Johnny Herbert defends stewards after they were criticised by Jackie Stewart

Sky Sports F1 pundit feels that current structure works well

By William Esler at the NEC.   Last Updated: 17/01/13 10:04am

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Johnny Herbert: Has defended the F1 stewards

Johnny Herbert: Has defended the F1 stewards

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Sky Sports F1's Johnny Herbert has leapt to the defence of the sport's stewards after they were criticised by triple World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart.

The 73-year-old branded the current structure as 'disorganised,' highlighting the 'Vettel flag-gate' controversy after the Brazilian GP as one of a number of issues that could have been handled better, while calling for the appointment of permanent stewards.

But Herbert, who was part of the stewarding panel in Australia and Malaysia last year, feels that the current structure works well and that financial constraints, combined with a long race calendar, make permanent stewards impractical.

"In some regards, yes," Herbert told Sky Sports, when asked if permanent stewards would improve consistency.

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"One of the issues is that a lot of the stewards that go there don't get paid and you've got to start paying people then to start being there and sacrificing jobs. I know some of the stewards have other businesses and would they have time to do that alongside 19 or 20 races in a Formula 1 season? I'm not so sure.

"It is probably the best way. I'm not so sure that it is feasible with the situation they have at the moment. There may be ways around it but I'm not sure what they are.

"Consistency is always a good thing yes, but I think overall it has been pretty consistent personally. Yes, there are always going to be a few issues you don't agree with personally but overall I think it has worked very well."

The three-times GP winner also feels that having a former driver as a steward helps with decision making and reassures the existing drivers that penalties are fair.

"I think it does a lot of good," Herbert added.

"There are a lot of stewards - and it is not their fault - that have never been behind a steering wheel. And there are certain situations that a driver can explain and I have had it when I have been there where I say 'I think he is going to say this,' and they come in and that is what they say.

Johnny Herbert has been a part of the stewarding panel

"So it gives them a little bit of confidence that the penalty or not issuing a penalty is the right thing to do.

"I think driving standards have changed a lot over time. I think in general sport there is a lot more competitiveness out there and sportsmen will always push it to the limits and I think that is where drivers help out on the panel. I know Derek Warwick is heading out to Paris or Switzerland with some drivers to discuss standards because there have been incidents where they knew what they were doing.

"All the drivers know what they are doing and they know where the car should be placed - and they sometimes place them in not the smartest of places and that has caused an incident, but there was no need for that incident to happen in the first place.

"But racing is racing, and we have seen racing with Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso where they have been wheel-to-wheel and it was fantastic, no contact. But then we see other incidents like Lewis (Hamilton) and Pastor (Maldonado, in Valencia) where there was no need for both of them to get involved. Lewis was always going to be on the losing side because of his tyres and he just needed to take some points.

"Pastor on the other hand didn't need to make the move then and there as the pace was so different he could have overtaken with the DRS they have on the car, so you just have to think a little bit more. Why did he put himself in that position? I'm sure he will learn from it but it is situations you think as a Formula 1 driver they should be sure of what they should do and shouldn't do. There are certain drivers who need to look at themselves and I think one guy that has done that is Romain (Grosjean).

"Romain did go through a little bit of a hard time getting involved with certain incidents, but in the latter part of the year, he did start to think a lot more about what he was doing. He wasn't going for these gaps that were 50-50 or even 60-40 not in his favour and I think he was thinking 'Ok it is not going to happen this time,' and you have to do that sometimes."

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