Image via @Max33Verstappen
Image via @Max33Verstappen
Max Verstappen concedes Formula 1’s stewarding is at times subjective with the stewards involved swayed by their own interpretation of the rules.
Formula 1 adopted a ‘let them race’ policy during the 2019 season, leading to elbows being throw and racing that was at times borderline.
That played to Verstappen’s favour in Austria but saw him come off second best at Silverstone. Both times against Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc.
Racing for the victory at the Red Bull Ring, his team’s home grand prix, Verstappen tried to pass Leclerc only for the Ferrari driver to defend.
A lap later the Dutchman made his move by bumping Leclerc off the track.
While the Ferrari driver believed it was worthy of a penalty, the stewards said no and Verstappen kept the Austrian GP win.
A race later and it was Leclerc’s elbows that were out with the driver from Monaco pushing Verstappen around. He also wasn’t penalised.
Verstappen acknowledged to Motorsport.com that while these incidents were treated the same, F1’s stewarding is not always so consistent.
“It’s the same in football, isn’t it? You have different refs and some give a yellow card easier than others. It’s the same like that.
“Of course, you know, it’s a rulebook. But then still the stewards have a little bit of a say of what you’re actually going to apply.
“When you go into like a Champions League match or a Premier League match, the ref can be different.
“Sometimes you can get away with a yellow card and then the other ref gives you a red, and you’re like ‘What was going on?’. It’s exactly the same, I think, in Formula 1.”
While Michael Masi is the official F1 race director, the stewards change race on race throughout the Formula 1 season.
Over the years this has played a role in the inconsistent decisions as while the stewards do have a set of rules, each person has their own interpretation.
There have been calls for permanent stewards, or at least one, but to date Formula 1 has refused to go down that road.
“That’s also fine,” Verstappen said. “When you’re on the wrong side of the penalty it’s always bad, unless you really did something bad and you can accept it.
“But when it’s like 50/50 and you get the penalty, you’re always gonna question.
“It’s very hard for them [the officials]. I mean, I’ve been in the room [at the Marrakech Formula E round as ‘community service’ punishment] and experienced them handing penalties out.
“It’s not easy for them. They also don’t want to give penalties. Sometimes they just have to, the way the rules are written as well.
“We can maybe look into easing some of the penalties, or just write them in a different way into the rulebook.”