Conflict of interest allegation against Chief F1 Steward

June 23, 2009

disciplinary, regulation


On a similar governance note, it was reported that the eight members (BMW Sauber, Brawn GP, McLaren, Red Bull Racing, Renault F1, Scuderia Ferrari, Toyota Motorsport, Force India F1 – now suspended, Williams F1 – now suspended) of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA), wrote to the FIA on the 13th June complaining of a conflict of interest affecting the sport’s permanent chairman of the stewards (Alan Donnelly) and seeking a separation of his roles.

Donnelly currently oversees the race stewards (who enforce the FIA rules: for example in relation to the Diffuser controversies, or on track incidents). Apparently, it is alleged in the letter that the teams have suggested that Donnelly is also undertaking a political role for the FIA by going around from team to team telling them to abandon the FOTA stance and sign up for 2010.

The FOTA letter suggested that: “This situation raises serious doubts on the autonomy of the judicial functions from the executive functions of the FIA, that need to be separated for a proper governance of the federation. In the FIA’s role as regulator it is imperative that the chairman of the stewards remains totally impartial and we therefore respectfully request that these roles are separated.”

Reuters also reported that Donnelly was not immediately available to comment but an FIA spokesman said the governing body “utterly rejects the suggestion made by FOTA in their recent correspondence”.

If this was true though, it would represent governance issues. Indeed as we saw from the recent political scandal engulfing the UK parliamentary system, it is not just enough to be within the letter of the rules, rather officials should be seen to be beyond reproach. For much the same reasons, this was why UK Sport devolved its doping functions to a new independent organisation.

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About Kris

Associate Professor in Sports Law, Staffordshire University; British Gymnastics Senior Coach

View all posts by Kris

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