OCTOBER 29, 2001
How did the stewards screw up in Indianapolis?
THE FIA International Court of Appeal which met in Paris last week took only a few minutes to decide to accept the appeal of Jordan Grand Prix against the decision of the FIA Stewards to exclude Jarno Trulli from the results of the United States GP in Indianapolis. It was not because there was a problem with the measuring of the Italian's skid block dimensions but rather because of a procedural error by the stewards.
It was accepted that one of the three stewards was not present when the decision was made and so that decision could not be accepted as valid as in contravened Article 134 of the International Sporting Code which states that "the stewards officiate as a body under the authority of a chairman".
The three stewards at Indianapolis were chairman Paul Gutjahr from Austria; Canada's Roger Peart and Steve Earle of the United States of America. It is not clear which of the stewards was not present at the Jordan hearing in Indianapolis but the fault must lie with the chairman Paul Gutjahr as the International Sporting Code clearly states that it is the job of the chairman to be "responsible for planning the meetings and ensuring that arrangements are respected".
It is not the first time that Gutjahr has come in for criticism. He was one of the three stewards at Jerez de la Frontera in 1997 who decided that Michael Schumacher's attempt to drive Jacques Villeneuve off the road in the European Grand Prix was "a racing incident". That decision was greeted with contempt by the international media and as a result the FIA World Council later decided to exclude Schumacher from the results of the World Championship because of what it called an "instinctive and deliberate but was not premeditated" maneuver. The World Council even considered banning Schumacher from the 1998 World Championship.
Gutjahr is one of the four men who rotate the role of chairman of the FIA Steward at Grands Prix.
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