Formula 1’s race director Michael Masi has stated that race stewards do not take the consequence of an incident when deciding on a penalty, as the fallout from Sunday’s British Grand Prix continues.
Last weekend’s race at Silverstone was dominated by the first lap incident between championship leader Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton, with the Red Bull driver sent flying into the barrier at Copse after making contact with the Brit.
After the race was red-flagged to remove Verstappen’s destroyed Red Bull and repair the damage to a barrier at Copse, Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff went up to race control to argue his team’s case to Masi.
This infuriated Red Bull team principal Christian Horner who accused Wolff of lobbying the stewards when speaking to Racefans.net.
“I saw Toto who was lobbying the stewards, which I heard that’s what he was going there to do, so I went to make sure that our view was represented because I don’t think it’s right that team principals should be able to go and lobby the stewards. They should be locked away so that they’re not influenced.”
“For me, that was unacceptable that he had gone up there to lobby the stewards. So I wanted to make sure that there was a balanced opinion given, rather than trying to influence pressure on the stewards to make a menial sentence. I don’t think the stewards should be interfered with. They need to be there clear-headed to be able to make those decisions.”
Wolff fired back at Horner stating that he got in touch with Masi after Horner had complained to the Australian on the Red Bull pitwall.
“I was told that there was a rant on the radio to Michael about all the badness in the world, and then I went up and gave my opinion. “I think it’s fair enough. I’ve been to the stewards many times in my life.”
Masi however stated that stewards had not been influenced by the consequences this incident had on the championship fight.
"I think one of the big parts that's been a mainstay for many, many years," he said. "And this came through discussions prior to my time between all of the teams, the FIA and F1, and the team principals were all quite adamant, is that you should not consider the consequences in an incident.”
"So when they judge an incident they judge the incident itself, and the merits of the incident, not what happens afterwards as a consequence. And that's been something that the stewards have done for many years and have been advised to do from top down. And I'm talking team involvement, and so forth. So that's the way that the stewards judge it, because start taking consequences into account, there's so many variables, rather than judging the incident itself on its merits."
During the red flag period, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko argued that the penalty was too light, with the Austrian calling for Hamilton to be banned for a race.
When asked whether stewards should have to explain their decisions to the public, Masi stated that there was no need for stewards to explain their decisions.
"I think that you've got a lot of TV analysts out there with a lot of very experienced former drivers out there that will put a perspective forward, and the stewards look at absolutely everything that they've got available and unlike a VAR process that sort of done and dusted within 30 seconds, sometimes maybe a minute maximum, the stewards are very much are told that you take the time that you need to analyse any possible element of any incident that occurs.”
"So I don't see it from that point of view, I think the stewards need to remain as an independent judiciary. And I don't think they should in their capacity should have any pressures, and they should take their time to analyse everything based on its merits."