Hamilton: Formula One needs 'non-biased stewards'

By Sports Desk February 23, 2022

Lewis Hamilton insisted Formula One must ensure that there is no bias from stewards heading into the 2022 season.

Hamilton was beaten by Red Bull's Max Verstappen in a contentious conclusion to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, after race director Michael Masi elected to allow a series of cars to pass a late safety car, permitting one lap of racing with the Dutchman on new tyres.

Masi has since been removed from his role, while rumours abounded that Hamilton could leave the sport, though the seven-time world champion last week confirmed he would be racing once again for Mercedes this season.

Two new race directors will share the role Masi has vacated.

At the first testing session in Barcelona ahead of the new campaign, which starts on March 20 in Bahrain, Hamilton was asked if the changes would result in more consistent decision-making.

"We need to make sure we have non-biased stewards, too," the 37-year-old said.

"Racing drivers, some are 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 need] people who have no bias, are super central when it comes to making decisions."

Hamilton's belief is not shared by his team's boss, Toto Wolff, however.

"I think we need professionalism in the stewards' room," said Wolff in a news conference.

"I don't think there is a conscious bias to be honest. It's intelligent people."

Red Bull's Christian Horner, who has a not-so-secret rivalry with his Mercedes counterpart, agreed.

"I would agree with Toto that I don't think there's an intended bias. I'm not aware of any stewards travelling with drivers to races," he added.

"In [FIA president] Mohammed [ben Sulayem] we have a new president that is looking to bolster the structure and bring in an equivalent of a VAR [video assistant referee, used in football], and 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 any stewards during the last seasons."

Related items

  • Formula One announces six Sprint venues for 2023 Formula One announces six Sprint venues for 2023

    Formula One has announced the venues for the six Sprint weekends during the 2023 season, doubling the amount from the 2022 season.

    The Sprint moves the standard qualifying session to Friday, with a 100-kilometre dash on a Saturday deciding the grid for the main race on a Sunday.

    For the 2022 season, four new venues will host Sprint events in Azerbaijan, Belgium, Qatar and the United States (Circuit of the Americas).

    Interlagos in Brazil will stand as the only venue to have hosted Sprint events in each season from 2021, while Austria's Red Bull Ring featured the revised format last season.

    Speaking on the increase of Sprint events, Formula One CEO Stefano Domenicali said: "We have seen a hugely positive reaction to the F1 Sprint events during the first two years of its running, and we can't wait to bring even more action to fans with six events next year, including our first US F1 Sprint in Austin.

    "The introduction of the F1 Sprint has created a race weekend that includes three days of competitive racing action and brings more entertainment to fans of the sport as well as additional value for key stakeholders including teams, broadcasters, partners, and host venues."

    Previously, Silverstone, Monza and Imola have hosted Sprint events but, for 2023, those races will have the regular qualifying format, along with the rest of the calendar.

  • Horner committed to Red Bull amid Ferrari links Horner committed to Red Bull amid Ferrari links

    Christian Horner was not surprised to hear of Mattia Binotto's departure from Ferrari and rubbished speculation he would leave Red Bull to fill the vacancy.

    Ferrari announced last week that Binotto had handed in his resignation as team principal after a frustrating season, where the team fell short of their objectives despite a fine start to the campaign.

    An error-strewn year saw Charles Leclerc lose a 46-point advantage over Max Verstappen and Red Bull, eventually finishing a distant second-place to the two-time world champion.

    Ferrari's hunt for a successor to Binotto has seen Horner linked with a move across the paddock but he affirmed his commitment to Red Bull.

    Asked whether he was surprised by Binotto's exit, Horner told Sky Sports: "Not really. It is obviously Ferrari's choice.

    "I think it will be the sixth team principal I have sat opposite since I've been at Red Bull. Obviously, it's very difficult for him. They had a great car this year, they were very competitive.

    "My commitment is very much with the Red Bull team. I've been there since the beginning and have a really close attachment."

    Verstappen will be looking to hand Red Bull a third consecutive drivers' championship in 2023, as well as retaining the constructors' championship, but Horner expects a tougher fight when the season begins in March – predicting Mercedes to be back near the top.

    "Both those guys [Lewis Hamilton and George Russell] had great seasons. George finishing ahead of Lewis in his first year with the team was an impressive performance but Lewis is obviously still right there," Horner added.

    "You've got to assume they're going to come back fighting hard next year, Ferrari as well will be looking to make progress, so it's set to be a really tough season."

    Red Bull will also have to cope with the penalty issued for breaching Formula One's budget cap, resulting in a reduction of time allowance in the wind tunnel.

    However, with development of the 2023 car already well underway before the punishment was issued, it is expected that the biggest impact from the penalty will be felt in 2024.

  • F1 cancels 2023 Chinese Grand Prix due to 'ongoing difficulties' around COVID-19 F1 cancels 2023 Chinese Grand Prix due to 'ongoing difficulties' around COVID-19

    Formula One's 2023 season will not feature the Chinese Grand Prix after the race was scrapped due to "ongoing difficulties" surrounding the country's COVID-19 situation.

    F1 was due to return to the Shanghai International Circuit in 2023, having last raced there in 2019.

    The 2020 race, like most originally scheduled for that season, was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2021 race fell the same way. F1 could not honour its contract to race in China last season because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19.

    There will now be no race in the country for the fourth successive campaign after F1 confirmed the 2023 grand prix scheduled for April had been cancelled.

    "Formula 1 can confirm, following dialogue with the promoter and relevant authorities, that the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix will not take place due to the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 situation," a short statement read.

    "Formula 1 is assessing alternative options to replace the slot on the 2023 calendar and will provide an update on this in due course."

    China continues to operate a 'zero-COVID' policy, with strict local lockdowns enforced if even one person tests positive for the virus.

    Those who test positive are taken to a designated COVID hospital for centralised care and remain there until they have tested negative for COVID-19 multiple times, a process that can take numerous weeks.

    Reports prior to F1 confirming the cancellation indicated it was not prepared to ask teams to travel to the country amid the risk its drivers and staff could be quarantined for weeks if they caught the virus.

    F1 staff would reportedly not be given exemptions if they contracted COVID-19.

    If it does not replace the grand prix with an alternative in another country, F1 will stage a 23-race calendar in 2023 that would feature a four-week gap between the Australian Grand Prix on April 2 and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 30 because of the cancellation.

    The new season is due to start on March 5 with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.