Thursday, October 16, 2008



Thursday 16th October 2008

Nick Heidfeld has called on F1 to bring back permanent race stewards after two controversial penalties were handed out last Sunday in Japan.

At present Formula One uses one permanent steward, Max Mosley's friend Allan Donnelly, and three others who are appointed on a race-by-race basis.

However, some of the stewards' decisions have been rather controversial of late with two alone coming in Japan last Sunday.

Firstly Lewis Hamilton was penalised for pushing Kimi Raikkonen wide at the start of the race, a move that almost the entire field does at the start of a grand prix. The decision cost Hamilton any chance of scoring points.

Not content with stopping there, the stewards retrospectively penalised Sebastien Bourdais for coming together with Championship contender Felipe Massa, even though it appeared to be the Ferrari driver's mistake. As a result Massa was boosted up order, scoring two World Championship points.

"Until the last race I wasn't, but in the last race I think penalties were not justified," Heidfeld told Autosport.

"I did not see the race in full, I only saw the highlights quickly afterwards, but the one on the start with Hamilton was for me not worth a penalty at all. It is just racing. What did he do (wrong)?

"The other one with Bourdais was also not understandable."

Adding to the controversy, though, Massa was handed the same drive-through penalty as Hamilton and Bourdais for crashing into Hamilton, in a move that the Brit reckons was 'deliberate.'

"The one that is acceptable, maybe arguable, but you can at least follow what they may be thinking, is the one that Massa got for turning around Hamilton," he said.

"In my view it does not need to be given, but okay it could be. The other two I don't understand."

Heidfeld, though, reckons F1 could do away with the controversial penalties if permanents stewards were appointed, a topic that the drivers are set to once again raise with F1 race director Charlie Whiting.

"I am sure it will be asked and discussed what was going wrong there," he said. "As I have said before and, as we had last year, I would like to see it come back where we have one guy, like Tony Scott-Andrews.

"I was on the receiving side also, I think Bahrain a few years ago I did not agree with (a penalty), but it was a lot more consistent and for me a lot better than what we have had this season."

"The consistency was a lot better last year, and it is easier than if there are just some guys who are coming to a few races. They don't have the insight compared to a guy who is always there.

"It is not that easy to (keep) consistency because each accident is different in each case, but I don't understand what happened there (in Fuji) and I don't even think you (the media) do."

And Heidfeld isn't the only driver who believes the F1 powers-that-be need to be more transparent. "I also have no idea how the stewards in Japan reached some of the decisions they did about the race," David Coulthard told ITV.

"The penalty that particularly mystified me was the Sebastien Bourdais one.

'I saw his pit exit collision with Felipe Massa as a standard racing one. Sebastien had every right to be there, every right to be defending his position.

"I think we need more transparency in some of these decisions, more explanations as to the reasons for the penalties."

Source : Planet F1

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