McNish: I didn't appreciate it until I did it

© Ubaid Parkar, 3 June 2011
© AP Images

rom one prestigious motorsport event to another. Allan McNish, who will be competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a little over a week's time, looks back at the weekend of the Monaco Grand Prix, where he was the FIA driver steward. caught up with the Scot to know about his experience...

After the Monaco Grand Prix, you tweeted that you can't get into specifics about the steward's decisions. Has that changed now?

No, it hasn't changed. It's one of those codes for stewards, if you like. I think generally motorsports stewards don't talk about that and certainly FIA about F1 is comment. So, unfortunately that hasn't changed and will not change I think.

Mark Blundell, who was the steward in Spain, had suggested that the driver steward is a just a messenger of the FIA...

No, no, no! There are four stewards in the room and one of them is a driver steward. The other three are very high ranking stewards. No question, they have been there and been doing it for a long, long period of time. It requires an agreement of all the stewards for decisions to be made. So the driver is there as a physical steward signing documents.

Could you tell us how it went?

It was very eye opening. I did not appreciate it until I did it - the level of detail, information, videos, data, everything that the stewards have available to them. I didn't appreciate the amount of work they do in terms of investigating possible incidents, looking at things, checking things, ensuring a smooth running of it, prior to anything being brought to their attention! I didn't appreciate all the working behind the scenes of not just the stewards but also the race director and all of the other parts. Because you're on the other side of the fence looking through your helmet and visor, you see a narrow view of it. It was illuminating for me to see all the other aspects coming into play. It changes my opinion a little bit on how the system works because obviously when you are a driver then you are usually taken into the stewards room for negative reasons. And everytime I have been to them its never been kind of congratulations, pat-on-the-back visit. You then understand that actually they have got the overall global view, a much better view than you have through your visor. Not necessarily more dominant, but a bigger view of the bigger picture and the detail and the information you have now is extremely good.

The driver steward is an important part of that because they can bring an experience that can only be brought by a driver, someone who has gone through the rigours of it all. That's where it has worked very, very well. And also the other thing as I said in general the driver, as a group, we've got in one at any steward panel I am racing at. we know that and we trust their judgements because we know that it's been looked at from a driver's angle as well as from a steward's angle.

The FIA had initially declared that it was Alain Prost who was going to be the Monaco steward and then you were announced replacing him. What happened there?

I know Alain couldn't do it. I don't know the reason behind it. They called me and asked me if I was able to do it. It clashed a little bit I was doing something with Audi but that went away and obviously that put me into Monaco. It's an extremely high profile event. It's also an extremely close event for me. I could walk over there and in five minutes I would be in the paddock. So it was very convenient. But I don't know the reason why Alain couldn't do it.

Are you looking forward to doing this again?

I am doing it in Budapest. That was decided at the beginning of the year.

Interview conducted by Ubaid Parkar (Twitter: @ubaidparkar)


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