Lewis Hamilton has called for Formula 1 to “make sure we get non-biased stewards” in the wake of the controversial finish to the 2021 season in Abu Dhabi.
The seven-time world champion was facing the press on the opening day of pre-season in Barcelona before driving on Wednesday afternoon, when multiple drivers spoke about the changes to race control that are being implemented. One thing Hamilton wants is to see more female influence when it comes to the application of the rules, and believes some former drivers have existing relationships with those currently on the grid that can cause conflicts of interest.
“I want to see more women in the stewards’ room,” Hamilton said. “I think maybe last year we had one or two and I think it would be awesome for them to have a male and a female as the two race directors, for the two race directors I think they are talking about doing. I think that’s a great way of promoting diversity, too.
“I just want to add, we need to make sure we get non-biased stewards. Racing drivers; some are very, very good friends with certain individuals. Some travel with certain individuals, and tend to take more of a keen liking to some of them. I think we (just need) people who have no bias and are super central when it comes to making decisions.”
Hamilton didn’t elaborate on who he was referring to, having already declined to speak further on whether he feels the FIA owes him an apology for the handling of Abu Dhabi last year.
“I feel like I’ve addressed pretty much everything that I needed and wanted to address last week, and I don’t really have any more to add to it,” he said. “I’m here to solely focus on my job now, which is getting on top of this new car and new regulations and moving this team forward. There’s no point looking back or commenting on any of it. It’s done, dusted, so we move forwards.”
Despite Hamilton’s claims, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff disagrees that there are any biased stewards, but does want more consistent decision-making.
“I think we need professionalism in the stewards room,” Wolff said. “I don’t think there is a conscious bias to be honest, it’s intelligent people, but most important is whether we talk about race direction, the support they will have back at base, or the stewards, there needs to be a standard. This is what we deserve and this is what everybody expects. I think there are some very good people that we can build upon.
“Most important – and we all have talked about it last year – was the topic of inconsistency. There shouldn’t be a lot of room to interpret the rules. There shouldn’t be a lot of leniency depending on what a potential outcome could be, but the rules are the rules.
“As everything is being restructured, I have faith in Mohammed (Ben Sulayem) that going forward we will optimize all these structures.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner backs up Wolff’s stance, suggesting the teams had got themselves into a position to analyze decisions better than the FIA itself.
“I think a lot of issues are to do with the regulations themselves, because you’ve got very complicated regulations that then leave room for interpretation,” Horner said. “I think the circuit limits one is an obvious one, where in any other sport being over a white line and you’re out. And you have a situation like we have currently where some corners it’s OK, some corners it isn’t. I think for the fans, and even for the drivers and the teams, it’s confusing. So what you need is clear rules which are then easier to police.
“Now we’ve all been on the receiving end of stewards’ decisions that we’ve been unhappy about. I would agree with Toto that I don’t think there is an intended bias, I’m not aware of any stewards traveling with drivers to races. In Mohammed we have a new president that is looking to bolster the structure and to bring in the equivalent of the VAR, which is something that certainly the top teams have available to them.
“I think giving a better infrastructure for clearer decisions with clearer regulations is something that should be strived for, but I certainly don’t think there was any bias from stewards during the last seasons.”