January 9, 2023

F1 teams warned over lobbying stewards after British GP controversy

One of the controversial aspects of last weekend’s British Grand Prix was the way in which both Mercedes boss Toto Wolff and Christian Horner lobbied the stewards as they looked into the crash involving Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen.

Wolff had gone there on the advice of F1 race director Michael Masi in a bid to make sure that they were aware of the FIA guidelines regarding who has the right to a corner during the fight for positions.

Speaking this week about that visit, Wolff told Motorsport.com: “I think I was told after the accident that Christian, in particular, had a pretty erratic discussion with the race director.

“So I contacted the race director and he advised me to go to the stewards, or to speak to the stewards directly, which I did.”

Hearing via team radio that Wolff was at the stewards, Horner marched down there too to make sure that his team’s account of the accident was taken into account.

Afterwards, Horner said he felt it completely out of order that a team principal was able to speak to the stewards in such a way.

“I don’t think the stewards should be interfered with,” he said. “They need to be clear headed to be able to make those decisions.

“I went to see the stewards because I’d heard that Toto was up there, presenting a case. You want it to be fair and balanced, and I don’t think anybody should be allowed to see the stewards.”

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Initially, Masi said he did not see a problem in teams speaking to stewards, and he said it was common practice.

“If we have an incident after the race, we invite the teams and the drivers to come up and appear before the stewards,” he said after the British GP.

“We had the case in Monza last year when Lewis went and spoke to the stewards to understand what happened and have a look at the whole picture. During the suspension, that ability exists, so there’s no reason not to.”

However, Masi appears to have changed his stance and has now warned teams that unprompted visits to the stewards will not be tolerated.

In a note sent to all competitors, Masi said that access to the stewards for anyone other than the necessary FIA officials would only be allowed with ‘prior approval’ or as the result of a summons.

Teams have been told that if they are found to be in breach of this latest guidance then they could face sanctions under Article 12.2.1.i of the FIA’s International Sporting Code.

This deems that an offence will be deemed to have taken place if a competitor has failed: “to follow the instructions of the relevant officials for the safe and orderly conduct of the Event.”

Sanctions for such an offence can range from a reprimand all the way through to disqualification.

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