Alan Donnelly Slams Stewards' Critics

Adam PooleAnalyst IOctober 18, 2008

Alan Donnelly, the FIA's race steward adviser, has today expressed his disgust at the fans who have criticized the decisions that the stewards have made this season.

Some decisions that have been made, such as the spate of penalties issued in Japan, and the decision to demote Hamilton from first to third in Belgium, have raised the eyebrows of several fans and even current and former drivers.

Today, Donnelly denied allegations that the race stewards favor Ferrari over McLaren and Lewis Hamilton.

"I read so much rubbish about the decisions taken by the stewards this year," Donnelly was quoted as saying.

"They write that the FIA and the stewards are always favoring Ferrari, and that we don't want Hamilton to become world champion.

"You just need one example to debunk that theory: At Monaco the stewards noticed that, on [Kimi] Raikkonen's F2008, the wheels had not been fitted before the three-minute-mark as required by the regulations.

"So, the stewards penalized Kimi with a drive-through at a track where you can't overtake."

As of late, many F1 fans and drivers have also said that the FIA are issuing too many penalties; Donnelly denied that this was the case.

"In 16 races, 69 penalties have been handed out: 35 originated from the changing of engines, gearboxes, or exceeding the pit lane speed limit, and the other 34 came from incidents."

"I don't think that's a high percentage, also bearing in mind that we analyze many more cases and decide not to intervene.

"This year we also have a second screen that allows us to watch the footage again from different angles."

"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 Lewis and [Felipe] Massa had to be penalized."

"Other times, as was the case with [Sebastien] Bourdais, we have to wait until after the race to talk to the drivers."

"But our decisions are always well thought out."

One of the arguments or suggestions from fans is that ex-drivers should be used as permanent stewards. But, Mr. Donnelly doesn't think this method would work and isn't the right way to go.

"I don't feel that is the correct solution, because their experience is tied to the past, from when they used to drive, and since then, let's say 10 years ago, racing has changed," he said.

"At the beginning of every season a list of people with the credentials to do this job is compiled.

"These are people who, every weekend, work on some important event.

"They are given a superlicence, just like the drivers.

"We have stewards who have done this job for 20 to 25 years, when some of these drivers weren't even born yet."

This is where my article gets biased. Not towards McLaren, but towards having the sport run fairly.

My question would be this: how, if millions of people are suggesting that the FIA favor Ferrari over McLaren can it be untrue?

I would also ask Mr. Donnelly to compile a list of all of the offences over this last season and look for any consistency in the penalties handed out.

In my mind, and the mind of millions of people, any number of FIA officials can come forward and say, "We do not favor Ferrari," and the truth of the matter would still shine through.

FIA: Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile. Yeah, we all know exactly what it really stands for.