The dialogue and relationship between Formula E stewards and drivers is open and positive, according to leading FIA steward Michael Schwagerl.
Schwagerl, an experienced and senior member of the FIA’s stewarding team, has acted as chairman of the stewards at many ABB FIA Formula E Championship races.
He says the stewards are always willing to listen to drivers and team managers and explain why they make decisions, following criticism from some members of the paddock in recent months.
“Sometimes the drivers, after the decisions, when we see them after the race, are not very happy and then they comment somewhere, but it’s OK, we have to do the decision and it has to be done, full stop,” Schwagerl told e-racing365.
“Our door is always open and I have told all team managers and all drivers this, and they know because I always can explain why we have done the decision like it is.”
Schwagerl referenced a specific situation from last month’s Rome E-Prix in which reigning champion Jean-Eric Vergne criticized the consistency and application of Full Course Yellow procedures, comparing it to another incident in Mexico City.
Vergne suggested that he had been overtaken by several cars in the second phase of the FCY countdown just before a red flag was shown at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez.
“If we speak about Rome when we gave a drive-through penalty to Jean-Eric, he came later on and he said in Mexico it was different and there was a different case,” said Schwagerl.
“I said, ‘Well first of all I’m not speaking about Mexico’, he accepted it that he overtook under Full Course Yellow, but he was in his mind, ‘OK when FCY is started I have five seconds so I can overtake.’
“I said, ‘No, the five seconds is only to reduce the speed to go over there in a slow zone, but not with overtaking.’
“It’s clear in the regulations and this I think, after he came down with his mood, he accepted and we spoke and he said, ‘Well I’m fine.’”
FIA stewards are licensed by both their ASN (national governing body of motorsport) and the FIA.
There exists a group of permanent international stewards who work on a rotational basis.
At each race the panel is made up of a chairman and a national steward who is selected by the ASN of the country in which the race is taking place.