Mika Hakkinen calls for permanent F1 race stewards

Formula 1 two-time champion Mika Hakkinen has called on Formula 1 to implement a panel of permanent race stewards following the controversy surrounding Sebastian Vettel's Canadian Grand Prix penalty.

Hakkinen believes the sport must do more to allow drivers to race one another without the fear of being penalised, as it ultimately spoils the excitement for fans when the winner is decided off-track.

"When I look back at my racing career in Formula 1, I think Michael Schumacher and I had more freedom to race. Maybe there were not so many cameras picking up everything that we did. There would have been a lot of 5 second penalties, or worse, if we had been racing with today’s rules," he wrote in his Unibet column.

"The FIA has done amazing work in order to make the sport so much safer, while the Stewards have a tough job to do, often under a lot of pressure. 

"However, I do think that the drivers, teams, FIA and Formula 1 itself need to work out how to let drivers race, recognising that sometimes you need to be realistic and think about the sport’s reputation. 

"No one was happy on Sunday. The penalty ended the battle for the lead, and penalised everyone watching Formula 1."

The FIA currently enlists the help of a former driver to benefit its stewarding panel whilst the other two stewards don't necessarily have a racing background and none of the trio are permanent, meaning they change from event to event.

Hakkinen believes a permanent panel, plus a driver representative, would result in more consistent penalties.

"I think perhaps it is time for Formula 1 to consider the possibility of appointing three permanent Stewards, perhaps with a driver acting as a fourth Steward or advisor. 

"I am not questioning the ability of the Stewards in Canada, but the sport might benefit from having the same people to regulate each Grand Prix," he added.