Sidepodcast have done some first-class sleuthing about the man who will appear as the new FIA-appointed permanent steward to rule on disputes during Grand Prix weekends.
As of this year there will be three different stewards officiating on each race, plus one extra person appointed by the FIA who will be at every race. This year that man will be Alan Donnelly. The FIA says having three different stewards at each race will allow them to select people whose nationalities are not currently represented in F1, allowing them to be neutral.
But the same need for neutrality apparently does not extend to individuals who have connections to F1 teams. Sidepodcast discovered that Donnelly’s company Sovereign Strategy lists Ferrari as a former client.
This isn’t the first stewards’ appointment to raise eyebrows. In 1998 three stewards were invited to resign following the bungled handling of Michael Schumacher’s punishment for overtaking under yellow flags during the British Grand Prix, which saw the canny racer get away with taking his penalty after the race had finished.
One of the stewards was Nazir Hoosein, a founder of the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India who was elected to the World Motor Sports Council in 1993.
Hoosein later returned to his stewarding role only to commit another breathtakingly bad piece of decision making.
It’s rare to see a racing accident where two drivers agree on the outcome. But when Michael Schumacher hit Juan Pablo Montoya’s car at the start of the 2002 Malaysian Grand Prix, even Schumacher agreed the drive-through penalty handed down to Montoya by Hoosein was unjust. So did the rest of the paddock.
Donnelly may turn out to be a model of impartiality and justice. But should he hold such a position given the possible conflict of interest?
Even if he might, the FIA certainly should have pointed out his past association with Ferrari when they appointed him. Failing to do so is another example of F1’s reputation being damaged by Max Mosley committing basic public relations mistakes.
Photo copyright: BMW
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