Damon Hill worried about ex drivers role as stewards

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Autosport on Tuesday brought us the story that Damon Hill, the ex F1 driver who was involved in giving Michael Schumacher his controversial penalty in Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, has question the amount of input the ex driver should have as part of the team of race stewards.

His comments shed some light on just how involved the ex driver seems to be as part of the decision making unit:

I imagined I would be there as a consultant providing driver insight to the stewards, who would then make the decisions. My expertise is as a driver rather than a lawmaker or interpreter of regulations

To me I think Damon was shocked by just how integral he was to refereeing the race and I believe he almost expected his role to carry no responsibility and instead would just be that of an influencer.  It doesn’t sound like Hill enjoyed having to comprehend a large range of non-racing rules and to be confident off applying them.

Is Damon right in saying the ex driver should purely be consulted on racing matters and leave the rest to the full time stewards?

I think he is wrong. Why cannot we expect ex drivers who are prepared to step up in to the steward role not to at least understand the rules of F1 and how to apply them? Otherwise the role becomes less important and over time the need for such an influential voice will be dropped.

I agree that the F1 rule book is big and often ambiguous, as proved on Sunday with the confusing safety car rule that had a quirk for the last lap of the race, however, the ex driver has 3 full time stewards on hand to help explain the areas that he might not be familiar with, just in the same way, the driver will explain to the other stewards that have not raced at a high level before.

Going forward, I would like to see an end to the need of having a different ex driver on the stewards team at every race and get to a stage where we can count on one or two over the course of the season. I say this because the continuity will breed better decison making on the whole.

I don’t completely discard Damon’s comments, I think he found the whole situation a bit uncomfortable for him, particuarlly with the rivialry he had with Schumacher still in the background of peoples minds, and he was also caught up in an event that exposed the need for a improvement in one of their sets of rules, so no wonder he wasn’t blowing the trumpet of the ex drivers role.

On the whole this year I think adding ex drivers to the stewards has brought a element of common sense to the cases that have been looked over so far this year, and that is why I would like to see the ex driver continue in that pivotal role during the race weekend.  However this will be unlikely until it is made in to a paid role, which at the moment, I believe it isn’t.

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One Response to Damon Hill worried about ex drivers role as stewards

  1. Matt says:

    Most of the questionable decisions made by stewards in 2009 were after a spur of the moment action by one or more of the drivers during a race. The decision was made to employ ex-f1 drivers to act stewards so that they could give an insite into what they deemed acceptable in the heat of battle and what a driver may or may not have seen that caused the incident in question.

    Schumacher passing Alonso under the saferty car was something that was predetermined and planned after Mercedes interpreted the ruling on the safety car way before the Monaco GP. It was not a spur of the moment action but predetermined. It therefore shouldn’t have rested on Damon Hill’s shoulder to wade through the rule books and make the decision. The judgement should have been made by the regular panel of stewards whose role is to know the rule book inside out and to govern the race by the rules.

    Damon Hill should have been consulted on either the incident which saw poor Rubens throw his steering wheel onto the racing line because he was facing the wrong way on the top of a blind crest with his car on fire, or the accident between Trulli and Chandhok – both spur of the moment decisions where Hill could have been useful.

    The FIA have failed to use the experience of an ex F1 driver by simply asking Hill to make a decision from the rule book, discounting his experience and therefore the reason they have employed ex F1 drivers in the first place.

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