FIA advisor Alan Donnelly has disagreed with recent calls for the panel of stewards at each grand prix to include a former driver, who would better be able to call on experience to make judgement calls.

The swell of support for such a move grew after the recent Japanese Grand Prix, when both Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa were awarded penalties for driving indiscretions, attracting support and criticism in equal measure. While many felt that Massa's move on Hamilton - which left the Briton broadside and dropping to the tail of the field - justified some sort of sanction, there was less support for the same drive-thru' punishment for Hamilton's dive into turn one that left the four frontrunners scrabbling to rejoin the track.

The current judicial system sees three FIA-appointed representatives adjudicating on each grand prix, but the panel is not permanent, a situation which many believe leads to the sort of inconsistency panned every season. Donnelly, however, claims that simply employing a former driver to offer his view on calls such as those would not work because, in his opinion, the sport moves on so quickly as to make their experience obsolete.

"I don't think it's the right answer," he told Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, "Their experience is tied to the past, from when they used to drive and, since then, racing has changed.

"We have stewards who have done this job for 20 or 25 years, when some of these drivers weren't even born. At the beginning of every season, Max Mosley writes a list of people with the requisites to do the job, on the advice the sporting vice-president [Marco Piccinini], and they have to earn a superlicence just like the drivers. They are people who, every weekend, are working at some important event."

Among the criticisms levelled at the stewards this season is the belief that the FIA favours Ferrari above all others in Formula One. Borne from the misconception that it needs the Scuderia involved to give F1 the credence it desires, the acronym FIA has cruelly been reallocated to stand for 'Ferrari International Assistance', but Donnelly insists that there is no bias when decisions are being made.

"I've read a load of rubbish about the decisions taken by the stewards this year," he commented, "It has been written that the FIA and the stewards are always acting in favour of Ferrari, and that the don't want Lewis Hamilton and McLaren to win the world championship, but one example should be enough to dispel that notion.

"At Monaco, the stewards noticed that the wheels had not been fitted to [Kimi] Raikkonen's Ferrari before the three-minute mark as required by the regulations, so they gave Kimi a drive-thru' - on a track where you can't overtake...."

Donnelly also insisted that, despite having been asked to make their decisions more quickly, and employed greater technology to help out, each and every one is given due consideration.

"This year we also have a second screen that allows us to watch the footage again, from different angle. One of the complaints we used to receive in the past was that penalties were inflicted late, so we kept up with the times.

"At Fuji, we decided immediately that both Hamilton and Massa should be penalised, but there are other times, such as the case with Bourdais [and Massa], where we have to wait until after the race to talk to the drivers.

"It is the responsibility of the FIA do ensure that the drivers act safely... [and], in Hamilton's case, with the speed [he was carrying] he would never have made the corner and ended up nearly causing a worse accident."


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