June 16, 2009 / 4:36 PM / 10 years ago

Motor racing-F1 teams complain about stewards' chairman

LONDON, June 16 (Reuters) - Formula One teams have written to the governing FIA complaining about the sport’s permanent chairman of stewards Alan Donnelly and seeking a separation of his roles.

Donnelly, a former member of the European parliament, is also Max Mosley’s ‘eyes and ears’ in the grand prix paddock in the absence of the International Automobile Federation president.

He oversees the race stewards, who have been busy this season with controversies involving the rear diffuser on the winning Brawn cars and a furore involving McLaren and world champion Lewis Hamilton, who were punished for ‘deliberately misleading’ the officials.

The eight members of the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA), who are in a standoff with Mosley over next year’s rules and the governance of the sport, wrote to the FIA head last Saturday complaining of a conflict of interest.

“It was apparent during the Turkish Grand Prix that several discussions were held between the aforementioned person and several Formula One team representatives with a clear intention to create division between the FOTA teams by misrepresenting the positions of those teams,” declared the letter, signed by the team bosses and seen by Reuters.

“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,” it added.

“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.”

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”.

Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ken Ferris; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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