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Formula 1 Spanish GP

F1 needs stewards rethink to replace ‘"laymen" decisions, demands Steiner

Haas boss Gunther Steiner says Formula 1 needs to step up the quality of its stewarding, as he says it is no longer acceptable that “laymen” are making calls.

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal, Haas F1 Team, in the Team Principals Press Conference

In the wake of personal frustration over his driver Nico Hulkenberg earning a penalty at the Monaco Grand Prix that has left him confused, Steiner believes a system overhaul is required.

He thinks the FIA system of using unpaid stewards is no longer fit for purpose, and believes it is time for professionals to be brought in and help deliver improved consistency.

“I think we have to just go back to [the question]: do we need a different system for stewards?” said Steiner ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix.

“Every professional sport has got professionals being referees and stuff like this. F1 is one of the biggest sports in the world, and we still have laymen deciding on the fate of people who invest millions in their careers. And it's always a discussion because there's no consistency.

“I think we need to step it up. I think it's now time. I think we're discussing this for years and years and we always go back to this."

He added: “Every other sport has professionals for this: American racing, NASCAR, IndyCar. How many times you hear problems with the stewards or with race director’s decisions? Very rarely, very rarely. But they're doing it completely differently.

“There are full time people working there. I'm always saying: innocent until proven guilty. And not that I have to be prove that I was innocent, because it doesn't work for me. That is not how I conduct life.”

Steiner’s stance on the stewards' situation has been triggered by Hulkenberg’s penalty in Monaco being given for an incident that the Haas team is baffled by.

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23

Nico Hulkenberg, Haas VF-23

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

The stewards handed Hulkenberg a five-second time penalty, and added two points to his licence, for causing a collision on the opening lap at Turn 6, which is the hairpin.

Steiner says his team has reviewed video evidence of the opening lap and seen no evidence of a clash – which is why he is demanding answers from the FIA.

“It's [turn] six, when they are in a line,” said Steiner. “And the Aston Martin is in front. I just looked at the picture. And Nico comes from the inside and is in front basically, dives into the corner... but I cannot see a collision.

“So, I’m trying to get it explained to me, because I think it was completely wrong. It's lap one, there was no collision. And in the end, what should we make, a parade?

“So, lap one: we get a penalty for what I think is not a collision. There are other people running into each other during the race - they get the black and white flag. So, I think it's very inconsistent. Then we look at the accident in Miami between [Nyck] de Vries and [Lando] Norris, in lap one, that was no collision.”

He added: “I still don't understand it. I was told in the video you can see a collision. But I looked at numerous pictures, I cannot see a collision.”

Steiner suggests that the matter regarding stewards needs to be brought up in the Formula 1 commission, where discussions can be framed about how best to sort matters.

“For me, the first thing is, do we want professional stewards or not,” he said. “And then we need to decide is it a panel, or what is the best?

“I don't want to decide on it [by myself] but I think we have got a lot of issues with this. We need to recognise this one, and F1, it's one of the biggest, if not the biggest sport in the world now, and I think we need to step it up. That's my opinion about it.

“We have referees in football, and they are full time. Thirty years ago, you had the local bakery guy being referee, but that has changed now. They changed it because it needed to be professional, and they are responsible.”

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