this steward inconsistency as part of their racing games. ?

  36. I’ve got a solution. Write rules. Publish them. Make stewards read them. There is no reason why one of the sports with the biggest money in it can’t devote some time and thinking to writing clear rules. Or at least, try. Imagine if the way to delcare an “offside” in football was to the discretion of the line judge.

  37. F1 is turning into a shamble of bizarre illogical decisions on incidents. It’s a let some race but knobble others situation for the sake of spectacle and ratings over consistency. It’s an attempt at interfering with and manipulating the on track results to get a more saleable outcome.

  38. Here’s an left-field (and likely expensive) idea. Now bear with me, it’s very clearly not fully thought through, but I think could work maybe in the future. Just trying to think outside the box a little.

    Problematic corners with run off (which need that run off for the 360 days/year the track isn’t an F1 track;) could have detection loops installed which vastly reduce the available power for that vehicle for X number of seconds once returned to the track.

    The deterrent then is a temporary loss of power. So if you’re in a battle, there is zero incentive to overtake off the track because you’ll lose power and therefore the position anyway.

    Granted this doesn’t seem fair for situations where a driver is forced off track—but the same could be said for gravel traps anyway.

    I hate the massive runoff areas, but at the same time don’t want to be robbed of an ongoing battle because someone was run out of road and their race ended in the gravel.

    Also trying to think of ways tracks could adopt the technology without having to install gravel traps which their paying customers (i.e. amateurs on track days) don’t want—which is fair, amateurs should be allowed to make mistakes whilst trying to push their car to and beyond its (or their) limits. That’s what we all love about motorsports, isn’t it?

    1. @justrhysism
      Taking away control of the vehicle from the driver is totally out of the question under any circumstances.
      All that is needed is a notification of the car exceeding track limits and a penalty is automatically applied. The track limits are determined by the white line which of course is already in the rules.
      I strongly suggest you get back inside the box!

      1. @johnrkh I disagree. It’s not as if the drivers wouldn’t be aware of what happens, as such they would know how to act appropriately. There could be such a warning that the power penalty is impending with a wheel light or something.

        I’d prefer the penalty to be instant and physical, not just applied to the clock which can result in a podium finisher not actually being on the podium. Instant performance penalty avoids that.

        No need to be a jerk about it John.

        1. @justrhysism No drivers have enough to do at 200+ kph while fighting for a place now without checking their steering wheel for an impending power drop. Also using the accelerator is one of the ways drivers control the car.
          I meant in terms of your thinking, but I apologize.

          1. @johnrkh the power drop (not loss, a few hundred HP, so the driver can still control the car) would be immediate, not later on. If they run wide on a designated corner, they’ll know it’s coming.

            FWIW I don’t think this should be used during qualifying. Lap time deletion is sufficient there.

            I’m just trying to think of a solution which is automated, instant, safe, not excessive to destroy a race, and probably cheaper than installing and then subsequently removing gravel traps. Not to mention the cost and work required for the cars which do get stuck in the gravel.

            I’m definitely not suggesting it should be used at tracks which already have gravel traps, or even on every corner. Just on the increasing number of tracks with vast runoff and constant “track limits” issues. And I’m sick and tired of track limits being referred to the stewards.

          2. @justrhysism What I suggested would be automated. Also if the driver was forced off or had a braking mishap or avoiding another car e.t.c all of which can be verified the penalty could be reversed.

  39. What a shambles, I can’t decide if this is incompetence or a desire to create drama to drive up share prices.

  40. Jay (@slightlycrusty)
    21st November 2021, 7:45

    So the situation is: there is a rulebook, just don’t expect the stewards to enforce it. And the FIA sees no problem. This is a very confusing situation for both the fans and the drivers.

    Verstappen: “Lewis, don’t respond to the media when they ask you questions. That stuff ought to be kept secret because…”. Yeah, he never really explained why.

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