FIA Decisions: Are they ruining the sport?

The 2021 season is over and it was the most exciting one we have seen in years. Are Despite this, it has not gone without complaints, with the stewards decisions having a huge impact on the outcome of the race. Should the FIA be able to dictate race results like this? It has to be questioned.

Abu Dhabi

Both Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen went into the final race of the year on equal points. We knew we would be in for a controversial race and whoever won, many fans would have been disappointed. But the events of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix disappointed everyone. After Lewis lead for almost the entire race, the stewards gave the lead to the Red Bull on fresh tyres by moving some, but not all lapped drivers out of the way. It cannot be ignored that the stewards also made a decision on Lewis’ overtake much earlier in the race. This left Max with work to do, behind the 7-time champion, which arguably also affected the race hugely.

While it cannot be said that either Lewis or Max deserved the championship over the other, neither deserved to win or lose under such controversy. Verstappen’s win was delayed by an array of contests and appeals, all because of strange stewards decisions. This seems totally unfair on what was an exceptional achievement by the young driver.

Not the first time:

The FIA race stewards have been renowned for their questionable decisions for years, but this season was worse than ever. From being particularly harsh on specific drivers to picking and choosing when to penalise the same violation, this is becoming a serious problem for the sport. One particular example of this is the controversy regarding Interlagos and Austria 2021. Max Verstappen avoided a penalty at Interlagos when Hamilton was forced wide, as there was asphalt on the corner. This was a confusing decision as Lando Norris had been penalised in Austria for a very similar incident against Perez, this time on gravel.

Another great example of this is at Silverstone, where Max crashed out following an incident with Lewis. Most fans thought the British driver should have been penalised for this, but no penalty was given. In a season with such a tight championship, decisions like this may have drastically changed the result. Is this acceptable?

Should the FIA be able to dictate race results in this way?

  • Safety is key – While these decisions can be questionable, the sport is undeniably safer for them.
  • Adapting rules – The F1 races are far from dull when the FIA stewards are able to impact results.
  • Financial impact – Teams and drivers are consistently giving the FIA money. This should be going towards sustainability and diversity, which can only be a positive step.
  • Inequality – Whether it’s a string of bad decisions or prioritisation of a specific team, the FIA appear far from unbiased.
  • Convoluted rules – The decisions are often so random, the drivers are struggling with which to follow.
  • Different stewards – The group of stewards is constantly changing. This leaves the decisions up to debate as they don’t agree with each other.

What does this mean in reality?

It would appear that the FIA are aware of the issues at hand. In fact, they have decided to investigate the incident in Abu Dhabi! We hope that this means the sport will be moving on from these issues, back to fairer racing, which is what we all want to see. With such a huge number of changes coming in 2022, let’s hope this is one. Ultimately, F1 wouldn’t exist without the stewards, and never should. Does this mean they should have so much power, probably not.

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