FIA council changes F1 steward practices

Proving capable of speedy problem-solving, Formula One sanctioning body the FIA put its World Motor Sport Council onto "the stewards situation" Wednesday in Paris with the result that as of 2009, stewards' decisions for Formula One races will...

Proving capable of speedy problem-solving, Formula One sanctioning body the FIA put its World Motor Sport Council onto "the stewards situation" Wednesday in Paris with the result that as of 2009, stewards' decisions for Formula One races will offer increased visibility.

Before each race, brief resumes of stewards working that race will be posted on the FIA website. After each race, a written explanation of any stewards decisions will be posted on the website. Explanations will supplement the usual rules citations. Additionally, film used for steward review not seen by the public will be made available on the FIA and the Formula One Management -- "Official F1" -- websites.

The Council updated steward qualifications after a season review of the panel that includes two international and one national steward at each race. Stewards must hold FIA steward superlicenses. For 2009, first-time national stewards will be obliged to observe at least one grand prix before their event.

At five races, several trainee stewards nominated by their national associations and selected by the FIA, will be invited to attend.

The change most pertinent to critics of 2008 decisions is that all incidents will be investigated and action taken during the race unless stewards find it essential to seek further evidence after a race. The FIA credits this capability to a new replay system that will be available to stewards. Inconsistent application of rules regarding drive-through versus time penalties created controversy during the 2008 season.

The FIA notes that former drivers are welcome to pursue -- or at least are not excluded from pursuing -- steward's superlicenses, which requires rising through ranks of national, regional and international stewarding. The Council did not accommodate requests that at least one steward per race be a former F1 competitor.

Other changes adopted by the Council include requiring F1 engines to last three instead of two races, and switching the Chinese Grand Prix from Oct. 18 to April 19. The Bahrain race bumped from April 19 to April 26. The Japan race set for Oct. 11 moved to Oct. 4. The Brazil race took the Oct. 18 date vacated by China, and the season-ending Abu Dhabi race closed up to Nov. 1 in place of Brazil, ending the season at the start of November instead of mid-November.

Start time changes were made for Asian races. Australia and Malaysia, which will begin at 5 p.m. local time, Singapore at 8 p.m. local time, and Japan at 3 p.m. local time.

The Council also reduced to eight the number of mandatory events for a manufacturer team in World Rally Championship for 2009, and sought a review by the WRC Commission of proposed technical regulations for 2010 to contain costs.

The Council announced that Petrochem Carless will supply fuel to WRC from 2009 through 2011; Panta will supply fuel to the World Touring Car Championship for 2009 through 2010; Total will supply fuel to the 2009 karting championships, and Magneti Marelli will supply ECUs to the GT championship from 2010 through 2012.

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