On the back of Nick Heidfeld's calls for a season-long steward to be put in place in Formula 1 to prevent the kind of flagrant inconsistency in penalties that has been witnessed this year [see separate story – click here
], former world champions Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen have suggested that an ex-driver should assume the role.
Much debate has been generated following a number of seemingly arbitrary decisions this season – from Lewis Hamilton being stripped of his victory in the Belgian Grand Prix to Felipe Massa's lack of censure for Ferrari's botched pit-stop in Valencia – culminating in the trio of controversial penalties meted out to Hamilton, Massa and most contentiously of all Sébastien Bourdais in the Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway last weekend.
FIA representative Alan Donnelly occupies a full-time advisory role alongside the three stewards – rotated at each grand prix – but is in possession of no actual vote when it comes to applying punishments.
“I think it's a good idea to have an ex-driver with the stewards just to help them,” asserted Singapore and Japanese Grand Prix winner Alonso, “just because the decisions they take are difficult to know from the outside if you have never driven a Formula 1 car.
“I think it's difficult to get the same feeling and the same comment from all the drivers on the same accident. Some of them will think that it's fair [and] some of them not because I think that's normal. For the drivers, what will help is to have consistency in the penalties.
“If one time you do something and you get penalised, it's not possible that the next time you do the same thing and you don't get penalised. I think we [need to] ask for a little bit more consistency, even if they (the penalties) are very harsh.
“Yeah, for sure that would help,” Raikkonen added of Alonso's argument. “It would keep people happier also, that every time you get the same decision.
“Maybe if there [was] an older driver there would be more respect and people wouldn't complain as much. It's only that people want to have the same thing happening every time, the same penalties and same rules.”
The subject is due to be discussed with permanent race director Charlie Whiting on the Friday of this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai.