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F1 stewards search for consistent and transparent rules

F1 stewards are aiming to make consistent rulings and find clarity on existing laws in regards to driver clashes and gaining unfair advantages on track
F1 stewards are aiming to make consistent rulings and find clarity on existing laws in regards to driver clashes and gaining unfair advantages on track, as the issues sparked up debate during 2016.

At the annual F1 stewards meeting in Vienna, Stewards Chairman Garry Connelly - a former World Rally Championship driver and member of the World Motor Sport Council for the FIA - outlined the conclusions of the meeting which reviewed the 2016 F1 season.

Top of agenda was looking to provide consistency in decision-making by F1 race stewards after a number of calls this year came under fire, most notably Lewis Hamilton cutting the corner at turn 1 in Mexico and not being penalised while Max Verstappen was for the same offence.

As well as analysing the wording of certain rules in order to reduce or take out the subjectivity of decision, Connelly suggested to achieve greater consistency a video conference could be held 'every three or four races' to review incidents.

“We think that more meetings and more reviews of past decisions are necessary,” Connelly said. “So that we all understand how each panel of stewards is treating a particular situation, especially where it's necessary for the stewards to make a subjective ruling, on a dangerous driving charge for example.

“These are obviously decisions that are made collectively but understanding how those decision can be made more consistent is valuable.

“We looked at a system that the DMSB uses to review races. The stewards get together by video link to look back at incidents and discuss the decisions made. We thought that might be good thing to do every three or four races.”

Another key issue was looking at making track modifications in order to prevent drivers from gaining unfair advantages by running off track and rejoining.

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“There are now probably only 11 or 12 corners across the whole championship where there is the potential for cutting corners in a very obvious way,” he said. “There are solutions that can be adopted to sort those issues out, such as the solution that has been adopted for turn 1 in Monza, where if you do go off there is a natural penalty in that it takes you longer to re-join than if you had used the circuit.

“The point we also made is that the rules say a driver can rejoin the track as long as you do it safely and gain no lasting advantage. The word lasting is again very subjective.

“Does it mean lasting for 500m, until the next turn, the next few laps or the whole race? That subjectivity is removed if the circuit is modified or designed to immediately disadvantage a driver if he does go off track.”

A review of these issues is expected over the winter and any changes to current F1 rules will be implemented by the World Motor Sport Council before the start of the 2017 F1 world championship.

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by Haydn Cobb



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