Lewis wants less biased stewards

2021 Turkish Grand Prix, Friday - Steve Etherington

Last year’s ending race, and perhaps arguably the last couple of seasons, have prompted the Fia to make big changes to their race operation. Two new race director’s sharing the role with a VAR video replay team and more.

To those ends, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was asked about the changes by motorsport.com and he replied:

“We need to make sure we get non-biased stewards too,” Hamilton said.

“Racing drivers, some are very, very good friends with certain individuals. Some travel with certain individuals, and tend to take more of a keen liking to some of them.

“I just think [we need] people who have no bias and are super central when it comes to making decisions.”

I’ve seen a lot of outrage over his comments and many of them were simply headline reading style of comments. If they had read the entire article, they may not have jumped to some of their conclusions…or maybe they would.

In fairness to Lewis, he’s right. Race directors are one matter but we’ve had many conversations on our podcast about the race stewards. We aren’t that thrilled with how they are selected and I personally think some of the guest drivers they have retained have made some suspect calls themselves. Calls you wouldn’t expect a veteran racer to make.

Are all race stewards biased? Of course not and that’s why Lewis used the word “some” in his statement. Is there bias? Possibly or at least he perceives the friendly relationships between drivers and stewards as a possible bias. We’ve seen it in the past with Senna and Schumacher for sure so it could be a possibility and the article suggests Fernando Alonso might agree.

Having spoken with several who work in the paddock, I could also see where Lewis and Fernando have personalities that may be quite different than, say, Daniel Ricciardo. Lewis did go on to suggest that there needed to be more diversity in the stewards room as well.

That’s a popular charter these days amongst many organizations but I’m still convinced that you get the best person for the job regardless of background. If I wanted to talk to an F1 driver about the pressures of winning a championship, I would choose Lewis Hamilton over Valtteri Bottas any day because Lewis has seven of them.

If I wanted to understand the technical challenges of running an F1 race team, I would choose Jonathan Wheatley over Lena Gade any day because Jonathan does that for a living and has done for many years.

I understand his point but if we are looking for the absolute best and consistent stewarding, it is critical to get the most qualified you can find.

There is one other point I was thinking about because I am guilty of it too. If you get so focused on your program and ignore opportunities to build relationships with those you work with, it can hurt in the long run. Maybe it would behoove Lewis to get to know some of the folks who are managing his races? Just a thought. It shouldn’t matter but it couldn’t hurt.

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Fred

Some organizations don’t take kindly to accusatoins like this. So unless you can prove it, it’s probably better not to say it.

Rick Howell

Oh please.. go back to saying nothing. You sounded much smarter then.

Simon

I believe Lewis Hamilton has a very valid opinion. If one is overfriendly that’s not a professional way to discharge one’s duties. Because as humans those relationships’ influence can implicitly tip over when making decision under high pressure. So, adjudicators or stewards who are overly friends with some should not be appointed. It only benefits formula1’s own reputation. And they do have a lot of trust to build back after the recent race/s.

Simon

Also, I don’t believe its Lewis or other drivers’ job to keep things smooth or temperatures cool. Their job is to drive their car well with fair adjudication, same as we would be at an exam with invigilators. If some athletes were found to be more friendly with some that would seem amiss. And the other comment that some organisations don’t take kindly to such comments. Surely, being constructively critical should be welcomed and not “worry” or be apprehensive to raise sticking points. In fact, it’s ironic that many people not the commenters below necessarily have come out speaking against… Read more »