The on board camera footage of Hamilton’s rash moment at the start in Fuji, widely available on You Tube in the days after the event, explained that situation very effectively. At Magny Cours this year I was sceptical about the penalty given to Hamilton for cutting the chicane on the first lap when trying to pass Vettel. It wasn’t shown on TV, only on board Hamilton’s car, which was inconclusive. When I quizzed him on it, Donnelly invited me to the stewards room at Silverstone, the following race, to view the CCTV footage and it was quiet clear that Hamilton was going too fast and was not past Vettel legitimately when he cut the chicane.
Now you will all be able to see the footage of incidents and judge for yourselves, quickly, after the race.
The final note is on the call for ex drivers to become stewards. The FIA has said that any ex driver is eligible to apply for a stewarding licence and work his way up to F1 level. But they will be one of many stewards, rather than a permanent one and that is a good thing. In reality there are very few drivers who will have the time or inclination to do this. And from my experience in America with IndyCars, it’s not a good idea to have one all-powerful ex driver making the big calls as they become too powerful and they don’t always make the right calls anyway.
The great opportunity for F1 stewards now is to show that they can make the right decisions for the right reasons and the sport will benefit from that. There will still be tight calls where they need to hear from the drivers involved before making a judgement, but on the whole we should get clear answers. And, unlike the referee in soccer, they have the luxury of being able to take the time to get it demonstrably right.
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