Which former Formula 1 driver would make a good permanent steward?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Need an experienced ex-F1 driver to be a steward?  I\'ve got just the guy...
Need an experienced ex-F1 driver to be a steward? I've got just the guy...

Following the recent spate of dubious penalty decisions involving Sebastien Bourdais, Lewis Hamilton (at Fuji and Spa) and Felipe Massa, many F1 drivers have voiced a desire to see a permanent stewards appointed.

Ideally they would like one with relevant, recent Grand Prix experience. So who could fit the bill? Here’s a few potential names.

Jean Alesi

F1 starts: 201
Last Grand Prix: Suzuka, 2001
Pros: Vast experience, drove for several teams.
Cons: Never really shook off his wild side. In his final DTM season in 2006 he was fined for brake-testing team mate Mika Hakkinen.

Read more about Jean Alesi: Jean Alesi biography

Michael Schumacher

F1 starts: 248
Last Grand Prix: Interlagos, 2006
Pros: Can you think of a more experienced driver? Knows every trick in the book…
Cons: …because he got away with most of them. Several drivers voiced complaints about the standards of his driving while he was in F1. There’s a slim chance he might possibly be seen as being a little bit pro-Ferrari.

Read more about Michael Schumacher: Michael Schumacher biography

Mika Hakkinen

F1 starts: 161
Last Grand Prix: Suzuka, 2001
Pros: Went toe-to-toe with F1’s most successful champion – and won.
Cons: There’s a slim chance he might possibly be seen as being a little bit pro-McLaren.

Read more about Mika Hakkinen: Mika Hakkinen biography

Olivier Panis

F1 starts: 157
Last Grand Prix: Magny-Cours, 2005 (practice only)
Pros: Confines his current racing activity for to the F1 off-season, ice racing with Toyota.
Cons: Like Alesi, has just one win to his name – did he see enough of the sharp end of an F1 race to be considered sufficiently experienced?

Mika Salo

F1 starts: 109
Last Grand Prix: Suzuka, 2002
Pros: Experienced and without any obvious grudges against former rivals or teams…
Cons: …except maybe Toyota. No wins.

Heinz-Harald Frentzen

F1 starts: 156
Last Grand Prix: Suzuka, 2003
Pros: Experienced and without any obvious grudges against former rivals or teams…
Cons: …except maybe Williams.

David Coulthard

F1 starts: 245*
Last Grand Prix: Shanghai, 2008*
Pros: Stacks of experience and fresh from the cockpit (if one can be ‘fresh’ after getting out of a cockpit).
Cons: Expected to be working for the BBC next year, possibly too recent a retiree who could be seen as biased.
*Career ongoing but ending at conclusion of 2008 season.

Read more about David Coulthard: David Coulthard biography

Which ex-driver do you think would be a good choice as a permanent steward?

66 comments on “Which former Formula 1 driver would make a good permanent steward?”

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  1. How about Alain Prost?
    He’s certainly been involved with a lot of past decisions and infractions.
    ….and he’s been a team owner too.

  2. Chalky – controversial… still keeps his hand in though, he does ice racing with Panis.

  3. Jackie Stewart

  4. It would be terrible to lose him from the British commentary team but Brundle would be my choice.

    I rarely disagree with what he is saying about the on track action and his passion for the sport is infectious. I don’t think he is biased towards Hamilton, whenever Hamilton has made mistakes he will be the first to criticize (Fuji).

    He has been out of F1 long enough not to have any serious dislikes or biases towards teams or drivers, but been watching every race and commentating on it so still has intricate knowledge of the sport. Personally I can’t think of anyone better for the job.

    Schumacher…..are you joking Kieth! He has prancing horses running through his veins!

    Ps. this is a total pipe dream of course because the FIA have it in for brundle and would more likely have Montizemelo as a steward.

  5. How about Villeneuve?

  6. Allan McNish would have my vote, if he hadn’t already been completely lost to sports cars.

    I’d say Villeneuve or Montoya, but we already have too many stewards who think everyone’s an idiot except themselves…

  7. But which recent race driver would really want to take this job?

    Then indeed how do you prevent favoritism? That would seem the biggest “con” of the whole thing.

    Maybe they could include the current drivers for problems that are handled after the race. Have a voting system were 3 or 5 drivers look into the matter and vote.

    Maybe durin the race the stewards should just focus on rules that are clear (ie drive through a red light, enter a closed pitlane, false start etc).

    If they could make some rules more clear then that would help too. When you are off line and you t-bone a car while “overtaking” you get a drive through (like Massa at Fuji and Kovalainen at Spa)

    Other more unclear “racing incidents” could be investigated after the race and punishment would be handed down after the race too (drop 5 or 10 spots for the next race or add a time penalty). For all I care they carefully check all incidents after the race. They should punish a lot less than is done now though.

  8. How about Johnny Herbert? I can’t remember seeing his name attributed to many comments about any current drivers or teams.

    Or Paul Stoddart? Ok he’s not a past-driver, but I’d say he knows enough about the sport(though he’s hardly likely to tow the FiA party-line!!).

    Actually there is one person who I think has the knowledge about the sport and would be objective enough to put aside any past allegences, unfortunately he’s techincal director at Honda at the moment!!

  9. I think if they were to recruit a ex F1 driver to the stewards it would require a certain personality trait that could show certain self confidence and be prepared to be criticised publicly. Unlike the other stewards, they would be in the public eye more naturally as they are famous ex drivers, so drivers that cannot defend themselves or deal with the pressure would not be suitable – ie Panis, Salo and Frentzen are out of the question in my view.

    That leave two possible candidates, Schumacher and David Coulthard.

    Schumacher is on the payroll at Ferrari so unfortunately he is a definite NO. Could you imagine the extra critisim the FIA would get for employing a Ferrari staff member, coupled with the fact Jean Todd is tipped to run for Max’s position when he finally decides to pursue his odd leisure activities. That would be Ferrari’s two top men running the sport. My point being they have conflicts or interest.

    That leaves DC- he is strong willed and does not have his fingers in too many pies. That is assuming he will have to leave his roll as RBR’s consultant.

    I don’t neccessarily feel it has to be an recent F1 driver – Ex Drivers from other high level formula would be equally worthy in my opinion.

  10. How about Damon Hill ?

  11. I think the ideal situation would not be to have one driver, but two drivers who drove for completely different teams and have completely different histories. If I had to nominate two current drivers, it would be David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello. If it was past drivers, probably Schumacher and Hakkinen together. That way you eliminate bias (if a McLaren and Ferrari got together, both stewards would have to agree, etc.)

  12. First, I think it needs to be drivers that have recently been in F1. The sport is so different from 20 years ago, so we need stewards with recent racing experience. Second, it have to be drivers that are respected by others.

    Without consideration to what they do today, I would go with names like Berger, Brundle, Irvine, Panis, Schumacher. I also think Barrichello would be excellent when he retires.

  13. ricardo patrese
    nelson piquet
    nigel mansell

  14. I can’t see how anyone could accept such a position to be honest – whoever it did wouldn’t help with the favouritism point as their career would be dragged up everytime a decision was made!

    DC would be my immediate choice, but were he to make a decision in McLaren’s favour his long time at that team would be brought up and should he decide against them, then everyone would say “he was there a long time, but Ron was always against him so this is payback.”

    As for older drivers, while Stewart or Moss etc may have a better idea of racing would they really know any more about a current car, what it can and can’t do, etc than any of the other stewards?

    It’s a job noone would want.

  15. And I think there would be a good chance if someone like Mansell, Irvine, Montoya or Villeneuve was appointed that they could make decisions to deliberately cause controversy! :)

  16. Why don’t they just hire all the former race driver fathers of current drivers?

    – Keke/Nico Rosberg
    – Nelson Piquet/Jr.
    – Satoru/Kazuki Nakajima
    – John/Jenson Button (John did Rallycross)

  17. I like Mark’s idea of putting Schumacher and Hakkinen together. While one is aligned with Ferrari and the other with McLaren, both are good enough mates (if not very close friends) to put their heads together and make some common-sense decisions.

  18. Journeyer – Plus they don’t have any ties to lower teams (if you don’t count Schumacher working for Briatore for a time).

  19. If we’re considering people with long-term F1 experience, then I hear that there’s a certain J Allen who might be looking for gainful employment next year…

  20. If it weren’t for the fact that I want to see him racing again I would vote for Anthony Davidson. He has been very fair, but clear, on the Five Live podcasts I’ve listened to.

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