It’s Nazir Hoosein all over again

Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams-BMW, Sepang, 2002 | BMW MediaSidepodcast 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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9 comments on It’s Nazir Hoosein all over again

  1. Nikos Darzentas said on 27th January 2008, 7:56

    indeed – he should go, taking the McLaren-developed ECU with him… ;-)

  2. Eric M. said on 27th January 2008, 8:23

    Apparent conflict of interest doesn’t seem to bother Max at all, it seems. It’s like he doesn’t even try to steer clear of that sort of thing. The ECU’s, Ferrari friends on the WSMC, etc. The mans aptitude for making decisions that appear suspicious or underhanded, even though they very well may not be, is astounding.

    But, I know absolutely nothing about Alan Donnelly, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll handle things in an even-handed and fair manner.

  3. Rohan said on 27th January 2008, 9:29

    I disagree that Ferrari having been a former client will affect things. Of course, if Ferrari were a current client of his I can see where the problem would lie, but I have enough faith in other human beings that they will still be impartial in such situations, irrespective of their past affiliations.

    Besides, shouldn’t we all give the guy a chance before judging him?

  4. Maybe Mosley planned to tell about Donnelly’s past association with Ferrari, but Sidepodcast was just too quick :-)

  5. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 27th January 2008, 12:19

    I think you’re being a bit charitable to Mosley there Milos!

  6. It’s not a matter of pre-judging Donnelly. The point is that his appointment a potential conflict of interest that the FIA would do well to avoid, particularly in view of the history of suspicion that hangs over its judgements to date. Would it be impossible for them to find someone qualified to do the job but untainted by the possibility of partiality (as well as not being one of Mosley’s buddies)?

  7. Donnelly for chief steward, Todt for FIA president. What next, Luca takes over Bernie’s job? Of greater significance to the Donnelly appointment may be his lack of racing experience? How can you appoint a man to oversee race day action by a guy who has no understanding of the sport or drivers challenges during a race?

  8. Steven Roy said on 27th January 2008, 15:01

    Max seems to thrive on conflict of interest. Don’t forget Bernie was part of the WMSC ‘trial’ of Renault and as far as I can find he did not leave the room while the verdict was being discussed. This ‘trial’ occurred 3 or 4 weeks after Bernie and Flavio bought QPR football club.

    Max really doesn’t have a clue how to perform the basic functions of his position. He cannot seem to understand the basics of how he should conduct himself and he doesn’t seem to mind the complete irrationality of a lot of the decisions the FIA make.

    I really dread the prospect of Todt succeeding him.

  9. The day Jean “Letoad” Todt becomes FIA president is the day I lose all interest in F1.

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