F1 News: McLaren Shuffles Management, Hamilton Loves the 2010 Stewards


What Happens When the News Is Still All About the Icelandic Volcano

12:07am EST — While the main news from Formula1 was still the travelogue and race home from China, McLaren also did some management reshuffling and Lewis Hamilton declared his love for this season’s race stewards.

McLaren Makes Some Changes to Management Structure:
McLaren announced Monday some changes to the group’s management, with F1 team principal Martin Whitmarsh taking over as “Chief Executive Officer of the McLaren Group and Deputy Chairman of McLaren Automotive,” after Richard Lapthorne resigned as Non-Executive Chairman of the automotive group.  While not directly related to the F1 team, as McLaren Automotive is a separate arm of the McLaren Group, which owns the F1 team, Whitmarsh’s new roles may well cause some changes in the management of the team as he may have less time for F1.  According to Ron Dennis, the overall boss of the McLaren Group, as quoted in an Autosport article, “Following the spin-off of McLaren Automotive from McLaren Group…The two companies will have separate shareholdings, and will continue to be headquartered in Woking, Surrey [UK]. McLaren Group will be based at the existing McLaren Technology Centre [MTC], while McLaren Automotive will be based at the brand-new McLaren Production Centre [MPC] which is now being constructed alongside the MTC.”

Hamilton Calls the 2010 Race Stewards “the Best”:
After a couple of incidents that resulted in reprimands and not punishments from the stewards so far this season (that would be two in four races, a nice 50%), Lewis Hamilton said Tuesday at an event in South Africa, as quoted in an Autosport article,

I think the FIA and their racing stewards this year, they’ve been the best that I’ve probably experienced in Formula 1. It’s difficult [for the stewards] in Formula 1; we’re all there to race, to have a good time; we’re not to there to mess around. For sure we’re all pushing the boundaries and rules are rules, but I think this year it’s been a lot more fair and definitely more consistent and more racing has been [the result]. Us drivers are now not afraid to have a real battle with someone, without the worry of risking a penalty and I think that’s fantastic. [The stewards] are doing a fantastic job and I think that’s what’s also contributing to such great racing so far [this season]. [emphasis added]

The immediate reaction here is a basic “well, of course!”  There has been much discussion, even here at F1B, over the back-to-back reprimands Hamilton has received, for essentially blocking Vitaly Petrov in Malaysia and for the pit-lane racing with Sebastian Vettel in China, and whether or not they should have been penalties.  Of course the fact that these stewards didn’t fine or penalize him would inspire Hamilton to call them “the best.”
However, Hamilton also has an excellent point.  The fact that one of the stewards each race is an actual former F1 driver does seem to be standardizing the calls by the stewards panel.  There also seems to be a concerted effort by the new Jean Todt FIA to ensure that penalties are more fair and not as arbitrary as they have been in the past.  Whether Hamilton is the best person to champion the fairness and quality of the stewards who have, so far, only reprimanded him, is difficult to say, however.

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