Interactive education at the 2019 FIA International Stewards Programme

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Third edition of training initiative gathered 200 stewards from around the world

Over the past three days (8-10 February), over 200 motor sport stewards from around the world have gathered in Geneva for the third annual FIA International Stewards Programme. Since its inception in 2017, the Programme has become a hugely popular educational event for stewards from across the broad spectrum of motor sport disciplines, and an opportunity for them to share their most recent experiences from the stewards’ room.

The first day of the event focused on laying the foundations for the discussions and analysis that followed, with chairpersons of the stewards from various FIA World Championships presenting the core tools at the disposal of the stewards and how they should be properly used. There were also presentations from the FIA Governance, Integrity and Regulatory Affairs Department, the FIA Safety Department and various FIA Sporting Departments.

Real-world case studies and examples have been a key feature of this year’s Programme, with both the second and third days of discussion packed with interactive recreations of the stewards’ deliberations and decisions from high-profile incidents that have taken place over the past twelve months. Crucially, they were presented and analysed by the individuals officiating the actual events, giving the participants in the Programme unique insights into the consideration and decision-making process.

An instantaneous online tool was implemented which allowed the session moderators to collect and discuss the work of the attendees in real time during the interactive case study examples.

The event included several engaging panel discussions, one of which featured a wide selection of media representatives from TV, print and online outlets, which explored the different requirements of their media formats when reporting on the decisions of the stewards, as well as ways in which decisions could be more effectively explained and communicated in the media.

There was also a panel dedicated to the perspective of the competitors, which included drivers and representatives from teams and manufacturers competing at the highest level of the sport.

Following a day spent as an observer to the stewards of the Marrakesh E-Prix in January, F1 driver Max Verstappen joined the FIA International Stewards Programme on Saturday. He took part in a number of the interactive case study sessions, which involved considering an incident, deliberating with the stewards and deciding an appropriate penalty – activities which are in line with the educational approach taken by the FIA in this matter.

“We are doing our job on the track, trying to get the best out of the race, and it’s clear that the stewards are doing their job to find the best way to reach a fair decision,” Verstappen said. “It’s been a good lesson for me and I’ve learned a lot, both in my day in Marrakesh, which I really enjoyed and which gave me a good understanding of the stewards, and now here – I think it’s also good to be a part of this event.”

Verstappen joined the competitors’ panel discussion alongside three-time FIA World Touring Car Champion and current FIA World Endurance Championship driver Andy Priaulx, FIA World Rally Championship team M-Sport Team Principal Richard Millener and BMW Motorsport Director Jens Marquardt, all of whom provided invaluable personal experience of the stewarding process from across a variety of disciplines and perspectives.

The event was concluded once again with an explanation of an assessment programme for the attendees, which will allow the FIA to analyse the effectiveness of the International Stewards Programme, and identify those stewards who show best practice and engagement with the training.

The Programme was officially closed by FIA Secretary General for Sport, Peter Bayer, who said: “At the opening of the programme, I asked the attendees to participate in the sessions, to discuss and improve skills in order to regulate motor sport in a consistent, efficient, independent, fair, transparent and accurate way. The better the sport is regulated independently by these stewards, the better the overall image and integrity of the sport will be, so I think it is vitally important that there is continued participation in this initiative.

“We are currently working on regional deployment of this programme, which will allow us to go even deeper into the ASNs at a national level to help grow and develop stewards across all motor sport categories. The information and experience shared here comes from the highest level, and I hope it will assist all of the participants in continuing to develop as motor sport stewards.”

Chairman of the International Stewards Programme Organising Committee, Garry Connelly, said: “The goal we have set out with this Programme is to continue to develop the global pathway for stewards, and to bring up the most talented stewards from the ASNs up to international level. There has been a great deal of valuable knowledge and information presented over the past couple of days, and we really hope that the stewards can take this back to their colleagues around the world and pass it on.

“This event wouldn’t happen without the attendance of the stewards, and it’s fantastic to have had around 200 people participating over the last three days and I’m very grateful to see such enthusiasm for the Programme. I’d like to also thank all of the members of the organising committee, all our speakers and staff who made the event possible.”