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Alain Prost backs move to use ex-drivers as F1 stewards

By Andrew Benson
BBC Sport in Bahrain

Alain Prost
Prost won the drivers' championship in 1985, 1986, 1989 and 1993

Four-time world champion Alain Prost has backed a decision to appoint former drivers as stewards at Formula 1 races.

The move is an initiative of Jean Todt, the new president of governing body the FIA, and Prost will fill the role in Bahrain this weekend

"It's a good move," the Frenchman told BBC Sport. "Jean and I discussed many times that an ex-driver should be part of the discussions.

"It's important the FIA can have the experience of a racing driver."

The ex-drivers will be one of three stewards and will have full voting powers.

Prost said he had suggested that the role be rotated around a number of drivers, and added that he was likely to do it again at a number of races later this year.

Johnny Herbert and Heinz-Harald Frentzen, who both won races in the 1990s, and former Benetton, McLaren and Williams driver Alexander Wurz have also agreed to take part this year.

The goal should be that at the end of the day, when people go home, they know the result

Graham Stoker
FIA Deputy President for Sport

The move is an attempt to end the criticism that has been directed at some controversial stewards' decisions in recent years.

They have come under fire for inconsistency and for not understanding what a driver is going through during a race.

Prost, 55, is a heavyweight - and highly regarded - first candidate for the role.

In a 14-year career spanning 199 races from 1980 to 1993, he won 51 grands prix - a mark that has been beaten only by Michael Schumacher and is 10 more than the third man on the list - his old rival, the late Ayrton Senna.

Prost's tally of four world drivers' titles has been beaten only by Schumacher's seven and the Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio.

Prost also has first-hand experience of controversial situations, having been involved in two title-deciding collisions with Senna during an intense six-year rivalry.

He said: "It's an experiment; we will see how it goes. I think it's important FIA can have the experience of a racing driver, normally the stewards have never done any racing, but we should not over-estimate it, they know the rules and have the experience so it will be a good combination.

"What you want to avoid is a big penalty for somebody in only a normal racing incident, and you want to avoid what we see many times, very bad manoeuvres but without any penalty. In between we see what is happening."

Prost is widely regarded as one of the greatest F1 drivers of all time, and he agreed that having a man of his experience made an important statement.

If judgments are made, and which are perceived to be glaringly unbalanced, then it damages the sport, so we have to avoid that

Damon Hill

"Exactly," he said. "That is what Jean wanted to do, and that is why I made the effort to do it."

Graham Stoker, the FIA deputy president for sport, said the FIA's aim was to ensure that the stewards could come to a definitive conclusion on any issue that had an effect on the result of a race sooner than had been the case in the past.

"The goal should be that at the end of the day when people go home they know the result," Stoker said.

Todt said he expected Prost and the other drivers to make a "strong contribution" to the stewards' role.

Damon Hill, the 1996 world champion, will take on the role later in the 2010 season.

That may test his relationship with Michael Schumacher, a man with whom Hill clashed more than once as a driver, who returns to the sport after three years in retirement.

"There are more important things than individual relationships," said Hill.

"The important thing is the sport, and that the sport has credibility.

"If judgments are made, and which are perceived to be glaringly unbalanced, then it damages the sport, so we have to avoid that.

"People have to make decisions based on the analysis of right and wrong, irrespective of who those people might be. I also feel now I'm sufficiently distanced from the sport."

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see also
Prost joins race stewards' panel
12 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Schumacher keen to 'raise game'
12 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix practice photos
12 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Bahrain Grand Prix practice results
13 Mar 10 |  Results
Bahrain GP practice as it happened
12 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
Winning start is vital - Button
11 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
All-clear for McLaren wing design
12 Mar 10 |  Formula 1
F1 drivers to help race stewards
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