Formula 1’s managing director of motorsport, Ross Brawn, says the sport should find better ways of explaining steward’s penalty decisions following the controversial 2019 Canadian Grand Prix.
The former Scuderia Ferrari technical director’s comments come after Sebastian Vettel was handed a five-second penalty that cost him and Ferrari their first victory of the season.
It was deemed by the race stewards that Vettel rejoined the circuit in an unsafe manner, forcing Lewis Hamilton off the circuit on lap forty-eight.
Across social media, fans and former drivers alike expressed their displeasure at the decision, with many believing it was simply a racing incident and the race should have continued without the steward’s intervention.
The steward’s pointed to a “secondary steering wheel movement” by Vettel as key to their decision to penalise him but no formal, detailed explanation or data has been released to better explain their decision.
With the topic still hot across social media and fan networks, Brawn believes the sport could benefit from increased openness and accessibility when it comes to communicating stewarding decisions to fans.
“I have a lot of respect for the work of the stewards and for their professionalism and I believe they would be the first to say that they would prefer not to see a race outcome decided via a penalty,” said Brawn, in his regular post-event debrief.
“At the same time, I understand how difficult it must be for fans to understand why the driver on the top step of the podium is not the one who crossed the finish line first. That’s why transparency is important when it comes to explaining the decisions of the stewards, especially in such a complex sport as Formula 1.
“It is in football, where despite the arrival of VAR , there is still discussion as to whether a handball should be punished with a penalty or not.
“Therefore, it might be useful to work with the FIA on solutions that would allow the stewards to explain their decisions to the fans and to elaborate on how they reached them.
“Having said that, I would emphatically add is that there is nothing sinister about a decision like this. You might agree with it or not, but none of those who take on the role of steward each weekend has a hidden agenda and fans can be certain of that.”
Owing to his senior role within Formula 1 Brawn wouldn’t be pushed on giving his opinion on whether the decision to penalise Vettel in Canada was the right thing to do.
“I can understand how Vettel feels and I know Ferrari intends to appeal the decision,” he said. “I also know what a difficult job the stewards have, as they have to reach a their decision in a very short time, producing a verdict that can affect the outcome of the race.
“As such, I don’t want to give an opinion on the decision, because in my position it would be wrong to do so.”