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. My vote goes for Hill!

    He’s been driving several teams: from the strongest to one of the weakest so he knows races from all drivers positions. He is world champion, he’s been involved in one of the most famous incidents ever and was a victim! He knows how it feels like someone crashes into you and runs easily away with that. Moreover, he was excellent driver and as somebody mentioned – he’s diplomatic as well. The only bias I can think of – he’s Brit and when there’s Brit on British/German car competing with Brazilian on Italian car…

    MS has too dirty reputation, DC is a born loser… Hakkinen? I really think Hill is more experienced. However, there might be good ex-racers from older times but indeed I wasn’t watching F1 at those times. So from these times – Hill no.1

  2. I don’t think it has to be someone recent. All the older drivers have watched modern racing evolve and are perfectly capable of making good decisions. Any driver would be better than a bunch of FIA petty politicians.

    Of the recent drivers only Wurz would be acceptable. Of the older drivers I would have Stewart, Lauda, Prost and Rosberg. All are fiercely independent and would not be able to be pushed around by Max. Some of them may have associations with existing teams but none of them sould let that sway their judgement.

  3. Derek Warwick, Ricardo Patrese, Rene Arnoux, Alex Wurz, Damon Hill, Niki Lauda, Nigel Mansell, John Watson, Alan Jones. Thats my picks, take it or leave it!

  4. Derek Warwick.

  5. Mario Andretti

    World champion, diplomatic, raced at several times but has been out of F1 for a while, and has retired as a driver, has vast experience.

  6. Steven Roy – I agree. I don’t see why it can’t be someone who was racing years ago. Racing is racing, most stewards decisions are about ‘racing incidents’, so the technological advancements of the cars don’t matter too much. And if they did come in to play, I don’t see why they couldn’t have a technological assistant.

    My vote would be for Stewart and/or Lauda.

  7. I think Steven Roy has a good point about how necessary it is that the drivers are recent’. Racing is racing after all. But I think someone who’s been closer to the sport post-retirement (say, Lauda or Hill) is a better bet than someone who hasn’t (say, Scheckter).

  8. Well, we need three stewards, plus the ‘over-seer’ to get rid of the current lot.

    There have been some great suggestions, but the mischevious side of me nominates Paul Stoddart, Alan Jones, Damon Hill and Alain Prost.

    Just sit back and watch the foreworks !

  9. Oops that should read fireworks, not foreworks (which sounds really wrong)

    Plus I’ve changed my mind. Swap le professeur for Montoya !

  10. Our Nige!!!

  11. Chris Johnson
    23rd October 2008, 23:49

    It would be a thankless job, I’m not sure who would want it (Jackie Stewart), unless there was some prestige involved. Ideally, they’d have a pool of 10 or so ex-drivers, detail their authority and rotate a crew of 3 of them for each race.

    Or, just let drivers settle things themselves, out on the track, as it should be done.

    I’d vote for:
    Nelson Piquet
    Keke Rosberg
    Jacques Laffite
    Thierry Boutsen
    Damon Hill
    Niki Lauda
    Martin Brundle
    Eddie Irvine
    Mika Hakkinen
    Ralf Schumacher

  12. michael counsell
    24th October 2008, 0:36

    Pedro Diniz, Riccardo Rosset and Tora Takagi.

  13. Out of Chris’ list, here’s what I think:

    Piquet – NO, he has a son in F1 and he has been a bit wreckless with a road car – didn’t he lose his license and have to take classes to get it back?
    Rosberg – NO, he has a son in F1 too, and unlike Nelsinho, I don’t see Nico leaving anytime soon.
    Laffite – MAYBE, he hasn’t been active in F1 since his retirement, and he wasn’t at the sharp end of the grid too often… but his lack of bias would be good
    Hill – MAYBE, a World Champion who knows what he’s talking about… but his role as BRDC president would cause a bit of a conflict of interest
    Lauda – YES, I like him here. Some don’t like his outspokenness, but he usually knows what he’s talking about. But Lauda is much better as part of a team, not a sole steward.
    Brundle – YES, absolutely. But I’d rather hear him on the mic than read his decisions from a stewards room.
    Irvine – NO, those ego issues are troubling… Also, a previous driver for Ferrari.
    Hakkinen – YES (see earlier comment)
    Ralf – NO, he committed way too many offenses in his career, and his emotional… outbursts wouldn’t make him fit to be a steward in my book.

  14. How about James Allen?

  15. It doesnt matter who they get for a steward. mclaren supports will still whinge when things dont go their way…….

  16. Some good names mentioned, and those with good close racing experience would get my vote: Prost, Hill, Lauda. But I know who I’d pick for a permanent chair of stewards: Nigel Roebuck, who’s always written a lot of good sense over many years about racing and rules.

  17. what about Mark Mossley

  18. Max Mosley
    Hugo chavez

  19. Eureka!

    We’ll get the safety car driver to be a steward! No problem if he’s out on the track, maybe his navigator/co-driver can fill in for him while he’s sitting next to him with a screen!

    The only real problem I can foresee is that if the safety car drivers are supplied by the FIA, then they’ll have a serious credibility problem. Unless we get the entire competing F1 driver grid to unanimously vote on a single driver, from any racing background in the world.

    But on a more serious note, what kind of qualifications does the safety car driver have? Even though they look slow on TV, I’ve seen them correct oversteer in the wet and it’s no joke. I don’t know what speeds they’re doing, or how close they drive to the limit of the car but I’m guessing there must be skill sets behind it all that even the F1 drivers wouldn’t laugh at. Especially at street circuits where it’s most unforgiving.

    We might even take it a little further and have the stewards rotate on safety car duty BEHIND THE WHEEL so that they can at least fathom the people they pass so much judgement upon.

  20. Aaron Shearer
    24th October 2008, 13:54

    I personally think that if there were to be ex-formula 1 drivers it would have to be Stewart, Lauda and Hill. Stewart and Lauda still come to every f1 race. Whilst hill occasionally pops in now and then. So they all have experience and all knows what it takes to win a world championship. So why not let them battle it out?

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