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Face-saving at the FIA

IN what is likely to be an exercise in damage-limitation the FIA announced on Monday after Jerez that it has called MichaelĘSchumacher to appear before an extraordinary session of the World Council on November 11, in response to comments made in the report of the Race Director Charlie Whiting.

Before the race FIA President Max Mosley warned the drivers that there would be severe penalties for any driver resorting to unsporting driving but after the race three stewards involved: Paul Gutjahr, Jacques Regis and Javier Conesa failed to do their duty and declared that the Villeneuve-Schumacher collision had been "a racing incident".

This absurd decision has resulted in questions being asked about the qualifications and selection processes of the F1 stewards. FIA President Max Mosley was asked about this before the race but brushed off suggestions that stewards are simply key members of the FIA fraternity who are being given the job of F1 stewards as a perk of the job.

F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone had been trying for some time to establish at least one permanent steward to be at every race so that there is some continuity in the decision-making processes. At the moment there are four permanent FIA stewards - including Gutjahr - who each do four races a year. The rest are usually once a year jobs.

The incident in Jerez may result in changes to the way FIA stewards are chosen. New regulations could be introduced as early as December after the next scheduled FIA World Council.

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